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Wither Privacy
October 11, 2013 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Facebook just got less private. Now anyone one can find you. Facebook has eliminated a setting that controls whether users could be found when people type their name into the website's search bar.

Still hiding in Facebook's shadows? Not for much longer.

Now is the time to do a privacy checkup on your Facebook account.

Mashable coverage.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (144 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
And on the same day: Google Sets Plan to Sell Users’ Endorsements
posted by gwint at 8:42 AM on October 11, 2013


People should just quit the service. Its free because you trade your privacy for using it.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:43 AM on October 11, 2013 [22 favorites]


My postings have pretty much gone down to zero other than photos of our basset -- nobody cares about those anyway other than people who love bassets.
posted by blucevalo at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"We're removing the setting because it isn't as useful as it was before"

Useful to Facebook, maybe. The people I know who choose not to be searchable by name have pretty solid reasons for doing so (mostly job related).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


Fortunately there's a very easy way to hack this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:45 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I changed my Facebook name immediately. I will not use my real name anymore.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:46 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your title is sublime, MisanthropicPainforest.
posted by boo_radley at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2013 [18 favorites]


I had a few Google Places reviews but that Google thing is probably going to inspire me to delete them. (Facebook is what it is. It sucks, but it's where some people are, and I just don't post anything I care about saying in public.)
posted by immlass at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Link to Facebook privacy settings.
Link to settings page where you can change your name.
posted by exogenous at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


So, how's Diaspora* these days? The Wikipedia page looks like it has largely stalled in 2012, though the intro block says that as of last month, "there were estimated to be more than 405,000 Diaspora accounts."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:50 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good thing I didn't use "Zen M. This" as my Facebook name.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2013


Guys, guys. The trick is to have a REALLY COMMON name. If people are finding you too easily, it's really all your own fault.
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


People should just quit the service. Its free because you trade your privacy for using it.

There is, of course, a significant cost to not being on the dominant social network. I miss important family news, make fewer friends, don't get invited to gatherings, and will probably never have a date again as long as I live.

All totally fucking worth it. Facebook is awful. Just walk away, people.
posted by brennen at 8:52 AM on October 11, 2013 [40 favorites]


I only ever post songs I like or funny stories about my kid. I'm not sweating it being revealed to the world that my kid built a blanket fort and called it "Mount Awesome."

I can only reasonably see this being a problem for chronic oversharers. I'm looking at you, younger brother who posts drunk pics.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:52 AM on October 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


*sigh*

There is a reason why I have the tightest privacy control setting I can have there. There is also a reason why I have so few people on my "friends" list.
posted by Kitteh at 8:52 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wherein all the people who already hate Facebook will share that with us again.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2013 [48 favorites]


^THIS^

I will have to field dozens of angry people who are shocked SHOCKED that a free service really isn't free.
posted by Kitteh at 8:54 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


smackfu: "Wherein all the people who already hate Facebook will share that with us again."

Maybe if they'd stop being so horrible, you know?
posted by boo_radley at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Facebook, that is. Not the people.
posted by boo_radley at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


At this point, if you don't know what Facebook is and how it wants to use you, I don't know what to say. The simple rule is to not put anything on the site that you wouldn't want on televised tv. Expecting it to keep anything you do on the site private is just asking for trouble.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


And on the same day: Google Sets Plan to Sell Users’ Endorsements

And according to that article, you may just have to "follow" a business to have your picture sent to your friends saying "Jimmy's cake's is A+ awesome!"

I know it's irrational, but I think my first reaction to seeing such a message would be irritation at the friend. (I feel that way when I get your automated Linked-in invites that you didn't write, too.) sorry.
posted by spbmp at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2013


I changed my Facebook name immediately. I will not use my real name anymore.

Facebook still knows who you are.
posted by Mezentian at 8:56 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wherein all the people who already hate Facebook will share that with us again.

I mean, granted, that's probably not a terribly useful thread to have, but c'mon, what sort of nuanced reaction is expected to FACEBOOK BEING AWFUL AGAIN, PART ∞?
posted by brennen at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about making another post about Facebook's trying to quash Social Fixer but this probably isn't the time for another Facebook FPP. Anyway, this piece called The End of the Power User is a good read.
posted by exogenous at 8:58 AM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I guess I just don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything by avoiding facebook. Contact from relatives? They email me. Contact with friends? Txt. Contact from people I haven't seen since elementary school? Do not want. Baby photos? Same. Facebook is a thing for people who like people and are interested in their lives. I don't like people.

I guess it would be a valuable way of finding out which of my relatives are horrible racists but I can live without that information.

If I did ever sign up for it I would set my name as Jane Jones and make a fake email address to go with it, prolly. I get that plenty of people are kind of trapped by it due to family obligations and whatnot, though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on October 11, 2013 [29 favorites]


Wherein all the people who already hate Facebook will share that with us again.

It's basically the least cool thing to admit, but I kind of love facebook. I am an unabashed google stalker, and facebook makes it so much easier. Particularly since I'm in the throes of okcupid dating right now, it's especially helpful. Please don't leave facebook, guys. I need to be able to see what food trucks you eat at in order to judge whether you're a worthwhile match.

In other news, if anyone wants to see pictures of my stupid dog and occasional rantings about how fucked Ventra is, come be friends with me! If you join my friend list it only increases the number of people I'm able to spy on! Bwa ha ha!

I realize that my argument for why I like facebook is basically everyone's argument for why they hate it.
posted by phunniemee at 8:58 AM on October 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


Guys, guys. The trick is to have rename yourself with a REALLY COMMON name.

We are all Agent Smith, or whatever fictional character you want to be.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've not closed my account yet but just yesterday after realizing most of my FB feed was weak sauce I deleted the app from my phone.

Is it bad that the folks I follow on Twitter are more interesting then my friends?
posted by bitdamaged at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I miss important family news...

This is true, and a bummer. Facebook has become the default form of online communication to such a degree that I sometimes feel guilty for choosing to leave and, by extension, cutting myself off from my friends and relatives that way. Someone once told me that it's like I died.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Facebook still knows who you are.

I don't care about that. But I have a stalker father-in-law, one who has had multiple restraining orders against him, if my family and I used our real name, we would be more vulnerable. I'm not worried about Facebook, Inc. I'm worried about the crazies.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


I guess it would be a valuable way of finding out which of my relatives are horrible racists but I can live without that information.

