Archive for topic “head on a swivel”

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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Does the swine flu vaccine matter?

Democracy Now: Shannon Brownlee - Does the Vaccine Matter?

If you are looking for a reality check on the media frenzy surrounding the swine flu, here you go. Shannon Brownlee’s latest article in the The Atlantic gives a less-frantic look at H1N1 (swine) flu than you will get most places, though it doesn’t really get into issues of additives in vaccines (immunologic adjuvants, etc.) and other, broader worries about vaccination. For more on the swine flu “emergency”, this is essential. While you are at it, you should check out CBS’ coverage of the overestimation of the number of swine flu cases by the government.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t get vaccinated. I am saying you should have all the information before you do so.

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So then, Max Baucus said to America, “Fuck you!”

That headline neatly paraphrases Senator Max Baucus’ “Framework For Comprehensive Health Reform” insofar as it pertains to the American public. I’ll let you read it for yourself (PDF), if you are so inclined, but here are the key points that make it worthy of outright dismissal:

    1) It contains no public option.
    2) Employers are not required to provide you health insurance.
    3) If you are uninsured, you are fined $750/year/individual and $3800/year/family.

Not only does this not help the 45 million uninsured Americans or the 150+ million under-insured Americans, it doesn’t help small businesses and it doesn’t help doctors, either. Not to mention the standard of health care in this country, which is already a joke in the industrialized world.

Senator Baucus, if you think this plan is so fantastic, implement it immediately for yourself and your fellow Senators. But it sure as hell isn’t good enough for me or any of my friends and family. And one last thing, Senator: if they had the money to pay your proposed fine, the uninsured would have bought health insurance, you fucking prick detestable corporate swine!

Am I really the only one feeling some populist rage about this? What better place than here? What better time than now?

Edit: It should be noted that Baucus’ plan was supposed to be the reasoned answer, the great compromise that would bring everyone in from the cold.

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