Posts tagged “facebook”

Nobody ever believes the mad prophets…

Nobody ever believes the mad prophets...

Image: xkcd

Nobody ever believes the mad prophets...

Via The Theorist

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Facebook censors dissent among users

facebook screenshot

Facebook won't allow users to post messages critical of their privacy options, or so I discovered this afternoon.


In the midst of trying to warn my friends, family, colleagues and cohorts on Facebook about a major hole in their privacy and security, I discovered that the problem is far worse than even what I initially was complaining about. I attempted to post the following text as a status update:

Just discovered that facebook implements their security settings haphazardly. So, for instance, if you have a list of people set up so that they don’t have access to your wall, that does not mean that they will, in fact, not have access to your wall. Yet another reason why you should not trust this privacy abomination.

I was subsequently confronted with this error message:

Facebook’s systems block chain letters — like this one — that contain false and misleading information. Please be careful when deciding whether to pass along messages like this. To learn more please read this blog post.

See the screenshot above for evidence. Needless to say, I’m disgusted. This isn’t the first time that Facebook has unjustly censored individuals. Good thing I have my very own trusty news machine, already set on “BLAST”, to fire off this alert to the interwebs.

So what to do now? Quit Facebook? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. Once you join, they’ve got you. Literally, forever. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. They have you until such time that a non-human citizen of the United States of America (a “corporation”) such as Facebook, one that exists solely to mine data of consumers such as you and me for profit, would freely destroy that data that they are serving to their clients on their far away servers and protected from your prying eyes by byzantine EULAs (ex. 1, 2, 3), swarms of attorneys and spanking-new patents, hot off the printing press. Wait, I guess I wasn’t being dramatic.

Here’s what I recommend: don’t put any information, be it picture, video, thought, phrase, anything you care about, on Facebook, starting today. It isn’t a safe place and anything you put in there, you are likely forfeiting your rights to it. Worse, you may be accepting the onerous task of a prolonged legal battle should you ever want to claim rights to whatever content you are sharing again.

I am not an attorney and this should not be construed as legal advice.

There are plenty of good alternatives out there. Use Twitter and Flickr, or start a blog of your own. It really isn’t difficult, I swear, and with these options you have much more control over your data. You still have to be wary of EULAs, but so far, these organizations haven’t shown the menace that Facebook is brandishing.

I’m now going to try to post this article on Facebook. We shall see what happens. I’ll keep you updated with any developments. Who knows, I may get myself scoble-ized momentarily!

[Update: It posted! Their logic eludes me.]

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Facebook, sweet Facebook!

Oh, Facebook. Why are you so compelling? Yes, even I, your friendly neighborhood “Irish pirate” curmudgeon, have fallen prey to the charms of the Facebook. I know, I know. But there is much to be said for this networking tool, most of which has already been said.

I have found old friends lost long ago due to cross-country moves and new friends that have added me to their list after only one meeting. It is truly fascinating to sift through the social networks of my friends and acquaintances, playing a personalized version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Facebook provides your degrees of separation automatically.

While this seems like tons of fun, I do think there are dangers to be found in this form of social networking. I think it is idiotic to post your cell phone number on any website, yet many do just that on Facebook, Friendster, etc. The danger most apparent in Facebook, though not unique to Facebook, is stalking.

Many people on Facebook list their class schedules. This is a powerful tool for getting to know other people in your classes and can prove very helpful with missed classes, homework and the like. But it also tells the weirdos out there exactly where you will be at a certain time. Not the most appealing thought.

Keeping this in mind, I think it is unavoidable that such networks will continue to grow. We have all “googled” our friends, both near and far. But unless that friend has a web presence or celebrity status of some sort, they are not likely to be found on google. Facebook fills this void in the social networks of college students and staff. Friendster, et al., do the same for the rest of the world. MySpace has even launched some music careers.

People my age (I am 26) are just beyond the grasp of Facebook. The vast majority of my friends from my undergraduate studies are nowhere to be found on the Facebook. The ones that are there are now staff at other universities. Yes, this makes me feel old. My point is that my 16-year-old sister is an online maven, unlike my friends. She and her friends have run through their xanga phase and now eagerly await the high school version of Facebook.

Whether Facebook is the end-all, be-all of communities remains to be seen. It has the potential, through the “alumnus” option, to maintain itself as one of the elite communities. But I don’t think it will take over the world, if for no other reason than the fact that it can only go forward, leaving most of us fogies in the dusty shelves of yearbooks past.

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