Yeah, and, I mean, I also have e-mail forwards and Thanksgiving dinners for this. I'm pretty much already over-provisioned in the data-about-my-family's-fucked-ideology sphere.
posted by brennen at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, granted, that's probably not a terribly useful thread to have, but c'mon, what sort of nuanced reaction is expected to FACEBOOK BEING AWFUL AGAIN, PART ∞?

Eye-rolling and selfie posting?
I hate Facebook, and I miss out on a lot. A LOT. Events get chucked there, Live events happen.
And I have been dealing with missing out for years.

But this is the latest in a long line of dud calls from Facebook Corp.
posted by Mezentian at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked Facebook for aggregating information from all my casual friends, because they're generally interesting people. Then it re-filtered so I saw fewer updates, and I find it less interesting. I'm lazy, and I don't want to actually check updates from everyone, but perhaps it's better that way.

Also, it's still an easy way to share baby pics without having to email tons of relatives and friends who tend to like baby pics "hey, I posted new baby pics to [some other site], if you want to see them."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I only ever post songs I like or funny stories about my kid. I'm not sweating it being revealed to the world that my kid built a blanket fort and called it "Mount Awesome."

I can only reasonably see this being a problem for chronic oversharers. I'm looking at you, younger brother who posts drunk pics.


Call me crazy, but I actually don't think I want my own kid's mount awesome to potentially come up at a moment they don't get to select in their life. I can easily imagine contexts and important moments where that would detract from the image one would want to project And reaching further, the non-central details of the mount awesome picture probably hints to other things, like socioeconomic class, not to mention anything that might be read into it about my kid based on the gobs of stuff in the streams from everyone else associated in some way in the network.
posted by spbmp at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Click here to delete your Facebook account.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This isn't an either/or situation, though. Feel free not to post anything except the most barebones (even fictional) info on FB, but you can set up alerts via email or txt for various things so you aren't out of the loop on events. Whether you actually want to be out of the loop or not is another matter, but if you want to stay informed on the social network part of FB without actually using it, you can.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


anyway, I'm not that philip-random
posted by philip-random at 9:09 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The "View As... Public" is the most useful privacy related feature that Facebook has. I think the best you can do nowadays still "leaks" your gender, name, and profile/timeline photo to the public. Also people who you "follow" and what groups you belong to don't seem to have privacy settings.

As far as fine grained privacy among your "friends", I think that's way too error prone. Facebook loves to default stuff to "Friends" visibility.
posted by smackfu at 9:10 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys guys

Let's all go back to MySpace

We'll relive the glory days of 2006 it'll be fun and we'll stick it to The Man
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:10 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't care about that. But I have a stalker father-in-law, one who has had multiple restraining orders against him, if my family and I used our real name, we would be more vulnerable. I'm not worried about Facebook, Inc. I'm worried about the crazies.

I don't care who you are, and I'm not about to invest the time to find out, but I am willing to bet a small sum of money that - in a modest amount of time - I could figure out various facts about who you are within certain parameters.

This is the world now. It is wrong, and I hate it as much as you, but there you go. And if I were so inclined, and cashed up, I reckon I could find an employee of Facebook Inc who would spill the beans.

I am not, and I wouldn't, but I have heard enough stories about people with access to the local Police Database locally getting caught. It takes very little in information terms to enable people to be linked to other people in many ways, as much as you can obscure it. It just takes time and tenacity.

I have done it, at very basic levels, for work. And what I have been able to uncover scares the beejesus out of me. Although, Linked In is often the main attack vector.
posted by Mezentian at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2013


Call me crazy, but I actually don't think I want my own kid's mount awesome to potentially come up at a moment they don't get to select in their life. I can easily imagine contexts and important moments where that would detract from the image one would want to project And reaching further, the non-central details of the mount awesome picture probably hints to other things, like socioeconomic class, not to mention anything that might be read into it about my kid based on the gobs of stuff in the streams from everyone else associated in some way in the network.

Meh. I hear what you're saying and all, but that's not something I'm worried about.

I think the idea of trying to live without a social media footprint is a little naive... something akin to trying to go though life never being caught on CCTV. I think it's a lot safer to control your social media identity by flooding it with benign things you're not afraid of sharing with the world than to try and minimize it and risk having the wrong things take on undue importance.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Click here to delete your Facebook account.

ITYM "Click here to make your Facebook account inactive".
Deleting your account is another process.
posted by Mezentian at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2013


I think the best you can do nowadays still "leaks" your gender, name, and profile/timeline photo to the public

You can retroactively revert gender to "unselected" so it refers to your stuff as "their" rather than "his" or "her". You can use any image for you photo. And I think I'm about to switch to a fake name.
posted by Foosnark at 9:15 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the idea of trying to live without a social media footprint is a little naive...

Oh come on. It's the default position.
posted by odinsdream at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


My kid and I also have the advantage of having breathtakingly mundane names.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2013


Your favorite social media outlet sux.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2013


This note on the name change page is kind of funny:

Please note: You can only change your name 4 more times, so make sure to use your real name.
posted by smackfu at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


ITYM "Click here to make your Facebook account inactive".
Deleting your account is another process.



You'd be wrong, that was the correct link.

This page deactivates your account

This page DELETES your account.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is, of course, a significant cost to not being on the dominant social network.

The worst that has ever happened to me was that I went on a date with a lady who was seriously misrepresenting herself online, and assumed I would figure things out when she sent me a link to her facebook page. Somewhat disappointingly, comical hijinks did not ensue.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2013


Yup, we can always delete. Makes me think of this Doonesbury comic.
posted by Melismata at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This note on the name change page is kind of funny:

Please note: You can only change your name 4 more times, so make sure to use your real name.

A good friend of my partner's used to change her name all the time for lulz (she was very young at the time). One day they instituted that policy and she was stuck with the last name "McMuffin" for all eternity.
posted by mykescipark at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


The original article says:After that, the way people can stay hidden is to manually restrict the visibility of each piece of their profile. And that is a bit of a chore. You’d have to go through every piece of personal information in your About section and set its visibility to ‘Friends’ or ‘Only me’. At least Facebook provides a quick way to restrict the visibility of all your old News Feed posts.

Serious privacy aficionados should remember that your current profile picture and cover image are always public, so you’d have to leave those blank if you didn’t want anyone to any idea of who you are beyond your name.


...which is stuff I was already doing. So I don't know that a lot has changed.

