Why you’ll never see a Facebook ‘Like’ button or a Google +1 button on my website…

Anyone who maintains (or even owns) a business website, knows that having social media buttons on their home page, is an increasingly important factor in page ranking and search engine results.

Meaning that the more Facebook ‘likes’ and Google +1 clicks your website has, the more likely it is to show up on the first few pages of search results. Which is crucial to the survival of most businesses these days.

I get that, believe me. And I realize that choosing not to have either of those options on my website, is having a fairly negative effect on my website’s search engine rankings. But crucial thought it may be, I still won’t add those damn buttons and never will. Call me old fashioned, I firmly believe that benefiting myself at the expense of others is very, very wrong.

How does a simple thing like a social media button equate to a complete breakdown of ethics, basic human decency and respect for our fellow humans?

Here’s how…

As has been clearly and repeatedly documented, visiting any website that has a Facebook ‘Like’ button, automatically sends your browsing activity information TO Facebook. Yep, even if you didn’t click their disingenuous little button. Simply visiting a page that has it on there, instantly violates your privacy. Nope, you don’t even need to be signed in to Facebook at the time.

That seemingly innocuous little button, all blue and white and friendly looking, with the happy little ‘thumbs up’ logo, is in fact, a total bastard.

As is the brightly colored, peppy looking Google +1 button. For the very same reasons.

When business owners, artists, writers, photographers, etc. choose to put a Facebook ‘Like’ button or a Google +1 button on our websites, we’re complicit in giving away the privacy of every single person who views our web pages. Those cute little buttons allow those not-so-cute little companies to track each person who visits our site. Even if the person doesn’t have Facebook or Google+ accounts.

When you go to a website that has those buttons in place, sneaky little tracking cookies invisibly start working in your browser. Those cookies are essentially spying on your internet activity, by telling ‘Big Cyber Twin Brothers’ about pretty much every website and web page you visit, your physical location at the time, what kind of computer you’re using, what web-browser you use, how long you were on each page of each website and even what links you clicked on each site.

All of this is done in most cases, without your knowledge or consent.

You might be thinking ‘I don’t have anything to hide about my internet habits, so why should I care?’ Here’s why…

Because privacy of all kinds is a basic and essential human right. It’s been valued and respected in all cultures since the dawn of human-kind. Yet millions of us are throwing it away every time we use the internet.

If we were being followed closely by a shady stranger every time we left the house, and we saw that stranger taking our photo and writing notes about the places we went, the movies we watched, the books we read, the friends we visited and the things we bought, we’d call the police, right?

How much more violated would we feel, if we found out that the notes and photos the stranger took of us, were being sold to corporations who were using that information to A: barrage us with ‘personalized’ advertising and B: occasionally use our likeness to sell their products to our friends and acquaintances?

All without our permission, our awareness, or any compensation whatsoever for the use of our personal information or the photos of our adorable little faces.

If that were happening in ‘real-life’, the shady stranger following us, would be arrested on sight. Most likely after getting the ass-kicking they would rightfully deserve. Then they’d be sued six ways to Sunday for all of the laws they’d broken and for the ’emotional distress’ they’d caused by stalking and spying on us.

Yet here we are, blithely giving Facebook and Google the rights to do the same things that an actual person would be arrested, beaten up, sued and jailed for doing. How messed up is that?

As a business owner, I do have to use Google and Facebook to some degree. I have a Facebook page for my business and I make sure my website is up-to-date with Google’s SEO standards. I grudgingly accept this as inevitable fact. But with that understanding, I also do my best to minimize their intrusion in every possible way.

Instead of having their candy-coated poisonous little buttons on my site, I simply have an html link in my code, that directs you to my Facebook page. No cookies, no tracking, no heinous violations of your privacy simply to improve the visibility of my business.

Sure, it’s not the most savvy or progressive way to generate business for myself, but as I still do have the choice, I choose not to let Facebook and Google turn me into a colluding asshole drone in their world domination agenda.

That, my friends, is why you’ll never see a ‘Like’ button or ‘+1’ button on my website.

Tamea Burd is a Vancouver photographer who specializes in portraits, headshots, corporate and wedding photography.

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