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Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative
May 9, 2010 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative
[I]n December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto. This spring Facebook took that even further. All the items you list as things you like must become public and linked to public profile pages. If you don’t want them linked and made public, then you don’t get them — though Facebook nicely hangs onto them in its database in order to let advertisers target you.
posted by mecran01 (218 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've noticed a lot of friends leaving this past week. Facebook had a great thing going but it's over. As soon as there's a better alternative people will jump ship and Facebook will just become the new (old) Myspace/Friendster.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:08 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Glad you posted this. I have been disliking Facebook quite a bit over the past year for exactly these reasons, but I feel kind of stuck because I really enjoy the connectivity--I'd definitely support an open source alternative.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:09 AM on May 9, 2010


Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline
posted by gman at 11:09 AM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


a single link is a bit weak for an FPP IMHO. also: nobody forces you to enter your real, full name. or correct address. I didn't and my buddies still know who that guy talking to them is.
posted by krautland at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2010


The Diaspora Project seeks to replace Facebook with a decentralized, privacy-complete alternative by the end of this summer.
posted by shii at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2010 [40 favorites]


I don't know why people act surprised when social networking companies do things like this. They have a user base who will not pay for anything, so they turn the users into their product to sell to advertisers.
posted by bradbane at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


Facebook has made some wrong turns in the way of privacy, but there is a great deal of misinformation in that article. As well, my personal feeling is that waving the conspiracy theory flag around just because most people are too ignorant or lazy to inform themselves about what they're getting into when they post their credentials is just wrong.
posted by tybeet at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Still, I do feel that Facebook should make these intrusive pilot programs opt-in rather than opt-out. I guess I do have some mixed feelings about this.
posted by tybeet at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a graphical interpretation of that timeline, gman.
posted by polymath at 11:18 AM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


I nuked my facebook account -- which is disturbingly difficult and, according to some sources, not total or complete -- over Christmas after I read in one article or another the observation that users don't use facebook as much as they create facebook's commodified profile of themselves. I miss the birthday reminders and the photos of family and friends that circulate but if I ever see another MobWars invite again it'll be too soon.
posted by docgonzo at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


nobody forces you to enter your real, full name. or correct address.

It's less that than the growing tracking of my behavior, general infiltration of my web browsing, and connection of that back to the identity I present on Facebook that bothers me. I may call myself a made-up name, but FB may still tell all my real friends about reviews I wrote on Yelp or articles I read or who knows what else (how long before: 7 OF YOUR FRIENDS ALSO LIKE THIS PORN!!).
posted by LooseFilter at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree. The question is, why is no one working on that open alternative?

--
Plus it's not like this is new or anything. Remember Beacon?

I think Zuckberg's thinking is that FB has enough users already. If it drives away some of the more "troublesome" ones, it's really no big loss. If, say 10% leave, and they're able to increase the amount of money they make on the remaining 90% by 12%, then they'll have made a profit. But of course, the actually number of people who will leave will be more like 1%, or less.

If I were designing an open alternative, it would need to be setup so that users could run their own nodes on their own machines, or have it hosted by any service provider (and be portable) There's no technical reason these social networks need to be hosted by a single provider, except for the fact that it allows them to make more money (and, probably makes it easier to control spam)
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


how long before: 7 OF YOUR FRIENDS ALSO LIKE THIS PORN!!

I see nothing wrong with this.
posted by tybeet at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2010


tybeet, was it ignorance or laziness that prevented people from knowing that Facebook leaks IP addresses of private messages? What sort of knowledge could have allowed us to realize that Facebook would threaten to sue a developer who made a public demo, or equate data portability with hacking? How ignorant were we to have failed to foresee Facebook's forced conversion to an all-public database? Perhaps we missed the slow decay of privacy our of pure laziness?
posted by shii at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


I don't know why people act surprised when social networking companies do things like this. They have a user base who will not pay for anything, so they turn the users into their product to sell to advertisers.
posted by bradbane at 1:15 PM on May 9


Except -- Livejournal is still going strong -- and yeah, they've had targeted ads, but they still respect your privacy. Your posts are still locked. Is it not as strong as it used to be in terms of amount of activity/number of users? sure. But part of the reason is that a lot of people left when SixApart started to do precisely the things we're complaining about (selling us to advertisers, censoring things, etc...)