This seems like a good place to post this BoingBoing story about NY Comic Con hijacking attendees' Twitter accounts. Something that upsets me more than being findable as a person on Facebook. So far, FB has not made it possible for anyone to pose as me to send messages.

The whole point of FB for me is that it is my real name; I want old friends and lost family members to find me. It's the real me, to some extent, though I realize there are risks involved in being that open. But given what we know about the NSA, I haven't been anonymous in any way online for a long time, if ever, where the government is concerned (under my real name or my pseudonyms; I have no illusions about how easy it would be to link the two for anyone with the time and effort).

I don't have any murderous ex-spouses or ex-employers with a vendetta, though, so I have the luxury of not needing to be that private.

It's not that I don't care about online privacy, it's just that I don't think Facebook, in particular, has ever been a private place. It's always been about people finding each other and sharing what they are up to.
posted by emjaybee at 9:27 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of people whose timeline breaks down like this:

1998: Here is my MySpace page with dirty jokes and pics of me getting hammered, y'all!
2001: Here's my personal blog, talking about my mental health issues, sex life, and how much I hate my job!
2005: I'm on Facebook now! Here are my political opinions and the names and faces of everyone I know!
2013: Why won't anyone respect my priiiiiiiiiiiivacy?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2013 [18 favorites]


You'd be wrong, that was the correct link.

My bad.
It appears I am incorrect.
But, as a non-FB user who has a ghost account I cannot delete, I reserve the right to be miffed.
posted by Mezentian at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried to quit Facebook. I was off for two years. Then a 54-year old man from suburban St. Louis with the same first initial and last name as mine, who thinks my gmail account is his, kept signing up over, and over, and over. He finally figured out the email thing, but since the Facebook system linked both addresses, I still got notifications of friend requests and phone number changes.

Sadly, I now have a Facebook acct again, just to stop the madness.
posted by hwyengr at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diaspora development "stalled" because they changed their release schedule. The way they went about it was super confusing, it involved changing much of the rest of their management structure. To that point there had been a pretty small number of active developers, so it's probably a good thing in the long run?

Here's a blog post with the haps
posted by LogicalDash at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please change the title to "Whither Privacy".
posted by Slothrup at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gee. I totally deleted my Facebook account a month ago, after I realized I had no family or old friends left I wanted to keep in touch with, no online friends who aren't on MetaFilter or have their own blogs and only IRL friends who are internet illiterate. I am ahead of an oncoming trend before anybody else. OH CRAP, I'm a hipster. Now I gotta wear a fedora.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please change the title to "Whither Privacy".

It's not a typo. It's a joke.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2013 [18 favorites]


It's not a typo. It's a joke.

Ah. Too subtle for me, I'm afraid :(.
posted by Slothrup at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2013


It's a typo AND a joke. And a breath mint.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


2013: Why won't anyone respect my priiiiiiiiiiiivacy?

Well, in case you hadn't realized it, this very thread is about the fact that Facebook used to allows you to essentially white list the people that had access to that information, so you could use it as a somewhat private network of close friends and people you actually knew IRL if you wanted to use it that way. Now you can't use it that way and the people who did use it that way are complaining about a change that makes using it that way impossible.

So wait--what's the point here again?

I barely ever use it anymore anyway, but FB is one of the best ways for me to keep at least somewhat distantly in touch with my family in Germany, so I can't really kill the account. Maybe I'll purge any honest opinions I originally meant to express only to my friends, since I didn't realize any random idiot would one day be able to access my profile.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wasn't saying there isn't a legitimate beef, saulgoodman. I'm just having a chortle at the number of folks my age who've overshared like hell across a steady stream of technologies only to get up in arms over one of them.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:36 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder how this change is violating the privacy laws of countries that have them.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You have zero privacy anyway," Scott McNealy. 1999.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Guys, guys. The trick is to have a REALLY COMMON name. If people are finding you too easily, it's really all your own fault.

Wow, your name's "Mark Zuckerberg" too? Damn, what a coincidence. You hear about the Mark Zuckerberg who got out of the bestiality conviction on a technicality? Good thing for him, too -- seems that him, Mark, Mark, and Mark were setting up a lobbying firm on behalf of natural gas frackers, and it almost jeopardized his opportunity to speak at the keynote of the Cat Declawing Assocation. That would have really screwed over Mark too -- the other Mark -- because he was using that as an excuse to spend the weekend with his mistress whose name is -- get this -- hold on, sorry, Mark's on the other line. He's booking a trip to Zimabwe to hunt elephants and said he was gonna call me if he could get tigers added to the itinerary too.
posted by ardgedee at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Facebook is great for letting everyone know that I am tossing all my "indie cred" in the trash and admitting that I totally love Taylor Swift and I could not give less of a damn how much they want to save me from my pop-induced glee.

That's what. Suck it h8t3rz
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know what I do, guys? Just delete everything.

Ages ago I removed every single post from my timeline - really, who goes back and looks at that crap anyway - and now on the rare occasion I feel compelled to upload a photo or whatever I delete the last thing I posted. Once a month or so I use timeline review to delete whatever I may have liked or commented on that my internet friends posted. No one notices, trust me.

I like to think I'm like a ghost on facebook.
posted by doublesix at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman: "Maybe I'll purge any honest opinions I originally meant to express only to my friends, since I didn't realize any random idiot would one day be able to access my profile."

My understanding is that the contents of your timeline will be protected the same as before. That is, while people will be able to search for your profile by your name whether you like it or not, whether they get to see the contents of said profile will still be determined by your privacy settings. So, if you have "Friends Only" for your content, it will still only be friends who get to see what you post.

Am I wrong on this? This seems to be what they are saying.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2013


I wasn't saying there isn't a legitimate beef, saulgoodman. I'm just having a chortle at the number of folks my age who've overshared like hell across a steady stream of technologies only to get up in arms over one of them.


Nah, I get it, DirtyOldTown. I've generally tried to be more cautious in my own use of The FB, but there is some irony to be found in that, I'll admit. I'm just ticked because I put a lot of stuff in my personal profile about a novel I've been working on (and planning to try to publish under a pseudonym), and I never intended for that stuff to be shared outside my friend circle and thought it wouldn't be. I was planning to create an author page somewhere down the line to do public communication type stuff. Now all bets are off, so I don't know what to do. I didn't exactly over-share, but I made comments that could be misconstrued by people who don't know me personally (hell, because I tend to slather on the irony fairly liberally on occasion, even people who know me sometimes have trouble keeping track)... Anyway, this just kind of sucks for me. I always kept my friend list under pretty tight lock-down (with a couple of minor exceptions for people from the distant past).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2013



You know what I do, guys? Just delete everything.


