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Question: What would billionaire Mark Zuckerberg lose by refusing Chinese demands that he censor Facebook? What would he and his company gain from being more principled?

This came up after reading Christopher Luna's analysis of Google Plus as an alternative to Facebook, Zuckerberg's social networking colossus that boasts 750 million users globally.

Google Plus, which launched in beta last week, has been Topic One among the “digerati,” who've spent much of the week kicking the tires of Facebook's new competitor and reporting back to followers and friends.

But Luna, a masters student at Harvard Divinity School, looked at the competing services through a different lens.

He wrote that he’s come to trust Google more because of its refusal to buckle to Chinese censors:

Google is currently in a power war with China, and Google has made the correct choice in its difficult decision between compromising with a totalitarian government that would exert every pressure possible, legal and illegal, to use the information that we trust to Google to continue its campaign against freedom and dissidence.
Facebook, Cisco and Microsoft have shown themselves to be much more willing to comply with Chinese gatekeepers in order to gain access to the nation’s vast marketplace of users.

For Luna, Google's stance on behalf of free speech and human rights should be the deciding factor for social media users.

"The choice here isn't just about business. It's about whether a capitalist economy can show that the bottom line is not the only thing in the world that matters," he writes. "It's about whether a corporation can exist and thrive while standing by principles that support the value of human beings."

In 2011, networked technology has become a megaphone for freedom movements from Tunisia and Yemen to Burma and Vietnam. Yet at the same time new media companies have provided repressive regimes with the means to turn technology against their citizenry -- to spy on communications, censor content and, even, track down dissidents for arrest.

And while I agree with Luna that Google has a better record than Facebook on several open Internet and human rights issues, both are in the business of selling us, their users, to advertisers. For some people, that basic fact -- including their need to gather as much data as possible about us whether we are aware of it or not -- compromises their products too much. (Wouldn't it be great if those 750 million people used Diaspora's open social network instead?)

In a more perfect world tech companies that stand up for freedom and justice should naturally be more successful economically.  This isn't the way our globalized markets have functioned over the centuries, but perhaps we've reached a point in our newly connected world where principles can lead to profits.

For this to succeed, though, consumers will need to become more engaged in corporate behavior both at home and abroad, and to vote with their wallets (and clicks) for the company that takes the high road.

For Luna, the choice is obvious: "I'd like to see Google win this war [with Facebook], and I know who's side I'm on here. I kind of think that leaving Facebook is one way that we can participate…"

Poll

Which social network, if any, aligns best with your values?

2%1 votes
5%2 votes
34%12 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
51%18 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I choose none of the above     n/t (5+ / 0-)

    Liberals see George Orwell's 1984 as a cautionary tale. Conservatives see it as a blueprint.

    by DiegoUK on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:39:06 AM PDT

  •  good on google (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, Larsstephens

    and yes- i try to factor human rights, environmentalism, and politics in general into all my consumer choices, but...

    time and priorities factor into my not doing any social networking. other than daily kos, of course.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:42:04 AM PDT

    •  I think you're going to like this one, though. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis

      You might enjoy watching a little of the podcast that I linked below.

      I'm not a Facebook member, either, nor will I be.  But I am looking forward to google plus, if not just for the video chat capabilities.

      To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

      by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:43:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  facebook (5+ / 0-)

    J Edgar Hoovers wet dream.  People volunteering all sorts of private relationships, communications, data, and personal media all for the govt to see, document, capture, and use if need be.

    What once govt spooks had to collect serendipitously, now given away freely, and people still dont even begin to understand what they are doing as they do it.

    I'm sure some on here are and will argue, but but but its just a social network etc etc.  

    It possibly is, but it is also the largest and greatest privacy and data collection undertaking in the history of the world. All for what?  so you can try to hook up with some old flame? or brag that your kid came in second in some swim meet no one gives a shit about?

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:42:09 AM PDT

    •  yup, the government (0+ / 0-)

      buys the info on the private market.  nothing illegal about it.

    •  A couple more things about Facebook. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nancat357, ciganka, terabthia2

      More and more companies are REQUIRING you to join Facebook if you want to participate in their contests or sweepstakes or receiving coupons.

      For instance, Amazon recently ran a contest/sweepstakes for their Amazon Prime customers, of which I'm one, but the only way to enter your name into the drawing is through Facebook.  And if you had no Facebook membership, which I don't, then I was ineligible to register to win lovely cash and prizes, even thought the contest was for Prime members -- Me.

