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Facebook as Malware
November 22, 2011 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Facebook has been criticized repeatedly for how it treats its users' privacy (this topic is not a stranger to MeFi), but with the introduction of OpenGraph (previously) earlier this year, some are arguing that Facebook has gone beyond general privacy concerns and has become Malware.

Now, we've shown that Facebook promotes captive content on its network ahead of content on the web, prohibits users from bringing open content into their network, warns users not to visit web content, and places obstacles in front of visits to web sites even if they've embraced Facebook's technologies and registered in Facebook's centralized database of sites on the web.

Some other interesting reading on this topic:

Why Facebook's Seamless Sharing is Wrong
Marshall Kirkpatrick thinks that Facebook is "violating the relationship between the web and its users."

How Facebook is ruining sharing
Molly Wood from CNET claims that Facebook is "ruining sharing."
posted by Kimberly (79 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, I never log into facebook in firefox, which I use for most of my browsing.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on November 22, 2011


I [...] strongly urge Stop Badware partners such as Google (whose Safe Browsing service is also used by Mozilla and Apple), as well as Microsoft's similar SmartScreen filter, to warn web users when visiting Facebook.
I hope they haven't reached an agreement beforehand...
posted by hat_eater at 7:40 AM on November 22, 2011


...promotes captive content on its network ahead of content on the web, prohibits users from bringing open content into their network, warns users not to visit web content, and places obstacles in front of visits to web sites...

Yep, pretty much the very definition of a "walled garden". Come on out to the real internet, bookers of face. The water is fine.
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think, btw, that Anil Dash is being a bit hyperbolic here. Seems to me that the only problem here is that facebook is doing annoying stuff to content providers. I don't see how any of that is a problem for users though, and that's who the badware sites are meant to protect.
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on November 22, 2011


Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account. It'd be nice if we had things like privacy and security worked out before that.
posted by hat_eater at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


The Walled Garden is a hell of a good business model if you can convince people never to go outside. Particularly if your walls are plastered with ads. Facebook's insular nature is a big part of why I hope Google is committed to Google+ for the long term. Facebook needs some sort of competition, and Google+ is more open than Facebook in some important ways.

I think the malware argument is bullshit, though. Malware is software that is installed on your computer that does bad things and you can't remove. Facebook may be a bad actor on the Internet, but it's a different problem.
posted by Nelson at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yep, pretty much the very definition of a "walled garden". Come on out to the real internet, bookers of face. The water is fine.

Uh, yeah, that's the thing - I really don't see a lot of real-world evidence that people are using Facebook in a way that makes them not go elsewhere. Facebook may not encourage it, and a lot of facebook users rarely use other sites, but let's not invent causation: This isn't AOL, and people are well aware that there's a whole internet out there beyond the garden, and I don't think they're failing to go there if they're inclined to anyway.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:51 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems to me that the only problem here is that facebook is doing annoying stuff to content providers. I don't see how any of that is a problem for users though...

Seriously. Why would users want to contact content providers?
posted by DU at 7:53 AM on November 22, 2011


> Ordinary hyperlinks to the rest of the web are stuck in the lower reaches of a user's news feed, competing for bottom position on a news feed whose prioritization algorithm is completely opaque.

Above and beyond the privacy issues, this was a large part of the reason I left FB a couple of months ago. I don't know what they did to the prioritization algorithm, but after the last redesign my news feed was filled with sponsored links and I usually had to dig for the information I actually wanted.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2011


Legomancer wants you to visit his Walled Garden in Farmville!
posted by Legomancer at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jesus Christ DU, don't tempt them out.

The beauty of a walled garden is that it keeps things in as well as out. The "things" in this case being my crazy relatives who no longer spend half their time sending me links to annoying websites/new stories/conspiracy theories.

These days they just invite me to join a group about whatever this week's Daily Mail provoked histeria is it on Facebook instead, and I have all my notifications from there set to be filtered out. Job Done.