Yeah but facebook is like the elephant mafia, it never forgets.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you're right DirtyOldTown, then that's a big relief.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:48 AM on October 11, 2013


It's a typo AND a joke. And a breath mint.

And a dessert topping!
posted by Gelatin at 9:57 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is probably the insufferable social media equivalent of "I don't even own a TV" or shaking a cane at my front lawn, but the only feeling these stories invoke in me is a dim and flickering sense of hope that someday, people will stop looking at me like I am some kind of bizarro freak monster whenever I admit that I do not use (have never used) Facebook. I've had people both refuse to believe me and earnestly accuse me of trying to cover up some kind of dark and shady past upon admission, because there is apparently no other imaginable reason that a person might wish to abstain. "You really don't use it? At all? Not even a secret account? What are you trying to hide?"

It's become completely de rigueur to offer your Facebook 'friendship' to basically every new person you encounter in basically every context, from work functions to message boards to first dates, and so much useful and arguably quite necessary information now exists only in that space. But telling me that I have to sign up for a Facebook account to look at your restaurant menu means I'm never going to eat there. Telling me that I have to sign up for a Facebook account to hear your band's music means I'm never going to buy your records. And telling me that you are not comfortable dating me because I do not use social media (this has happened more than once!) means I'm lucky to find out how trifling and petty you are before our interaction has progressed past a firm handshake and a cup of tea.

It will never stop freaking me out that anyone -- let alone 67% of my fellow online American adults -- would readily provide information about so many of their personally identifying characteristics, social connections, interests, and habits to a business that exists exclusively to mine that information and use it to more efficiently target and profit from advertisements... and further, that a percentage of them will get very upset when those machinations start to take place out in the open rather than under the guise of some nominal and increasingly worthless "privacy settings." I have no illusions that I can interact with other people online and still expect to maintain any modicum of privacy, but pointedly choosing to hand over the proverbial keys to a many-tentacled entity like Facebook is way beyond my ken.
posted by divined by radio at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's a typo AND a joke. And a breath mint.

Werther's Privacy
posted by odinsdream at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why are we (not) leaving Facebook

Well played, the Onion, well played
posted by warm_planet at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2013


I have a real-name Facebook account to which I have never posted a status update. I can still see what my ~100 "Friends" are up to, and though I'm sure some of them think I'm weird for doing the voyeur-only thing, I haven't been socially shunned for it (uhh, to the best of my knowledge).

I also have a fake-name Facebook account that "likes" a bunch of my weird interests, but never EVER the twain accounts shall meet (right??).

For what it's worth, I do online dating, but I've pretty much stopped googling people I've only just met there. The "look good on paper/social media" folks I've dated have been just (if not more) likely to be bad matches for me as those I've just met "blind," so eh, fuck it. I don't give my last name to online dates until at least after we meet, anyway, so it's kind of helped spare me from hours of online-obsessing to just remind myself that it'd be an unfair "advantage."

This set-up has been working for me so far... but news like this latest privacy setting change STILL freaks me out.
posted by argonauta at 10:06 AM on October 11, 2013


It will never stop freaking me out that anyone -- let alone 67% of my fellow online American adults -- would readily provide information about so many of their personally identifying characteristics, social connections, interests, and habits to a business that exists exclusively to mine that information and use it to more efficiently target and profit from advertisements.

I get my revenge on them by not having any monies! HAH! Take that facebook/google/microsoft!

My student loans and debt are my own personal financial faraday cage.
posted by srboisvert at 10:09 AM on October 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Foosnark: "You can retroactively revert gender to "unselected" so it refers to your stuff as "their" rather than "his" or "her". You can use any image for you photo. And I think I'm about to switch to a fake name."

How??

If I go to Update Info > Basic Information and click "Edit," it only presents me with m/f options. I remember being genderless at one point, and then declaring a gender, and now I can't go back!
posted by yaymukund at 10:10 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I set up a phony account and went to search for myself to see what was on there. The only thing I saw that bothered me that I didn't have set the way I wanted was my friends list. Weirdly the setting to make this private is not under privacy settings. You have to go to your profile, click the friends tab, click the little pencil/edit icon next to [+ Find Friends] and then choose "Edit Privacy" from there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:13 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a real-name Facebook account ... I also have a fake-name Facebook account .


Am I wring in assuming the metadata has been meshed with your IP address from those times in the same session you checked both accounts, but Facebook Inc and and the NSA?
posted by Mezentian at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weirdly the setting to make this private is not under privacy settings

There are a LOT of settings like that. For instance, your birthplace and current location have their own little privacy icon next to them that you need to change.
posted by smackfu at 10:36 AM on October 11, 2013


Nope, Mezentian, not wrong.

I assume it's trivial for FB to aggressively attempt to seek out double-accounters. They nerfed the "pet" accounts; they likely would need a compelling reason to put the effort nuke public me / private me accounts.

(I assume finding them wouldn't be the issue, but figuring out which is which and which are people who just share space, like Kimmy and Kassie Smith, 14 year old twins would be harder to suss out and not necessarily worth the ROI).
posted by tilde at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


My privacy is set to friends only, and I decide who is added to that list. Hopefully that keeps things relatively under control for now.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2013


I highly recommend Kate Losse's book on being Facebook employee #51, The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network. This kind of thing is completely in-character with the culture she describes.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:48 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I taught computer classes at a public library my advice for Social Networking was "don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your mom to see." I didn't actually start following this advice until my mom forced me to friend her on Facebook. Now I don't really care about Facebook any more.
posted by codacorolla at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it bad that the folks I follow on Twitter are more interesting then my friends?

I don't remember where I saw this, but the truest thing I have ever read is "Facebook is where you go to be annoyed by your family and friends. Twitter is where you go to enjoy the company of witty strangers."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


odinsdream: "I think the idea of trying to live without a social media footprint is a little naive...

Oh come on. It's the default position.
"

Once in the 90s I was quoted in Dave Barry's column (it was a Mr. Language Person one; I was an alert reader) and I got letters from people I hadn't seen since I was 8 years old, some of whom saw it in the International Herald Tribune, looked up my address (or my mom's) manually, and sent me letters from Japan and Eastern Europe and God knows where else, often with the clipping helpfully included. And that was with my name spelled wrong in the column!

