Facebook Suicide.

People are killing off their Facebook profiles in droves, according to this great online piece in The Times. And in keeping with the collective social networking culture, they are starting Facebook suicide clubs online.

One major reason for the mass executions is the opening up of Facebook and the loss of privacy (or at least the loss of small group privacy among friends). With recent changes, Facebook is now both a personal and professional social networking site. So your employer can poke around and see pictures of you and ex having fun in stupid ways, for example. And professionals in your business can send you email about job-related things—and poke around in your personal stuff.

The wonderful Jessie Hempel, who used to work with me on the Innovation & Design team and recently left for the dark side (Fortune), was the first to point out the shift from amateur to professional going on within the social media space.

The first breach in Facebook privacy came when the site opened itself up to applications and developers could get access to personal data. But you could use applications to protect your privacy.

Now, Facebook user profiles are searchable through Google and anyone has access to your songs, friends, pictures, and other very, very personal information. So privacy for many is being invaded. Hence, the deaths of so many profiles.

And thanks to Mark Vanderbeeken at experientia for the tip.

Are we ending the open commons of social networking? Is the shift from amateur to profession changing the nature of social media? Peter Mortensen over at Jump has a paper he’s going to give at the DUX 2007 conference on user experience in Chicago in November describing how we are basically facing an identity crisis on the web and especially in social media. People no long can prove who they are (identities are being hijacked or faked). People can no longer protect their privacy. And marketing folks (and employers and other business types) are invading what were once open commons within the social networks. Trust is being broken so people are putting up walls—or fleeing.

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