      That's like extortion, to me, i.e., if I want a chance to win, I have to give up all my personal information to a company that I never wanted them to have my personal information.

      I wrote to Amazon to find out what other way I could join without signing up at Facebook, and was told there was no other way.

      Also, in personal injury lawsuits now, some attorneys are asking for the plaintiff's Facebook sign-in and password information so they will have access to the whole account.  That, of course, brings up another privacy issue because if Jack friended Jill and allows Jill to see everything that's on his page but keeps that info private from others, now a lawyer, having access to Jill's page, will have access to Jack's info.  (The way it was told to me, anyway.)

      To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

      by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:53:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No kidding. A weird thing happened at our office. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice, terabthia2

        One of my colleagues has given FB permission to blab everything about him and somehow when I was reading HuffPo, there was an announcement that he was now on HuffPo.  

        Now our office is all about information, so people read and look at info throughout the day, but I could not help but think this could be problematic for other people's privacy issues in other settings.  

        It is all very disgusting.  

        It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

        by ciganka on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 03:36:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ha ha...I did not see you here and (0+ / 0-)

      I quoted you again from the other day :)  

      You so nailed it!

      It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

      by ciganka on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 03:26:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Could someone explain (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dark daze, wader, terabthia2, lungfish

    to me the differences between Facebook and Friendster and Myspace?

    Is facebook a flash in the pan or why is it so different than its predecessors?

    Ordinary political process is dead. The Supreme Court killed it. In Chambers. With a gavel.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:44:15 AM PDT

    •  just the latest (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ciganka, terabthia2

      just the latest narcissistic web creation so people can allow govt and strangers to snoop even further into their lives.

      As you say, they are all basically the same.  Facebook just became the vcr to myspace's betamax.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:48:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cleaner, easier to use, and cooler. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kingyouth, yellowdog, wader, gooderservice

      Friendster was old news ten years ago.

      Myspace got too bling-ed up and Tila Tequila-d.

      Facebook offered a clean interface and more options for interaction.

      Google+ is taking everything that makes both Facebook and Twitter popular and rolling them into one service that'll also be integrated with every other Google product (Mail, Calendars, Reader, etc.) that a person uses.

      I personally think G+ is the Facebook killer.

      •  Though, it's ironic that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lungfish

        Zuckerberg is the most popular person on G+ right now.

        "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

        by kingyouth on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:52:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can only hope. (0+ / 0-)
        I personally think G+ is the Facebook killer.

        Or at least if it doesn't kill Facebook, then make Facebook BACK THE EFF OFF and be a better service provider regarding privacy and ease of use.

        To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

        by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:54:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'll use whatever has more people I know on it. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Catte Nappe
    •  That's just the thing. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, gooderservice

      Once G+ goes live, it'll have a gigantic built-in user base.

      Right now it's really limited, since I can only talk to the 10 or so of my friends who are on it, but that'll change soon.

      •  Inertia (0+ / 0-)

        It will take a serious amount of time for many FB users to bother to migrate to anything new, however wonderful it is.

        •  Half of them will already be there... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gooderservice, grover

          ...in all but name.

          Integrating other google services into Google+ means that everyone who's got an account on Gmail, Google Reader, Blogger, Picasa, Google Docs, YouTube, or any of Google's 100 other services will just have to click one button to sign up using their Google account.

          The "this is so easy!" thing will at least put it on the social network menu for a lot of people.

          •  That's exactly right, except for maybe some of (0+ / 0-)

            the younger kids, teenagers.

            To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

            by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:56:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For some of us... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gooderservice

              ...that's a feature, not a bug :-)

              I have no interest in reading my emo-kid teenage cousins' mopings about how their girlfriends dumped them or whatever else they're moping about on a given day.

              Even when they do end up joining G+, and they unfortunately will, I can put them into the "Annoying Emo-Kid Cousins" circle and never actually have that show in my feed.

              •  I'm so jealous you're in already. (0+ / 0-)

                I linked to a podcast down below of features of google plus and a short interview, discussion with two google employees.

                To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

                by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:00:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  oh and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    oh and as far as internet censorship etc, we are one senators hold from being worse than china.  Also according to Google, our government is the worst in the world with regard to snooping govts.

    http://www.rawstory.com/...