While online social media may be new, having a social footprint is not; people know you by the communities in which you live, work, and interact, and always have. I'm sure if you're over 30, you've been in the newspaper many times since you were young even if you've never given an interview to a reporter: Birth announcements, police blotters, high school sports stories or honor rolls, engagement announcements, obituaries with lists of relatives. Maybe I'm more aware of it because I live in a small town, but people know you, they know your business, they talk about it. One benefit social media does offer is more control over your social footprint than you have when your social footprint is primarily communicated through a person-to-person gossip chain. People are going to reach out through their networks to find out about you; they always have, they always will, you're a social monkey.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:00 AM on October 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


My wife is an education employment attorney and often requests social media discovery on all social media for anyone involved in her case. Social media is considered public domain and she often uses the information to establish character in many of her cases. She has also been giving lectures to school boards about how social media is dangerous especially for student/teacher relationships.

In one of her recent cases, she established that a 30-something teacher had friended ONLY his 13-14 year old female students. Regardless of the legality, the school board was not amused. My wife pulled Facebook discovery on this teacher and used that info in his termination hearing.

So bottom line, the law does not consider the social media platforms private NO MATTER your privacy settings.
posted by Benway at 11:03 AM on October 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


elizardbits: "I guess I just don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything by avoiding facebook. Contact from relatives? They email me. Contact with friends? Txt. Contact from people I haven't seen since elementary school? Do not want. Baby photos? Same. Facebook is a thing for people who like people and are interested in their lives. I don't like people. ."

Man, Yes...I'd like to print this statement onto some business cards so I can hand them to everyone who ever asks me why I've never used FB.
posted by mannequito at 11:10 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


1998: Here is my MySpace page with dirty jokes and pics of me getting hammered, y'all!

Since myspace was founded in 2003 you have crazy time travelling friends.
posted by aspo at 11:13 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


If Facebook spend millions on their "Third Pillar" Graph Search technology, of course they're going to force people to use it.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2013


It's a typo AND a joke. And a breath mint.

And a Minecraft boss!
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:18 AM on October 11, 2013


One of the recent times we had a big thread about Facebook removing a privacy setting, I happened to notice that it came just before a date when insiders could sell some of the stock they were issued in the IPO, and there was a bump in the stock price.

What an amazing coincidence!

This time?
Matt Krantz, USA TODAY 4:45 p.m. EDT October 8, 2013

Alcoa kicked off the much-watched third quarter earnings season with much better-than-expected results.
Facebook is scheduled to release its earnings report Oct. 30, and if Fb thinks it needs this kind of cover, I think we can look for unspectacular results.

And on the same day: Google Sets Plan to Sell Users’ Endorsements

Ibid.
posted by jamjam at 11:19 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The amusing thing for me now is that FB is broken in Chrome for me, I get the endlessly loading loop thingy, and I only have a couple dozen friends.

I don't use it much and will probably delete it. I think I felt it was neat for getting in touch with old friends, but we don't actually stay in touch, as in personally communicate. I enjoy the occasional look at people's posts, but FB seems to show me exactly the stuff I'm not interested in no matter what I do, so meh. I'm pretty much leaning on deleting my (not very revealing) account. Definitely will be deleting what I can from G+, I never use it, either.
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2013


Facebook keeps redefining what its purpose is and people keep going along with it. When I first signed up, its features seemed much more geared toward providing tools to communicate with people you actually know in real life (literally, the only thing it did better than Six Degrees or MySpace from my POV was help you find people you actually knew IRL). It's kind of funny how confidently and certainly people make declarations about something so mercurial. Ultimately, FB is not for users at all. It's for advertisers and marketers. So comments like FB is this or that and you'd better just accept it always make me laugh a little. It's not anything but a way of generating revenue for the company that operates it, at the end of the day.

Also, while we may be social monkeys, as sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists have known and studied for years, people have historically shown different aspects of their identities to different subgroups within their broader social communities, and that kind of persona-wearing and code switching behavior is not only absolutely normal and desirable but crucially important for maintaining social coherency and the process of individual identity formation/maintenance.

Almost all of the new cultural wisdom about the obsolescence of privacy and the end of differentiated social identity is horribly, horribly misguided and dangerous.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Actually, come to think of it, I still liked Friendster a lot more, but its crappy architecture hobbled it with performance issues that were eventually too annoying to ignore.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:25 AM on October 11, 2013



"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." J. Krishnamurti
posted by eggtooth at 11:48 AM on October 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Since myspace was founded in 2003 you have crazy time travelling friends.

Geez? 2003? Thinking back on it now, it just stinks of the 1990s. That blows my mind.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:50 AM on October 11, 2013


Does anyone else watch Person of Interest, on which Michael Emerson's character casually mentions that he invented social media strictly to get more data for The Machine?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:51 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since myspace was founded in 2003 you have crazy time travelling friends.

John Connor, John Smith, Professor Peabody... Nah, they all seem like straight-up dudes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2013


You can still change all the information ON your profile to "Friends-only" or whatever, so people who you haven't accepted as "Friends" can't read your profile information.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I'm not a huge fan of Facebook, this seems like a really weird hill to die on. You really need people for some reason not to even know that you have a Facebook account? Is it going to be that much of a problem if it turns out they do? Even if you have an uncommon name, what are they going to be able to get from the fact that they have now determined that you have a profile, if you have everything set private? I never understood why this was an option in the first place. If I don't want random strangers (or crazy exes) to have info on me, I'd really far sooner actually use the privacy settings than just rely on them not being able to search for my profile.
posted by Sequence at 11:57 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"The food is terrible. And the portions are so small." —Facebook users
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hell, blogger wasn't even launched until 1999. While it's really incredible how quickly Facebook became the must have service, to the point where they can do shit like this. No opt out is just crazy pants.
posted by aspo at 12:27 PM on October 11, 2013


Obligatory reminder: You aren't Facebook's customer. You're its product.
posted by dry white toast at 12:31 PM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait - Minecraft has bosses now?
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on October 11, 2013


MisantropicPainforest: "I changed my Facebook name immediately. I will not use my real name anymore."

I wasn't using my name on Google. Then their stupid youtube bullshit tricked me into clicking and signing up to G+ so I figured, eh, why not - see what the ol' G+ is doing these days... Somehow it's worse than when I left it in 2009 or whatever. So I deleted that account, remerged my youtube account.

Then their genius system says "your name 'Komrade Komputer' looks fakey fake to us -- submit a real one or DELETE DELETE"

OK, fine...

