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Nymwar. Nymwar never changes.
September 22, 2012 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Facebook takes the next step in the Nymwars [background explaination link]: now FB now actively prompts your friends to anonymously snitch on your use of the 'wrong' name/nym accounts.
posted by jaduncan (131 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a seriously malformed pathology at work over there at Facebook.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:37 AM on September 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Creepy.

Most of the people I know who use pseudonyms on facebook are teachers who could get fired for just being normal people on a social networking site.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:38 AM on September 22, 2012 [45 favorites]


You know who else had secret police and informants.

I read about this today and: Fuck Facebook.
Of course, that is my response to any and all stories about Facebook.

Apparently it's a limited trial, but is more pervasive than this suggests. /. today suggested they are also seeking info about sex/gender as well.
"Is this person really female?" is one of the questions mentioned there.

I, of course, don't do Facebook, so I can't verify it.
posted by Mezentian at 7:39 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


All the signs were there.

The leather jacket, the water ramp, the vicious circling ocean predators.

We just didn't pay enough attention.
posted by Aquaman at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2012 [38 favorites]



Most of the people I know who use pseudonyms on facebook are teachers obviously kiddie fiddlers, and why don't you want to protect THE CHILDREN?

The Australian media has been all a twitter this week and a bit about Twitter trolls, and there have been rumblings about the need to have real names on Twitter too, legally. I haven't the heart to make a post about it. But begun, the Nym Wars have.
posted by Mezentian at 7:42 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


the vicious circling ocean predators.

You can't command them, Aquaman?
Some King of the Seven Seas you are.
posted by Mezentian at 7:43 AM on September 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Facebook's valuation is based on the data it has about each of us. That data is, I would presume, worth much less when much of it is about Fake McAnonymous rather than tied to real names, real addresses, and real demographics. So their focus on this issue doesn't surprise me, though this approach sounds as ham-fisted and inept as most of their other "privacy" changes.
posted by Forktine at 7:44 AM on September 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Apparently it's a limited trial, but is more pervasive than this suggests. /. today suggested they are also seeking info about sex/gender as well.
"Is this person really female?" is one of the questions mentioned there.


When I first created a Facebook account, it didn't require you to specify a gender, so I didn't. At some point Facebook realised this was vital advertising data and started requiring a gender. By then, I had pretty much stopped using Facebook, but every time I would log in, it would ask me not to fill in that field on my profile, but for a pronoun preference, which it was pretty clear they would use to assign me a gender. I assume, by now, they would have asked my friends for a pronoun, and thus a gender, for me, but I deleted my Facebook account quite a while back.
posted by hoyland at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The nerve of those facebook people, hoyland, demanding they be allowed to assign a gender to a place.
posted by notyou at 7:52 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


As it has become more popular for people to use fake names and photos on Facebook, I am increasingly confronted with activity in my news feed and on my own timeline from users who I do not recognize at all. People, who after some research, turn out to be people I see in real life on a regular basis. It makes it much less useful to me as a place to connect with friends when I have no idea anymore who these friends are.
posted by grouse at 7:59 AM on September 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


The nerve of those facebook people, hoyland, demanding they be allowed to assign a gender to a place.

What is this? A romance language?
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:02 AM on September 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


It makes it much less useful to me as a place to connect with friends when I have no idea anymore who these friends are.

I don't understand. How are all these people connecting to you, and showing up in your feed?
Or is this sly parody, based on the fact that names don't matter?

Also in Facebook news: Facebook has disabled face recognition features on its site for all new European users.
posted by Mezentian at 8:03 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of agree with grouse in that I prefer it if my friends use their real name on Facebook, so I can tell who they are. That said, if Facebook asks me if "Stanky xBongzilla69x" or whatever is someone's real name, I can't wait to answer "Yes" just to screw with them.

Mezentian: I don't understand. How are all these people connecting to you, and showing up in your feed?

People can change their name after you have friended them.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:05 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, this is sort of troubling.

On the other hand, I use FB to share pictures with my parents and other relatives, and keep track of just how much better I have it than the right-wing douchebag blowhards I used to hang out with in high school.

At the end of the day, you're not required to use facebook for anything. GYOB and all that.

also pictures of forests seem to throw off the face recognition software. Facebook is all "whose face is this?" and I just shake my head and say" Nobody. Those are trees."
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:07 AM on September 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


How are all these people connecting to you, and showing up in your feed?

Rock Steady has it—these are people I've been Facebook friends with for years who one day decide that their new name is going to be a string of nonsense characters and their photo is going to be a cartoon character.
posted by grouse at 8:08 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I kind of agree with grouse in that I prefer it if my friends use their real name on Facebook, so I can tell who they are. That said, if Facebook asks me if "Stanky xBongzilla69x" or whatever is someone's real name, I can't wait to answer "Yes" just to screw with them.

I know my friends' nyms, and I know why they use them, so I have no problem telling FB that their nym is their "real name". We often address each other by our nyms out here in meatspace anyway, so AFAIC your nym IS your "real" name in the space in which you're using it.
posted by MissySedai at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


At the end of the day, you're not required to use facebook for anything.

Truly, FB has made me glad that I have no friends.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


also pictures of forests seem to throw off the face recognition software. Facebook is all "whose face is this?" and I just shake my head and say" Nobody. Those are trees."

Treebeard is not amused.
posted by Fizz at 8:10 AM on September 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Help Us Make Facebook Better

Please help us understand how people are using Facebook. Your response is anonymous and won't affect your friend's account.

Is this your friend's real name?

IF YOU TELL FACEBOOK THIS IS NOT MY REAL NAME I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN
Lives in SERIOUSLY, HUNT YOU DOWN, Wisconsin
posted by Flunkie at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2012 [79 favorites]


I know why Noone O'Consequence goes by that handle on FB, but I kind of wish he'd use his actual name. On the other hand, since I know why he does it (professional reasons), I would never consider ratting him out. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even rat out my creepy, mildly stalkerish, ex-boyfriend who used to go by Shecky Dynamite into his mid 30s. I did mock him to all my friends, though.