Basically Facebook is the internet equivalent of Douglas Adams' generation ship full of lawyers/phone sanitizers/tv producers in Hitchhikers Guide.

But yeah, never open it in your primary browser of choice. In fact, this is another positive - at least I don't feel the IE link on my desktop is completely redundant anymore.
posted by garius at 7:59 AM on November 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


I think, btw, that Anil Dash is being a bit hyperbolic here. Seems to me that the only problem here is that facebook is doing annoying stuff to content providers. I don't see how any of that is a problem for users though, and that's who the badware sites are meant to protect.

Why does Facebook make all its sketchy changes opt out instead of opt in? Because the vast majority of people won't. Won't know enough, won't care enough. The amount of effort it takes to make participation nosedive on the Internet is quite astonishingly small.

What they're doing here is making "read this neat thing" a pain in the ass opt in. And again, most people won't. And that makes their site less interesting and useful to the users.
posted by Diablevert at 8:05 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have friends who are all like "You've gotta use Facebook! All your friends are on it," and I'm all like "All my friends are in my phone!"

When I've got to log in to Facebook to make a phone call, then there will be a problem.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I've got to log in to Facebook to make a phone call, then there will be a problem.

Heh. Speaking of ...

After years of considering how to best get into the phone business, Facebook has tapped Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC to build a smartphone that has the social network integrated at the core of its being.
posted by Kimberly at 8:10 AM on November 22, 2011


Okay guys seriously "Don't have a Facebook account" is gonna be this decade's "just get a Mac" only I want to kick you in the junk even harder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:10 AM on November 22, 2011 [29 favorites]


How Facebook is ruining sharing

I agree with this article. Anytime I click on an article link on Facebook that prompts me to install some app in order to read it, I just Google the headline and click the first result.
posted by John Cohen at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Okay guys seriously "Don't have a Facebook account" is gonna be this decade's

..."don't own a CB radio".
posted by DU at 8:12 AM on November 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


This article was part of the reason I deleted my account yesterday. The other reason that I was baited into an argument with a guy claiming that Native Americans were lazy and that illegal immigrants pose a terrorist threat to our country. I don't see those crazy people anywhere else on the web (I don't read newspaper comments) and I don't need to deal with them at all.
posted by desjardins at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait... a company whose product is delivering eyeballs to ad content is attempting to lock those eyeballs into its product? This is my shocked face...

Snark aside, Facebook has a knack for doing the most evil thing possible when presented with a choice. I greatly look forward to their eventual state as an internet ghetto akin to livejournal or myspace. I prefer Google+ to Facebook - but that's mainly because the interface for Google+ isn't a mess of ads, widgets, and poorly written javascript mess (yet). I'm under no illusion that Google+ isn't also attempting to be a walled garden, but it seems, at least right now, to be slightly less evil and a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing (although they're both in the same advertising business).

Tumblr (and other tools/sites like it) seems to be closer to the democratic ideals of the early internet (at least in terms of making it easy for anyone to create and share content with others, while still being accessible and playing nice with the rest of the web) and I hope they eventually displace Facebook.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory: Anil Dash, one of MeFi's own.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay guys seriously "Don't have a Facebook account" is gonna be this decade's "just get a Mac" only I want to kick you in the junk even harder.

I have a Facebook account, but I'm not going to be told that it's the only effective way to communicate with people who live in the same damn town. I have people complain that they couldn't get in touch with me because I didn't return a Facebook message. Dude. My phone number is in my profile.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2011


Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account. It'd be nice if we had things like privacy and security worked out before that.

Maybe I'm just super lucky, but what the hell are you talking about? Where has this been a problem for you (or anyone you know) in real life?

