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Facebook Connect Comments => The end of Internet discourse?
March 8, 2011 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Facebook Connect Comments are not a new feature, but ever since Techcrunch started using it the outrage has started to pour in.

Quoting Lauren Weinstein:
When anonymous speech is destroyed, whether under a boot and rifle shot, or via a simple mouse click on a massive social networking site, the damage is strikingly similar in the long run.

People become nervous about speaking their minds. They fear what their neighbor or employer will find out about their private lives. They self-censor and retreat from public life and discourse.

Anybody, and any firm, that encourages such travesties should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Our fellow human beings, and history itself, demand no less.
posted by asymptotic (221 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I suck at providing context for FPP's. For those who don't know, Facebook Connect Comments is, from the blog posting that launched it:
Today, we're launching our first social widget for Facebook Connect, the Comments Box. The Comments Box is a great way for any website, blog or photo gallery to add social comments to their page in just a minute with a few lines of code. We want to help bring you social widgets that make it easier for users to communicate and share across your site and with their friends on Facebook.
Essentially, it's a way for a website to "outsource" it's commenting system to Facebook. There's no explicit moderation on the part of Facebook, but the idea is that being forced to post under your real name and having such comments exposed to your social network scares away the trolls.
posted by asymptotic at 3:17 AM on March 8, 2011


it's commenting system => its commenting system. grr.
posted by asymptotic at 3:20 AM on March 8, 2011


Also, strangely, when people have their real names attached to the statements they make, there tends to orders of magnitude less abuse, harrassment, bullying, etc.

I know this makes me significantly more to the right of most mefites on this issue, but honestly, I feel like unless you have a compelling reason - and I recognise there certainly are compelling reasons (but this is not it) - you should be responsible for the things you say.

No, this isn't a magic dickhead disappearing trick, but I have never - ever - seen the kind of abuse I see anonymously online in my professional sphere (where I am exposed to large amounts of oft-times heated opinion and emotion from a disparate group on many topics). I think it's becausee are using their real names, and are aware that there could well be consequences to those statements - social, legal, or otherwise.

People getting huffy about having their opinions linked to their names on a gossipy gadget blog - I kind of feel it makes a mockery of real issues of free speech and censorship which abound. If you are honestly are worried about linking your name to your opinion of the new iphone 5 or whatever, I genuinely wonder what value your comment would have for anyone, yourself included.
posted by smoke at 3:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


I agree that there's a problem in forcing people to get a facebook account in order to comment, but after that I'm struggling to see why there is this huge need for anonymity. If anything, anonymity has been a problem for blogs since they first appeared.

This isn't a huge encroachment on your life.The ability to talk to each other anonymously is a recent thing. Our ancestors didn't need it to say what they wanted. As humans, we're pretty much evolved to deal with small social groups where everyone knows everyone elses business.

And, if you're a Chinese dissident and if you really need to say something anonymously, create a fake facebook profile and comment from that.
posted by seanyboy at 3:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: "nausea-inducing kindness is certainly better than rage-inducing assholeishness."
posted by ericb at 3:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


We definitely don’t like the fact that you have to use Facebook (or Yahoo) to log in

Me either, as I don't have either. I can't disagree that it's a good way to tackle the trolls, but it's a bullish way to go about it. Every extra inch Facebook intrudes on my world makes me sadder.
posted by londonmark at 3:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [25 favorites]


No one really has anything thoughtful or interesting to say on TechCrunch anyway, do they?

-- anon
posted by clvrmnky at 3:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have any interest in linking up my various online profiles. I certainly have no interest in allowing Facebook, who have repeatedly shown they don't care about user privacy, to extend their profiling of me and my web use.
posted by markr at 3:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


I'm confused.
Is 'smoke' your given name?
posted by jefflowrey at 3:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


You are confused. If you click on my profile it's there for all to see.
posted by smoke at 3:37 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I also find it pretty interesting that Lauren Weinstein writes about how the facebook connect commenting system effectively censors free speech on a blog which doesn't have any kind of commenting system of its own.
posted by seanyboy at 3:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't link my mefi profile to other online stuff, although it would be trivial enough for somebody to join them up if motivated, just because I don't particularly want my kids' friends parents reading what I post, or my aunt in the country, or some of my colleagues.
Why not have different compartments of your life?
I generally say the same things, but I might be more passionate about gun control here than is politik at the pub in my uncle's rural town, and I certainly curse more at work than I do around my kids' friends.
So why should a blog decide for me what I reveal? In any case, I suspect the declining page views of blogs using the system will see it fall by the wayside.
Heh, a market based solution!
posted by bystander at 3:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love these threads, because the people who say "why do people have a problem using their real names?" are almost always using a nom de plume here. I'm not saying these people are hypocrites, just that it's automatic to create a username that's not your real name.

And, yes, there are relatively few Chinese disidents on a techcruch article about the iPhone7G, but not everyone is going to want to comment on that article about sex toys using their real name.

Hell, I don't believe that AskMeta could exist if we all used our real names since way too many of the answers (let alone the questions) people wouldn't want tied to their real name.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:39 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Creating fake profiles is against FB's T&Cs. If they remove a profile, do the comments also disappear?

Much as I agree that having an investment in a 'profile' makes for less noise, I object to the fact that it's not possible to use alternative profiles to make comments. I think that connecting all the dots of people's activity in such an easily trawlable, centralised, and privately-operated company is a dangerous direction to move in.
posted by davemee at 3:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


The big issue is Facebook's ideology of identity, which explicitly states that each person is to have one identity, and one identity only, that's seen by everyone they interact with, from family to employers to any social circles they hang out in. This is not a value-neutral proposition, as it arguably privileges conformity and bourgeois mainstream values over any deviation therefrom. (When people who live in conservative small towns or work for notoriously straight-laced employers have extracurricular interests that would be disapproved of, such an ideology becomes oppressive.)

Sure, in due time, society may evolve into a more liberal post-privacy world, where politeness is about it being none of anyone's damn business if a teenager is exploring whether she's gay or not or a bank clerk is going to Burning Man on his holiday, but that's arguably one of those utopian end-states that we may or may not actually reach.
posted by acb at 3:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [125 favorites]


The big issue (I have) with Facebook Connect is that suddenly, all of your separate groups of contacts/friends/collegues get this weird insight into.. me. I don't want my collegues to see me planning my WoW raids or geeking out over the latest Captain America trailers or the intricacies of why Klingon foreheads changed.

I don't need genuine anonymity (it's probably fairly trivial to connect my various usernames and I don't mind that), and I don't say things that are totally out of character. But sometimes you just want to keep things separate from eachother, at least from the casual observer.
posted by Harry at 3:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [48 favorites]


The ability to talk to each other anonymously is a recent thing. Our ancestors didn't need it to say what they wanted. As humans, we're pretty much evolved to deal with small social groups where everyone knows everyone elses business.

Absolutely I agree. But the change is that the feudal Lord can now get visibility of our discussions in the outhouse, figuratively.
Humans are adept at managing multiple external 'faces', that fit in with different groups to which they belong. When you were at school did you talk to a teacher after class the same way you talked to kids in the playground? A system that links these two areas is new and annoying.
posted by bystander at 3:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah, its not the lack of anonymity. Its the collision of groups. Our ancestors didn't have to publicly announce everything they said. Just the opposite. Thats why gossip is such a universal thing.

I use facebook because I have family members whose only online presence is just that. Its nice to see them upload photos of their kids. But my facebook messages are usually on the order of "I had fried eggs for breakfast today." because thats really the only thing that I could possibly want to simultaneously broadcast to:
- Colleagues from work
- Close intimate friends
- Friends from childhood
- Friends of my parents
- Conservative friends from my hometown
- Ultra-liberal friends from San Francisco
- Other friends from around the world
- Online-only friends

I use facebook private messaging more than anything else.
posted by vacapinta at 3:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


I've avoided setting up a Facebook account for years specifically because of the power imbalance between user and system that confers all information management on the central authority (Facebook) and doles it out grudgingly, parsimoniously, and with deliberate obfuscation to its users. And how overt Facebook is about this power imbalance: You can never restore control over your own account, you can only buy access to sets of users through their demographics. For sales purposes.

Facebook Connect is Facebook's attempt to throw this assimilative account control outward, and to be a privatized national identity registry for internet participation. Loathesome.
posted by ardgedee at 3:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


It's never too late to quit Facebook. It's not in our interest for our public identities to be privatized or harmonized.
posted by KS at 3:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I quit facebook years ago and never looked back. You really don't need it.
posted by empath at 3:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The ability to talk to each other anonymously is a recent thing. Our ancestors didn't need it to say what they wanted.

Not true. For example some pamphleteers in the past published their opinions anonymously, or pseudonymously, in order to satirize or otherwise stir discourse and debate. One famous example: Benjamin Franklin's letters to The New-England Courant written by his false persona, Silence Dogood.
posted by ericb at 3:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


The ability to talk to each other anonymously is a recent thing.

Even the most public kinds of non-anonymous speech are a lot more risky than they were. It used to be that you could write a letter to your local paper or talk to a reporter under your real name, and an employer who wanted to find it 5, 10, 20 years in the future would have to do some serious detective work, like going through microfiche at your town's library.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think that the commenter mike23042 from the second link nails the real issue for Techcrunch, their writing sucks these days and the comments are just a reflection of that.
posted by octothorpe at 4:10 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't particularly want my asshole boss reading what I write on the Internet. Then he'd know I think he's an asshole.

Of course, that's a joke. My boss is awesome. Fantastic. Wonderful. A saint. A paragon of virtue. I have nothing bad to say about him at all. It was just joke, honest.
posted by jet_manifesto at 4:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Despite what my previous comments may say, I don't actually know if I agree with the concept of the single identity or not.

Given that I recently and accidentally...
1. Linked the girlfriend to my hotmail social profile. Because hey, why not?
2. Linked my facebook profile to my messenger account. (Because I can chat with people on facebook then)
3. Linked my Twitter to my facebook. (Because then I don't have to post stuff twice)
4. Stated explicitly on twitter the craziness of said girlfriend with the unexpected consequence of that message propogating onto my hotmail social profile.

...I can really understand the need not to have everything you say moving through facebook.

But I really get what Zuckerberg is saying w.r.t. privacy and anonymity, and there is a part of me that's really excited to be moving into this post-secretive utopia.

So yeah. Current mood: ambivalent.
posted by seanyboy at 4:17 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use Facebook. My family are all on there. And I link up to some friends from ancient times, when I was a kid. I don't link it to here, because here I am extremely candid on topics I wouldn't want easily linked to my name.

I do tend to go along with folks wanting to limit how much Facebook permeates everything. I want it to stay in its place.
posted by Goofyy at 4:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


@seanyboy: SETEC ASTRONOMY
posted by asymptotic at 4:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Facebook is the new incarnation of AOL as far as I'm concerned.

Not just technically, but in karmic terms as well.
posted by bardic at 4:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


It seems like every freaking day there is some kind of new Facebook drama in which Facebook takes another bite out of your soul or something. I am so sick of social media and hearing about the latest encroaching Facebook crap every day.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


if a site is trying to be a serious source of reliable information, then placing some sort of barrier to commenting is probably a good idea... if a site is "entertainment themed" and is more concerned with volume than value i cannot see restricting anonymous comments as actually helping its cause...

i do not see how this has anything to do with free speech. i think any outrage may be giving facebook a little too much credit. if a user base is unhappy with a policy implemented by a site, then the site's user base will suffer
posted by lulz at 4:50 AM on March 8, 2011


Our local paper recently changed its commenting rules for its online edition to require real names.

Predictably, the local chapter of the Ancient and Accepted Order of the Internet Toughguys completely flipped out. The blamed the laziness of the paper, those insidious liberals, corrupt politicians, and probably even international terrorism and the gold standard for the change. They did not see any problem with calling real people named in various stories Nazis, pedophiles, maniacs, bigots, retards, scum, or *gasp* not-from-round-here until suddenly their real names would be attached to those comments. Once that was threatened, suddenly everyone was up in arms, rushing to defend the First Amendment. How dare these liberal bullies try to stifle what I have to say! I have to be anonymous, otherwise they'll fire me from my job for being so Truthy!