"Bob Dobbs"

Haven't bothered me since.

Thankfully on facebook, I'm "Sym Bioid"

but I'm also symbioid almost everywhere else on the net, so it's not particularly "hidey". Oh well.

Maybe I can change my name to Heidi Ensique.
posted by symbioid at 12:37 PM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Heh.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:02 PM on October 11, 2013


I've been turning this move over in my head for a day or two since I saw it announced elsewhere. I've been wondering how good the search stuff is at recognizing homographic characters. Unicode is a pretty expansive character set and there's a lot of characters that would be identical stand-ins for the first letter of my last name, for example, and more that are close.

So, combining that with a little more lock-down about what people can see publicly on your profile might get you where you want to be.

Of course, in general *anytime* Facebook removes a control that used to be there, it's a decent reminder that any control features they've provided in the past could be revoked at any time. There's pretty much no such thing as true privacy once you give something to a third party.
posted by weston at 1:30 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You really need people for some reason not to even know that you have a Facebook account? Is it going to be that much of a problem if it turns out they do?

Yes. Yes, fucking absolutely.

Let's say I'm a woman, say, hiding from a domestic abuser, as was noted above as a situation. Someone searches out my profile. Even if none of my posts are public, some statistics cannot be hidden. Those are pieces of data. IIRC, Facebook just removed the option to hide your friends lists with people, which means that your stalker has the potential to see who all your friends are. Then they just need to create a fake Facebook account, target your weakest link, and wait. Voila, through friend-of-friend activity, they can build up a respectable presence, and start viewing your updates. Which may include your location.
posted by corb at 1:30 PM on October 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


You can still set your friends list to 'only me'. All the rest of your content is as private as it was before. And with the new graph search you could already generally find that someone has a facebook account by searching for them, you just had to do it in less direct ways.

So yeah, this is less private than before. But only by a really small amount, so some perspective is probably useful here.
posted by shelleycat at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it bad that the folks I follow on Twitter are more interesting then my friends?

Most of the people I interact with on Facebook I have never met, and this is awkward because I still have a fair number of family members and work contacts in Facebook from when I first started using it.

It's really annoying because I will be having a jokey, horsing-around conversation with online contacts and my comments will pop up in an old acquaintance's feed who will a) show up and make very "straight" comments and provoke a fight or b) PM me saying that what I said was inappropriate (most recently I mocked Burning Man of all things which warranted a scolding).

So I have created two different accounts. One for "straight" friends and acquaintances, and one for my actual friends with whom I share common interests and a similar off-beat sense of humour.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:42 PM on October 11, 2013


Using a fake account to check on my actual account, which I use pretty often and which only contains real information (although I don't fill in most of the stuff they ask for or join groups or like public pages either). Yes if you know my full name you can find my account in the search. Then the things you can see: that full name, my gender, my profile photo, my cover photo. No content, no personal details, no friends list, nothing I've been tagged in publicly on other people's feeds.

I suppose you could try to guess where I live based on the photos I have up there given there is a tiny slice of my house in one, and those photos are not required at all so I could just as easily not have them, but otherwise good luck to any stalkers trying to track me down from that.
posted by shelleycat at 1:50 PM on October 11, 2013


I suppose you could try to guess where I live based on the photos I have up there given there is a tiny slice of my house in one, and those photos are not required at all so I could just as easily not have them, but otherwise good luck to any stalkers trying to track me down from that.

This is one of those things that's going to change someday, possibly sooner rather than later. Software is going to get good enough at recognizing buildings and landscape features that combined with a database correlating these features and known locations, you can come up with a (possibly very short) list of locations a photo may have been taken without any other info.

I'd be very surprised if law enforcement and national security orgs haven't already done some serious work on this front, and mildly surprised if the likes of Facebook and Google haven't at least started.

Also, thinking about my earlier idea:

I've been wondering how good the search stuff is at recognizing homographic characters. Unicode is a pretty expansive character set and there's a lot of characters that would be identical stand-ins for the first letter of my last name, for example, and more that are close.

I have my doubts that Facebook ever deletes a previous name when you give it a new one (or anything, really). It probably will let people search by any name you've ever given it, in which case, my idea is as useless as any aliasing scheme, unless you sign up for a new account and they don't correlate that.
posted by weston at 2:18 PM on October 11, 2013


"Let's say I'm a woman, say, hiding from a domestic abuser, as was noted above as a situation. Someone searches out my profile. Even if none of my posts are public, some statistics cannot be hidden." uh......sadistics?
posted by eggtooth at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2013


Meanwhile, Zuckerberg bought four houses adjacent to his own... maybe he wants more privacy?
posted by clearlydemon at 2:27 PM on October 11, 2013


If you really wanted to go to the trouble of subbing out your Facebook name, here's a tool to convert standard Latin characters to visually identical alternative Unicode characters. I typed in my name, chose as many substitute characters as I could, and put my "new" name into Google: no results. Neat.
posted by mykescipark at 2:33 PM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


mykescipark: "If you really wanted to go to the trouble of subbing out your Facebook name, here's a tool to convert standard Latin characters to visually identical alternative Unicode characters. I typed in my name, chose as many substitute characters as I could, and put my "new" name into Google: no results. Neat."

Nice idea, but...
Your profile name may not contain characters from more than one alphabet. If you'd like to list your name in a second language, please use the Alternate Name field.
posted by Gordafarin at 3:03 PM on October 11, 2013


Nerds: "Untie!"
posted by eggtooth at 3:20 PM on October 11, 2013


But but but...the new "privacy" settings allowed me to look at pictures of the lady who was telemarketing me an extended auto warranty while she was trying to sell it to me. Freaked her right the fuck out, that.

Robo caller hits my work number. I answer two questions in the affirmative because I want to track this down better. Ten minutes later I get a landline call with valid Caller Id info. Find a geographic location from the area code and then Facebook $NAME + $CITY, $STATE and there she is. She calls roughly every 30 minutes until I pick up. Then we have an entertaining conversation. Pretty sure she's going to be more circumspect about the phone she uses to make these calls from here on out.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace,
the prurient ape's defiling touch....
and, do you like the human race?
no, not much."

Alduous Huxley "Ape and Essence"

P.S. "Domini, Domini, you're all Catholics now..."
posted by eggtooth at 3:30 PM on October 11, 2013


Meanwhile, Zuckerberg bought four houses adjacent to his own... maybe he wants more privacy?