Having never signed up for a social media account (unless you count Google +, which kinda just came along one day), I've never encountered an issue with this.
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article was part of the reason I deleted my account yesterday. The other reason that I was baited into an argument with a guy claiming that Native Americans were lazy and that illegal immigrants pose a terrorist threat to our country. I don't see those crazy people anywhere else on the web (I don't read newspaper comments) and I don't need to deal with them at all.

Serious question: Why were you friends with that person, or any of "those crazy people," on Facebook in the first place?
posted by jbickers at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account.

Piffle. We aren't even close to that with the *real internet* yet, let alone toy subsets.
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]



Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account. It'd be nice if we had things like privacy and security worked out before that.


I solved that problem by moving out into the county in a hamlet of 200 people, most of whom are still getting used to the idea of owning a phone.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook has a knack for doing the most evil thing possible when presented with a choice.

That's actually a pretty well-written one-line summary of the ReadWriteWeb article.
posted by gimonca at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


If the user clicks cancel, they will be taken to the link they intended to click on anyway - they'll just opt-out of adding the seamless sharing app to their Facebook account.

Really? I don't think that has worked for me. Which is why I generally wait for people to put the link on some other, less horrible, social network or -- if it sounds very interesting -- google it.

I don't even know if the person has deliberately posted the news article or just read it and had it magically appear on facebook. But I only log in once a week or so, see if I've missed anything (no), and leave. But I do log on from my primary browser; perhaps I need to stop doing that.

I see a lot less action from people on facebook -- maybe they've blocked me, because I pretty much never update, or maybe, like me, they've just moved on?
posted by jeather at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011


Serious question: Why were you friends with that person, or any of "those crazy people," on Facebook in the first place?

I wasn't. It was (apparently) one of my uncle's high school friends. My uncle posted something sane, and this guy posted a stupid response. I got pulled in, and just said the hell with it all.

The other crazy people on my feed are relatives, not friends. I liked seeing pictures of their kids and such, but their political screeds just raised my blood pressure.
posted by desjardins at 8:30 AM on November 22, 2011


Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account.

Piffle. We aren't even close to that with the *real internet* yet, let alone toy subsets.


Well the Internet is already a major communication platform along the lines of the telephone, and for many people their main method of non-face-to-face communication is through Facebook. No one necessarily needs to be on Facebook for important things on the level of a bank account, but not being on Facebook when people in your social circle do use it is roughly equivalent to not being able to have casual phone calls, or write casual letters, or any previous technology platforms that people have used for the same sorts of communication. Part of the reason it seems less necessary is that it provides styles of communication that didn't really exist before, so not seeing status updates from your cousin across the country is more or less the same as things were before Facebook was around, but there really is a huge amount of social communication that is going on in Facebook's walled garden.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:47 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The wonderful thing about Facebook is that it lets people you haven't heard from in years find you, contact you and acquaint you with their political opinions and pictures of their kids and their daily agendas.

The mind-wrenchingly horrible thing about Facebook is that it lets people you haven't heard from in years find you, contact you and acquaint you with their political opinions and pictures of their kids and their daily agendas.
posted by delfin at 8:49 AM on November 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


The seamless sharing and "put everything I read in my friends' feed" stuff is screamingly annoying. I use FB in my "primary browser" but I have an extension that keeps all other web sites from connecting to FB. If I didn't have that, I'd probably give up FB, or at least never use it even if I couldn't be arsed to delete the account.

(I may have to stop visiting during the upcoming presidential campaign unless I can convince the smart feed stuff to not show any political stuff, even so.)
posted by immlass at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2011


Soon not having a social media account will be about as practical as not having a bank account. It'd be nice if we had things like privacy and security worked out before that.

Maybe I'm just super lucky, but what the hell are you talking about? Where has this been a problem for you (or anyone you know) in real life?
--odinsdream

I have a Facebook account but rarely use it because I don't like how much the company is a whore with all my information, and they always make anti-customer decisions with constantly adding new ways to give out everything about you and making it tricky to opt-out. I also use Ghostery to keep from accidentally clicking on all those Facebook links that pop up everywhere and are tracking your every move.