Ever since SUP bought LJ, there hasn't been too many negative changes. There may have even been a few improvements here and there.

When 6A was fucking up LJ badly, I was proposing a P2P Social network, and investigated potential solutions, but couldn't find anything obvious. I'm glad diaspora is working on it and I hope they succeed and wish them well, because that, ultimately, is the solution we need.

Opera's built in server technology is a good idea, and one I saw hope for.

But Facebook has GOT to go. LJ is still the best social networking site, IMO. It allows me to speak my mind, have proper filtering, add people to subgroups. I would like a decentralized version. But I really don't need MafiaVille updates, or all these other shitty things cluttering up what should be a connection between people and me being able to find people with similar interests.

I think the masses are here, and I think they want simple and stupid, and that's what Facebook is. :(
posted by symbioid at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Let's say I were to switch to an open system. How do I get the rest of my social network to follow? Because most of my friends don't care about privacy, and they like Facebook.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2010 [24 favorites]


An alternative won't help because of three factors: 1) People don't want to pay for non-physical services, since the 90's convinced them that everything on the Internet ought to be free, at least to the consumer. 2) Bandwidth, electricity, office space all cost money. 3) Companies realize they are sitting on an incredibly valuable asset — your data. Your name, your demographics, EXIF data in your uploaded JPGs, your connections, any number of things which can be mined because a lot of companies who had footed the bill for the nineties did so through advertising, and they know that knowing all about you pays.

So just as soon as an alternative comes along, all of the sudden you need server racks and on-call admins and the bills pile up and, finally, someone sidles up and says, "Hey. You know, we could use all of that data." And you're back with the next Facebook, because sooner or later, that money has to come from somewhere and you're just wishing that they won't sell perhaps one of the few valuable things they have in spades.

Looking to build some kind of home-grown system, run on a spare PC in your basement, it's a cute idea, but it isn't like spinning up a copy of Apache because somewhere, someone out there is going to look to start harvesting all of that information, anyway. It's more or less a given if you want systems wherein shared connections might be suggested and everyone wants to push data around about their lives. Like BitTorrent clients, anyone can find out what you're sharing. Running your own email server doesn't help all that much with spam. You would need a well-thought-out protocol, bordering on magical, to provide Facebook features but to still keep privacy, all over a network of home systems.

About the only way you'll get a Facebook alternative which won't sell out your data for bucks is one where you provide the bucks.
posted by adipocere at 11:24 AM on May 9, 2010 [21 favorites]


If I were designing an open alternative, it would need to be setup so that users could run their own nodes on their own machines, or have it hosted by any service provider (and be portable) There's no technical reason these social networks need to be hosted by a single provider, except for the fact that it allows them to make more money (and, probably makes it easier to control spam)

I agree with that on the basis that the centralization of identity is not actually a good thing. It pigeon-holes people into submitting to their own expectations and the expectations of others based on an illusion of who that person is. It leaves less room for growth and self-experimentation.

As far as a decentralized alternative, see: GNU Social
posted by tybeet at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2010


You guys still haven't switched to Google Wave? HAMBURGER
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Facebook just entirely deleted my interests this morning. I guess I wasn't moving fast enough for them in transitioning to the new interests-linked-to-Pages system, as I'd been clicking away from the transition page for a few days—'cause I'd been too busy to go through and basically curate a collection of links to Pages for things I'm interested in and/or opt out by copy-pasting my interests over to another field. I had a lot of little things on there—quotes, lists, etc.—and I was trying to decide what to do with it. So this morning, I finally decided to sit down and deal with the transition—only to find that all of my carefully collected data in that field was gone, gone, gone.