I'm wondering what they're going to do with the roleplay accounts, myself.
posted by immlass at 8:12 AM on September 22, 2012


No Facebook = no job interview? Is this seriously a thing now?

posted by washburn at 8:13 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


No Facebook = no job interview? Is this seriously a thing now?

I'm not sure I want to work some place that cares so adamantly about my FB/social network presence.
posted by Fizz at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


No Facebook = no job interview? Is this seriously a thing now?

That's pretty dumb, especially since it could be argued that the hiring company's interest in Facebook could be to facilitate discrimination against members of a protected class.
posted by grouse at 8:22 AM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Agreed. There is a reason we don't request a photo with a resume ad I believe some countried do. It is going to take a few lawsuits before companies stop doing it.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:25 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most of the people I know on FB who have changed their FB name have done so because they're going through some kind of gender transition (second-place category: teenagers I've hired for library jobs who enjoy wacky fake middle names like John Awesomeskaterdude Smith or whatever). I know, I know, small sample size etc., but gender transition is probably something that has a place on your mental list of reasons or whatever.
posted by box at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do people who have been asked for Facebook information during a job interview ever ask for the same in return? "Oh, you want to see mine? I'll have to look over your profile before I decide whether I want to give you that information."
posted by hippybear at 8:29 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm with Bruce Schneier...Facebook is Malware.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:35 AM on September 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


Zuckerberged again!
posted by cman at 8:40 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish people would use the names by which I know them but for many of them that's their SCA moniker. To each their own I suppose.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some puts to buy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


FB is really useful to me, in that some family members would be completely out of reach w/out it and my husband uses it for his business. It's a handy way to set up social events.

But more and more it looks like I will have to ditch it.

Fuckers.
posted by emjaybee at 8:46 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will never inform on my dear friend Coffeepot McKittens.
posted by maryr at 8:49 AM on September 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


It seems every week Facebook does something new that will only cause its doom. How can they so completely fail to understand their clients?
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to drop a dime on Allen Konigsberg, David Hayward-Jones, O'Shea Jackson, Eileen Edwards, and Albert Einstein.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yet Facebook is still puttering along just fine. I think they understand their clients just fine.
posted by maryr at 8:54 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, their clients are advertisers. Their users are just lazy.
posted by maryr at 8:55 AM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Everyone back to Friendster! Who's with me?
posted by srboisvert at 8:55 AM on September 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm shocked there are all these people with name issues (I will call them: the problem).
I have known folks on the Internets for 20-odd years, and I barely know their real names.
I may have known them at some point, as they may have known mine.
20-odd years builds a hella lot of trust.

We are more than our names.

I look at friends with Linked In profiles and I.... know how useful LI is for stalking. And they have Twitter nyms linked to that.... and I boggle, and I see their Ebay purchases,
I google this stuff, and I worry.
posted by Mezentian at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


FB is really useful to me, in that some family members would be completely out of reach w/out it and my husband uses it for his business. It's a handy way to set up social events.

I felt this way 2 years ago before dropping FB and I didn't lose touch with my family. If anything, I connect more with them through the writing of longer e-mails and phone calls.
posted by Fizz at 9:03 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do y'all remember when mefi's favorite spouse Brandon Blatcher (and his actual spouse) got kicked off facebook for using "fake" names? That was - holy cow - four years ago. And I know another mefite who uses her real name here and on fb who also got kicked off, or at least challenged by fb, for using a fake name.

There are an increasing number of sites that want you to sign in using your fb to "authenticate" your identity before you can comment or use their product or whatever. Ridiculous. I use fb, I like it okay, it's useful, but I don't want to feel required to reveal my fb presence or lack thereof to anyone if I don't feel like it.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Praytell what problem are they trying to solve?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and this: How can they so completely fail to understand their clients?

They understand their clients (advertisers) just fine.
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on September 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's really annoying. Between Facebook hating on pseudonyms and employers spying on it, we're marching toward a future where everyone is going to have a fake, sanitized Facebook they don't really use, but merely cultivate for work. It will be a complete waste of time for everyone involved. On the other hand, creating these false sites is probably a really good business opportunity for someone.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:13 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Praytell what problem are they trying to solve?

The problem of online anonymity, which is anathema to their real clients and official agencies who use social networking to their own ends.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 AM on September 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


everyone is going to have a fake, sanitized Facebook they don't really use, but merely cultivate for work.

Given that FB doesn't erase all cookies on logout, it probably isn't very hard for them to algorithmically guess which accounts relate to which people...and let's hope that your friends don't have the email address linked to your real name in their Facebook-synced addressbook, eh?
posted by jaduncan at 9:23 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I used a series of increasingly odd/unusual names when I'd get myself locked out of my Facebook account for one reason or another. None of my friends seemed to have a problem with me not using my real name, but I did only friend people I actually spoke with in real life and explained who I was. I got locked out of my latest account when I changed ISP and Facebook demanded to know my birthday. I have no idea what birthday I entered when I signed up.
posted by Solomon at 9:27 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine observed today -- in his Facebook status, naturally -- that lying to confuse the nosy has a long and honourable history.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:32 AM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


It seems every week Facebook does something new that will only cause its doom. How can they so completely fail to understand their clients?

To beat on that same horse again... as others are saying, advertisers are the clients. What they didn't point out (so far) is that you are the product. Forcing you to reveal your full name makes you more valuable as a salable good.
posted by Malor at 9:32 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even ignoring the belabored point that their "clients" are their advertisers rather than their users, I still think they understand their users just fine. Thinking that this (or things like this that they've done in the past and will do in the future) will cause some mass exodus because the user base is outraged is itself misunderstanding the user base, I think.
posted by Flunkie at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thinking that this (or things like this that they've done in the past and will do in the future) will cause some mass exodus because the user base is outraged is itself misunderstanding the user base, I think.

Right. Facebook makes life easier and more interesting for a lot of people. It facilitates things which people could be doing in other ways, but which they can't be bothered to do outside of the setting of Facebook. It's brought a lot of people online who otherwise would never have bothered. It probably is enhancing their lives in a lot of ways. But it has an underside, one which most of its users never think about and might prefer to never think about even when confronted with it.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Hacker News discussion is really good.
posted by bukvich at 10:10 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember this cover of Wired?*

A decade later Apple dominates the industry. Things change.