They were completely lost when someone pointed out that no advertiser is going to want to pay for an ad that would display next to some screed about how immigrants are shooting each other with guns bought with out tax dollars. The assumption on their part that they were the beating heart of the community was pretty strong. Of course they have the right to post whatever they want to any forum of their choosing without consequence! That's in the First Amendment, just after the part that says everyone in America better love Jesus or else, right?

Now that most of them are gone, you can actually scroll down the page to glance at the comments section attached to articles without danger of eyeroll strain. It's pretty nice.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


there is a part of me that's really excited to be moving into this post-secretive utopia.

Utopia, or dystopia?

Chacon à son goût.
posted by blucevalo at 4:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the future, we are all Todd Lokken.
posted by Eideteker at 4:58 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


They were completely lost when someone pointed out that no advertiser is going to want to pay for an ad that would display next to some screed about how immigrants are shooting each other with guns bought with out tax dollars.

I'm not seeing a whole level of difference in terms of the willingness of internet toughguys to post their wacky opinions about the gold standard and the Mau-Mau uprising and Obama's secret blueprint to take over the world (especially on Facebook itself). Those comments still get posted. There may be a discernibly lesser number of them, but the Facebook Connect/real name required features aren't making them go away. Maybe your hometown newspaper has more readers who are scared of the consequences, or maybe mine has more readers who just don't give a shit.
posted by blucevalo at 5:00 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lauren Weinstein:
All over the Web, we've seen signs that powerful interests are simply "fed up" with the free flow of information that anonymous comments permit [...] (and are) demanding that comments be signed with real names.
What signs are these, exactly? The powerful interests are building great firewalls or simply turning the Internet off. They are not switching to Facebook comments for their fuckyeahoppression tumblr.

Rather, the people who are "fed up" are the people who are hosting the valueless streams of drivel created at the intersection of an anonymous comment box and the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. The way to solve that is pretty well known -- make people own their own words.

That doesn't automatically have to mean "real" names, but it does have to mean an identity that the user is invested in. So here, despite the snark about handles like "smoke", everyone knows that plenty of users here don't want to destroy the reputation of or lose the value of their investment in their usernames. In a lot of ways, for a lot of people their Mefi name or their Twitter handle *is* like a real name.

Creating a setup like that doesn't come easy, though. You have to nurture and develop a community. For a lot of sites -- blogs, news sites etc -- that sort of community doesn't and will never exist. For them, using real names via Facebook is actually a pretty good compromise.

So when I see the histrionics about the right to untrammelled anonymous speech via comment boxes, I just can't raise the concern. I can't even see the slippery slope, to be honest. First they came for the commenters on the troll-bound blogs, and I did not speak up because I was not a troll. Then they came for ????. Then democracy collapsed and the US government infringed the right to free speech.
posted by bonaldi at 5:03 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you click on my profile it's there for all to see.

Which you can always remove at your leisure. Not quite the same, IMO. Why not just use your real name?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't object to having to post on MeFi with my real name.

I would object if my posts here were correlated in some giant database with my posts on other websites, to be sold to third party advertisers.

I would object most strongly if the company controlling this database had a crazy vision of the future where there is no personal privacy.

Really, this isn't about eliminating anonymous trolls. It's about eliminating pseudonymity online. Why? Well real name + centralize site to login = one identity does bring up some philosopical questions, but please, Mark Zuckerburg does not really care if this solves the anonymous Internet Fuckwad Theory or not. He cares about the quality and scope of the data that Facebook collects. This comment system is going to make Facebook's data more valuable, plain and simple.
posted by cotterpin at 5:11 AM on March 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


First they came for the newspaper comment trolls, and I said nothing, because I was not a newspaper comment troll...
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't comment on random blogs that require my real name. Which is fine.
So it comes down to whether anon comments on blogs are worthwhile to the blog owner.
Are you upset about blogs that don't allow posting at all?
My objection, really, is the change in terms of service. If I liked commenting at Techcrunch, I'd be pretty cranky now that they insist on linking my comments (and presumably past comments if I have a consistent handle?) to my Facebook ID.
It leaves me between a rock and a hard place - I can abandon my previous "anonymous" ID there and start again (censoring myself), or accept Techcrunch's decision to link all those posts with my Facebook.
Either way, I can see it would piss off the Techcrunch commentor community.
How would you feel if Mefi announced it would require a Facebook login?
posted by bystander at 5:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]



I wouldn't object to having to post on MeFi with my real name.

Would you object to linking your name to comments you originally made thinking you had a degree of pseudonymity?
posted by bystander at 5:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mark Zuckerburg does not really care if this solves the anonymous Internet Fuckwad Theory or not. He cares about the quality and scope of the data that Facebook collects. This comment system is going to make Facebook's data more valuable, plain and simple.

Naturally! Why does Facebook do anything? But it's doing so by solving a problem, which means they now *do* care, because if they don't solve that problem, or do commenting better than disqus et al, then people won't use them and they won't get the lovely data.

Sure, it means people like us who see through their wily ruse won't be commenting on those sites very much, but a lack of comments is hardly a pressing problem on the world wide web.
posted by bonaldi at 5:23 AM on March 8, 2011


Yes, I would also object to a website allowing me to post pseudonymously, and then later retroactively applying my real name to those posts. It seems pretty clear that this kind of data should not be gathered years later and given to third parties.

If I understand correctly, and Techcrunch is later asking for a facebook id for your account to link up all the data after the fact, I would just abandon the old account and make a new one and link that to my facebook id. If I were so committed to posting to techcruch at all, that is.
posted by cotterpin at 5:24 AM on March 8, 2011


a lack of comments is hardly a pressing problem on the world wide web

It would be a problem to me.
posted by misterG at 5:26 AM on March 8, 2011


> But I really get what Zuckerberg is saying w.r.t. privacy and anonymity...

I consider Zuckerberg's statements regarding privacy with the same skepticism I consider Monsanto's information regarding corn processing.

For a good example of deliberately not trying hard to protect user interests, take this example:

Your Facebook profile is visible to any user you send a message to. Once you respond to them, they have access to your profile for a limited time. Regardless of your privacy settings.

So what do you do if you want to keep your Facebook profile private, but receive a message from a stranger that may potentially be worth responding to; You can be wary and not respond, or do an end-run and attempt to research that user before responding, but there's no way to respond without opening yourself up to them.

By contrast, when I get email from a stranger, I don't have to weigh the potential of opening up my email history and business records to them as part of my polite response of tentative interest.

Facebook could very easily fix this problem (eg, keep user profiles unilaterally private). The time restriction on access to the profile means that Facebook is aware you don't really want to share it. It's an arbitrary policy, and Facebook could easily hand control of this policy to the user, if Facebook could be arsed to try.

Facebook has deliberately made privacy management into a whack-a-mole game; they could make it easy, they could make it manageable, but they chose to do otherwise. Claiming that it's the inevitability of market forces and the encroachment of the Internet is excuse-making bullshit.
posted by ardgedee at 5:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


I recently set up my blog and outsourced comments to disqus. What bugs me about Facebook comments is that I have no flipping clue what will and won't be published back at Facebook profile central HQ. Not that I'm terribly afraid of what I'm saying, but I don't really need to be broadcasting what a huge Linux and programming nerd I am to the whole world.
posted by pwnguin at 5:34 AM on March 8, 2011


He cares about the quality and scope of the data that Facebook collects. This comment system is going to make Facebook's data more valuable, plain and simple.

Exactly. On Facebook, *you* are the product that Facebook sells. They're trying to force you to become more valuable to them.
posted by eriko at 5:37 AM on March 8, 2011


I just find it weird that Radiohead wrote Karma Police long before Facebook existed and not after...
posted by fleetmouse at 5:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Naturally! Why does Facebook do anything?

Because that cute girl dumped him in college.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The thing is, nobody is obliged to tell Facebook the truth about themselves or anything.
posted by mhoye at 5:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a bad person because I have two Facebook profiles. Both of them show my name, both of them are friended to each other.

One of them is my personal account.

The other was created to test some connectivity for blog-to-Facebook stuff, so that I could do the testing without spamming people, which I consider responsible behavior on the Internet.

What can I say? I'm doing a bad thing to keep from doing what I consider a worse thing. I think that's worth it.

I've seen the facebook connect stuff and I make a point of being logged into the account that shows me as a liberal techie instead of the one that is the straight-laced technologist who is learning PHP and writing tutorials in order to help others.
posted by mephron at 5:50 AM on March 8, 2011


One famous example: Benjamin Franklin's letters to The New-England Courant written by his false persona, Silence Dogood.

Samuel Clemens wrote pseudonymously just about all the time.
posted by limeonaire at 5:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, nobody is obliged to tell Facebook the truth about themselves or anything

No, but this is where's Facebook's policy against pseudonyms really shows itself.

If you give false information to facebook, but this false information gets linked to your entire online presence, what does it really matter? Facts are just facts. They aren't the total of your privacy. When we talk about privacy online, its not your actual birthdate and hometown that you want to keep away from strangers' eyes.

The things you want to keep private are what you do online. You want to keep what sites you visit private from your parents. You want to keep your political activism private from your employer. This is exactly the stuff you cannot lie to facebook about if facebook is recording your posts.
posted by cotterpin at 5:58 AM on March 8, 2011


I guess it's time to start stockpiling alternate online identities, in preparation for the de-anonymizing epoch.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2011


Wael Ghonim created the "We are all Said" page under a pseudonym. Not only was the page closed, but he was kidnapped by Mubarak's police and tortured for 12 days. And Facebook still insists they aren't at fault for aiding and abetting Mubaran because Ghonim broke their "Terms Of Service".

This isn't a coincidence or one off casualty. This is by design. Facebook does want to become the "go to" for all identities and get paid for it. To them surveillance is the new imperial economy and identity the new territory to conquer. Even if it ends with dissidents being kidnapped, jailed, tortured or killed. Of course, the moral of the story is that activists shouldnt be using Facebook. Yet for Facebook, the opportunity of becoming "the Internet" for tyrannies, is just business.

And am not being facetious about this. As someone who got tailed for 4 days at an OReilly FOOCamp for social media entrepreneurs, "thought leaders" and activists, this is what i got to hear the Facebookers brag about for 4 days.

They really, truly not only dont give a shit about privacy, Zuck and his Facebookers really want to OWN it. Not just destroy privacy, because then they wouldnt have anything to trade. No, they actually want to own privacy so they can sell it back to you. It's why I describe what they do as the new surveillance economy.
posted by liza at 6:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [63 favorites]


Yeah, I rather like being able to discuss policy and technical issues without it being auto-linked to my professional life. There are blogs that I use my real name on, and I restrict the scope of things that I talk about. It's not OK for a future employer to google me and find that I didn't know Cayley's transformation.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is vitally important for Facebook to do this because Facebook needs to map a single identity to a single person for the purposes of advertising. They need a single you to sell, not 5 separate identities.

What frustrates me is how all the arguments around anonymity online are focused on either bullying, trolling, or abuse on the one hand, and some sophomoric notion of "responsibility" for what you say on the other.

Please read this carefully: The reason I am anonymous online is to force you, the reader, to be responsible for what you read and how you read it. Any time someone introduces their own or someone else's identity into a discussion, it's because they are looking for their statements to carry more weight or have more credibility than the content of those statements deserves. They are looking to substitute anecdote for data or personal preference for fact.

What is amazing is how much people want this information. They want to know who or what you are so they can compartmentalize you and then only read what you write in the context of that. They want to judge what you say based on who you are. And when you don't give it to them, they actually fabricate it for you.

There is absolutely no benefit, none, to using your real-world identity online. Anything you think you get by using your real identity, you can just as easily get with a different one. Hell, there are times in real life when I don't use my real name. The risks in doing so are legion, so why do it?

Pastabagel is on facebook. My real world identity is not. I fail to see how that is a problem for anyone but Facebook.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Your Facebook profile is visible to any user you send a message to.

I don't think this is true any more....
posted by schmod at 6:35 AM on March 8, 2011


My local newspaper did this a while back, though they provided an out for those who wanted to use their old account (they had to provide a phone number to be contacted at and verified). Needless to say I comment a lot less since their pagerank is pretty high and if you google my name those comments will come up, even ahead of my own blog!
posted by SirOmega at 6:36 AM on March 8, 2011


Real name + immortal data + searchability = very bad idea, in my book.