The most ridiculous thing? My fiancé, because he never logs in to Facebook, still has all of his interests and other data completely intact. The system only deleted my data when I decided to comply with its electronic demands for an update.

So you know what? Fuck that shit. I'm still me and my interests are still my interests, but it really upset me to see a collection of data I'd been building on there since 2004 just wiped out.

Basically the only thing left on my profile now is the following:

"There's so much more to the Internet than this."
posted by limeonaire at 11:27 AM on May 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


nobody forces you to enter your real, full name. or correct address.

Except for facebook, who will delete your account if they suspect you of lying about your name. I don't think they worry about the address, but once you have someone's name, it's not too hard to get the address.
posted by delmoi at 11:27 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I nuked my facebook account -- which is disturbingly difficult and, according to some sources, not total or complete

See: Facebook Suicide, there are apps that streamline the process.
posted by tybeet at 11:29 AM on May 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


The problem is that whatever replaces Facebook will have to be as easy and simple to use as Facebook. Somehow, I get the feeling that will be hard for a bunch of OSS programmers making a peer-to-peer social network. Google Wave is close, but then again nobody uses Google Wave.

I say this from an Ubuntu machine. I love OSS, and I think it offers some of the best code out there, and certainly the best value. But I just don't see how it can compete with Facebook, what with the whole videophone issue of nobody using it unless it's so simple that everyone can do it.
Basically the only thing left on my profile now is the following:

"There's so much more to the Internet than this."
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:31 AM on May 9, 2010


Ironically, at the bottom of this article on the Wired site there sits a little box with a Facebook "I Like" button and the information that 91,843 people like Wired. At least for me it does...
posted by hwestiii at 11:31 AM on May 9, 2010


And, somehow I accidentally copied and pasted part of limeonaire's comment. Gotta love the middle mouse paste button in Ubuntu. No plagerism!
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:32 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know how the change from hunter-gather to farmer revolutionized human civilization? Advertisers now have made that change. People are crops to be cultivated and reaped. This is just adding Roundup resistance to get rid of those pesky, unprofitable weeds.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:32 AM on May 9, 2010 [22 favorites]


WTF? I can't remove my interests now? How do I even properly edit any of this shit? Goddamnit! More like FAILbook am I right?
posted by fuq at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is that whatever replaces Facebook will have to be as easy and simple to use as Facebook. Somehow, I get the feeling that will be hard for a bunch of OSS programmers making a peer-to-peer social network. Google Wave is close, but then again nobody uses Google Wave.

Yeah, everyone knows OSS is hard to use. Just look at firefox!
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


If only there was a way to relay messages on the internet in an open and decentralized manner. A simple way for mail to transfer based on a standard protocol. People would be able to buy a name and the mail would relay based on this naming system.
posted by geoff. at 11:42 AM on May 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


I just went to facebook and it asked me to enter my password. I entered it and it didn't work, so I clicked the "forgotten your password?" link, and it just logged me in to my mother's account (who must have been the last person to use facebook on this computer). That's a pretty disturbingly useless security feature.
posted by dng at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


So just as soon as an alternative comes along, all of the sudden you need server racks and on-call admins and the bills pile up and, finally, someone sidles up and says, "Hey. You know, we could use all of that data."

The whole point is, we need a solution where they can't get it. Or if you're worried they might get it, you just move your data, possibly to your own server (which only costs $20/mo today and could conceivably cost just $5 a month or less for an individual VM, which only needs to be accessed by your friends)

If people don't want to pay, they can just run the server on their home PCs.
posted by delmoi at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Saw Wired editor Chirs Anderson speak last week. He observed something of magazines (including his own), but this is likely a fair observation of companies like Facebook, and for that matter Google, as well.