I don't think we'll ever see a mass exodus from Facebook (as satisfying as that would be) but they walk a razor's edge of providing just enough value to users for free, while trying to exploit those same users as much as possible.

Broadcast television is falling off that razor's edge. Newspapers and magazines already have.

It might take a decade, but Facebook will too.

* Heh. for that matter remember magazines?
posted by device55 at 10:13 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is your friend A COMMUNIST? Act now to report them!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:16 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hypothetical:

So if I were an staff member at Facebook, and I was thinking of writing a proposal to weaken the real names policy, I guess I'd want to start by collecting some data on how many people are already using fake names. I mean, if 20% of the userbase is already fake names, that's a good argument that the existing policy is worthless, right?

So in order to gather this data, I need to poll users. I can't ask them directly, because that would probably freak them out and make them lie. So instead, I put up a question that randomly asks people about their friends' usage. I note in the question that the data is anonymous and won't affect the friend's account. And I preface it with "Help us understand how people use Facebook" so they know it's not about ratting people out, but about gathering data to guide future development. And I provide them with a non-answer option in case they're uncomfortable participating.

Now there's an uproar, and everyone starts answering "Yes, this is X's real name." So when I go to propose that real name policy be removed, execs answer: "But your polling data shows that over 99% of users are using their real names! What's the problem?" And so the policy stays in place.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 10:17 AM on September 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


One of the issues is that Facebook "culture" is different than internet "culture".

When they first opened Facebook to non-students, I signed up and added all my friends that were still in college. They got on my case because I didn't have a real picture, I put a picture of a cat instead, and I "lied" on my profile.

What I did was SOP for the internet at large, but was not really acceptable in Facebook.

At it's roots, Facebook is still "The Facebook". It was always expected you would use real info. "The Facebook" users were not internet people, they didn't know anything about internet culture.

I think to this day there is only a small percentage of users that want to use pseudonyms.

The problem is that it isn't a small community anymore. It isn't just for college kids who want to find everyone they have a class with. You can't share with the kids in your class without sharing with the world

The real opportunity is Facebook, or Google, or whoever creating a social site that allows users to mimic old-school The Facebook for closed groups. Where people can use fake names, or put all real info with no fear of stalkers, or whatever.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:25 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Facebook, twitter and suck ilk are already the walking dead. Anyone with an ounce of foresight knew that from FBs disastrous stock offering. Pretty soon now... well under five years time ... something else will get enough money to but enough PR to fight it's way up to the the top of the public's murky consciousness and Facebook will go the way of MySpace.

Facebook is nothing revolutionary. Neither is Twitter. Or any social media site. It's simply another way of making a few people rich bases upon the very average person's deep seated need to not feel very average. Facebook, Virginia Slims or Axe Body Spray - it's all the same thing.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I'm ever presented with any of these requests I plan to either lie, or roll dice. I can't decide which one is better; it really depends on the frequency with which I start seeing them.
posted by egypturnash at 10:28 AM on September 22, 2012


Three of my Facebook friends have died since they joined. Does someone who no longer exists still have a name? If so, what does that name apply to?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


1984 anybody?

I would also like to address the idea that "you don't have to get a Facebook". There are many online servicese that now require facebook. More to the point, I mean, you don't "have to" get a telephone orr aa social insurance card. Nobody's going to force you. But certain aspects of modern life become much more difficult without it.
posted by windykites at 10:37 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are many online servicese that now require facebook.

I have yet to encounter anything I want to do which I'm unable to do because I don't have a facebook account.
posted by hippybear at 10:41 AM on September 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


I deleted my Facebook account about a year ago. I remember it as quite the thing. What would people think? What would I say? Would I miss it? But I pressed on. Since then, I have had one (1) person make a remark about it in passing. That's it. Facebook is nothing.
posted by deo rei at 10:57 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Facebook is nothing revolutionary. Neither is Twitter. Or any social media site. It's simply another way of making a few people rich bases upon the very average person's deep seated need to not feel very average. Facebook, Virginia Slims or Axe Body Spray - it's all the same thing.

I'm not on Facebook, and haven't been for a few years. On balance, Facebook mostly just made me depressed as hell when I was actually using it. I think as an organization it's basically malign, and the whole phenomenon is riddled with serious pathologies and should worry the hell out of anyone who cares about a free and open Internet.

But your understanding of things really ignores why and how people use a platform like Facebook. It's not because they're socially desperate sheep. It's because, as a platform, it bundles a whole bunch of interaction modes (chat, commenting, blog-like posting, photo sharing, e-mail) with a vast and usable directory, so that you can say "hey, I'm My Name on Facebook", and your Grandma or the person you just met at the bar knows how to talk to you.

Is it a problem that the platform in question is run by a single, almost-certainly-evil corporation? Yes. Do protocols and applications which have existed for decades do all of the individual things that Facebook bundles up a thousand times better and without the element of creepy, centralized, monetized control? Of course they do. That doesn't change the fact that Facebook works better for J. Random User in a meaningful sense. All that centralization and infrastructure and coordinated action has let them build a lot of bridges over the things that, for ordinary people, are just confusing gaps in the structure of the net.

I have yet to encounter anything I want to do which I'm unable to do because I don't have a facebook account.

Me either, in terms of web apps and suchlike noise, but I notice all the time that I've isolated myself socially from a lot of people I care about by not participating there. Sometimes it's stuff that really matters, like being in touch with family when someone is in the hospital or has just died unexpectedly.
posted by brennen at 10:57 AM on September 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Does someone who no longer exists still have a name?

In death, a member of Project Mayhem has a name. His name is Robert Paulson.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:03 AM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Facebook has the tyranny and inertia of the installed base working in its favor, too. I'd prefer to use Google Plus, frankly--but regular Facebook users that I'm in contact with number around 100, regular Google Plus users vary from two down to, well, zero. I'm more likely to interact with people via old-school e-mail than via Google Plus.