If the problem is the level of civility on a message board, then MeFi's solution makes sense. Make the poster put at least a token amount of skin in the game. But requiring, and posting, their actual identity is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

For example, I have strong political opinions and enjoy the back-and-forth of political arguments. Even though I'd probably share my opinions with anyone who asked, it doesn't follow that I want my employers, or future employers, or creditors, or any number of other groups to be able to correlate what I write online with my identity.

And to all the kiddies who think computers have "changed everything" and that fake identities are something new - pseudonyms have been used for political discussions, by necessity, for thousands of years.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:37 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


They really, truly not only dont give a shit about privacy, Zuck and his Facebookers really want to OWN it. Not just destroy privacy, because then they wouldnt have anything to trade. No, they actually want to own privacy so they can sell it back to you. It's why I describe what they do as the new surveillance economy.

Quoted for truth. Very well said. Society has outsourced the panopticon to a private company. It was bad enough when the government controlled it, but at least the Constitution guarantees us certain rights against the government. The constitution does not apply to your relationship to a corporation.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I really get what Zuckerberg is saying w.r.t. privacy and anonymity, and there is a part of me that's really excited to be moving into this post-secretive utopia.

Isn't this the same Zuckerberg who used other people's passwords to access their accounts on other systems?

Gotta hand it to him, living the 'post-secret' dream!
posted by rough ashlar at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2011


As scared as I am about violating Facebook's TOS (meaning not really) by having a sockpuppet, isn't that the best solution? On the other hand I don't use Facebook for any constructive reason anyway.

Whoever said it's the modern day AOL is spot on.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 6:40 AM on March 8, 2011


I use Facebook, but I have my account largely locked down and just have a few family and friends on it. I sure would not like to use the same account to comment on all my favorite sites.
posted by no1nose at 6:44 AM on March 8, 2011


This reminds me of this comic.

I don't use Facebook, I won't use Facebook, and if you make Facebook the only way for me to use your site or talk to you about your kid or whatever, then I won't do those things, and that's fine with me.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2011


Hurry up Diaspora.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Goddamn Facebook they deleted my Senor Fuzzypants account!

Just make up a name that sounds real, they aren't checking ID's
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 AM on March 8, 2011


But I really get what Zuckerberg is saying w.r.t. privacy and anonymity, and there is a part of me that's really excited to be moving into this post-secretive utopia.
posted by seanyboy at 7:17 AM on March 8


Pst-secretive utopia, huh? So I should assume that Zuckerberg is setting up his profile as a model for how we all should be doing it in this new golden age?

This is the most recent thing on his wall:

Mark Zuckerberg (Public Figure)
Had a lot of fun on Saturday Night Live tonight! You can check out the clip here: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/jesse-eisenberg-monologue/1279517/
January 30 at 12:50am via iPhone


He wants you to do what he won't do in a billion years, which is to put the story of his life online for nothing.

The story is to be sold, not to be told.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " Which you can always remove at your leisure. Not quite the same, IMO. Why not just use your real name?"

I used to be an active member of a mailing list whose moderators had their personal information (name, address, phone numbers, etc.,) along with an angry, vicious screed against them posted on a Dutch website by a disgruntled, banned member. The mods each had families and felt threatened. They had little recourse because at the time under Dutch law, a take-down order would require an order from a judge.

Using one's real name online can have real-life consequences. Not everyone out there has a firm grip on reality.

I speak more honestly about certain topics on MeFi, including I/P, politics, parenting, relationships and my job experiences than I would without that anonymity. The lesson I learned from the aforementioned incident is not to naively trust people I don't know.
posted by zarq at 6:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anybody, and any firm, that encourages such travesties should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Our fellow human beings, and history itself, demand no less.


While I agree that Facebook is sleazy in its (lack of) privacy policies and I don't use it very much at all (got an account because family is on there but just never got into it), this phrasing irritates me. It's so heavy-handed. You take yourself a little too seriously, lady on the internet.
posted by misha at 7:02 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem of identity on the internet has been with us for a long long time. OpenID and Microsoft's Hailstorm are both more or less failed approaches to the same problem.

There is a difference between anonymity and identity. I don't worry much about my personal anonymity (privilege, I guess), but I can't imagine a world where we don't have various groups of people who need it- primarily people with non-majority opinions and beliefs, but also folks who are biologically out of the mainstream or members of various protected classes.

A solid identity system that can securely provide anonymity would be a huge help for communications, for web services, and for online freedom- but it doesn't fix the troll problem unless there is some barrier to entry- like metafilter's $5 "troll bond".
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a Facebook account and I happen to have a Trip Advisor account. When I go to Trip Advisor, it frustratingly keeps me logged into Facebook to post to the forums instead of my T.A. account.

Early this year I was planning a surprise trip for my girlfriend and every damn time I asked a question or posted a follow-up I'd have to log out of Facebook, log into Trip Advisor, post, log back out of Trip Advisor and then log back into Facebook next time I wanted to go back to Facebook.
posted by yeti at 7:04 AM on March 8, 2011


Whenever I think of anything that Facebook does I remind myself of the founder's original motto: "They trust me -- dumb fucks."

That's all I really need to remember.
posted by blucevalo at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


"They trust me -- dumb fucks."

*gets down on a bended knee*

Oh mighty user ID #1 - please grant me this boon - everytime Facebook is in a FPP that quote is placed in the tag section?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:08 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, freakin' OpenID.

With graph traversal, linked has all of the downsides of centralized.

I'm reminded of that whole bit in college psych class where the professor has everyone write down what they think the age of consent ought to be on slips of paper and pass them in. Then she asks, out loud, what everyone thinks — the average is always higher.

Named speech is more polite speech, but it isn't more honest speech. If I have to pick between the two, I'll take the latter, every time.
posted by adipocere at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just last night I got into a heated argument with a relative on Facebook for posting essentially what I've said here in every Wisconsin-related thread. To be sure, it's incredibly intense in Wisconsin right now, and I do want to speak my mind about the political issues, but OTOH I'm not sure I want every snarky comment I make about Walker's hair to be searchable by employers 10 years down the road.
posted by desjardins at 7:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not on FB, so I worry less about the invasions of privacy they inflict on their users than I do about the fact that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to use the internet without a FB account.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:15 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


it is becoming increasingly more difficult to use the internet without a FB account.

Then is it an Internet at that point?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't need genuine anonymity (it's probably fairly trivial to connect my various usernames and I don't mind that), and I don't say things that are totally out of character. But sometimes you just want to keep things separate from eachother, at least from the casual observer.

This. Facebook was sort of built around the idea that privacy is a binary--you're either making something available about yourself, or you aren't. And anything you make available is intended to be available for everyone, forever.

Even those of us who understand that most of our various online profiles could be linked together easily (and not everyone does understand this) don't necessarily WANT that to happen. The expectation when I sign up for various websites is that they won't be linked to my "real identity" in any official way, even if it's technically possible for a human or search robot to piece it together. Companies have a vested interest in making privacy a "yes or no" checkbox, so they can get you to give it all up by dangling features in front of you. In reality, people see privacy as a range, and get uncomfortable when it's dialed down, especially retroactively.

I think a blog like Techcrunch is fairly innocuous, but if my real name was linked to my MeFi account or a similar general-topic forum, I'd be uncomfortable. A quick scan of my comments reveals I've talked about lube, my IUD, and pap smears. Nothing awful, but I wouldn't want my real name attached, and I certainly wouldn't want my Facebook profile connected to them. I wouldn't really trust Facebook to keep that from happening.
posted by almostmanda at 7:24 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Named speech is more polite speech, but it isn't more honest speech. If I have to pick between the two, I'll take the latter, every time.

Every time, huh? You want people to tell you honestly what they think, all the time, where they would usually be polite? You want people to treat your family that way, even if it reduces them to tears? You want them stopping you in the street just to make it plain what they think, or interrupting your grief to explain the person you lost was a douchebag? I don't buy it.

Oddly, it turns out most people who host conversations online don't actually want that, either. Named speech is more polite speech for fundamental reasons, mostly to do with avoiding things being nasty, /b/rutish, and short.
posted by bonaldi at 7:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I really get what Zuckerberg is saying w.r.t. privacy and anonymity, and there is a part of me that's really excited to be moving into this post-secretive utopia.

While I agree with others that Zuckerberg's facebook might not be the paragon of virtue wrt privacy, I agree with your statement 1000%. The more, disparate faces we try to present to the world, the more we have to protect. That is what makes people crazy.

Nobody should force this on us ("surprise! everything you ever said is now attached to your name!"), BUT, it should probably be the default setting. Sort of a gemeinschaft and gesellschaft thing. We ARE part of a community and a society. Those communities and societies shouldn't going around getting all up in our business, but we are deluding ourselves when we pretend they don't exist, or that they cannot accidentally or purposefully get into our business.

In other words, we will all be a lot better off if we all accepted and internalized the fact that all the other people around us are mostly real humans with varied interests and opinions, and who have had similar experiences. When we were kids, almost all of us would be mortified if our moms or dads found out we were talking about sex. Or worse *what* we were saying about it. But at some point, some of us grow up and realize that mom and dad might have done those same things, and that it is a normal thing. Not something to be hidden away. The more people that learn that, and the sooner in their development they do, the more sane and mature they might end up being.

And mom and dad might not be so judgmental if they were a little less able to ignore the fact that little Suzy might like the idea of kissing boys. Or girls.

Society might just evolve into being a little less judgmental and ignorant if we knew a little more about the depth and breadth of the people we come into contact with.

I agree with the idea of anonymity online, but not the idea that it must be the default setting.

(On the other hand, actual private information that we choose not to publish, should always be sacrosanct. If I have to give my email address to facebook in order to sign up, but I check the box that says keep it private, they should respect that.)

Also: you kids these days. If you say it, type it or write it, it isn't private anymore.
posted by gjc at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


. A quick scan of my comments reveals I've talked about lube, my IUD, and pap smears. Nothing awful, but I wouldn't want my real name attached,

And "we" as a "community" have opted to trust the staff here to not do that.

It helps when the staff isn't on record calling us dumb fucks for having that trust.

(and really, how dis functional is the world when the largest electronic community is run by a guy who calls users dumb fucks for trusting him AND trust is a key part of community?)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2011


Then is it an Internet at that point?

No, a FacebookNet.
posted by blucevalo at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2011


Just last night I got into a heated argument with a relative on Facebook for posting essentially what I've said here in every Wisconsin-related thread. To be sure, it's incredibly intense in Wisconsin right now, and I do want to speak my mind about the political issues, but OTOH I'm not sure I want every snarky comment I make about Walker's hair to be searchable by employers 10 years down the road.

But if every other potential employee had the same searchable history, what's the harm? Employers (probably with the same Permanent Record themselves) won't give a fuck. "OK, Joe goes online to complain about politics. Sue goes online to complain about Richard Stallman. Mary goes online to talk about how she steals computers from work." Gee, I think we know who not to make an offer to.

Also, the sword cuts both ways. Employers that ignorantly choose based on political affiliation and what not, probably won't get the best employees. The ones who don't care might miss the office supply stealers. The ones who see a "searchable history" in a mature light will probably be the best place to work for.

The problem here is the delusion that the people we meet along our travels aren't just as fucked up as the rest of us.
posted by gjc at 7:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is amazing is how much people want this information. They want to know who or what you are so they can compartmentalize you and then only read what you write in the context of that. They want to judge what you say based on who you are. And when you don't give it to them, they actually fabricate it for you.

While there are lots of bad reasons for wanting that information, it's also pretty essential to being able to find and read anything worthwhile that we can use the identity of speakers to filter out the stuff that has <.01% chance of being useful/interesting/correct/etc.
posted by straight at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2011


(and really, how dis functional is the world when the largest electronic community is run by a guy who calls users dumb fucks for trusting him AND trust is a key part of community?)

1- How dysfunctional is it to imagine that any other entrepreneur, at some point, hasn't made a crude, flippant comment about their customers?

2- How is trust a part of the community? It is called FACEbook. Your face, your name, the stuff you have chosen to publish about yourself. If I post something all super privately about how big Becky's butt is, facebook is not who I am trusting. It is all the people who have access to that post and that they won't instantly taunt poor Becky with it.
posted by gjc at 7:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Employers that ignorantly choose based on political affiliation and what not, probably won't get the best employees. The ones who don't care might miss the office supply stealers. The ones who see a "searchable history" in a mature light will probably be the best place to work for.

