Yesterday I downloaded a compressed file from Facebook. I clicked through three privacy warnings and skimmed two more disclaimers, before clicking the “download file” button in green. In about three hours, a 53.4 MB zip file was ready for me to download onto my computer. In 53.4 MB, Facebook compiled my entire history of photographs, videos, and wall activity on its site, and downloaded my virtual life on to my desktop.
My first wall post was on September 4, 2006. My first tagged photograph followed on September 16, 2006. The entire “wall” file itself consisted of 170 pages in HTML format.
This September will mark my five year anniversary on Facebook. In the beginning, Facebook was a fun way for me to be just as cool as everyone else. Now, Facebook is a fun way for me to connect with old friends, meet new friends, compile embarrassing photographs from junior prom, and hide things from my elder family members. In the next five years, I don’t expect Facebook to mean as much to me. I expect that my use on Facebook will evolve, much like it already has, from giggling about girls I didn’t like at summer camp to exchanging information and networking tips from college friends in different cities.
But I expect my Facebook tale here to be a semi-cautionary one. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to download their history on Facebook, review it, check it for he said/she saids. Remember having called that one girl out on your wall four years ago for wearing the Ugg boots you have on your own feet now? Remember having called your ex-boyfriend several inappropriate terms in a note? It’s all hypothetical, of course, but it proves what the major box office hit “the social network” says again and again: “The internet isn’t written in pencil… it’s written in ink.”