Facebook, one of the most important social networking companies of all time, and estimated to be worth more than $50 billion, will now become public, which means that shares and stock options will be available for purchase by anyone, anywhere.
But what does this mean for its users? Will their information be traded like any other product sold by any other company that sells goods and services?
What will happen with any company owning a majority of stocks invested in the servers of Facebook?
Will companies worldwide be able to get every bit of our information, such as pictures, relationship statuses, wall posts, likes and messages?
What will happen with our virtual lives and secrets now that the business world and powerful individuals can get our vital pieces of information to use for who knows what? On Feb. 1, Facebook announced its first IPO (Initial Public Offering), which will be around $75 to $100 billion. But this is not the spark that started it all.
In September 2009, Facebook became cash-flow positive, and it was only until 2010 that Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s co-founder and former roommate of Mark Zuckerberg, sold some of his shares (at the time he held 5 percent of the stock) to Digital Sky, a Russian-based firm, whose stock has since decreased by 2.8 percent.
Now, a great part of the remaining percentage of Facebook shares will be available.
As Rollins College students, we may ask ourselves about what kind of information or servers will be available to the individuals who will buy Facebook shares and what they can and cannot access.
We may ask ourselves if this will be tantamount to a violation of the privacy of Facebook’s users.
Has the Internet activist group Anonymous said anything about this? Will concepts such as the literary Big Brother become less fictional and more real? According to Anonymous, its page “Operation Payback” was deleted after its Twitter account was deactivated on Dec. 9, 2010.
Some videos that appeared on YouTube threatened to take down Facebook on Nov. 5, 2011. This is a special day for the organization because Anonymous uses a mask of the face of Guy Fawkes, who was captured on that day in 1605. The same mask was used in the 2005 movie V For Vendetta.
According to Anonymous, because of Facebook’s alleged repeated violations of user privacy and illegal sale of user information.
The threat, however, was never acted upon. Is “Anonymous” likely to attack now that Facebook is going public? No one knows.
However, what we do know is that Facebook needs to enter a new era in which its privacy settings will be changed radically and new features will be created to help ensure that user information will still be protected.
Facebook knows too much about its users; and those users are concerned about improper use of their information by Facebook.
Therefore, we should be prepared for what is coming and hope that our rights are respected while entering this new era of profitable shares from one of the biggest social networking sites in the history of the Internet.