This is delusional. In the real world, hardly anyone has their pick of 10 different jobs and can choose the one that pays the best, offers work that they love to do, and also has bosses that have no prejudices against anything they might do or say online.

In the real world, lots of people will suffer from the disintegration of privacy.
posted by straight at 7:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


it is becoming increasingly more difficult to use the internet without a FB account.

One of our favorite local bands we keep missing because we never see their shows announced. There was a pro-planned parenthood march right in our back yard that we heard nothing about.

I've come to the conclusion that the stuff we're missing (that we would otherwise be interested in attending) is announced on Facebook and Twitter, and that people just don't bother to announce them anywhere else because "Everyone's on Facebook"

Kind of annoys me, but not enough to re-activate my account. It took enough hurdles just to get it close in the first place.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook linking is a just plain discouragement to commenting. As a woman who has her picture attached to her FB account (along with her real name, which is also linked in my profile here), I feel like it's an invitation to having people harass me online and, if I were to comment on a local news outlet, possibly in real-world ways. Maybe I'm paranoid, but that's how I feel about the intersection of Facebook and news site commenters, probably because my opinion of news site commenters is so low.
posted by immlass at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2011


1- How dysfunctional is it to imagine that any other entrepreneur, at some point, hasn't made a crude, flippant comment about their customers?

And then showed the attitude by USING the passwords.

Why are you defending what was done? Do you think it was OK?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Named speech is more polite speech, but it isn't more honest speech. If I have to pick between the two, I'll take the latter, every time.

I guess it depends on the maturity of the speaker. People wearing masks are rarely trustworthy and usually up to no good.

I mean, we all rail heartily on various right wing groups for astroturfing. We want THEM to own up to what they are doing, but we seem not to want to do the same.
posted by gjc at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2011


bonaldi, if someone is forcing that choice on me, then yes. And by that I mean that there is one or the other but not the option for both. Most situations do not force that choice upon us.

Maybe I haven't expressed this clearly, but I imagine if Rod Serling appears before me and I see two more doors in the room than am I used to. He says, "This is your lucky day. You get to have a choice. You can go through the door on the left and everyone will be honest, or the door to the right, and everyone will be forever polite."

And I ask, "Rod, aren't you dead?"

Rod says, "Buddy, we're in the Twilight Zone. You think that is going to stop me?"

"Good point. So the left, how honest?"

"Well, it's not exactly The Invention of Lying —"

"— that was really implausible —"

"Yeah, I would have thrown out that script even if Beaumont handed it to me. Too many changes to reality, if you get my drift. Anyway, it's that they are probably going to be honest because they can be. On the right, though, totally polite ... out of fear of repercussions. You'd get the odd maniac who didn't care anymore but otherwise everyone imagines everything they've ever said linked to them for all time and waved in front of them."

"And I have to pick?"

"Yup. Because this is the Twilight Zone. We hardly ever let the characters avoid choices."

And at first I'm thinking, yeah, polite, pleasant, all the time. Sounds pretty sweet. But then I realize that I'll be haunted by the fact that nobody will ever tell me the unpleasant truth again, ever. It'll be a very comfortable world with absolutely nothing in it but my own faith that everything is hunky-dory.

Now, most of the time I'd rather not go through either door. Unfortunately, I'm being pushed towards the doors because of this technology, technology which would seem fairly Twilight Zonish sixty years ago.

So if I absolutely were forced to pick, the more probable honest of anonymity with all of the attendant emotional hurt that would come with it would be my unhappy choice because I absolutely despise when I catch on to someone lying to me politely — it hurts no less and in many cases more.
posted by adipocere at 8:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


1- How dysfunctional is it to imagine that any other entrepreneur, at some point, hasn't made a crude, flippant comment about their customers?

And then showed the attitude by USING the passwords.

Why are you defending what was done? Do you think it was OK?


Where did I defend it? Or say anything about using people's passwords?

We are better off knowing that he is an asshole, and I think that's the whole point of this conversation.
posted by gjc at 8:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anything Zuckerberg (or the Google guys for that matter) says about privacy is an attempted after the fact justification. The only THE ONLY goal or ethos is to get as much information about you as possible to sell for the money money possible.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


To get to where he is today, Zuckerberg probably gave up a lot of privacy in the first place, and acquired enough power to deal with the consequences of that. I suspect that he has no context at all for many of our privacy concerns.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:08 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why are you defending what was done? Do you think it was OK?
I don't, I think it was inevitable. There was an (anonymous!) survey done of sysops a good few years back, and a notable majority had read other users' email for more than strictly work purposes.

You put young men on charge of tech and this is what they do. The early phone system employed young men, and very quickly had to change to older women because the boys spent their time a)playing pranks and b)eavesdropping. Contempt for privacy is default when you don't care about your own, and in fact would love nothing more than for the world to pay much more attention to your awesomeness.

Zuckerburg was no different, then. I imagine he is now, with billions at stake. Perhaps not. But by all accounts the ability that FB staff have to do look into other accounts is very monitored and actively policed.

*Selling* it in novel new ways, that's a different matter.

Adipocere: thing is, we're *already* through the door into the room with the terrible people. And what we're being offered is a few rooms on the polite side. Those rooms just happen to come with CCTV and marketers behind one-way glass, but people are tired enough of life in the free-fire zone that it *still* seems like the lesser of two evils to sit in the room for a while.
posted by bonaldi at 8:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can go through the door on the left and everyone will be honest, or the door to the right, and everyone will be forever polite.

Is the question really honest versus polite? They aren't really opposites. Nor is anonymity anywhere near a predictor of honesty.

They really are plotted on two different axes. One can be honest and rude, honest and polite, lying and rude, lying and polite.

(Not that I disagree with you: given those choices, I'd probably choose the same way. No beauty without truth, etc.)
posted by gjc at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2011


I use secret/private browsing to use facebook, and don't go to any other sites while I'm logged in. I recommend it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2011


Look, I'm no facebook apologist, they abuse privacy, they don't have their users best interests in mind, etc. I agree outsourcing commenting to facebook is bad for all the excellent reasons given above.

However, is "I don't have facebook", "I quit facebook" and "no-one needs facebook" the new "I don't have a TV"? Somehow it always comes across as so smug and superior.

I have a facebook account. I ENJOY using facebook. I locked down my facebook account's privacy options as much as I could. I choose what I post considering who I have friended on there. I keep in touch with friends all across the world, and it's wonderful and funny and makes me happy.

I do look forward to something else coming along and replacing (or at least threatening) facebook, culminating in more natural and complex ways to filter your thoughts according to audience.
posted by Joh at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only THE ONLY goal or ethos is to get as much information about you as possible to sell for the money money possible.

So what? It is no different from television or radio or newspapers. Or locating retail stores where the customers might be, or selling street art where the tourists are.

They provide a service that people seem to like, and the only "cost" is enduring ads that are imagined to be relevant to you.

This idea that being part of a statistical cohort steals privacy is even loonier than the idea that taking a photograph steals your soul.
posted by gjc at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use secret/private browsing to use facebook, and don't go to any other sites while I'm logged in. I recommend it.

Shit. I don't want to have to do that but it's such a good idea. One day I'll be rid of that stupid website, maybe once I cure my narcissism.
posted by pwally at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2011


Joh:
However, is "I don't have facebook", "I quit facebook" and "no-one needs facebook" the new "I don't have a TV"? Somehow it always comes across as so smug and superior.

I have a facebook account. I ENJOY using facebook.


To be honest, it seems less like non-Facebookers are smug and more like you are feeling defensive about Facebooking. But that could just be because I'm so smug about being a non-Facebooker.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc: This idea that being part of a statistical cohort steals privacy is even loonier than the idea that taking a photograph steals your soul.

If you think advertising is served to you (by Google or Facebook) as part of a statistical cohort and not as last_first_usernum a unique entity, then I can see why you think the rest of us a chicken little. You're wrong, but it explains a lot.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:22 AM on March 8, 2011


Hey, Joh, I don't at all feel superior or mean to sound superior for using Facebook. Honestly, I usually think I must be missing some essential gene because I don't get it. I tweet, I love Metafilter, but I don't get how the interaction on Facebook goes, really.

And I just haven't pursued it much because, of the family members I know on Facebook, at least half of the adults have had security problems, and a couple had serious identity theft issues which can apparently be tracked back to their Facebook activity.
posted by misha at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2011


I meant to say that I basically suck For NOT using Facebook in that first sentence. Sheesh.
posted by misha at 8:25 AM on March 8, 2011


Oh, I don't disagree that there are times you can be polite and honest in the same breath. However, life is full of delicate conversations wherein what someone would like to hear one thing and you cannot honestly say you agree.

That age of consent bit I mentioned above is fairly telling in that. There's nothing impolite about saying the word "Seventeen," but some might object to that in context. Value exists in anonymous speech and certainly a load of trouble, as well. Get rid of anonymous speech and you will get rid of that trouble — no doubt. Are you willing to lose that value, as well? Am I?
posted by adipocere at 8:29 AM on March 8, 2011


Has anyone ever done any research on whether there was any difference in anything between now and back when EVERYONE was in the phonebook? When you could pick up a phone, ask to be connected to a person by name, and it would happen? Crime, harassment, nuisance, etc?

It seems like something happens to people when information is hidden. I'm not smart enough to know about what it is, but it seems like the information gains power somehow. And that by virtue of having figured out this information, people are more willing to exploit it.
posted by gjc at 8:34 AM on March 8, 2011


But if every other potential employee had the same searchable history, what's the harm? Employers (probably with the same Permanent Record themselves) won't give a fuck. "OK, Joe goes online to complain about politics. Sue goes online to complain about Richard Stallman. Mary goes online to talk about how she steals computers from work." Gee, I think we know who not to make an offer to.

Good thing the balance of power between employers and employees/candidates is perfectly symmetrical and evenhanded, that all companies and managers are perfectly rational beings free of bias, that existing labor laws provide protection against employers making capricious hire/fire decisions, and that employees are able to wreak as much arbitrary havoc on their employers and interviewers as they can have wreaked on themselves.

Make no mistake, this is just another venue for class warfare to play itself out. Unless you can think of a way for a Whole Foods worker to use their CEO's well-documented batshit-insane political screeds against him in the same way that a hiring manager can use easily-Google-able facts against that same employee?
posted by Mayor West at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


After the last time they moved to "new profile" or whatever, the one where everythign you type links to a page about that where other people's profile are also linked, I stopped. I didn't quit the site entirely because I still use it for twitter-like status updates, posting news stories and checking up on people's photos. But I'll be damned if Im going to help them build a digital dossier on my life to sell to the highest bidder.

Heres how I now use the site (and the internet at large):

1) My profile is blank. The only thing it says are what networks I'm in and random silly things that my girlfriend has made me "like" on my iphone for giggles. Like "curly hair" and TV shows.

2) I've pretty much moved to fulltime private browsing. Because of a) facebook creep b) increased user tracking generally and 3) increased crosslinking between sites and adnetworks (also I don't really like browser history either, my pron is my biz, thanks)

3) installed the Facebook disconnect extension

4) Full time Noscript, adblock plus, ghostery and TACO (Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out) extensions. I have to whitelist a lot, but sites I use regularly I only have to add once (or god forbid on a reinstall shudder) and I can see all the sites that are trying to connect me to facebook.net or its ilk against my will. Hint: its almost every major site these days. As an added bonus, I havent had a virus in ages, despite regular use of certain sites decidely outside the "web of trust".

5) LastPass with secure generated passwords. More of a "best practices" step, but you won't see my forcibly crosslinked accounts getting compromised because one of these advertising network companies has a massive data breach one day.

6) No facebook apps. Ever. No exceptions. I've told my girlfriend I will absolutely break up with her if she starts a farmville. Im not even joking.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2011 [38 favorites]


Get rid of anonymous speech and you will get rid of that trouble — no doubt. Are you willing to lose that value, as well? Am I?