I'm sure some of my friends now consider my antisocial.

But you can't even use Spotify without a Facebook account.

Yeah, I know, the Internet is transparent, and everyone knows everything about me, but the Facebook Corp seems to be the personification of the worst of this.
posted by eye of newt at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2011


The mind-wrenchingly horrible thing about Facebook is that it lets people you haven't heard from in years find you, contact you and acquaint you with their political opinions and pictures of their kids and their daily agendas.

Don't forget recruiting you for their MLM schemes.
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, you don't have to put anything of consequence on Facebook to have an account. Your name, is pretty much it. And if you are clever, you probably don't even need to do that, though it limits the utility then for connecting with...whoever you intend to connect with.
posted by everichon at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then... why bother?
posted by desjardins at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2011


Ah, so all that slaughtering and eating of food animals was just a desensitization exercise to make it easier to deal with account holders in the Facebook-appropriate manner, then.
posted by jamjam at 9:00 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't forget recruiting you for their MLM schemes.

I parsed this as "recruiting you for their MLP schemes." It is debatable which is scarier.
posted by delfin at 9:01 AM on November 22, 2011


immlass, what extension is that? It sounds exactly like what I'm looking for.
posted by Carillon at 9:02 AM on November 22, 2011


The problem with Facebook, really, is that most of the people on Facebook are too uninterested in maintaining the toolset to do what Facebook does for them. That, and the fact that I still want to communicate with these folks. While I'm personally indignant over Facebook's continued "evilness" I understand that not everyone I associate with is equally so. Probably the same way my neighbor feels about my use of crappy brand haircare regimen instead of a carefully curated collection of salon products. Obsessive tech optimization is not in her wheelhouse, obsessive grooming optimization is not in mine.

I've been happy enough sharing my blog via RSS but it looks like this is going away now. I'll probably still browse and read friends' postings, but I won't be duplicating my effort or letting Facebook be the ultimate controller of my generated content. This will probably drive down my already paltry traffic numbers but I keep the blog for mostly my own amusement anyway.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:04 AM on November 22, 2011


You know, you don't have to put anything of consequence on Facebook to have an account. Your name, is pretty much it. And if you are clever, you probably don't even need to do that

Then... why bother?


Someone just said: to use Spotify.
posted by John Cohen at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2011


I'm annoyed/surprised/frustrated at how many get-togethers among my extended group of friends are organized entirely on Facebook. Although if they use messaging, I do have that set to route to my email, so I don't totally miss out. I should probably see about getting event invites emailed as well, although that also means getting invites to events I'd NEVER EVER want to go to.

/checks FB for the first time in a few weeks, realizes she's been invited to a NYE party. sigh.
posted by epersonae at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2011


Then... why bother?

I bother because I still get to see pictures and updates from my orbit that are worthwhile to me. I don't care that Facebook records that I like Austra or peeling garlic with two stainless bowls. I just don't write updates that reveal things that I wouldn't tell most people at a party. If I have something heavy or sincere, I use other channels to communicate.
posted by everichon at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I parsed this as "recruiting you for their MLP schemes." It is debatable which is scarier.

I know which one is 20% cooler.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


How Elegant! how choice! how gay! To think one doesn't have to pay!
posted by SyntacticSugar at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, you don't have to put anything of consequence on Facebook to have an account. Your name, is pretty much it. And if you are clever, you probably don't even need to do that, though it limits the utility then for connecting with...whoever you intend to connect with.

That is... pretty much precisely what I did many months ago. I created a bare-bones Facebook account with my name on it, friended my wife and my father on it, and then have left it almost entirely alone since. No wall posts, no reaching out to friends and family, no usage that would indicate to anyone that I log in with any regularity at all. I only created it in the first place for reasons others have stated upthread; there are other sites that are starting to require it, and once in a blue moon someone will post something I want to see there and I need to log in to see it. Other than that, I have no use for Facebook.