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:46:37 AM PDT

  •  China wants a commanding share of Facebook (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader
    Citing an unnamed source ''at a fund that buys stock from former Facebook employees'', the website said China wants an investment ''large enough 'to matter'''.
    Advertisement: Story continues below

    A second unnamed source told the site that Citibank is looking to buy about $US1.2 billion worth of Facebook shares for two different wealth funds - one belonging to the Chinese government and another belonging to a group from the Middle East.

    http://www.smh.com.au/...

    If that ain't a reason to jump Fb...

  •  I've got bad news for you (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dark daze, Deep Texan, FG, debedb, terabthia2

    Both Facebook and Google are collecting your personal information (including your family, social, and work networks and information derived from calculations thereupon), matching it up with additional information, packaging it up and reselling it to various commercial entities with no regard for human rights.

    Similarly, both entities are either selling or just giving that information to various police, intelligence, and secret police organizations in every nation where they have users.

    There's no free lunch, and there are no human rights in internet marketing.

    sPh

    •  This is not a direct link to human rights abuses (0+ / 0-)

      or censorship, though.

      Businesses are agnostic to human rights at best, the Chinese government is actually going farther than that with its own people.   As does the USA, but not quite to the same extent on a broad scale, it seems.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:06:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  see below (0+ / 0-)

        one senators hold away from losing much of the internet.  This site would go away probably as well.

        Bad is never good until worse happens

        by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:14:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm on the fence with regards to the (0+ / 0-)

          "protect my copyrights at any cost" act, and read about it some time ago.

          The concept makes sense if confined to a small subset of cases that can demonstrably be shown to involve illegal sharing of copyrighted materials, I feel.  The proposed and implied implementation seems, as usual, a far cry from neutral legislation at this time - sure, businesses have a say in making that the case, primarily through parasitic industry representatives, though: RIAA, etc.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:21:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  exactly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sphealey, ciganka

      im not sure if this has happened yet but Im sure it will.

      Example.

      Custody hearing.  Fathers lawyers presents to the court. We  would like to present Mrs so and so facebook friends list. Included in her friends are mr a , mrs b, mrc, mrd , and mr f.

      Mrs A has a background in which she was convicted of fraud, mrs b has a criminal record with two drug offenses, mrc has domestic abuse charges against him, mrd according to megan law is a sex offender, and mr f is awaiting sentencing on  blah blah blah.

      Now are these the type of people we want associated with this couples child. These are her FRIENDS, she accepted them as such, communicates with them, is this the type of home we want the child...blah blah blah..

      you see where this is going..

      reality is the mrs. has 100+ friends on facebook, and these 5 were just old business associates and a few friends from high school, and she has really no idea of their past etc.. but still,  there it is.. she opens herself up to all sorts of problems via association and friendship readily and easy acessible on facebook.

      but but its just a social network... yeah keep telling yourself that..

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i don't participate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ciganka, terabthia2

    they steal your info, collate it and sell it.

    they build a dossier with your personal info and include your alias for every website you use.  they figure out who you are, what you like to look at (buy/read) and just about everything is collected/associated.  

    AND SOLD.

  •  I'm so looking forward to Google Plus. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancat357

    I saw an interview with two of Google's employees, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, on Leo Laporte's twit.tv netcast/podcast This Week In Google 101: Inside Google Plus, along with some previews of how it will work.

    I really liked Horowitz' explanation of the groups, paraphrasing, that on other social sites you have to go down nine layers to remember how you set up your privacy settings, whereas in real life, if you're in a room with three other people, you know you're only talking with those three people, not a hundred other people that aren't there.

    That's how he said the groups work, where you'll always be immediately able to see who you're sharing your information with.  

    And being able to have a group video chat with up to nine people, that's wonderful.  This will really help my aunts and her senior friends be able to talk, especially those who are in assisted living and have a computer with a web cam.

    Those are just two of the features I'm looking forward to.

    Google is taking privacy more serious than Zuckerberg ever did.

    If you want to sign up to get an invitation to join the beta when they're ready to let me people in:

    https:/services.google.com/fb/forms/googleplus

    To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

    by gooderservice on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 10:41:41 AM PDT

  •  I am looking forward to Google+ also (0+ / 0-)

    I have been so unhappy with Facebook. My account has been hacked twice on Facebook and I shut it down for several months. We need a DK group on Google+.

  •  The question is irrelevant to me... (0+ / 0-)

    ...since I choose NO "social networking" site. Period.

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