In essence, Facebook doesn't (and in fact, shouldn't) give a crap about you, because you are not their customer. You are their product. They are selling you to their customers, the advertisers.

It's hard enough to get decent service from businesses that you pay directly. We're either paying Facebook indirectly or not at all - of course they're not doing right by us. Cows don't have much say in how a butcher runs his business, you know?
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2010 [41 favorites]


Another great read:
Saving Facebook, by James Grimmelmann, New York Law School

Abstract: This Article provides the first comprehensive analysis of the law and policy of privacy on social network sites, using Facebook as its principal example. It explains how Facebook users socialize on the site, why they misunderstand the risks involved, and how their privacy suffers as a result. Facebook offers a socially compelling platform that also facilitates peer-to-peer privacy violations: users harming each others’ privacy interests. These two facts are inextricably linked; people use Facebook with the goal of sharing some information about themselves. Policymakers cannot make Facebook completely safe, but they can help people use it safely.

The Article makes this case by presenting a rich, factually grounded description of the social dynamics of privacy on Facebook. It then uses that description to evaluate a dozen possible policy interventions. Unhelpful interventions—such as mandatory data portability and bans on underage use—fail because they also fail to engage with key aspects of how and why people use social network sites. The potentially helpful interventions, on the other hand—such as a strengthened public-disclosure tort and a right to opt out completely—succeed because they do engage with these social dynamics.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:46 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was so long ago that I can barely remember it, but the last thing I really liked about Facebook was that you could input your college classes and see everyone else who was in the class. It was actually useful. Of course, now the idea that Facebook could be used to help students rather than to provide my 12-year-old cousins opportunities to invite me to take quizzes about which celebrity I resemble seems absurd.

I hate everything.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:52 AM on May 9, 2010 [29 favorites]


That "interests" thing really pissed me off. A lot of my declared interests were essentially jokes, so I felt no need to make them a page.

I like to think I'm quite good in locking down my profile and info - I've essentially blocked all apps (because they're shit) and I make judicious use of the "Hide" feature for people who essentially spam my home feed with inane updates.

Still, it's not good that had I not actively restricted who could see what about me, everyone would be able to.
posted by djgh at 11:53 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


fug: go to the linked page, unlike.

I'm just annoyed that I just realized that choosing *not* to link all my interests to pages resulted in them just disappearing. Apparently I can only like things that are linked to other people liking them. I can't just have a plain text "interest" any more. Fah.
posted by R343L at 11:55 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are already open alternatives. For one thing, the Internet.
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2010 [16 favorites]


Having said that, I've just been digging. People might like to go to Application Settings, select Marketplace (don't know how many others have this yet), go to Additional Permissions and deselect the permission allowing Marketplace to access your data when you're not using the application.

Spookily, that checkbox disappears if you go back to it one you've unchecked it.
posted by djgh at 11:58 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]



bradbane:I don't know why people act surprised when social networking companies do things like this. They have a user base who will not pay for anything, so they turn the users into their product to sell to advertisers.


People have shown they don't mind being the product sold by web sites. That is the way that almost every site I visit runs, and the mechanics befuddle me (especially since I have walls to almost all ads).

But what facebook is destroying their own product. It is analogous to selling a mature citrus grove for fire wood, and they aren't the only web mega-corp to do this.
posted by Some1 at 11:58 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's say I were to switch to an open system. How do I get the rest of my social network to follow? Because most of my friends don't care about privacy, and they like Facebook.

It's possible to live a fulfilling and happy life without Facebook; just take it one day at a time. Trust in a higher power, clean house, and happy Facebook-free future awaits you!
posted by belvidere at 12:01 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm probably going to be disabling my Facebook account some time in the next week or two for a few reasons. For one thing, this whole privacy thing is odd to me, and while I'm not a person who guards his privacy very closely (as anyone who browses my posting history here at Metafilter can see) Mark Zuckerberg and the whole shebang seem quite sleazy to me. For another, Facebook just seems like such a lazy way for me to remain connected to people that I might not even want to remain connected to but will anyway because it's easy. Finally, sometimes Facebook makes me sad, because it's full of people I'll probably never see again; I wasn't even aware I was feeling this way about it until I read the fine formulation of this sentiment at the end of this article.