It we weren't talking about something as meaningless as website comments and facebook, I'd agree more.
posted by gjc at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2011


If Dick Cheney had suggested in 2004 that a big chunk of the web be sequestered behind a virtual wall that required registration and login access, kept track of your friends, browsing and shopping habits and your online comments, he would have been portrayed as the worst kind of fascist. Yet we give this all up gladly to Facebook, and allow them to sell our eyes to their advertisers. I had hoped that with the web things would be different.
posted by squalor at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Has anyone ever done any research on whether there was any difference in anything between now and back when EVERYONE was in the phonebook?

My name in the phone book says jackshit about who I am, or what my opinions are, or where I socialize, or what I buy ...

Everyone always had the option to not be listed in the book or have an unlisted number, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make no mistake, this is just another venue for class warfare to play itself out. Unless you can think of a way for a Whole Foods worker to use their CEO's well-documented batshit-insane political screeds against him in the same way that a hiring manager can use easily-Google-able facts against that same employee?

Don't work for Whole Foods? One fewer willing employee is one higher notch they have to pay to get good help. Or are we only expecting "fat cats" to have to put their money where their mouth is?

A balance of power is not necessarily a balance of resources. A pound of feathers always weighs more than an ounce of gold.
posted by gjc at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2011


Has anyone ever done any research on whether there was any difference in anything between now and back when EVERYONE was in the phonebook?

I don't know about you, but virtually all of my friends and family were driven insane by cold-calling until they discovered they could get their number removed from phone lists. Basically, if personal information exists, some marketing scum will figure out how to exploit it.
posted by londonmark at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


My name in the phone book says jackshit about who I am, or what my opinions are, or where I socialize, or what I buy ...

Everyone always had the option to not be listed in the book or have an unlisted number, too.


I was referring more to the people who made safety and harassment complaints.

And I'm not sure it was always true that you could always go unlisted if you wished. And I'm absolutely sure it wasn't common practice. When I was a kid in the 80's, there were all kinds of people in the phone book who you probably couldn't get a number or address on today.
posted by gjc at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2011


Don't work for Whole Foods? One fewer willing employee is one higher notch they have to pay to get good help. Or are we only expecting "fat cats" to have to put their money where their mouth is?

This is so delusional. Have you tried to get a job lately? It's not exactly a venue in which 'principles' can mesh well with 'having to eat'.
posted by winna at 8:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you think advertising is served to you (by Google or Facebook) as part of a statistical cohort and not as last_first_usernum a unique entity, then I can see why you think the rest of us a chicken little. You're wrong, but it explains a lot.

Aww, thanks for the head pat.

Of course the advertising is being served to "last_first_uid". Because how else would it get to the intended recipient?

(Maybe I misunderstand: is the complaint that it is in the "last_first_uid" format instead of a UUID kind of format?)

The point is, it is not being sold or sought for any reason except for cohort membership. Advertisers aren't buying my identity, they are buying a little extra statistical advantage that their advertising for Old Spice is going to people who might enjoy the smell of old spices.

Where is the actual harm?
posted by gjc at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2011


Don't work for Whole Foods? One fewer willing employee is one higher notch they have to pay to get good help. Or are we only expecting "fat cats" to have to put their money where their mouth is?
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."—Anatole France.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Advertisers aren't buying my identity.

Yet. That you know of.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2011


As implied by desjardins above, if you know your comments will be readily discoverable by present and future employers -- and certainly will be discovered if they employ a background checker -- how likely are you to say a single word in defense of unions and collective bargaining, let alone strikes and walkouts? Sure "you wouldn't want to work for that employer anyway", right? But organized labor is under concerted attack by everyone from the Kochs and Mordock on down and is rapidly becoming an endangered species. As winna points out, a person has to eat, and when no employer will have you, wherefore your principles then?
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


it is becoming increasingly more difficult to use the internet without a FB account.

In all honesty I hadn't noticed; I've never used my Facebook account to sign into anything. Am I missing out on something awesome?
posted by Hoopo at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


sodium lights the horizon: I love these threads, because the people who say "why do people have a problem using their real names?" are almost always using a nom de plume here. I'm not saying these people are hypocrites, just that it's automatic to create a username that's not your real name.

The difference on MetaFilter is that your nom de plume here is tied to all your activities, and the site has a functional (and personable) moderation team. People who spam or troll are called out and punished in ways that shape their future interactions with this site. Plus, people meet each-other in real life, so for some segment of MeFites, names like oneswellfoop and Ambrosia Voyeur are real people.


gjc: Also, the sword cuts both ways. Employers that ignorantly choose based on political affiliation and what not, probably won't get the best employees. The ones who don't care might miss the office supply stealers. The ones who see a "searchable history" in a mature light will probably be the best place to work for.

The current problem is that the easy-to-find, persistent comments of online communication are relatively new. So 1) many people don't do even the most basic of filtering (posting pictures of underage drinking, or using your real name to have an affair via Craigslist), and 2) there seem to be more employers searching the 'net for ill-advised activities of future (or current) employees, instead of looking for how they are exemplary individuals from the work-place standpoint.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:00 AM on March 8, 2011


Ergh. "Murdoch", not "Mordock"...
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2011


Advertisers aren't buying my identity.

Yet. That you know of.


Convergence of Moore's Law and corporate greed means that eventually IBM's Watson technology will be cheap and well-developed enough that anyone who wants to will be able to use all of your linked (or even not clearly-linked) online presence, of whatever form, to target YOU, specifically, and know the best way to manipulate you into becoming interested in something else you must buy, some other ideology you must sign onto, some other way you must part with your energy or money or freedom... and will be much more effective than any flash advertisement you've ever seen in your lifetime so far.

There's pretty much no escaping it. The trick is to try to keep from being deep-mined, or else start fortifying yourself now with how to evade that kind of manipulation.

I fear for upcoming generations, unless we teach real new media literacy in a very intense, self-defensive way.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ergh. "Murdoch", not "Mordock"...

A Freudian slip for "Mordor" or "moloch"?
posted by acb at 9:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


eriko: Exactly. On Facebook, *you* are the product that Facebook sells. They're trying to force you to become more valuable to them.

People keep saying this as if no one has found lost friends, set up parties, or seen baby pictures from distant relatives on Facebook. Yes, there are lots of nefarious things FB does, but there is also the possibility to personally benefit from an overwhelmingly large social network. Block ads, dont "like" anything, and chose your comments carefully, and it's not all bad. If you're the tech-savvy friend or family member, help others do the same.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:04 AM on March 8, 2011


A Freudian slip for "Mordor" or "moloch"?

Or perhaps Morlock. With FB users being the Eloi.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2011


Ergh. "Murdoch", not "Mordock"...

I thought you had made a brilliant contraction from Murdoch and Mordor*. I will in future refer to NewsCorp as Mordoch in heavily accented Scottish.

(*don't know where the k came from, didn't think it through )
posted by londonmark at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I recall someone (Bill Drummond, perhaps) referring to him as Rupert Moloch.
posted by acb at 9:07 AM on March 8, 2011


People keep saying this as if no one has found lost friends, set up parties, or seen baby pictures from distant relatives on Facebook. Yes, there are lots of nefarious things FB does, but there is also the possibility to personally benefit from an overwhelmingly large social network. Block ads, dont "like" anything, and chose your comments carefully, and it's not all bad. If you're the tech-savvy friend or family member, help others do the same.

This is the argument my friends come out with when I explain to their incredulous faces that I'm not on Facebook. I took the red pill.
posted by londonmark at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2011


People keep saying this as if no one has found lost friends, set up parties, or seen baby pictures from distant relatives on Facebook. Yes, there are lots of nefarious things FB does, but there is also the possibility to personally benefit from an overwhelmingly large social network.

The benefits people receive from FB could be seen by some as the cocaine solution which is administered to the rats whenever they push the button.
posted by hippybear at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Not meaning to make broad statements about the nature of FB users... they are not "rats". It's an analogy having to do with pleasure rewards in the brain.)
posted by hippybear at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2011


This is so delusional. Have you tried to get a job lately? It's not exactly a venue in which 'principles' can mesh well with 'having to eat'.

No, it really isn't. High unemployment means we might have to accept jobs that pay less than we'd like, but it by no means requires us to work for someone we don't want to work for.

Having the power to make principled decisions doesn't necessarily mean it is the cheapest thing to do. That's what principle is: doing (or not doing) something despite the cost.

Anyway, the whole premise that not taking a job means it is gone forever is also wrong. At any given moment, there is some fixed number of job openings. Not taking the job means there are (at that instant) the exact same number of jobs available. Your chances of getting a job are exactly the same.
posted by gjc at 9:11 AM on March 8, 2011


Remember EPIC? The then fictional "Evolving Personalized Information Construct" from the EPIC 2014 video that thought it would be "Googlezon" that created it? And the MeFi posts from back then in 2004.
posted by cashman at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


advertisers (along with most marketing companies including political campaign management companies) are already buying up your identity and you have no way to control or check what they are buying.

it's what verisign and all the credit report and credit card companies do. this is the part of the surveillance economy facebook wants to blow out of the water and completely own. they even have plans for becominge if not the one then one of the defacto "identity approval systems" for the e-Verify card.

and yes, the people who managed the Obama presidential campaign have detailed portraits of almost every voter in the country. no coincidence one of the co-founders of FACEBOOK went to work for them in the first place.
posted by liza at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2011


I tend to walk the middle line here. I think this is far within the rights of TC to do, and it doesn't seem like comments have suffered too much as a result. (The linked article has hundreds of comments.)

However, I would comment anonymously on TC, but not using Facebook, just b/c that's not what I use Facebook for. I just don't want to connect Facebook with the rest of the Web for some reason. Dunno.

So TC loses my comments. The question is whether what they get from Facebook (less maintenance, probably demographic info on users, all your secret private info, of course) is worth the comments they lose.

I'll guess maybe.

I'm really depressed now that I spent five minutes considering this stupid topic. I should have just stopped at smoke's first comment.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2011


This is also why I buy everything in cash and launder my paychecks.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2011


As implied by desjardins above, if you know your comments will be readily discoverable by present and future employers -- and certainly will be discovered if they employ a background checker -- how likely are you to say a single word in defense of unions and collective bargaining, let alone strikes and walkouts? Sure "you wouldn't want to work for that employer anyway", right? But organized labor is under concerted attack by everyone from the Kochs and Mordock on down and is rapidly becoming an endangered species. As winna points out, a person has to eat, and when no employer will have you, wherefore your principles then?

Are there really people out there who wouldn't defend something that important to them for fear that some imaginary future person might judge them overly harshly?

See, SOME people, like the ones that originally fought for the unions, decided that principle WAS more important than eating or life itself. They put their asses on the line.
posted by gjc at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not taking the job means there are (at that instant) the exact same number of jobs available. Your chances of getting a job are exactly the same.

Job hunting isn't a dice roll or a coin toss.
posted by device55 at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2011


I took the red pill.

And on the one hand you know the trurth; on the other you're living in Matrix II and III.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:23 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


advertisers (along with most marketing companies including political campaign management companies) are already buying up your identity and you have no way to control or check what they are buying.

One's identity cannot be sold or stolen. You are who you are, and there is only one of you. That will never change.

All that can be sold or stolen is information about you. There is no way for information to be harmful. Only bad acts can be harmful.
posted by gjc at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2011


There is no way for information to be harmful. Only bad acts can be harmful.

"Glib, party of two!"
posted by octobersurprise at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


See, SOME people, like the ones that originally fought for the unions, decided that principle WAS more important than eating or life itself. They put their asses on the line.

COLLECTIVELY. Me being unemployed and barred from certain employers because of my political views as expressed on the internet does nothing to further any cause, but I guess that I could call right wingers "scabs" while I eat beans from a can.
posted by Hoopo at 9:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


One's identity cannot be sold or stolen.

Obviously "identity" here is a shorthand term for "all information about someone"

There is no way for information to be harmful. Only bad acts can be harmful.

Is there no way for someone to act harmfully with information?

Are you thick or just trolling?
posted by device55 at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Me being unemployed and barred from certain employers because of my political views as expressed on the internet does nothing to further any cause, but I guess that I could call right wingers "scabs" while I eat beans from a can.

Has that ever happened?
posted by gjc at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2011


Has to be trolling.

Right, right?
posted by -t at 9:39 AM on March 8, 2011


Obviously "identity" here is a shorthand term for "all information about someone"

It is bad shorthand.