It occurs to me that:
1. Zuckerberg will have some kind of "superuser" menu on Facebook.
2. Having a superuser menu on facebook is probably an incredibly powerful tool should it fall into the wrong hands. Therefore:
3. If, like Zuckerbery, you had a superuser menu, and weren't afraid to use it, you too could soon be buying adjacent houses. :)
posted by anonymisc at 4:03 PM on October 11, 2013


They can't find me! I don't have a Facebook account! I don't do Twitter, either. (And the only reason I have a Livejournal login is because I wanted to comment on someone else's page. I never put anything on my page.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:12 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's say I'm a woman, say, hiding from a domestic abuser, as was noted above as a situation.

While this is not something I care to bring up particularly often, I actually was a victim of domestic abuse and stalking and a bunch of other bad things at one point and continue to take measures to keep out of contact with that individual.

So, yeah. I've had some experience with this. The option to hide your list of friends is, as far as I can tell, still there. You can still change your picture. My updates are all set to friends-only. (Actually slightly more restrictive than that, even, but that would be adequate.) Most of my profile is set to friends-only if not more restrictive than that. If Facebook started letting the general public see my Friends list, that might be enough to make me leave, but at this point? Okay, so he can see I have Facebook. Like pretty much everyone alive. It doesn't worry me.

If it did worry me, if I felt I was in imminent danger, I would not be on Facebook at all, because it is not Facebook's job to protect me. It would suck that That Bastard was the reason I couldn't use Facebook, but Facebook could have the best privacy options ever and I'd still have this lurking feeling that any friend who I added could really be That Bastard posing as one of my friends. It could happen. I take some calculated risks. But his knowing that I possess a Facebook account, that alone, my appearance in search results, does not concern me. While YMMV, considering the vast majority of abusers are already going to have some information about who your friends are and the like, just removing yourself from search results does not seem to add any significant measure of security to using the service.
posted by Sequence at 5:00 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'll purge any honest opinions I originally meant to express only to my friends, since I didn't realize any random idiot would one day be able to access my profile.

Is there an industry of consultants who do this for you yet? I keep expecting to be able to purchase a groupon for these services.
posted by salvia at 5:31 PM on October 11, 2013


I have a Facebook account, but I haven't updated the photo since my senior year of college. I don't post anything to it other than the occasional article/animal video I find through Metafilter. I only use its chat service to talk with the one friend, and we're shifting over to text messages anyway. My account exists to register and accept invitations to parties and shows.

It's not that I'm private, but that I didn't make a lot of friends in school, so I don't have much cause to use it. I figure any friends I make from now on can text me or e-mail me if they want to talk.

I should probably find some way to purge my account of all the dumb things I said and appeared in back when it was a thing I meant only for the people who knew me, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


IIRC, Facebook just removed the option to hide your friends lists with people,

Nope. Click on your profile, then click on Friends, then click the listttle penciled icon next to [+ Find Friends]. Then click Edit Privacy. Then etc. etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:33 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that I quit last month then.
posted by koucha at 5:42 PM on October 11, 2013


Wait - Minecraft has bosses now?

Yeah. Wither (who is summoned via wither skeleton heads) and the Ender Dragon itself.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:46 PM on October 11, 2013


Every time I'm tempted to sign up for facebook I just picture Mark Zuckerberg as a TSA agent lubing up a nitrile-gloved hand and it passes.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:38 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't really give a shit about the shenanigans that Facebook gets up to--I have a token account that I've never updated once because I got bored of the stupid thing after 2 days--except for the part where it is almost entirely mandatory to have now. Any second now, Facebook is going to be like the Internet or a cell phone, i.e. you HAVE TO HAVE ONE in order to live a normal life and there will rapidly become no way around not having it if you need to do anything.* As The Card Cheat pointed out, "it's like you died" if you aren't ONLY talking with friends and family via Facebook. As divined by radio pointed out, places are now ONLY having a Facebook page--that you have to be logged into--to tell you any information about their business. Part of why I keep my stupid token account is because if I ever have to log into a site like that--except so far I keep going "Fuck THIS" and clicking away instead. We are in a tiny minority for choosing to do that. There are websites I cannot use without a Facebook (or Twitter or other social media) login, period. I also keep my stupid token account because if I ever jobhunt again I am told that if I don't have a Facebook account that people can snoop on, I'm considered "antisocial" and not a good hire. I am pretty sure that within a few years, I won't be able to get online at all without first being logged into Facebook, which will have eaten the entire Internet and you literally won't be allowed to do a thing without it.

* Yes, I know there's a few random folks out there who get away with not having those things, but how many people do you know who don't have those things? My great-aunt can't operate a cell, but even she has Internet now. That's who I can think of.

That's where the privacy thing comes in. If every single person who has ever heard of you has to be able to see every single thing you've ever done online in your life at all times, just so you can go about your daily business--ugh, really? But we're almost there already. Fuck.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:15 PM on October 11, 2013


Any page you like is public info, isn't it? Wouldn't that mean that one shouldn't "like" local businesses, religious organizations, "cat of the day"ish stuff, etc?
posted by moshjosh at 9:43 PM on October 11, 2013


Okay, Metafilter, I have a question.

I left facebook back in 2006 (haven't missed it, haven't looked back since), but just now learned that my account was more in limbo than deleted, so I clicked on one of the above "this is the REAL link to delete your account" buttons. I typed in my old login, and it said, "hey, thanks for reactivating your account!". After a brief panic, I went to the same page, typed my login again, and this time it said that my account is now deleted (or will be in 14 days if I don't have a change of heart...ha!).

Questions: Will the people I haven't seen or talked to since college be reminded that I exist because I just reactivated my account (even if only for 45 seconds)? And also, will friends and family who weren't on facebook in 2006 be sent "you might know this person" messages?

Thanks!
posted by GrumpyDan at 11:29 PM on October 11, 2013


Jenfullmoon, I've heard similar things - that employers want to be able to snoop your profile, but I've never understood it. Simply because for most people, they have their page locked down unless you're their friend, so the most a potential employer can generally see is your profile photo, where you live and maybe a few things that you like. Unless I'm missing something. My profile page gives away even less than that, plus my name is super common now I'm married, so good luck with strangers a)finding the real me and b) finding any juicy info, much less anything judge-worthy.
posted by Jubey at 2:54 AM on October 12, 2013


Software is going to get good enough at recognizing buildings and landscape features that combined with a database correlating these features and known locations, you can come up with a (possibly very short) list of locations a photo may have been taken without any other info.