In any case, all this talk about wanting to find an "open alternative" over the last week – it seems to be a very popular notion now – seems odd to me, in a way. I mean, Facebook is just a simplified linking mechanism tied to a glorified blog, right? We've had blogs now for decades. What's wrong with that? If you want family and friends to be able to stay aware of you, if you want long-lost connections to be able to stumble upon you, set up a blog and update it regularly. Enable comments. If you must bug people with your status regularly, email them whenever you update your blog.

It doesn't seem like this is very difficult, and in the bluster surrounding Facebook's apparent goal to make the internet a series of "Like" linkages we seem to have forgotten it. We've already got plenty of ways to show that we like something online, to say so to our friends, to talk about what we're doing and how we're feeling and so on. We've got ways to link to other stuff, we've got ways to suggest things to our friends, and we've generally got lots and lots of ways to communicate. I almost feel the same way about this that I do when I see Flash used all over websites to do things that pretty simple Javascript can do; in the mad rush toward the internet future! and Web 2.0! and all that bullshit, it's easy to be seduced by the shiny marketing of big internet companies and believe that some grand, transcendental change is occurring.

It's the internet, people. We can already blog and link to stuff. If that's what we want to do, why not keep using the simplest and most effective tools?
posted by koeselitz at 12:01 PM on May 9, 2010 [33 favorites]


I really, really wish google hadn't totally borked the buzz intro. So far, it's been the intelligent alternative to facebook and twitter that I was really hoping for--I'm only linked to about 70 people, but I frequently engage in pretty good discussions about blog posts and updates on there (and I have lots of conversations with Greg Nog about kittens!). Unfortunately, it alienated too many users; I really can't conceive of it lasting very long at all.

I continue to hate my facebook, but I continue posting there almost solely because I get lots of blog hits through it; I suspect that most people who click from my facebook updates to my blog don't know who to, or care to use, an RSS reader. Frustrating.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:04 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm familiar with Facebook both as a (former) app developer and a (current) customer. And what I've found is that they have this cocky asshole attitude about everything they do. It's all, "We're going to make sudden changes in our UI, API, and privacy practices without asking or telling anybody. And we don't care if you don't like it, because every time we do it, people complain, and still we're growing faster than ever!"

Furthermore, the whole thing has become ridiculously complicated. It is almost impossible to do anything intuitively. Any time I want to do something other than the basics (check my news feed, see what my friends are up to) I have to resort to googling for help. And the worst part? Their shit changes CONSTANTLY, so even googling won't help, because half the time it returns instructions that were relevant like a year ago.

Their privacy settings have gotten a lot better in terms of granularity, but their practices have gotten far, far worse in terms of actually keeping my information private. All their crap with the "like" button? Letting third parties store my information indefinitely? Randomly making stuff on my profile public? Sorry, but that is NOT okay.

I think a lot of people would agree that Facebook is pretty shitty about this things, but the real question is this -- what will it take for a new network to dislodge them? Yes, we've seen it before with Friendster and MySpace, but in both cases, there was a clear vector for spread of the new network. With MySpace it was hipster bands, and with Facebook it was colleges. The new network would need to be something more than "Facebook that is open" or "Facebook that respects your privacy" because Aunt Tillie in South Dakota doesn't know what any of that means, and she's far more likely to sign up for Facebook because that's where here nephew's baby pictures can be seen.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


So advertisers target me -- so what, they have been targeting me since I was a kid with pretty much no luck whatsoever. I don't care if people know the bands I listen to or the comic books I like, I never made a secret of it and I am not going to shake in my boots wondering what people are going to say about me because I still read Archie and post on Metafilter.

