Bosses: want to know who’ll join the union? There’s an app for that!

This analysis piece was originally published in Red Pepper in April, 2012

When governments are using the economic crisis as an excuse to strip away what remains of the post-war welfare-state consensus, when the likelihood of runaway climate change threatens civilisation, when unending wars and the collapse of civil liberties have become just ‘the new normal’, is it really the time or the place to raise the admittedly on-the-face-of-it nutty slogan ‘Nationalise Facebook Now’?

Oh yes, comrades, it is.  Or at least something like it, because the irresolubility of all these issues is ultimately the product of a common problem all tangled up with how we approach the ol’ Facebook conundrum. Sceptical? I’m feeling you, but roll with me here for a minute.

On Friday, an article by John Brownlee on Cult of Mac, the Apple news website, shone a light on a decidedly creepy little app called ‘Girls Around Me’, a geolocation maps service that uses freely available data from Foursquare and Facebook to deliver a map of women who have recently checked into different nearby locations via Foursquare or been checked in by someone else via FB and who have publicly visible Facebook profiles of women. Continue reading →