It's been an interesting social experiment. It's remarkable how long some people will let a friend request dangle unanswered without canceling it. (Years in some cases.) My unanswered-request list is about 1/3 family, 1/3 people I knew from college or high school, and 1/3 complete strangers. Despite the fact that I've told family and friends that I _don't_ read it and I _don't_ see Facebook content in any timely way, my sister was confused why I hadn't responded to her Facebooked summer party invite, and my father starts every other conversation with "Hey, did you see what so-and-so posted on Facebook?" and then looks confused when I say "No, I didn't."

People who want to reach me have my home and cell numbers, neither of which have changed in years. I am displeased that, slowly but surely, soon that won't be enough.
posted by delfin at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2011


Carillon: I use Disconnect on Chrome and Facebook Blocker on Safari. (I hadn't realized there was a FF version and I'm about to go install it. I rarely use FF but I'd rather be safe than sorry even though I'm pretty sure I've cleared cookies since I last logged into FB there.)
posted by immlass at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


I would love to leave Facebook for a different network. I hate it. But, I can't get anyone I know to move to G+, and it's the only way I keep in touch with some friends from HS and other acquaintances. I really hate phone calls and I am not going back to that.
posted by Malice at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2011


I'm exactly in the demographic of people who should hate facebook...and I just don't. The company certainly has bad intentions, and I'm anything but a FB apologist, but my day-to-day experience of using it is almost entirely positive. I struggle with this a lot, especially when these threads pop up and all the vitriol is expelled.

Maybe it's because it finally feels like the people I care about are finally on the internet with me, and not scattered all over the place. And that my internet meanderings finally have information that matters off the internet, like what I should do this weekend, or how this person and that person are getting along, or that Danielle who lives down the street is making chocolate/pumpkin brownies (best post of today). My friends are young, many are technology-savvy, but almost no one I know emails to say hi.

Maybe it's because I don't really use FB for sharing pages and stuff (I hate spamming stuff like that in general anyway), and neither do my friends, that the walled garden thing doesn't bother me. And I DON'T want FB to try and do more than what it does now, and eat up the rest of the internet's functions. But for knowing what's going on with my friends—nothing has beat it yet.
posted by Brainy at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2011


Imagine how bad this will be if Facebook continues to gain enough traction to where it's a mandatory and exclusive social venue. And, being a big Paypal-type monopoly, one day they decide you are a "red-flag user". Maybe one of their red-flag lists, from MPAA, shows that your Internet connection was downloading MPAA content. Bye bye. Conformity will be required if you want to be part of the mandatory, exclusive social venue.
posted by crapmatic at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


what facebook really needs is a giant best-of .gif and a microphone. it already has the professional white background.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:29 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Piffle. We aren't even close to that with the *real internet* yet

Maybe you've never applied to a job with a specifically online application process, but other people have had this experience.
posted by John Cohen at 9:29 AM on November 22, 2011


I parsed this as "recruiting you for their MLP schemes."

As did I, which I have used Facebook for, and successfully.

Once you embed Winter Wrapup on a profile, they're in the herd. You cannot stop the signal.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:37 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Imagine how bad this will be if Facebook continues to gain enough traction to where it's a mandatory and exclusive social venue. And, being a big Paypal-type monopoly, one day they decide you are a "red-flag user".

Is there any doubt this is pretty much what's going to happen if it hasn't already? For one thing, the argument up until recently has been that multiple social networks has been an annoyance to site users. No one wants to sign up for shit. No one wants to make an account to post comments. No one then wants to do that twenty or thirty times.

All these sites using Facebook for their social integration is the same reason the office I work at uses a staffing firm instead of having their own HR office- because it's easier for them and saves them time and money. That is effectively what Facebook is making itself- the Manpower Group Inc. of site interactivity.