I do think Facebook is the Wal-Mart of social networking sites -- it has gotten as big and powerful as it has because the price is right. But people who use it have a lot more power than they realize if they would stop thinking as hapless victims and starting making demands of the services they use...FB needs users a lot more than users need FB...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:06 PM on May 9, 2010


Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative going back to non-centralized communication methods, like ISP-hosted email and making a damn phone call once in a while

FTFY

and am committing facebook suicide right at this moment
posted by davejay at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


> most of my friends don't care about privacy, and they like Facebook.

Follow Facebook's example -- sell them to the highest bidder, pocket the money, and spend the proceeds to acquire a better group of friends. Lather rinse repeat.
posted by hank at 12:13 PM on May 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


There is no free lunch, film at eleven.
posted by Cranberry at 12:14 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know why people act surprised when social networking companies do things like this. They have a user base who will not pay for anything, so they turn the users into their product to sell to advertisers.

Well, there is a solution to this, but you're not going to like it. It's called Fee-For-Service. Get people to pay for their social networking. Could be really cheap. Facebook will have 500M users soon. Let's say tomorrow they implemented a fee-for-service model, let's say $5 a year. Let's say half their users leave because of this (conservative estimate.) 250M x $5 == $1.25B a year. That's a lot of money! And no more need to sell us out to the highest bidder or do creepy things with our data.

It's really not a crazy idea. Think about all the sites on the 'net that are fee-for-service. Almost all of them have a very customer-centric user experience.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:15 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I miss being able to see my nephew's latest photos and antics, keeping up with an extensive family of cousins often a generation or more younger and high school friends from all over the world.

I don't regret the loss of FB's attempts to mash up my wide and varied walled gardens online into one databucket for their convenience.

I'll try the Suicide linked above as I have so much uploaded there that I often wonder about, who owns my baby pictures now?

In the meantime, I liked this point by Jeff Jarvis about the two kinds of "public"

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg seem to assume that once something is public, it’s public. They confused sharing with publishing. They conflate the public sphere with the making of a public. That is, when I blog something, I am publishing it to the world for anyone and everyone to see: the more the better, is the assumption. But when I put something on Facebook my assumption had been that I was sharing it just with the public I created and control there. That public is private. Therein lies the confusion. Making that public public is what disturbs people. It robs them of their sense of control—and their actual control—of what they were sharing and with whom (no matter how many preferences we can set). On top of that, collecting our actions elsewhere on the net—our browsing and our likes—and making that public, too, through Facebook, disturbed people even more. Where does it end?
posted by infini at 12:16 PM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm familiar with Facebook both as a (former) app developer and a (current) customer. And what I've found is that they have this cocky asshole attitude about everything they do. It's all, "We're going to make sudden changes in our UI, API, and privacy practices without asking or telling anybody. And we don't care if you don't like it, because every time we do it, people complain, and still we're growing faster than ever!"

Overheard a gem at the Game Developers Conference. One guy claims his company doesn't do any testing, they just release the newest build and fix it when users complain about the bugs they find.

I've been tempted to write a facebook game because of the potential for money is there, but I'm operating under the assumption that FB is going to be dumped, like Friendster/Myspace/Xanga/etc, for something else eventually, and the market will collapse. This can not happen soon enough. The fact that a portion of users are conscious of it and looking for alternatives will only accelerate this.
posted by hellojed at 12:19 PM on May 9, 2010


btw, interesting datapoint, I "disabled" my account back in early March - maybe two people noticed and nobody emailed to ask what happened either ;p heh
posted by infini at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2010


Furthermore, the whole thing has become ridiculously complicated.

This. I finally figured out facebook's newest interface and deleted pretty much all information about myself (even though it is obviously by the ads that my information wasn't deleted at all). Facebook is currently too useful for events and travel for me to space the whole cargo bay. Though, I was inspired to go and delete "friends" I haven't seen in a long time and I probably wont see again.