There are features in Google Plus that I like; it seems like it would do a lot better in letting me manage separate conversations and bits of information with separate audiences. But if nobody's there, there's no point. Or to put it another way, I don't have many privacy concerns with Google Plus, because if I post something there, it's unlikely anyone will ever see it.
posted by gimonca at 11:13 AM on September 22, 2012


I mean, you don't "have to" get a telephone orr aa social insurance card. Nobody's going to force you. But certain aspects of modern life become much more difficult without it.

Similarly, you don't "have to" get a driver's license in the U.S. Then somebody tries to push through a stupid law that says you have to have a specific kind of photo ID to vote.
posted by gimonca at 11:18 AM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't understand. How are all these people connecting to you, and showing up in your feed?
Or is this sly parody, based on the fact that names don't matter?


I do get this sometimes, usually just after they've changed their Facebook Name. I realize I'm getting updates from "Samantha P. Wackerdoodle" with a squirrel as her icon and I have to deduce that it's Sally Wachowski. But it's not really widespread enough to significantly devalue it and the confusion is only temporary.

There are others that go by their DJ name or stage name or whatever that I more immediately can connect to them.
posted by RobotHero at 11:20 AM on September 22, 2012


I liked the Slashdot commentary: companies never win in a war with their users (maybe this is the new rotating thought, to add to the near bot-like regurgitation of "the users are the product"). Although I'm not sure whether that's true or not in this case, given that convenience is the arch nemesis of privacy (and by further extension, the enemy of security (or systems that are not highly integrated like youtube for example)).
posted by saber_taylor at 11:20 AM on September 22, 2012


It occurs to me, also, with big "cloud" computing services becoming more and more available and less and less expensive, it won't be long before a small startup will be able scale up to massive size with much less effort and cost. Competition will start appearing in new places. Sure Facebook bought Instagram, but they can't buy everyone.

Also, Apple is undercutting Facebook with it's shared Photostream thing in iOS 6. If you get your parents an iPad, you can set them up with a dedicated grand-baby-photo-feed updating all day every day without ever logging into the Facebooks.

There are bajillions of iOS users. If a sizable percentage of those users begin sharing their photos that way, well that's called "disruption". Not arguing that Apple is more or less responsible or honest than Facebook, just pointing out that the never ending reign of Facebook is far from certain.
posted by device55 at 11:20 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I got locked out of my latest account when I changed ISP and Facebook demanded to know my birthday

Facebook thinks I'm in my early nineties (I don't look a day over sixty) and with the wrong birth day, as well.

Recently I -- foolishly? let me know if I should regret this -- let my computer's address book download my contacts from Facebook. The first time I opened iCal all those birthdays were in there (I have since hidden that calendar). I don't have my birthday visible on my Facebook page because I'm a grouch, and now I wonder if once a year -- on the wrong day -- I'm going to get lots and lots of birthday wishes. Maybe I should just move the birthday around so it never occurs.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:31 AM on September 22, 2012


grouse writes "As it has become more popular for people to use fake names and photos on Facebook, I am increasingly confronted with activity in my news feed and on my own timeline from users who I do not recognize at all. People, who after some research, turn out to be people I see in real life on a regular basis. It makes it much less useful to me as a place to connect with friends when I have no idea anymore who these friends are."

The flip side is all the people I know only by handles are unknown to me by their real names. Google Plus is completely useless to me because their real name policy means I don't remember who most of the people in my circles are.

windykites writes "There are many online servicese that now require facebook."

Not meant to be snarky but what are these services? I see login to facebook buttons all over the place but they just seem to enable posting the page to your wall or liking the page.
posted by Mitheral at 11:32 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Facebook is the new bazaar out in the far random lower middle income countries in Africa and the Far East. Agora. Forum. That type of thing
posted by infini at 11:32 AM on September 22, 2012


I don't really care when people obscure their last name on facebook. There are only so many Rachels I know, and it's really no less confusing than trying to figure out the new last names of half the people I went to high school with. But use some name that people know you as, please.
posted by jeather at 11:46 AM on September 22, 2012


But use some name that people know you as, please.

Yeah, like your MeFi name.

Seriously, I have no idea who half of my G+ contacts are anymore.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:53 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


gimonca: "Or to put it another way, I don't have many privacy concerns with Google Plus, because if I post something there, it's unlikely anyone will ever see it."

Problem is, Google+ has an even more draconian "real names" policy than Facebook, and has had for longer.
posted by jiawen at 12:07 PM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have my birthday visible on my Facebook page because I'm a grouch, and now I wonder if once a year -- on the wrong day -- I'm going to get lots and lots of birthday wishes. Maybe I should just move the birthday around so it never occurs.

People get mad at me when I mention I had a good birthday because I don't use apps so they didn't see a notification that it was my birthday. But really, I don't mind birthday wishes after the fact people, it's ok.
posted by emjaybee at 12:10 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey mitheral, that's totally a valid question. Offhand, I recently tried to read an article online. It redirected to facebook and I had to log in to be able to access said article. It wasn't an app, kust an article on someone's site. Someone with more computer-savvy than me probably would have been able to get around this, but I am not more computer savvy than me.

That's not the best example but it is recent- one or two days ago. I also remember hearing about airlines forcing you to sign in to your facebook to buy tickets. This kind of thing gets more and more common.
posted by windykites at 12:17 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also remember hearing about airlines forcing you to sign in to your facebook to buy tickets.

Where did you hear that? I find no evidence for that whatsoever in a cursory search.
posted by hippybear at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2012


No facebook = no job interview?
posted by bukvich at 12:32 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have yet to encounter anything I want to do which I'm unable to do because I don't have a facebook account.

I was kind of bummed about Spotify, but it's not like I don't still have a few thousand CDs I need to rip.
posted by Lazlo at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


No facebook = no job interview?

A Reddit self post is hardly a reliable source of information. I don;t think this is a real thing.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2012


I don't side with Facebook on this, so don't get me wrong...but one thing that I find really annoying about Facebook (that has nothing to do with Facebook's decisions, and has always been a violation of their soft-enforced policies) is how many people run sock puppet accounts.