And guess what- Manpower Group Inc. is one of the largest companies in the world.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


At some poiont, and its getting closer, Facebook will shoot itself in the foot - at least for those of us with half a brain.
posted by NormsAndNedums at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Conformity will be required if you want to be part of the mandatory, exclusive social venue." crapmatic, you may be correct.

However, one of the cool and interesting things about human beings, is that non-conformists, by definition, lead the way*. Everybody ultimately follows some non-conformist on the way out. The mass of Facebook users cannot live indefinitely on the content and social interaction provided by themselves and facilitated by Facebook. I suspect people will eventually leave, regardless of the consequences.

(*Be aware that there is some bias about this statement. "Non-conformist leadership" only exists in as much as people follow. There are many non-conformists who "lead the way" in directions few people will follow - for example, coprophagists. Non-conformists go in every direction; ultimately the successful ones can be shown to have a following. Nevertheless, the original statement is true: Non conformists, by definition, lead the way.)

TLDR: Some day we'll say to someone, "Hey, whatever happened to Facebook?"
posted by Xoebe at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2011


Yeah - when I first saw an app of the guardian I declined, said fuck that, and went to the guardian site to find the info. Fuck if I'm going to be forced into some big-brother-esque tie-in to facebook. That shit is evil, and I refuse to participate.
posted by symbioid at 10:12 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


All these sites using Facebook for their social integration is the same reason the office I work at uses a staffing firm instead of having their own HR office- because it's easier for them and saves them time and money. That is effectively what Facebook is making itself- the Manpower Group Inc. of site interactivity.

I also see this as an incredibly clever way that FB are trying to get past the "blocked at work" problem.

Facebook has long been on the blocked list for many corporate firewalls, and that's been easy to justify because it's very obviously a "goof off" site. That's bad for Facebook as a not-insignificant part of their model is based on people being actively or passively on Facebook at all times.

The more sites effectively "outsource" their login and social aspects (including commenting) to facebook, however, the more pressure there is on companies to lift that ban because there become legitmate needs to be able to use Facebook at work as much as illegitimate ones. The well-resourced firms in IT-terms will deal with this cleverly, but the vast majority of mid-to-smalls will just begrudgingly lift the block completely.

Basically the moment a bunch of major news sources and/or resources buy into the FB outsourced model, Facebook is going to get a whole chunk of working-hours traffic back.
posted by garius at 10:14 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Devils Rancher: "Dude. My phone number is in my profile."

You share your phone number openly with Facebook friends? I keep that shit marked "my eyes only".

Facebook friend != someone I want to have my personal phone number...
posted by caution live frogs at 11:15 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an extension that keeps all other web sites from connecting to FB.

You can just turn that off in the Facebook privacy settings. It seems to work fine judging from the way all the sites like the Onion etc. complain that I'm not logged into Facebook when I've got it open in another tab.
posted by straight at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2011


You share your phone number openly with Facebook friends? I keep that shit marked "my eyes only".

Then... why would you put it in there at all? In case you forget your own phone number? I'm baffled.
posted by desjardins at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Once you embed Winter Wrapup on a profile, they're in the herd. You cannot stop the signal.

Dang it now I have the winter wrapup song blaring in my head. It is a great episode - I support teaching children about the importance of good project management.
posted by winna at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2011


Appreciate the link here, and obviously MeFi is going to be full of like minds about Facebook. What is striking to me is that this seems like a turn for them, from their obvious walled-garden intentions into something more deliberately against the rest of the web, instead of merely for themselves.

In contrast to most of the folks here, though, I don't have that much of a problem with using Facebook as a social network. It does a lot of things well, I'm happy to share my listening on Spotify, and it's handy for signing in to other apps and sites. Hell, my phone number is publicly viewable.