I don't want to be your "friend" and I don't "like" any of this shit.
posted by fuq at 12:23 PM on May 9, 2010


Yeah, everyone knows OSS is hard to use. Just look at firefox!
What, the browser that sprung from the loins of the closed-source Netscape? What point will that prove? I don't think it's the hard-to-use bit anyway, it's more the never-shipping (see: oh, god, where to start? Especially: why is there still no open-source GMail?) or made-only-for-developers (see: drupal) problems.

Another problem is the tendency for diving down perpetual dead-ends, like assuming that asking people to run their own servers or pretend a big company's server is their own is ever going to swing (see ya, OpenID).

To solve the problem, it needs to be understood why Facebook got where it is. Part of it was being better than all the other social networks, but that only gets you so far. In fact, Facebook got big as in seriously big because it was a social space on the internet that was also private. You, you who were wary of the net, were told by your friends/relatives/colleagues that here was somewhere trustworthy: you could put up photographs of your children and personal information and the only people who could see them were people you'd pre-approved as your friends. "Let your guard down here" was the implication, and people did.

Then Facebook changed the rules of the game, without telling anyone. They made it easier and easier for the public to see into your private spaces, and gave you criminally little warning of it. They force you to "express yourself" by linking you publicly to groups badly scraped from your pre-written text. They allow unvetted third parties access to your private data in perpetuity simply because your moron cousin plays their games, they share your stuff with websites, they whore you out, in effect. They share your photographs with a huge number of people, banking on you not realising that "friends of friends" doesn't mean people you know, it means thousands of people you've never met, including that terrifying creepy guy who sat in the corner of the party that one time.

This is what the replacement has to fix. Not p2p, not super-simple 6-step install on any LAMP server, nor federated foaf w/Open ID integration. Just super-tight privacy, and a promise to do everything possible to keep things that way. Buzz could have done this beautifully if fucking Google's make-it-all-public tendencies weren't even worse than Facebook's. You know who really loves Buzz? All the Googlers using the company's internal, private Buzz. Point: missed.

As for paying for it ... well, there's advertising. And that isn't incompatible with privacy, by the way. So much so that my god the short-sightedness of Facebook's approach is mind-boggling. There is more to advertising than attempting to turn you back into a passive broadcast consumer. It's incredible that Facebook hasn't realised the ability to advertise to people within their online homes and with their friends and relatives is vastly higher than what they can achieve by dragging people unwillingly outside to gaze at billboards.

The problem is it takes a while for 400 million people to realise what's been done to them, especially since they rarely check their own profiles and almost never do it as someone else. But the nerds and the geeks and the people with attention to detail do realise what has happened and they're beginning to kick up a stink. Quite a big stink, actually.

Of course, it's a stink that Facebook is ignoring, as it always does, because once, a few years back, they introduced News Feed, and there was a stink, but it turned out that people liked it, in the end. Therefore, by a brilliant piece of reverse gambler's fallacy logic, that means whenever users complain they're always wrong.

When all this has crumbled, it'll be a case study in just how well deliberately ignoring your customers from hubris and trying to lock them in by asserting that removing their own data is criminal actually works. Can't wait.
posted by bonaldi at 12:25 PM on May 9, 2010 [64 favorites]


In any case, all this talk about wanting to find an "open alternative" over the last week – it seems to be a very popular notion now – seems odd to me, in a way. I mean, Facebook is just a simplified linking mechanism tied to a glorified blog, right? We've had blogs now for decades. What's wrong with that?
Blogs aren't really optimized for "social networking" There's no standard way to have "just for friends" information that doesn't require you to log in yourself. Livejournal does this, but that involves everyone keeping their data on the same network. There's no easy way to play networked games like farmville (which seems stupid to me, but it's popular)