Is there no way for someone to act harmfully with information?

Are you thick or just trolling?


No, but thanks for playing.

I said, right there in the same thing that you purportedly read, that actions can be harmful. Possession of information is not defacto harmful. Targeted advertising isn't harmful. Someone knowing my name isn't harmful. You could know EVERYTHING possibly quantifyable about me, and that wouldn't harm me one tiny bit.

The harm can only begin when that information starts to be used in harmful ways. And the vast majority of the harmful things that can be done are already illegal.

Maybe I am thick: assume you knew everything about me. How could you use that information to harm me without breaking the law?
posted by gjc at 9:43 AM on March 8, 2011


paisley henosis and misha, I think I just read a string of anti-facebook comments one after the other, and I had a flashback to the days of "smash your TV!" bumper stickers. It was also pre-coffee.
posted by Joh at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, we all rail heartily on various right wing groups for astroturfing. We want THEM to own up to what they are doing, but we seem not to want to do the same.

What.

Anonymous speech is not the same as astroturfing at all. The comparison is absurd. One is just not sharing your real name, and one is deliberately deceiving other people into thinking that there is grassroots support for some issue when there is not. Both involve anonymity, but that's where the similarity ends.

Anonymity is just a tool. It can be used to abuse or it can be used to protect. Just because it is abused in some cases, does not make it abusive in itself.

You want me to "own up" to being queer and non-religious? I live in the Bible Belt. I'm more open than most, but I draw the line at having my experiences easily available to anyone who Googles my name. I like to choose who I reveal those facts to in order to protect myself from discrimination and possible violence. That you would equate this with astroturfing is just absolutely ridiculous.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Has that ever happened?

No, it's hypothetical. We're talking about peoples' concerns about having to put their real names next to their political views, opinions, and hobbies. It's certainly no secret that HR looks for candidates' online presence or profiles these days and people get in trouble for posting stupid pictures.
posted by Hoopo at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2011


Maybe I am thick: assume you knew everything about me. How could you use that information to harm me without breaking the law?

I could tell your mom what kind of porn you like.
posted by device55 at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe I am thick: assume you knew everything about me. How could you use that information to harm me without breaking the law?

Why are you throwing in "without breaking the law"?

Suppose you are gay.

If an employer knows about this and doesn't hire you, you will probably have no proof, if you even live in a jurisdiction where sexual orientation is a protected class. Maybe you even live in a jurisdiction where the law actively persecutes you; there are many places in the world where "homosexual activity" is illegal.

Suppose you are beaten to death by someone who is so mad with hateful bigotry that they don't care about the law.

Another small point: Many women prefer to use gender-neutral or male pseudonyms when participating in certain forums to protect themselves from harassment. Dispensing with anonymity on these forums would disadvantage women over men.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


You want me to "own up" to being queer and non-religious? I live in the Bible Belt. I'm more open than most, but I draw the line at having my experiences easily available to anyone who Googles my name. I like to choose who I reveal those facts to in order to protect myself from discrimination and possible violence. That you would equate this with astroturfing is just absolutely ridiculous.

No more ridiculous than the idea that what I said had anything to do with your sexual and religious identity. I don't want you to share anything you don't want to share. That's absolutely your right. Connecting facebook to website comment sections doesn't change that.

All it does is say "if you want to say something on this website, you have to take ownership of it". We are free to say or not say what we want.
posted by gjc at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2011


No, it's hypothetical. We're talking about peoples' concerns about having to put their real names next to their political views, opinions, and hobbies. It's certainly no secret that HR looks for candidates' online presence or profiles these days and people get in trouble for posting stupid pictures.

That's why you don't say stupid things online.
posted by gjc at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2011


Anonymity is far from a new development. If anything a traceable identity is the recent arrival, and has always been imposed by those at the top wishing to keep tabs on their distant subjects.

The patronym took hundreds of years to spread in europe, and was forced on reluctant populations by states slowly asserting their domination.
posted by fartron at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why are you throwing in "without breaking the law"?

Because if we assume people aren't going to come somewhere close to adhering to the law, then any hypothetical is possible.
posted by gjc at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2011


No more ridiculous than the idea that what I said had anything to do with your sexual and religious identity. I don't want you to share anything you don't want to share. That's absolutely your right. Connecting facebook to website comment sections doesn't change that.

All it does is say "if you want to say something on this website, you have to take ownership of it". We are free to say or not say what we want.


That's the same kind of logic that says "we have a black president now, so discrimination doesn't exist anymore."

We live in a society where being gay or anti-religious or pro-union can be dangerous or hurt you economically. To say that people who have those characteristics have to hide that fact is ridiculous and against all concepts of fair play and equality. Some people don't get to make the same choices you make so glibly.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has anyone ever done any research on whether there was any difference in anything between now and back when EVERYONE was in the phonebook?

I haven't done any research, but I have had an unlisted number since I moved out of my family home in the 1980s, thanks. Also, with FB, I have my picture and my full name, which mark me as a woman, available. With the phone book, I had the option of being listed as Initial LastName, which isn't sex-linked the way my given name is.
posted by immlass at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2011


Suppose you are gay.

If an employer knows about this and doesn't hire you, you will probably have no proof, if you even live in a jurisdiction where sexual orientation is a protected class. Maybe you even live in a jurisdiction where the law actively persecutes you; there are many places in the world where "homosexual activity" is illegal.

Suppose you are beaten to death by someone who is so mad with hateful bigotry that they don't care about the law.


All of that can happen whether I'm gay or not. Hateful people are funny that way, they don't really care about the truth. So it wouldn't really matter whether you got that info from my comment about DADT somewhere, or because I had somehow "acted gay".

But that's a pretty narrow occurrance. You have to find someone who is gay, not out, and looking for a job, and encountering violent bigots. That kind of bigotry is thankfully fairly rare in most places.


Anonymity is important. But the fucking internet is not anonymous.
posted by gjc at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2011


I said, right there in the same thing that you purportedly read, that actions can be harmful. Possession of information is not defacto harmful. Targeted advertising isn't harmful. Someone knowing my name isn't harmful. You could know EVERYTHING possibly quantifyable about me, and that wouldn't harm me one tiny bit.

The harm can only begin when that information starts to be used in harmful ways. And the vast majority of the harmful things that can be done are already illegal.


Walking across a highway blindfolded isn't harmful. The harm can only begin when a car hits me. And hitting a person with a car is already illegal.
posted by nushustu at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the fucking internet is not anonymous.

That doesn't mean we have to champion trashing what anonymity is available.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of privacy and anonymity, but my main beef with this is WHY THE FUCK should I have to get a Facebook account to participate in a different site's community?

Just another step in Facebook's plan to become the spider at the heart of the Web.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anonymity is important. But the fucking internet is not anonymous.

Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity
posted by device55 at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's why you don't say stupid things online.

It's not just stupid things necessarily. It's lifestyle choices, political views, hobbies, etc that you have every right to share with a community on the internet but might not want your boss knowing about. People can do that anonymously or under a pseudonym, but they can't necessarily do it under their real name.

Anonymity is important. But the fucking internet is not anonymous.


It can be close enough. Things I say in the pub aren't anonymous either, but odds are no one's going to bother looking into what I said over beers. Odds are some HR guy will look for my name online however, so I appreciate whatever anonymity that is available and so do a lot of others.
posted by Hoopo at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anonymity is important. But the fucking internet is not anonymous.

You're making a big case for owning what you write on the internet, I mean, really fighting to last hill, but I'll note as others have noted before, that you've chosen to reveal less of your own personal information here than most of the people with whom you're arguing. I'm not saying that you're a hypocrite, necessarily, (I'm not saying you aren't, either), but I can't imagine why you aren't as enthusiastically open as you think everyone else should be.

Anyway, people should have the right to be able to express opinions on the internet with at least a degree of privacy and anonymity. It's like the right to cast a secret ballot. Unless you don't believe anyone should have a right to cast a secret ballot, either.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I've come to the conclusion that the stuff we're missing (that we would otherwise be interested in attending) is announced on Facebook and Twitter, and that people just don't bother to announce them anywhere else because "Everyone's on Facebook."

This is true, unfortunately. When you leave FB (or don't sign up in the first place) you block out a lot of useless noise but also doom yourself to a life spent Out Of The Loop.

Note: I flagged my earlier comment for use of the phrase "increasingly more."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2011


Why are you throwing in "without breaking the law"?

Because if we assume people aren't going to come somewhere close to adhering to the law, then any hypothetical is possible.


So we should all go to sleep with our doors unlocked, because burglary is illegal? And we should all flaunt our cash while walking down the street, because robbery is illegal?

Law can only do so much.
posted by Tin Man at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've come to the conclusion that the stuff we're missing (that we would otherwise be interested in attending) is announced on Facebook and Twitter, and that people just don't bother to announce them anywhere else because "Everyone's on Facebook."

This is true, unfortunately. When you leave FB (or don't sign up in the first place) you block out a lot of useless noise but also doom yourself to a life spent Out Of The Loop.


Hi! Non-Facebook user here.

I used to feel pissed off when I heard about bands and stuff using FB to promote their events.

But then I learned that a lot of promotional FB pages don't require a FB account to view them!

It's like having FB as simply a website I can visit without having to participate. Like MetaFilter without paying the $5!

This has been a huge change in my browsing habits, and I'm happy that it works that way.

Just a little pro-tip from someone who tries to be In The Loop without being part of FB.
posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by mullingitover at 11:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Quick note re phone books: after my father died in the early 80s, my mother kept his name as the phone book listing for many years. Us kids always knew it was a telemarketer if they asked for him. (The first year or two, hurt like hell. After that, kinda funny.)

The username I have here is one I've had for more than 10 years, and it is tied to all of the bits of my identity that I'm comfortable making universally available. I figure if I'm using "epersonae" it's effectively the same as using my real name.

But there are bits of my identity that I'm not comfortable about connecting that way, and sometimes I need/want to participate on the internet with those pieces. (I'm tempted to give examples, but that would be defeating the purpose, I suppose. My medical concerns, let me tell you about them.) I bet the mods here know plenty about why people want to go anon!

As for ensuring civility, I don't know if tying to "real" identity has anything to do with it. Close to a decade on Metafilter has left me convinced that a combination of (a) stable pseudonymity, (b) quality moderation & active culture-building, (c) MetaTalk, and (d) the $5 entry fee is an incredibly powerful way to build an effective and generally civil online community.

I've been participating in a beta of a new Stack Overflow section, and I'm so glad they have a Meta section as well. It's fascinating to help develop that community, to talk collectively about where the boundaries are and how to participate well.

Sure, all that stuff is more work than plugging in Facebook Connect and walking away. But in the long run I think it's best for all the participants.
posted by epersonae at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2011


I do not need to know your real name.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on March 8, 2011


You have to find someone who is gay, not out, and looking for a job, and encountering violent bigots. That kind of bigotry is thankfully fairly rare in most places.

I have many friends who are "out" to family and friends, but choose not to be "out" in the workplace. Some fear the potential for subtle discrimination, etc. There are many who still consider LGTB as "less than" and "second class citizens." After all, all of those people who support Prop 8, DOMA, etc. have day jobs.
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't like having my worlds colliding between what I'll call my professional life and my personal life. I like to keep my personal life personal. I don't want my nsfw web browsing public. I don't want my teabagger ultra religious boss to not promote me because I make heathen comments. I don't want a potential employer prejudge me on my comments on gadget blogs. My opinion on Charlie Sheen. My opinion on Israel/Palestine.

It still bugs me that on the first page of google results for my real name, there's a usenet comment I made sixteen year ago. The comment was innocuous enough about a company that doesn't exist anymore. But it is a reminder about the internet having a long memory.

I've cultivated a several online personas over the years. My metafilter persona is me but not tied to my name. It doesn't give me a license to be a troll or to say things I wouldn't say to the same people in person. But it does give me a layer of protection against my comments here taking out of context or used about opinions I may have had a decade ago. I feel more comfortable answering some AskMe questions with this layer of anonymity. I use other personas at other sites. I don't use any of them to troll or to hide behind hate speech or anything else. I've invested a lot of time building up the reputations of these personas for their specific uses. My goal is simple: keep the worlds from colliding.