I'm not talking about people who are teachers or doctors or cops in real life and need to worry about their safety or job security. I mean folks who want to have their cake and eat it too, who want to have a "personal" Facebook and then a Facebook that they use for their spam and slacktivism. What's even more obnoxious is those kinds of users will demand you adopt their complicated "model" and only talk about X, Y, or Z effecting A, B, or C people on this account or that account or...it gets ridiculous. It's like, they want to break the rules, get away with it, and expect you to do work in order to stay in touch with them.

I have an extreme distaste for this "narc on your contacts" crap, and the stuff about gender really skeevs me out to the point that I'd like to see a Facebook facility catch fire and burn to the ground. But on the flip side of all that, I do sometimes wish that some of their policies were better enforced (else, why have them). So it's a complicated issue.
posted by trackofalljades at 12:44 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


convenience is the arch nemesis of privacy

This is very true, but it's generally worth remembering that "convenience" is very often used to mean "ease of doing something that one doesn't really need to do and which wastes one's time". Sending an encrypted email, having encouraged your correspondent to generate a keypair, is arguably less convenient than posting on their facefuck wall, but it's both more convenient and more private than, and accomplishes the same goal as, sending a letter.

Facebook isn't, for most of its users, "convenient". It's a source of extra shit to do, and, for genuine communication purposes, there are equally convenient and vastly less exploitative options (like email). Facebook is convenient for advertisers, because it puts asses in seats in a clever way, which accomplishes something necessary for the advertisers. It makes surveillance convenient, too, and the policy discussed in TFA illustrates exactly whose convenience is paramount from in Facebook's opinion.

There are tons of other examples: I don't need beef jerky, cigarettes, or the poorly-made, overpriced versions of useful household items, so even though they are easily accessible, "convenience" stores are from my point of view abusing language on their signs. They don't render easier a task that I have or want to do; they introduce new, extraneous, things to do and then advertise how easy they make it to do those new, extraneous things. Software is often rife with this problem: installing Windows is a pain in the ass because time must be spent removing all of the features that make it "convenient", i.e. easy to do unnecessary shit.

Privacy is only one of the chunks of humanity that are best stripped away from a person to make them a more reliable consumer: autonomy, inquisitiveness, self-confidence, patience, and willingness to share are some of the other natural characteristics that marketing attempts to attenuate. To some extent, the word "convenience" is more a tool in that project than a signifier of a real concept.
posted by kengraham at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


previously
posted by windykites at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2012


previously

That has nothing to do with buying tickets. That has to do with selecting seats. And it's an opt-in, not a requirement.

Just because you CAN do things via facebook doesn't mean you HAVE TO HAVE facebook to do things. Don't conflate the two. (Although that's likely what facebook wants you to do -- to think you can't do things if you don't have them. How else can they build their global population database of what everyone likes and how they all know each other which they sell to advertisers?)
posted by hippybear at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


In all these discussions I think it important to make a point of the fact that Facebook's primary purpose is not a communications tool. Its primary purpose is to collect as much accurate information on you as possible and then to sell that information to parties who are interested in it. Facebook "social games" have the exact same purpose.

Email, the telephone, twitter (to a certain small extent) are designed as communication tools. Facebook is not designed as such and its utility as such is merely the hook designed to get to to give up your demographics, addresses, email , phone numbers contact information, purchasing habits, web browsing habits and other assorted information - to be sold elsewhere.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 12:55 PM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hi hippybear- it seems I did misremember the article. But don't worry! If you skim through the discussion, you'll find people mentioning services where facebook is neccessary... and speculating that said airlines will be next, which doesn't seem that unlikely.
posted by windykites at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2012


Podkayne of Pasadena I believe you are probably correct.

Here is the best data I can find to motivate us to avoid facebook:

Schneier on Security--Discovering what facebook knows about you.
posted by bukvich at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have definitely found sites I can't use without logging into Facebook. I really do think everyone is rapidly getting forced into using it, one way or another. I would have long since killed my abandoned account except then I know someone will make me go back. Like that job example, which makes me sick.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:17 PM on September 22, 2012


Fuck Facebook. Seriously.
1984 anybody?
Chomsky said that the three evils of the twentieth century are Bolshevikism ('Communism'), Fascism and Corporation(ism).
posted by Monkeymoo at 2:03 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now there's an uproar, and everyone starts answering "Yes, this is X's real name." So when I go to propose that real name policy be removed, execs answer: "But your polling data shows that over 99% of users are using their real names! What's the problem?" And so the policy stays in place.

Or, imagine this. I'm Mark Zuckerberg. I want to give everyone a lifetime's supply of candy, and a pony. But I need to know where to ship it to them. I can't just ask people if the names they're using on Facebook are real, because I want it to be a surprise. So I ask their friends. But their friends are too suspicious to answer properly! All I want is to do something nice for people! I go to bed every night weeping over the small-minded distrustfulness that keeps the world from getting their candy and ponies. When oppressive governments call asking me for information on dissidents, I, hurt and angry, give them what they want. The very people who were benefiting most from anonymity have been hurt by their obstinate clinging to it as a principle!

Or, imagine this. I'm a Facebook user. I get a query from Facebook asking "How do you want to be served?" I immediately report it to Engadget because OMG THEY WANT TO EAT US. But it turns out it's not a cookbook! They really did just want to serve us a delicious dinner! Facebook kick me out and I take refuge in a library, vowing to spend the rest of my life reading about how great Facebook is as penance. But then my glasses break! And there are ten thousand spoons, when all I need is a knife!
posted by No-sword at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


I think to this day there is only a small percentage of users that want to use pseudonyms.

I'm guessing over half of my friends do this -- it really, really depends on what circles you run in, and whether psuedonyms are a norm within those circles.

I'm not talking about people who are teachers or doctors or cops in real life and need to worry about their safety or job security. I mean folks who want to have their cake and eat it too, who want to have a "personal" Facebook and then a Facebook that they use for their spam and slacktivism.

The problem with this is that folks who "want to have their cake and eat it, too" can also get fired for what they post on facebook, same as teachers and cops and doctors can. Ordinary people have gotten fired for, say, getting tagged in a party photo the day they took sick leave. Using multiple accounts to partition the access you give to different people (like your boss) has been a big part of internet culture since the beginning -- I don't see how it can suddenly be a bad thing just because facebook doesn't like it.