My house has the same pebbledash siding as something like fifty percent or more of houses in this city. And that is widely used across not just my country but the neighbouring ones. And which was not terribly uncommon in my old country on the other side of the world. So yeah, you could try to guess from that photo but it wouldn't really get you very far. Someone else may post a photo that's more specific but that's their choice, you don't need to post any photo at all if you don't want to.

The whole omg stalkers thing, for this particular change at least, is a red herring.
posted by shelleycat at 3:21 AM on October 12, 2013


Paraphrasing miss manners "Facebook is not communicating, it's advertising-you're publishing tiny press releases about yourself not talking to people"
posted by cynicalidealist at 6:42 AM on October 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


moshjosh: "Any page you like is public info, isn't it? Wouldn't that mean that one shouldn't "like" local businesses, religious organizations, "cat of the day"ish stuff, etc?"

Yeah, the more facebook gets to be for advertisers, the less fun and interesting it is for me. It was a lot more fun when there were all those crazy third-party extensions that just did dopey things. Now facebook has brought a lot of that in-house or tried to monetize it; they've repeatedly "optimized" my feed so I don't see what I want to see; they make you (and organizations!) pay to reach your entire audience ... just not useful to me anymore.

Anyway, since everyone can see and judge your likes now, I spend less time liking things I like and more time liking community organizations and local businesses. Which are things I like, don't get me wrong, but are also the sorts of affiliations you want the public to know you have. I'm very reluctant to "like" political candidates unless I'm actively working for their campaign; I'm reluctant to "like" TV shows and things (especially now that facebook lets advertisers spam your friends); I don't really "like" silly pages that are just silly anymore. It's much more official and formal than it used to be, which I feel like makes it less engaging.

Jubey: "that employers want to be able to snoop your profile, but I've never understood it. Simply because for most people, they have their page locked down unless you're their friend, so the most a potential employer can generally see is your profile photo, where you live and maybe a few things that you like."

I know some employers want to egregiously dig into every detail of your life, but many of them are actually looking to see, "Does she have appropriate privacy settings? Yes? Okay, good." A lot of lawyers just have a facebook page set up with a nice picture of them and where they live and work, and otherwise don't use it and have it locked down, but that way they "control" their own name and picture, and employers (or clients, or whatever) can look and see a very appropriate, locked-down page. A school district around here (not mine) was looking at a teacher hire who was a good hire on paper, but when they looked at her facebook (and I'm not sure if they were tipped off or if they do this as a matter of course), she had a public page that was full of egregious misspellings that consisted primarily of calling her teenaged female students "sluts" and "whores" and gossiping nastily about them. A PUBLIC PAGE. She did not get hired.

My district basically asks teachers to have in mind a public / private / just no category in mind when using facebook. It's illegal to share student information (publicly or privately). It's against district policy to friend students until they've graduated (with certain exceptions). It's okay to have pictures of you drinking at Mardi Gras, but we ask (but don't require) teachers to keep their public-facing facebook pages generally within our code of conduct, so we prefer they have those pictures private. We don't really have too much trouble with it; teachers are pretty aware that they're always in the community eye so they should be a bit circumspect, and as long as they're circumspect, we don't really care.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:30 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has it occurred to anyone to ask why they might want to make this change in the first place? Surely one more conditional test in whatever search logic they're using to perform user searches isn't so big a drag on performance they need to change this as a performance optimization. Why might they want to do this, that's what nags me. The only thing I can come up with is so that anyone looking will know, at least, that the person is registered with Facebook. Maybe the idea is when potential employers research you on FB, if your profile's locked down too tight, they can pay for some premium service from FB corp's data farm.

I don't know either way, but even tiny changes to systems cost money. So there must be some business case for why they're doing this, and that's what worries me. What do FB and its investors get out of this change?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:21 PM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think, Saul, that it's really a matter of--hiding from search is not an inherently social thing to do. If both their service and their advertising revenue depend on the social connections people make, they're going to avoid things that prevent people from making new social connections when possible. And I think that, well--it reminds me of cookies. Back when they were easy to block in your browser, a lot more people saw cookies as Very Dangerous. Just having this as a privacy option was bound to convince some people that being searchable was Bad. Not people with abusive exes or whatever, but, like, my mom.

If Jane Smith (not my mom's real name, of course) doesn't come up when you type Jane Smith into the search box, Jane Smith is going to have a lot fewer Facebook connections, probably spend less time overall on Facebook, etc. Facebook wants you to use Facebook more. Not the world's best motives or anything, but a pretty ordinary business decision from that perspective.
posted by Sequence at 9:34 AM on October 13, 2013


So it's a change for FB's benefit, not its users, because it's ultimately about FB wanting to be able to connect more people for data harvesting purposes. Social life ordinarily involves making deliberate choices about who you present yourself to and under what circumstances. Taking that control away from users ignores how social behavior actually works.

Bottom line is this is not a change that benefits users, so it's no surprise some users aren't happy about it. Whether or not its reasonable for an individual user to "die on this particular hill" as someone up-thread put it is a judgment best left to individual user discretion and preference. But I don't see why anyone should be surprised or feel the need to push back against user complaints.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:33 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are completely legitimate grounds for wanting to be invisible on search.

Facebook has already forced profile pictures and "likes" to be public. Invisibility prevented unwanted entities such as bosses, cops and relatives from casually finding these out.

Secondly, it prevented awkward "Why didn't you add me on Facebook" conversations. With some employers, relatives and acquaintances, it was convenient to be able to pretend not to have a Facebook account. One can no longer do this.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:38 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only thing I can come up with is so that anyone looking will know, at least, that the person is registered with Facebook. Maybe the idea is when potential employers research you on FB, if your profile's locked down too tight, they can pay for some premium service from FB corp's data farm.

This is apparently a real thing: I have a friend who explained to me that while applying for her most recent job (a position of trust and one for which she's highly compensated), she was asked to sign a release which she understood as authorizing her then-prospective employer to go to Facebook and peek inside her account and any data they have on her. I imagine this was not free of charge.
posted by weston at 10:09 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, that's probably it then. The service is more valuable if employers who might pay for the service can verify the employment candidate is on Facebook first. It makes the background check service more valuable to employers because it makes it impossible for potential hires to pretend not to have a Facebook account to avoid being exposed to the privacy intrusion. I bet that's one of the drivers for the change.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:20 PM on October 14, 2013


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