If Metafilter had a real name only policy I still would have signed up and probably 80% of my comments and 50% of my Ask comments would be intact. Rather than edit myself, I'd just not comment the rest of the time. Considering a lot of the comments that wouldn't get axed would be snark, I'm not sure it would help elevate the discourse I'd see every comment I'd make through the filter of my future boss/my mom/girlfriend/neighbor/cops/etc looking over my shoulder. Paranoid? Probably not paranoid enough. It wouldn't take a rock scientist to tie everything together. And I don't bother using Tor or other ways to hide me, so law enforcement could figure it out in 2 minutes. Then again, if I did something illegal, I'd cover my tracks better.

Facebook Connect is a godsend for many sites that want to let someone else manage their commenting system and to collect more info about their readers. For many people FB is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And that they can use Facebook Connect almost as a single-signon for the whole interweb is a feature.
posted by birdherder at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have to find someone who is gay, not out, and looking for a job, and encountering violent bigots. That kind of bigotry is thankfully fairly rare in most places.

Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination [PDF]
When surveyed, 16% to 68% of LGBT people report experiencing employment discrimination.

Fifteen to 57% of transgender people also report experiencing employment discrimination.

In states that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, LGB people file complaints of employment discrimination at similar rates to women and racial minorities.
posted by ericb at 12:10 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuckin' property rights, how do they work?

NOT JUGGALO-IST
posted by oncogenesis at 12:19 PM on March 8, 2011


Related MeTa? (not actually about this post, BTW, but on related topics.)
posted by epersonae at 12:27 PM on March 8, 2011


No more ridiculous than the idea that what I said had anything to do with your sexual and religious identity.

No, it has a lot to do with my sexual and religious identity. Drawing the connection is not ridiculous. We are talking about anonymity, and anonymity is a tool that I use in order to participate in political discussion about issues relevant to my identity while simultaneously protecting myself from discrimination in other aspects of my life.

The connection is there because you have this perverse, privileged notion that I should be comfortable sharing these identities with everyone, or I should not share them online at all.

The connection is there because when there is no anonymity, people who have non-mainstream identities are disadvantaged; their participation in the discussion comes at higher cost than for those with mainstream identities.

Do I really need to go on more before you get it? I should think it's obvious.

I don't want you to share anything you don't want to share. That's absolutely your right.

I don't want to share my real name in these discussions.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yay, another thread full of Facebook hate.
I like the idea of all my online idenities linking to each other easily. I don't know what's going to make me famous/known and the farther and louder I spread myself the better. I use Facebook CONSTANTLY and FB friends end up as random IRL people. It's great.

Theoretically, would there be as much outrage if a music site switched to FB comments?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2011


You can use the facebook API and still make people pseudonymous if you want. But that's more then a cut 'n' paste 1-liner.

There's also disqus, which lets you add comments to your site without writing any code.
The big issue (I have) with Facebook Connect is that suddenly, all of your separate groups of contacts/friends/collegues get this weird insight into.. me. I don't want my collegues to see me planning my WoW raids or geeking out over the latest Captain America trailers or the intricacies of why Klingon foreheads changed.
Which is why I rarely use facebook and when I do post stuff, it's the most bland everyone-would-like stuff I see off reddit. Before that I just never posted anything, and as a result, no one ever reads anything I post. The other thing is that I don't really care about 90% of the people I have 'friended' on there. If FB were only between my close friends I might post more stuff. But the nature of FB incentivizes you to rack up as many 'friends' as possible to avoid feeling inadequate.
posted by delmoi at 1:38 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't know what's going to make me famous/known and the farther and louder I spread myself the better.
Lol, come on. First of all, how do you know you won't be embarrassed about something you write now ten years hence? Maybe you get famous but your old comments don't 'gel' with the persona you're trying to project? The only way to avoid this is to never say anything controversial. Which, of course, creates a more boring world.

Also, you're not going to become famous.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Facebook hate really does feel the same as "I don't own a TV".
I didn't know that by staying in touch with my friends and randoms I was doing something evil. I live in a small city where everyone is a few degrees away. Facebook is a reliable source for rides, gig buddies, good conversation, parties and free tickets. It let's you keep track of all the loose social groupings you accumulate.
I'm planning my birthday drinks next week. What do you privacy warriors suggest I use instead of FB?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:49 PM on March 8, 2011


No one is saying "don't use FB". They are complaining about the way it works and the requirement that you have it to use other services.
posted by delmoi at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2011


First of all, how do you know you won't be embarrassed about something you write now ten years hence?

The blog I started in 2001 still exists. It's pretty embarrassing but maybe somebody will read it and like what they see. If I piss people off, fine. It leads to interesting conversations and Internet enemies can become real life friends.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2011


No one is saying "don't use FB". They are complaining about the way it works and the requirement that you have it to use other services.

But sometimes it can be an improvement on a site's previous comment forum.
I'm being purposely vague. The irony just hit me.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2011


But sometimes it can be an improvement on a site's previous comment forum.
Disqus provides similar functionality without the need for an FB profile. The problem is it still tracks you across domains, which is annoying. But not AS bad.
posted by delmoi at 1:56 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't know what's going to make me famous/known and the farther and louder I spread myself the better.

Maybe try a little winning and some tiger blood. I've heard it works for others.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know what's going to make me famous/known and the farther and louder I spread myself the better.

Many have a goal opposite of yours -- no desire for fame or celebrity.
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


What do you privacy warriors suggest I use instead of FB?

Evite?
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2011


Theoretically, would there be as much outrage if a music site switched to FB comments?

No outrage, but if any of the blogs I follow switched to Facebook, I'd stop commenting. I'm sure sites are well aware of the risks/rewards.

Evite?

God no. How about phone/text message? Unless everyone you know uses FB (which is doubtful and/or sad), you can't really plan a party with it.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2011



God no. How about phone/text message? Unless everyone you know uses FB (which is doubtful and/or sad), you can't really plan a party with it.


I text my close friends/people I have phone numbers for. But it's drinks at a local pub. Facebook is absolutely perfect for ensuring the maximum number of randoms and people you barely see.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

I take steps to protect FB from my job, and when I had a girlfriend I had to lock down my online stuff. But otherwise who cares? The worst that can happen (besides the job loss) is I get even more random Internet strangers buying me drinks.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:25 PM on March 8, 2011


But that's a pretty narrow occurrance. You have to find someone who is gay, not out, and looking for a job, and encountering violent bigots. That kind of bigotry is thankfully fairly rare in most places.

Aww, that's cute. Oh no, wait, that's horrifyingly naive.

How often have you ever discussed your sexuality with your prospective employer? Not often, I would wager, because it's not a relevant consideration in whether you can do the job. Plenty of people who are 'out', are not 'out' at work.

But now, employers are increasingly reviewing an applicant's online presence prior to or even during an interview. If they found something they didn't like, whatever the reason, you wouldn't get the job. And you might never know why.

What if your online presence reveals a different political affiliation to that of your prospective employer? What if it shows that you like Macs and they like PCs? Why should they have the opportunity to take that information into account, when it's not relevant to the decision?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:40 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of our favorite local bands we keep missing because we never see their shows announced. There was a pro-planned parenthood march right in our back yard that we heard nothing about.

Bands, rallies—I didn't even know a good college friend's wife had given birth back in January, 'cause it was only announced on Facebook, and while I have an account, I hadn't bothered to log in for more than a month. That sucked—by the time I found out, it was too late to congratulate him.
posted by limeonaire at 2:45 PM on March 8, 2011


Smoke:
I know this makes me significantly more to the right of most mefites on this issue, but honestly, I feel like unless you have a compelling reason - and I recognise there certainly are compelling reasons (but this is not it) - you should be responsible for the things you say.


What if there is no intent to accomodate "compelling reasons?"
posted by rhizome at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2011


In related news...

China Blogger Angered Over Losing Facebook Account
Chinese blogger and activist Michael Anti wants to know why he is less worthy of a Facebook account than company founder Mark Zuckerberg's dog.

Anti, a popular online commentator whose legal name is Zhao Jing, said in an interview Tuesday that his Facebook account was suddenly canceled in January. Company officials told him by e-mail that Facebook has a strict policy against pseudonyms and that he must use the name issued on his government ID.

Anti argues that his professional identity as Michael Anti has been established for more than a decade, with published articles and essays.

Anti, a former journalist who has won fellowships at both Cambridge University and Harvard University, said he set up his Facebook account in 2007. By locking him out of his account, Facebook has cut him off from a network of more than 1,000 academic and professional contacts who know him as Anti, he said.

"I'm really, really angry. I can't function using my Chinese name. Today, I found out that Zuckerberg's dog has a Facebook account. My journalistic work and academic work is more real than a dog," he said.

Zuckerberg recently set up a Facebook page for "Beast," complete with photos and a profile. Unlike Anti's, however, the page for the puppy doesn't violate Facebook's policies because it's not meant to be a personal profile page. Rather, it's a type of page reserved for businesses and public figures that fans can "like" and receive updates from on their own Facebook pages.

Facebook officials weren't available to comment on the case. The company says its policy leads to greater trust and accountability for its users.

"We have tried to keep the rule simple and fair by saying personal profiles must always be set up in the real legal name of the individual concerned," it said by e-mail to Anti.

Dissidents in a variety of countries have argued that Facebook's policy can endanger human rights activists and others if their identities become known.

Anti said there is a long tradition in China for writers and journalists to take pen names, partly as protection from retaliation from authorities. If Facebook requires the use of real names, that could potentially put Chinese citizens in danger, he said.

"For my fellow Chinese, this policy could easily help Chinese police identify them," he said.
It's not the first time Anti has had problems with an Internet site. In 2005, his blog on a Microsoft site was shut down by the company following pressure from Chinese officials. Microsoft's action led to a public outcry.
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


> First of all, how do you know you won't be embarrassed about something you write now ten years hence?

>> The blog I started in 2001 still exists.

Mine too, curiously enough. But the few entries that I posted way back when that got me a reprimand from my boss? (bitching about work, basically, and the people there) I put those entries behind a password, because I am embarrassed about being a dumbass. And I get to do that because it's my site. Can't be sure I'll be able to do anything like that on Facebook, and that it'll stick in a decade.*

I realize that if I post something somewhere else, then I'm operating under that site's rules, and it's extremely unlikely that I'll get to hide it if later I decide it was a dumb idea. Which IMHO makes it more important that I have the ability to use a pseudonym of my choice.

* Yes, I realize there's the wayback machine & Google cache. But at least I have a bit more control over my words in my own space!

posted by epersonae at 3:08 PM on March 8, 2011


ugh, way to forget to close tags. the only bit that should be bolded is "it's my site."
posted by epersonae at 3:09 PM on March 8, 2011


I do use a thin pseudonym, but my profile lists my real name. My name is pretty rare, quite easy to Google. I've assumed for years that everything I say is permanent.

Frankly, if a potential employer wants to refuse to hire me based on my posting history, so be it. That's a choice I've made, I'm comfortable with it. Some other employer will get the benefits of my experience and passion. I'm not worried. I think it is simple fear causing most of the worry, and I refuse to live a life ruled by fear. I'm a great contractor and a fantastic programmer, and if you don't like my politics, non-Christian beliefs, or out-of-the-mainstream thoughts about intimate relationships, then feel free to not hire me. Your competitor will. Frankly, I'd rather not work for a jerk company that would hold opinions against me.

FWIW, I've made tons of badly-thought-out comments here and elsewhere, usually under my real name. They are simply drowned out by the positive, helpful comments and blog posts I've made all over the place. Googling me doesn't get to anything nutty looking until after the tenth page or so. I'm surprised, some of my alt.polyamory postings used to come up in the fourth page.

I recognize that my choices and life/work position aren't those of others. Therefore, I do dislike the implications of forced disclosure, or essentially-forced-disclosure through FacebookConnect. I simply think that in those cases, the websites demanding it will get less comments, a natural market solution.

Education about how to avoid these traps is important, and something I teach my kids. My oldest (10) just asked me for permission to make a Facebook Account, so it is highly relevant.
posted by Invoke at 3:22 PM on March 8, 2011


That said for developers, facebook is awesome. I'm working on a site right now with a friend that involves a social aspect. With facebook, a user can use our app with their friends without needing their friends to sign up. Our database is setup so that other types of users can sign up, but from a U.I. perspective how do you get them to add their friends and communicate with them? With FB it works fine. On the other hand, the privacy invading stuff isn't necessary.