It's Facebook that broke the rules of the internet, not the rest of us. Pseudonyms are an integral part of the way I use the internet, and the day facebook forces me to use my real name is the day I'll quit.
posted by vorfeed at 2:24 PM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The very people who were benefiting most from anonymity have been hurt by their obstinate clinging to it as a principle!

What? They were hurt by hypothetical-Zuckerberg-you giving their information to oppressive governments, not by their desire to have that information unavailable to oppressive governments.

Where I am, it's raining, and the drops consist mainly of water, not sucrose-coated horse-flesh being dropped from a corporate jet after being purchased using massive fortunes acquired through facebook. I think it's safe to assume that candy-and-pony distribution is not Zuckerberg's primary motivation.
posted by kengraham at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2012


In my social networking dreamworld, Facebook would go in the complete opposite direction and allow me to have alias names visible to different groups/lists of friends. My derby team would see me as my derby name (and could consequently refer to me and tag me in pictures as such). My internet/MeFi friends would see me as iamkimiam. My old school friends would see and refer to me by my nickname. My professional contacts would see my full name.

This is so flippin' obvious to me I can't even.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:50 PM on September 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


Also in Facebook news: Facebook has disabled face recognition features on its site for all new European users.

Oh look, it's looks like I'm a citizen of the EU now...according to my Facebook profile.
posted by ryoshu at 2:58 PM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think Facebook for a lot of people provided the first experience of how an online persona is like a performance and this generates a lot of energy and a sense of shared purpose ("You're on Facebook? Me too!"). After a while that dissipates because you really don't have that much in common with your 500+ friends. And you discover new communities more specific to your particular interest. At that point you no longer need Facebook. Perhaps Facebook is a bit like the Tower of Babel. A coming of age in the age of the internet.
posted by deo rei at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Email, the telephone, twitter (to a certain small extent)

Twitter is, in fact, a pretty good communications tool for a broad set of different use profiles, and was obviously designed as such. It's genuinely interesting for a lot of different reasons, for a lot of different communities. The creeping pathologies of its corporate form and architecture notwithstanding, insisting that there couldn't possibly be any there there is sort of the 2010s equivalent of that guy at the late 90s party who would just not stop telling you about how long it had been since he owned a television.

are designed as communication tools. Facebook is not designed as such and its utility as such is merely the hook designed to get to to give up your demographics, addresses, email , phone numbers contact information, purchasing habits, web browsing habits and other assorted information - to be sold elsewhere.

There's no "merely" about this. Yes, they are a bunch of fucking vampires. We get it. They are vampires with a really effective platform. A platform that is built on a really astonishing technological effort and works better for hundreds of millions of people than the ones thee and me would really prefer to see everyone using. This is significant. It matters. It is a real thing. It is useful to ask questions about why that is without dismissing it as some kind of illusion.
posted by brennen at 3:16 PM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know who else had secret police and informants

The White Witch of Narnia? He Who Shall Not Be Named? Darth Vader? Big Brother? Who, WHO?
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:31 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A platform that is built on a really astonishing technological effort and works better for hundreds of millions of people than the ones thee and me would really prefer to see

HTTP pages are hardly astonishing technology. Facebook is merely updated MySpace which was hardly astonishing in its own right but with newer and better PR budgets. MySpace allowed crappy bands to put up crappy cluttered webpages for anyone to see. Facebook allows you to now more easily share your crappy cluttered webpage for anyone to see as well as sharing with the world what kind of fruit smoothie you drank last evening. And all they ask in return is all your personal privacy. I fail to see the innovation here.

Facebook is like the creepy stalker down the block who will give you a nice space and pretty frames to post all your pictures - as long as you allow him to show them all to his creepy friends.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 3:46 PM on September 22, 2012


Nymwar changes constantly. That's what makes it so interesting and frustrating.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:18 PM on September 22, 2012


HTTP pages are hardly astonishing technology. Facebook is merely updated MySpace which was hardly astonishing in its own right but with newer and better PR budgets. MySpace allowed crappy bands to put up crappy cluttered webpages for anyone to see. Facebook allows you to now more easily share your crappy cluttered webpage for anyone to see as well as sharing with the world what kind of fruit smoothie you drank last evening. And all they ask in return is all your personal privacy. I fail to see the innovation here.

As someone who never had MySpace, I can think of two things that were noticeable improvements on MySpace. One was that, at least initially, Facebook pages weren't crappy and cluttered. They may be now, but at least they don't autoplay music. I think (though I might be wrong--see not using MySpace) that MySpace content was all public and Facebook always had some limited privacy settings. Standardising appearance was, I think, a fairly big deal. I stopped clicking links to MySpace pages because they flat out didn't load on my computer they were so laden with crap. LiveJournal had custom friends groups, which gave a degree of control replicated by Google+'s circles, but not, as far as I know, by Facebook, even now.
posted by hoyland at 4:44 PM on September 22, 2012


The White Witch of Narnia? He Who Shall Not Be Named? Darth Vader? Big Brother? Who, WHO?

Pretty much ever evil person in power to walk this plant.
Like Hitler. And Stalin.
posted by Mezentian at 4:51 PM on September 22, 2012


Facebook has disabled face recognition features on its site for all new European users. The move follows privacy recommendations made by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Tag Suggest information has been turned off for new users, and Facebook plans to delete the information for existing EU users by October 15th.

+1 point for the EU. As for the no fb=no interview thing, I think the main worry is if HR tends not to interview candidates without a fb profile as often, not if they have an official policy, as official policies can be stricken down.
posted by ersatz at 5:17 PM on September 22, 2012


Forktine, Malor: Having worked on the big AI-driven ad systems at Glurgle, Inc., we did not give a crap what your name was. It didn't help us predict what ads you would click on, and that's all we cared about.

I don't believe knowing your real name has any particular value compared to knowing your behavior/what you click on, and using that to infer your interests. If someone knows of an advertising or marketing system that actually does value real names, I'd like to hear of it.
posted by jjwiseman at 5:38 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It didn't help us predict what ads you would click on, and that's all we cared about.