I agree strongly with the concern/sentiment of many in this thread that there are many social avenues, career paths and opportunities which will not be accessible without a social networking account in general, and a Facebook account in particular. One of the few industries in the U.S. where there's not an unemployment problem is in web software, and a candidate who came into an interview in that industry without any social media presence would seem either unqualified or wildly ideological in a way that would make them too impractical to hire. I'm not saying the principles that keep people from wanting to be on Facebook are wrong, but rather that they're a disadvantage in some of the areas of biggest opportunity for jobs and stability, which is a huge social cost.

I don't have an answer for all of this, but I will be posting the response from folks at Facebook on my site shortly; I'll link to it in the post mentioned at the top of this thread when I do.
posted by anildash at 11:56 AM on November 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Are people still using facebook itself much? I've found it mostly unnecessary since I switched to using a facebook notifier app and occasionally activating facebook chat inside my jabber client.

||facebook.*$domain=~facebook.com|~127.0.0.1
||fbcdn.*$domain=~fbcdn.com|~facebook.com|~127.0.0.1

posted by jeffburdges at 12:54 PM on November 22, 2011


Then... why would you put it in there at all? In case you forget your own phone number? I'm baffled.

Facebook has a more secure authorization scheme that will text a code to your phone when logging in from a previously unknown computer/device. If you use this scheme, you (obviously) give Facebook your phone number and it shows up in your profile.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:42 PM on November 22, 2011


Above and beyond the privacy issues, this was a large part of the reason I left FB a couple of months ago. I don't know what they did to the prioritization algorithm, but after the last redesign my news feed was filled with sponsored links and I usually had to dig for the information I actually wanted.

I'm not sure what you mean by "sponsored links". On my Facebook, every ad is on the right side of the news feed, clearly separated. Are you talking about "pages" posting info in your feed? That's because you've "Liked" that page for some reason, possibly just that you had the item in question as an interest before they rearranged everything. Or are you talking about stuff like Farmville? That's because of your friends.
posted by ymgve at 3:21 PM on November 22, 2011


I find it strange when comments are made about not being able to survive without FaceBook. I get that some people like it, but really… Almost everyone I know who uses FB is over 60 and a few under 18, mostly relatives. My brother has an account to keep track of his kids accounts. I don’t have any friends (that I know of) who use it, even the people who are staring at their iPhone all day. My mom is one of the only people that’s ever asked if I had a FB account. Maybe I need to shower more?

I’m not here to say your band sucks, or I don’t have a TV, or that FB sucks, I just think this percieved -need- for FB is WAY overstated and is a very narrow view.
posted by bongo_x at 5:43 PM on November 22, 2011


Facebook friend != someone I want to have my personal phone number...

I have actually made a point to only "Facebook-friend" people who I would actually associate with IRL, i.e. people I wouldn't mind getting a call from, or who I see on occasion in meatspace. I don't keep a collection of random strangers' avatars as some sort of totem of self-worth. I've un-friended a couple of people in the last few months due to insane xenophobic racist rants, and I am also un-friending them IRL.

I don't obfuscate my identity - no reason to that I've encountered, yet. I used to be listed in that "phone book" thing (like Facebook, but with less games & apps) when I had a land-line, & I don't think it's unreasonable for people to expect to be able to track me down by phone. There's not thronging masses, believe me. So, ring me up, some time. But place don't call me between midnight & 6 AM.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:58 PM on November 22, 2011


I find it strange when comments are made about not being able to survive without FaceBook.

Well speaking for myself, I've lived in five cities in ten years, all over the country; all of my family and a huge proportion of my friends several hundred - or more likely thousand - kilometres away from me. Facebook is just excellent for keeping up with a huge variety of people with a minimum amount of effort. Before Facebook it was more like a phone call every three or six months - or even longer. With Facebook, I am keeping in touch with people I love on a far more regular basis, and I feel much more involved with the regular hum of their existence, and vice versa.

