Why we don't use Facebook for the family blog

We've recently started a "family blog" - not open to the general public, only family and friends. So, why didn't I just use a social networking site?

Of course there are lots of places where you can do photo sharing/social networking sort of things - Facebook, live.com, Friendster, Flickr, Picasaweb, Orkut, Yahoo 360, my.opera.com - many more local ones I'm not even really aware of like Spain's Tuenti.com, Japan's Mixi.jp and Russia's vkontakte.ru. Pretty much all of them will have some "privacy controls" where you can decide if the information can be found with Google / Anyone / Registered contacts / you only etc.

Even while struggling with tweaking my site I would sometimes wonder why I wasn't simply using Facebook. (I became quite a fan of Facebook when I joined and re-discovered all those people..) But for me, ultimately, it has to do with both privacy and ownership of the information. What Facebook does or will do with the information one gives it is to monetise it, somehow - use it for targeted advertising, usually. This is of course pretty much what GMail already very successfully does with your E-mail but I don't mind that so much. However, Facebook is about letting some third-party's commercial interest "piggyback" on my relationships with others and that I find completely upsetting and disgusting. So my personal Facebook usage policy is that I will still be registered so that people can find me easily, I'll update status and look up information about friends and such - but I will try to avoid feeding it further data like pictures and writings.

Privacy-wise, people are very different!! Some people post photos of their children everywhere for anyone to see (and pour out their innermost feelings in blogs..), and for most people I don't think they really risk anything whatsoever doing so. It's not really like paedophiles are searching the Internet for children's pictures to come to your home and abduct them, that's just media scaremongering. But I still worry about more local and low-level threats - such as, if somebody wants to bully my children at school I don't want to provide that bully a treasure trove of information about the family, pictures they could print out and abuse and so on.

I'm controlling information on behalf of my children - they can't protect themselves and the Internet has no real Undo button once information is released. So I'm certainly trying to be even more careful with their private information that I would be with my own.

..so that's generally why I decided to use software running on a website I own, and spend the time on making it work the way I want, rather than using some of the excellent and simple to use solutions that already exist.

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