It’s pretty commonplace for me to grant access to third party sites and web apps that want to use my Facebook data. When I stumbled on the link for Intel’s new Museum of Me, I didn’t think twice about letting it peek through my account.
But during the short tour, a “journey that explores who I am” by traveling through a virtual museum composed of images, text and video from my profile, I found myself unsettled.
An image of my sister appeared directly next to a dead friend, followed by a co-worker making a goofy pose. Later on a snapshot of my current girlfriend was juxtaposed next to an old flame.
The text that scrolled across the screen in the style of a news ticker included the repeated phrase, “I am finally sick” before dissolving into a large block that read “Birthday Birthday Birthday.” A gaggle of virtual museum-goers looked on with curiosity and a giant thumbs-up statue remained, from what I could tell, without a single click.
The whole experience was set to some emotionally-wrought piano and choral score that closed with a group of robotic arms assembling images into a composite me. The building block photos included faces of friends and family along with the logo for Kentucky Fried Chicken and a yellowed American flag.
It was disturbing to look at the smiling face of a now-deceased college friend next to a dumb office joke. It was unpleasant to watch the deep important connections I recorded on the social network thrown in with weird corporate images I don’t ever remember posting. My point is not that this isn’t an elegant and interesting use of Facebook data, but that the very personal nature of this information makes the context in which it sits extremely important.
The project is nearing 100,000 “likes” itself, so my caveat emptor may fall on deaf ears. But Facebook and Intel’s Museum of Me will certainly leave a negative association with both brands in my mind.