Facebook Hires Daytum Founders: A privacy debacle waiting to happen?

Forget about watching the latest horror film, if you really want something that will scare the pants off of you, then listen to this: Facebook has just hired Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case as part of their product design team. If you’re thinking ‘pfft, so bloody what?”, think again! These two are the hot shots behind Daytum, a web site that creates tools that can record personal data, analyze it, and create statistics from it. What Facebook wants from the two of them exactly is still largely unknown for now, but judging from their achievements alone, I’d say all of us have a pretty fair idea of what it’s going to be.

Personal Data? Now what in the world would Facebook want with that?

Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case’s website Daytum is actually a pretty interesting site. Using Daytum, you can chronicle your daily activities and compile it into visual reports. The site encourages members to record whatever they do that can be quantified. For example, the distance you travel on a daily basis or the number of cigarettes you smoke or cups of coffee you consume can be translated into a pie chart or a bar graph. The data compiled just comes out as a surprise at the end, especially if you see the real scale by how you ‘do things’. It’s a website that reveals the ‘bigger picture’ in a fun but very informative way. Daytum helps you learn about yourself in ‘statistical’ fashion. Applied properly to business, though, it’s a corporation’s dream come true – and Facebook has undoubtedly has seen this opportunity itself.

The Possibilities are Endless – and hair-raising

Indeed, with Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case involved, Facebook can surely come up with some interesting new updates and ideas. But then again, the very nature of Daytum practically guarantees that the new features will be sort of – if not blatantly – invasive. Daytum is fine – great, actually. You have a choice whether or not to sign up on it, after all. However, is it really appropriate to have similar software on a site like Facebook? The possibilities are no doubt endless and the data they’ll gather is no doubt going to be revolutionary – but do we want that? Hopefully, Facebook will allow us to actually choose whether we want in or not. Facebook’s reputation doesn’t really give us any incentive to trust them completely. We’ve always been exploited when it comes to new features and the “choice” they give us in terms of usage. The question that burns on everyone’s mind now is: Should we or should we not give them the benefit of doubt?

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