Some people will no doubt say, "Well if you loved them that much you would call". Well, I don't have time to be calling all those people and when you call, anything less than a half hour seems like a waste of time. It's good for me, for that.
posted by smoke at 7:54 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people will no doubt say, "Well if you loved them that much you would call"

People do say that (and have said it in this thread), but that doesn't make a lot of sense considering what Facebook actually does. Facebook lets you post the fact that you're going to be visiting City X, which lets people in City X connect with you in person. There simply isn't any telephone equivalent of that. Of course, no one is forced to join Facebook if they don't want — but if it becomes the #1 way people communicate, you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage in many areas of life if you decided to monastically abstain from it. For instance, it's well-known that social networking can be essential to getting a job.
posted by John Cohen at 8:49 PM on November 22, 2011


Folks can say that Facebook isn't a necessity, that this is what your phone is for....

But I happen to -live- in a walled garden community where the cell phone service is almost non-existent (or a monopoly of "Use this service or no mobile for you") and the land lines have proven to be semi-reliable through people's tendency to not pick up their goddamn phone.

So I use Facebook, because that's what people check first, more often than not now.

1. It went from contacting people I used to know in other states due to moving
2. to wanting to be "in" on events and happenings at not just one college in my life
3. but two, until I finally
4. joined the military (which is full of 18-27 year olds).

This is going to happen from military base to military base.
And I've tried to use Google+, yes, but as other people have said, "They just don't want to move.

So yeah....tell me I don't have to use Facebook in order to know that Johnny is throwing a party, or that Sue has broken up with Dave who's now in bed with Jane (which is why, at Johnny's little soiree, I should avoid the damn topic). Tell me I don't need Facebook to keep up on whose birthday it is today, or that I should tell Mike congratulations for getting his orders to Spain, or that George is upset because his mother died (and therefore that we should pull together as a community and watch him for suicidal symptoms).
Yeah...not a factor in my world, unfortunately, to not have Facebook.
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:03 AM on November 23, 2011


Facebook is just excellent for keeping up with a huge variety of people with a minimum amount of effort.

So Facebook is basically the "fast food" of social interaction. That's not really selling it.

Folks can say that Facebook isn't a necessity, that this is what your phone is for....

No, I would say that's what having face time is for. And honestly, the hypothetical examples you mention for using FB are one of the reasons I don't use it. It's just way too meta- and causes people to constantly second-guess, analyze, re-analyze, and react to other's actions. And this in turn, causes other's to do the same. In the end, this just generates a bunch of social "froth" and you can't get to good stuff.

I mean, I do a little bit of this intel gathering when I talk to other people, but I don't have an FB to do it for me, cause I don't have FB.
posted by FJT at 7:24 AM on November 23, 2011


I use Chrome's incognito window for two things: browsing goat porn and Facebook. Some of you may take offense to bleating farm animals being abused for profit in a sick game, but I don't play Farmville all that often.
posted by benzenedream at 11:52 AM on November 23, 2011


So Facebook is basically the "fast food" of social interaction.

I find elitist sentiments like that kind of misanthropic. If you gauge the quality of social interaction by how much eye contact you can make, what are you doing on mefi?
posted by smoke at 1:29 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


well Facebook are at least open about their policies and people are aware of them and a lot of users don't seem to mind the lack of privacy, in fact Facebook has the highest number of average stay (the amount of time people spend staying on Facebook), it's even higher than Google. So it seems that Facebook is here to stay for a long time!
posted by AmyMh17 at 4:20 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not about the eye-contact, it's about the depth of conversation, and... well... sorry, 420 character limit doesn't lead to particularly thought provoking self-expression (along with a lot of the other architectural issues that fb is designed around).

It is what it is, and it *is* fast food, and hey, that's fine. But it isn't about "eye-contact", it's architecture of the service.
posted by symbioid at 7:05 PM on November 25, 2011






Another take on homunculus' article above: Did the FTC Just Ruin Facebook?
posted by Kimberly at 7:58 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]




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