Maybe that's all you cared about, but someone, somewhere cares more.
I mean, if I were, say, Glurgle, Inc, and I could mash the user's otherwise Glurge and Facebook profiles and, say, a person's completely unrelated but real-name linked power usage data I might be able to even more precisely target advertising.

For a richer user experience.
posted by Mezentian at 5:53 PM on September 22, 2012


Snitches get stitches.
posted by deborah at 6:01 PM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


If anybody snitches on my sooper seekrit pseudonymous account there will be–at the bare minimum–a *VERY* obscene conversation about how to deal with snitches.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:07 PM on September 22, 2012


I think what Facebook is most worried about are services like uSocial that buy and sell huge networks of fake Facebook accounts for organizations that want to buy 1,000 friends or 10,000 "likes." That kind of thing is a much bigger threat to their precious advertising database than Facebook pages for Ricochet Biscuit and PhoBWanKenobi.

And that's probably our best hope for privacy in the future. We can't keep our information out of all those databases governments and corporations are compiling. But we might be able to flood them with so much additional fake data that they're mostly useless.
posted by straight at 6:47 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone on Fark had a pretty good idea; just say everyone is fake, all the time. Make a campaign about it (on Facebook for irony value alone). False positives are difficult for any system to deal with and will make for an unreliable test. If nothing else it'll make the policy unpopular.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:50 PM on September 22, 2012


Someone on Fark had a pretty good idea; just say everyone is fake, all the time.

I was thinking of that, but it seems trivial for Facebook to ignore anyone who replies "fake" all the time. Boy who cried wolf. Even replying mostly true with a few fakes to mess things up, it would be fairly easy for Facebook to compare different users' responses and determine a "reliability score" for each respondent (if you regularly diverge from the consensus, or if you consistently answer fake, you're unreliable). In order to effectively poison the data, there would have to be a concerted and organized effort by a significant fraction of the users. I don't see it happening.
posted by alexei at 7:38 PM on September 22, 2012


Facebook isn't for pseudonyms. By using it, you are agreeing to abide by their rules. If you don't like it, go use Myspace. Facebook has made the decision that, in order to prevent people from being bad, they have to use their real names, and I agree, because it serves as a spike-strip to creeps and advert-- uh, and abuse, and blah blah blah I am a ridiculous toadying goon

seriously though, why do people like more rules and authority over the internet until it comes back to bite them in the ass, what is the haps ins
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:58 PM on September 22, 2012


I'm still bitter that LiveJournal never took off among my (former) friends.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 8:06 PM on September 22, 2012


I am surprised there hasn't been an underground DIY social networking movement. Maybe all the old BBS people who knew how to easily connect computer to computer (without corporate oversight) have just given up. Too bad -- if they melded their history with new geek innovations we could have thousands (+) of vibrant networks that would provide as much or more connection and applications than Facebook ever has -- and it could be done without any WWW corporate control.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:32 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am surprised there hasn't been an underground DIY social networking movement.

Diaspora (previously, previously)
posted by hippybear at 9:50 PM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


My suspicion is that they're all on Metafilter, Reddit, USENET or any number of other fora. Facebook seems to be aimed at a non-technical crowd. Everyone who knows about the privacy issues in any meaningful way already has somewhere else to go.
posted by suetanvil at 10:03 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Sufurrus

the people who could make that work are currently in the employ of Facebook et al.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:37 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


the people who could make that work are currently in the employ of Facebook et al.

Not really. There is nothing inherently difficult about making a Facebook or Twitter clone. Nothing. The database technologies are standard stuff though granted they employ scaling that is phenomenal. But so do the IRS , or the DMV , or a ton of big companies .

To make a Facebook or a Twitter you do not need to be a genius.
What you need are subscribers and to get subscribers you need money. Tons of the stuff so that you can make your Facebook a "thing" and a thing to be needed. You need tons of money to force your idea in front of the eyes of every Joe and Jane six-pack out there and make them believe that they really need your site. So you pay late night talk show hosts to continually mention your product and you pay the Paris Hilton of the world to be seen with or on your product. You pay a LOT and you get a LOT of financing up front. Tens or hundreds of millions up front. Which is exactly what Zukerberg and Stone did. Their only genius was in the gathering of the vast amounts of money necessary to hire the right PR to convince people that they needed their product.

Which is why Facebook stock dropped like a rock upon it's public offering. Because the people who actually have money (hint: they aren't on Facebook) know that the product was essentially worthless no matter how many pooter shots of the latest celeb were being displayed upon it. Facebook will be dead and forgotten long before the decade is gone, making way for the next new thing.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:52 PM on September 22, 2012


If someone knows of an advertising or marketing system that actually does value real names, I'd like to hear of it.

Yeah, I'm not really sure what the point would be, and not sure they "have my identity" in any meaningful way.

Yes, they have my real name. A name shared by 10s or hundreds of other people in the U.S. They lack my SS#, my mailing address, and my phone number, among other things. I suppose you could pull some IP forensics or detective work based on who my friends are and photos, maybe track me down. But the same would be true whether I provided me real name or not.

Their goal is to serve my online identity ads that I'll actually click on (haha, good luck.) I'm still not really seeing a connection to my offline self.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:48 PM on September 22, 2012


Put another way, that people can live in a country where the PATRIOT Act is law, and yet be more concerned about this, is slightly confounding. I know you can be concerned about both, but... I am quite confident the FBI and CIA can find out my "Nym" no matter what social networks I do or don't belong to.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:50 PM on September 22, 2012


Not really. There is nothing inherently difficult about making a Facebook or Twitter clone. Nothing.

The number of people who say stuff like this is much, much larger that the number of people actually shipping a viable competitor.
posted by mhoye at 12:42 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Its the AmericaOnline of web 2.0, AOL on a global scale. I wouldn't be surprised to see different usage patterns and areas of emphasis on populations against the number of years of affordable internet access.
posted by infini at 1:28 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nymwar changes constantly. That's what makes it so interesting and frustrating.

