‘Facebook privacy flaw exposes Mark Zuckerberg photos’ ran the headline of the technology column of Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent of the Telegraph, on Wednesday – the story being that a flaw in the security systems of Facebook allowed the circumvention of arrangements designed to safeguard privacy of, amongst others, the Chief Executive of the company. Coming in the same week as the intriguing television programme presented by Emily Maitlis ‘Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook’ on BBC Two (on Sunday, 4 December at 9pm), the whole thing made for interesting reading and thought-provoking broadcasting. There is no way I could claim any expertise whatsoever on the matter in hand, but the programme itself was fascinating in the questions and issues it raised, and some of those were highlighted again in the article(s) covering the security breaches.
Two things stood out, to my mind, namely the whole matter of privacy and personal relationships on social networking sites, with their consequences for the ‘psychology’ of it all, and the financial aspects that allow the thing to exist in the first place. On the first of these, it was interesting to note how the set-up of these sites, for example, encourages users to view the sharing of personal information and photographs with (preferably lots of) other people, often known to the user as ‘friends’ only via the internet, appear ‘the norm’, so that people end up sharing things with others a lot more freely than they would in everyday life in their local community. On the second, it was equally fascinating to find out just how these sites manage to make (quite a lot of) money out of the whole thing, which allows them to offer their services free of charge to their users – primarily, it seems, by means of allowing a most sophisticated ‘targeting’ of advertising by companies based precisely on extensive previous information made available on and to the site in question by its users.
Both of these, I think, are worth noting – whatever one makes in principle of the whole thing (and opinion is likely to vary substantially): the second because it reveals that, whatever the rhetoric may be, these are businesses and businesses exist to make money for their owners; the first because it highlights that the whole experience remains at least slightly ‘artificial’ by means of such sites existing as a highly regulated and ‘biased’ environment for communication.
How to view the phenomenon as Christians? At the heart of our faith stands the way in which we are made for eternal full ‘communion’ with the One who made us, and for equal sharing with all His people – ‘Christ made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you’, as one of the Eucharistic Prayers puts it. Anything that makes us more ‘one’ with others on the road to this goal is surely a good thing – the question remaining, though, is: does social networking do so, or is it, after all, merely another intriguing way of making money for some, fed by the need of others to feel valued and accepted by their ‘friends’? Too early to say, I think – but the questions are intriguing and the matter unlikely to go away; food for thought, I suspect, for a long time.
Presents for teens: This year we are again supporting disadvantaged teenagers aged 15-18 in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, do not live at home—Social Services have told us there are 31 youngsters in need. There will be boxes at back of each church for donations of suitable items to be included in gift bags, such as toiletries, sweets, etc, for both boys and girls. If you would like items picked up please contact Pansy Davies on 851977 by Wednesday.
Parish lunch: St Mary’s and Christchurch parish lunch takes place on Sunday (18th), 12.30pm for 1pm. Tickets £10, available from churchwardens. St Peter’s Christmas lunch also takes place next Sunday (18th) 12.30pm for 1pm. Hot pot and Christmas pudding, price £10, available from Pip Hassall on 857392.
Christmas Flowers: If you would like to contribute towards the cost of flowers at St Mary’s at Christmas, perhaps in memory of a loved one, please see Mrs Lillian Price. Equally, please see churchwardens at Christchurch and St Peter’s for flowers there.
Christchurch: Once again Christchurch is urging members to sign the communal Christmas card in church and donate monies saved to church funds. Decorating the church for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will take place on Saturday from 10am.
Raffle prizes: If you have kindly offered to donate a prize for the Grand Draw, please contact Clive Jones on 854595.
Grand Draw coffee morning: On Friday, December 16, at 10am. If you can help by making mince pies, that would be much appreciated. We are also holding a Christmas tombola and if you could contribute a small Christmassy item (box of mince pies, jar of mincemeat, Christmas pudding, small gift, etc) or if you could bake a cake for the cake stall that would also be much appreciated. Please contact Margaret Dodd on 856624 or bring them along on the day.
Christian Aid: Soup lunch at the Methodist Church on December 20 from 12.30pm to 2pm.
Monastic Day: Wednesday, December 21. The labora during the afternoon will be carols at our nursing homes—full details next week.