For party planning, you could use twitter. But then only if all your friends use twitter (and check their messages) which is less likely. OTOH they could have it setup to send them text messages automatically. And while twitter is a less invasive company, it's also somehow more annoying :P
posted by delmoi at 3:32 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Facebook hate really does feel the same as "I don't own a TV".

It's funny that whenever I tell people I'm not on FB, they either congratulate me as if I've avoided contracting a venereal disease or assume that I "hate" FB. I couldn't comment on the former, but I always correct the latter.

I don't use FB for a lot of reasons (some spelled out upthread) but I don't hate FB. In fact, I think it serves its purpose very well, which is to connect people that want to be connected. It's easy to insult people for being "naive tools of predatory dataminers" or whatever, but the tradeoff (which hasn't been fully realised yet) seems to hang very much in the favour of the people who choose to use it. It does worry me that Facebook is becoming the central destination for so many interlinked services, but the benefits are still outweighing the costs for a lot of people, and bully for them.

I does suck to be Out Of The Loop, but I figure if people really want me to attend their event/congratulate them on the birth of their child/send me a funny link, they'll be aware that I'm not on their FB list and reach out to me in another manner. If they don't, and I'm asked later why I didn't come to their birthday party or fawn over their ugly baby, it's easy to just shrug and say... I'm not on Facebook! I'll know where I stand in their life if I don't get invited to the next shindig.

Strangely, I'm on Twitter under my real name, which feels more vulnerable because of the cross-current of followers that I have to mind whenever I post something--the responsibility thing. That said, I feel much more confident that I can craft a professional persona ("educated about the industry while being personable and witty" is what I'm going for) while at the same time engage in the personal banter that comes from an @mention, mostly because there is less to share and no weight to followers/followees beyond numbers (although you'd be naive to simply follow porn star feeds and wonder why you're not getting those job interviews.) I can always go to direct messaging if I need to and the person follows me (true of most of my friends) and I won't get spanked by Biz Stone if I create a fake, locked down account. Does this seem contradictory?

As for the Facebookisation (?) of comments, it's simple for people like me: that site loses my trenchant, must-read commentary. After being on Metafilter, where a lot of work goes into building up a reputation based on a handle without a requirement to attach the name on your driver's license, I don't understand why a site looking to build a good community wouldn't follow similar principles. People are going to say stupid shit whether they use their real names or not, but if the only option is to use real names (and through a third-party that may or may not be used by your readers) you're just going to alienate folks and water down your feedback.

It's the moderation that counts, dummy.
posted by Chichibio at 3:45 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, there was a bit of bizarre Facebook/MeFi crossover today

I don't use FB for a lot of reasons (some spelled out upthread) but I don't hate FB. In fact, I think it serves its purpose very well, which is to connect people that want to be connected. It's easy to insult people for being "naive tools of predatory dataminers" or whatever, but the tradeoff (which hasn't been fully realised yet) seems to hang very much in the favour of the people who choose to use it.

Yeah, that makes sense. Many people on here are a bit more 'settled', or have a stronger sense of who or where they want to be. I'm still at that stage where I check FB Events every Friday to see whats happening.

FB also provides a good filter. If enough of my friends are talking about something, i'll check it out
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:52 PM on March 8, 2011


I would dearly love to close down my account, but as noted by many others here, there's a large portion of my family and friends that I can only connect with regularly though Facebook. That might say more about my own social ineptitude than anything else, but it's reason enough to keep me signed up. I also get to vent lots of outrage every time they go and change the privacy filters unnecessarily, so it's probably a good pressure valve too.
posted by Go Banana at 4:07 PM on March 8, 2011


In related news: That Facebook Comment From Your Broker? The SEC Is Reading It. -- "Investment firms without a strict policy about personal use of Twitter, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn should beware. The feds may determine that social media use is the financial firms' responsibility."
posted by ericb at 4:12 PM on March 8, 2011


In other related news: Memolane Transforms Social Data Into Visual Timelines
Over the last few days, I’ve checked-in at several favorite haunts on Foursquare, favorited a few Lady Gaga and cat videos on YouTube, uploaded half a dozen photos of a cookie party to Instagram, and posted several status updates on Twitter and Facebook.

As individual pieces of data, each of these points contains a tiny bit of information about me and my life. But when combined, they start to shape into a larger narrative, a story of sorts about how I spent the last few days.

Memolane, a new start-up based in Denmark and San Francisco, is hoping to corral all of those data points into a single, visual timeline, to help users create an interactive scrapbook of sorts on the Web.

On Tuesday, the service officially opens to the public.

“The Internet tells the story of our lives and it is still unexplored,” said Eric Lagier, the founder of the service. “It is a modern-day scrapbook that writes itself.”
From the Memolane website:
"See, Search, & Share your life. Capture photos, videos, music, tweets, posts, and much more. View and share your entire life online. Create stories of your best memories together with your friends. Explore and search your life and the lives of your friends online.",/blockquote>
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on March 8, 2011


ericb: ""Investment firms without a strict policy about personal use of Twitter, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn should beware. The feds may determine that social media use is the financial firms' responsibility.""

So this is like the opposite of Yahoo! Finance boards then. It would almost redeem Facebook, if its survival meant the death of yahoo's stock bulletin boards.
posted by pwnguin at 4:23 PM on March 8, 2011


Goddamnit, Facebook js gewgaws are a cancer on the web. One of my favorite daily-read sites, Rock Paper Shotgun, recently added some useless Facebook shit to their front page, and now, despite the fact that it's a simple, relatively light blog page, it takes on average 46 seconds (literally 10 times what it took before) to load on my 100Mb connection. And while it's loading, the page won't scroll worth a shit.

Or wouldn't, until I stripped that crap out with Adblock.

Fuck you in the eyeballs, Facebook.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:29 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry. That's not really on-topic, but I do feel better now.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:33 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have to hate Facebook, because folks like stavros do the hating better than I can.
posted by Chichibio at 4:33 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't know what's going to make me famous/known and the farther and louder I spread myself the better.

I think if you truly believed that, then you wouldn't be commenting here as "Lovecraft in Brooklyn," you'd be commenting under your given, legal name. How can you spread yourself far and loud if people can't easily google your name? Yet you aren't? Why is that?

I don't object to Facebook; it's a useful service and it's made my life more pleasant in some ways. What I (and others, I think) object to is an insistence that there is no place online for anonymity or pseudonymity.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2011


Changing the nature of the internet so that people know whether or not you are not a dog is entirely contrary to the spirit of the thing.
posted by Sparx at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2011


Because if we assume people aren't going to come somewhere close to adhering to the law, then any hypothetical is possible.

I am honestly confused by your thought process here. First you seem to assume that all of the negative repercussions a person might face are illegal, which is not true. Then you assume it's unusual to break those laws, which is also obviously not true.

It is just a plain fact that things like sexual orientation are not protected in all jurisdictions, and that where it is protected, it is not protected in all contexts. It is also a plain fact that what anti-discrimination laws do exist are often broken; look at the phenomenon of racial bias in hiring decisions, which has been empirically validated time and time again.

I can give you examples of discrimination I've faced that were not illegal, and examples of discrimination I've faced that were illegal. Are you going to tell me that these experiences shouldn't be considered, because if I do consider them, "any hypothetical is possible"?

All of that can happen whether I'm gay or not. Hateful people are funny that way, they don't really care about the truth.

Are you really going to take this argument to "it's just as bad for me"? I mean, seriously? Are you seriously going to argue that people who aren't gay face the same negative consequences of homophobia as people who are gay?

Sure, some whackjob might mistake you for gay based on something you've said. You are still not as likely to be discriminated against as an out gay man.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:54 PM on March 8, 2011


"You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."
Awwwwwww . . . isn't he adorable when he tries to talk about grownup topics?
posted by jason's_planet at 7:34 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why the "well you can't be anonymous in real life!!!" argument carries any water. Anonymity is one of the novel advantages of the internet, and more importantly it is an advantage that very specifically protects us against one of the internet's biggest disadvantages, which is the permanence of a lot of the things we let loose on it. There is no real precedent that I can think of for the scenario of my being able to find publicly available things that I wrote more than a decade ago (obviously this doesn't hold for writers or whatever). Anonymity prevents me from having to suffer from the stupid things I did being public in a way that pre-internet generations never had to deal with.
posted by invitapriore at 8:25 PM on March 8, 2011


Awwwwwww . . . isn't he adorable when he tries to talk about grownup topics?

No, it's not, when you consider the market power this disingenious social retard wields.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:27 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anonymity is the new (and necessary) counterbalance to the modern phenomenon of highly efficient, public communication. You used to have private conversations with your private friends when you were young and dumb. Now you risk having everything you ever said when you were 16 be as Google-able as everything you say when you're 26.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:49 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think if you truly believed that, then you wouldn't be commenting here as "Lovecraft in Brooklyn," you'd be commenting under your given, legal name. How can you spread yourself far and loud if people can't easily google your name? Yet you aren't? Why is that?

It's more fun to use a fake name and I can easily link my FB with this.

What people are forgetting is that Facebook used to be for people you know personally. It's an extension as your IRL life.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2011


I see. So like others here insisting on the necessity of "one identity" you don't actually want to be limited to only one. I'm not surprised.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:19 AM on March 9, 2011


I don't mean to be dismissive, but I'm just going to say it: "standing behind your comments" with a real name is a rallying cry for straight white dudes. Most everyone else I've known who doesn't fall into that category finds it terrifying.

I like to post in some places under a genderless name so people won't latch on to the fact I'm female before they examine my contribution to the conversation. And really, I have it easy -- what about poor Arab folks whose mere name will cause people to insult and attack them?

Forced disclosure is just forcedly exposing people to bigotry and prejudice.
posted by jess at 9:28 AM on March 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bands, rallies—I didn't even know a good college friend's wife had given birth back in January, 'cause it was only announced on Facebook, and while I have an account, I hadn't bothered to log in for more than a month. That sucked—by the time I found out, it was too late to congratulate him.

On the flip side, I didn't know a friend's wife had given birth even though he emailed me directly. If he had posted pics on Facebook, I would have known and sent a present.

I don't understand why the "well you can't be anonymous in real life!!!" argument carries any water.

I'm mostly anonymous on the subway. If I accidentally step on the foot of a sociopath, he or she doesn't know my name, address, employer, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:46 AM on March 9, 2011


"I don't mean to be dismissive, but I'm just going to say it: "standing behind your comments" with a real name is a rallying cry for straight white dudes. Most everyone else I've known who doesn't fall into that category finds it terrifying."

You pegged me. I am a straight white dude. That's why I said "I recognize that my choices and life/work position aren't those of others."

BTW, it is still somewhat terrifying to realize just how stupid I have been in the past, not even years ago, and how stupid I likely am right now. I'd dislike having to acknowledge my own stupidity in court or even to a potential employer. Yet, I'd do it, were I forced into that position.

As I said before, I'd rather not live in fear. Therefore I do what is in my power to diminish others' power over me. I think that others could do a lot along those lines, were they to choose to do so. For example, a salaried job is one of the most insecure position available in modern society, and IMHO is going the way of the dinosaur within the next 20-40 years, there are lots of alternatives which would give many people far more autonomy and security.

I also realize that to a large degree, I am privileged to be able to take that stand without serious fear of economic repercussions. Some of that is "straight white dude" privilege, and another large chunk of that is due to deliberate decisions I've made to make myself somewhat immune from such consequences. I'm quite hard to fire, and most people that want to hire me couldn't give less of a crap about my online postings. That's how I like it.
posted by Invoke at 4:18 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that others could do a lot along those lines, were they to choose to do so.

But making those choices is not equally easy--or even available--for everyone. And, of course, every choice has a cost that people may not want to pay. If you place the responsibility to avoid discrimination on the victims, then you are requiring them to give up more than your average straight white dude, who doesn't have to perform the same amount of discrimination-avoidance; it's another form of discrimination.

Luckily for me I've chosen a career path where most people won't care about my religion or my sexuality, but that's just a coincidence. I didn't choose it because they wouldn't care.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The concept of a "slave name" seems relevant here.
posted by rhizome at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2011


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