The title is a reference to the Fallout video game series phrase "War. War never changes", which is intended to say that the means of prosecution may change but the conflict always exists. Your comment is precisely why I used it.
posted by jaduncan at 5:12 AM on September 23, 2012


They lack my SS#, my mailing address, and my phone number, among other things.

Did you ever give your address or phone number to anyone via Facebook messaging? Then they have that. And they've correlated it. You didn't think your facebook email was somehow sacrosanct did you?

Ever mention who you were voting for this election (in FB email or open talk)? Ever make a political statement of any kind? Say something sexy to an old flame? Mention a disease that you once had?. Log on to a medical information forum which used a Facebook login? Every buy something with a credit card that used a Facebook login (like facebook game add-ons)?

If you are fairly active on Facebook then they have data-mined your entire life and they are selling it to people who would normally want to sell you car or life insurance, political campaigns, religious organizations (ever discuss abortion?), and of course law enforcement any time that they ask. FB goes far, far beyond just what kinds of ads that they serve you.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Problem is, Google+ has an even more draconian "real names" policy than Facebook, and has had for longer.

That's an important point to mention too, yes.
posted by gimonca at 10:52 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you ever give your address or phone number to anyone via Facebook messaging? Then they have that. And they've correlated it. You didn't think your facebook email was somehow sacrosanct did you?

Citation needed. Various privacy commissioners would be all over this if it had legs.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2012


Problem is, Google+ has an even more draconian "real names" policy than Facebook, and has had for longer.

Well, technically they haven't had it for longer, but they began enforcing it pretty much straight out of the gate. Eric Schmidt's statement that Google+ was an identity service, rather than a social networking site, really fanned the flames of the wars. For many it was seen as ethnocentric and discriminatory, and a refusal to allow people to select their own public identity.

I find that people who come out of a journalistic or, sometimes, academic background in which attribution genealogy is a foundational value often struggle to understand the importance of being able to maintain public pseudonymity, because they often confuse it with the anarchy of anonymity (which certainly has its place as well, but that's not what is constituted by a stable unofficial chosen name). Many of these same people would balk at being subjected to random searches on the street by authority figures, though, despite the fact that one of the key arguments in favor of "official names" policies is the classic, "well, if you have nothing to hide, why would you mind?"

The fact is that social interaction, public discourse, and a heavily market-driven economy are now colliding in ways that bring these kinds of tensions to the fore, and which force us to confront issues of identity, privacy, and the mass commodification of conversation. As the largest social networking site--and one whose policies relentlessly push the boundaries of all of these areas--Facebook is naturally going to be the focus of contention, even when its "rivals" pursue similar policies. Facebook in particular was originally created within a specific context and focused on the social, so long-time subscribers have often felt disoriented at policy changes that suggested a service much different from the one they'd initially signed up for. It's a bit dated by now, but I'm fond of the interactive diagram embedded in this great article from two years ago, showing how Facebook's privacy policies changed over the course of its first few years.

Interesting times, largely in the (apocryphal?) Chinese curse sense.
posted by Superplin at 12:31 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Various privacy commissioners would be all over this if it had legs.

Gmail, for example, analyzes the content of your email to tailor ads to you. Podkayne makes it sound more direct than it probably is but I wouldn't be surprised if that kind of information is in lots of internal indexes or logs. There probably isn't any cite for it, though.

drjimmy is drastically underestimating the amount of information that's going to be openly available about him. A person's SSN can be calculated from their place and date of birth with a fair degree of accuracy without even correlating it with information from databases. If Facebook has your real name and your location - which would not require any kind of forensics or detective work, IP geolocation down to the city is something you can get for free if you just search for a web site or service that does it and every web site you visit gets your IP address automatically - they can probably find out just about any information about you.

And if Facebook has your account correlated to any photograph of your face, the database with the facial recognition pattern can be used to link all of that other information to any other photograph of your face that appears anywhere on the internet. With any photo or video captured by any camera you pass in front of, too - retail stores are now digitizing and analyzing all their security camera footage to determine how customers move around their store and even to identify individual customers to market to them.
posted by XMLicious at 12:34 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone knows of an advertising or marketing system that actually does value real names, I'd like to hear of it.

Advertising clients value direct leads. If I go from a Google search on NAS devices, then click on a Google ad, and browse around on a tech site for something priced at $40000, I am pretty much guaranteed to get a call to the company's front desk looking for the person in charge of network storage. If they can't get that they will try LinkedIn to see if they can guess from the domain name and job titles who to call directly. Do you really think that FB or Google, if they get desperate enough for revenue, won't sell out their users?
.
What is the point of the Like button if not to harvest actual users for marketing?
posted by benzenedream at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2012


Just saw a job posting that had this line:

Friend us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/----- (we will ask if you've done this :)

Sneaky way to charm applicants into allowing potential employers access to their wall and photos.
posted by catlet at 4:10 AM on September 24, 2012


Ars Technica - Facebook profiles: now cross-referenced with retail purchases!
posted by XMLicious at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How Much Data Can Facebook Collect Before the FTC Gets Involved?
posted by homunculus at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am surprised there hasn't been an underground DIY social networking movement. Maybe all the old BBS people who knew how to easily connect computer to computer (without corporate oversight) have just given up.

I know diaspora was mentioned, but another set of software that would apply is Friend-to-Friend networks. Retroshare seems particularly interesting to me.

My guess is many of the old BBS people can be found on the Super Dimension Fortress, which still runs a BBS and provides shell accounts and other old-school networking stuff for super cheap.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:37 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have yet to encounter anything I want to do which I'm unable to do because I don't have a facebook account.

I had to have a back and forth email conversation (10+ emails) with the receptionist at my eye doctor in order to make an appointment. Their site is on Facebook and their only method of booking is through their site. Facebook is blocked at work. I called to make an appointment - no answer, message asking me to email them. I emailed asking them to call me, response was they would do it by end of day. They never called back. I emailed again. They told me to log in to Facebook from home or do it on my phone. I said the whole thing was elitest - requiring their patients to have a computer + internet access or smartphone and a Facebook account! Ridiculous. But I still made the appointment because I like the doctor. But GAH!
posted by valeries at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2012


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