But you're right, fundamentally you can do the same thing with blogs, or just static HTML pages. But the challenge is making it low effort and easy to use for the purpose of "socializing" rather then just publishing your thoughts to the world.
posted by delmoi at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In essence, Facebook doesn't (and in fact, shouldn't) give a crap about you, because you are not their customer. You are their product. They are selling you to their customers, the advertisers."
posted by NoRelationToLea at 1:45 PM


Hmm, where have I heard this before... what sort of pinko... AH! Yes. I believe it was Chomsky!
posted by symbioid at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Facebook converted my (slightly jokey) interest in LaTeX to an interest in latex. That is all.
posted by heyforfour at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2010 [69 favorites]


What we need is a firewall between us and Facebook. A trustworthy program that filters what you enter, and that sends information to Facebook in ways that will be public only when we give explicit permission that the information be seen by everyone, instead of just all friends or certain friends. A new social network is a neat idea, but it would need to be better than Facebook enough to entice most people to switch, which is hard. Anything that's the same as Facebook but more private won't work. Fixing Facebook's privacy is an easier solution.

I'm guessing a Firefox extension or Greasemonkey script could do it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:29 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now that Facebook wants you to select individual items and hit "Remove" to remove your interests one-by-one, I found a way around it: Hit "remove", shift-tab twice, and you'll be able to immediately remove the next item again. Makes clearing info out of your profile a lot easier.

...now if only the "save" button wouldn't stop mysteriously malfunctioning.
posted by griphus at 12:30 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anything that's the same as Facebook but more private won't work.
That all depends on whether you sell it as the tedious-sounding "more private" or as a place offering the much-desired ability to easily separate your boss/family/mom/friends/close friends.
posted by bonaldi at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2010


What, the browser that sprung from the loins of the closed-source Netscape?
I'm not sure what you mean by "Sprung from the loins" here, but Mozilla 5.0 was rewritten from scratch in an open source way, and the Firefox UI was completely new, and came out even later.

(And it's important to point out that we're talking about the UI here, which was created in an open source way by an open source non profit company. It has nothing to do with the original Netscape browser)

Code from Netscape 4.0 wasn't used, not in the rendering engine, and not at all in the UI.
posted by delmoi at 12:32 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


To clarify, by "won't work," I meant "won't attract enough users to be useful for networking."
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:32 PM on May 9, 2010


deleted pretty much all information about myself (even though it is obviously by the ads that my information wasn't deleted at all)

There's one ad that scares the crap out of me.

It's a simple one, that asks:

"Work for $company_name? Take part in a survey!"

Now, I do work for $company_name. But I have never mentioned this on Facebook, nor have I joined any "I work for $company_name and it rocks!"-type group. I'm actually a bit of a stickler for trying to keep that stuff off the internet.

I can only assume that it's taking a guess based on the info it has (my tangentally-related groups; my friends' info), but still. Way to put two and two together, internet.
posted by djgh at 12:33 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's possible to live a fulfilling and happy life without Facebook MetaFilter; just take it one day at a time. Trust in a higher power, clean house, and happy FacebookMetaFilter-free future awaits you!

Privacy issues aside, I don't think that using Facebook is any more or less worthwhile than most anything on the internet.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:34 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm considering nuking my profile too, despite the fact that I've become kind of dependent on it for keeping in touch with friends (or for once again being in contact with people that I haven't seen for years and otherwise would still be wondering about-- there's been at least one "We survived punk rock" reunion in Vancouver that I know of, and it was directly due to FB). Everyone I know, pretty much, is on Facebook now, and we're all pretty thoroughly intermeshed, and dropping out of that feels almost antisocial. However, I can no longer list my favourite music as "WAG to the NER" and that carefully curated list of favourite writers and books is ruined, too. It may seem a small thing, but it was the final data point for me. That and having my privacy settings to max and still finding myself at websites which asked me if I wanted to comment with a link to my FB profile.
posted by jokeefe at 12:38 PM on May 9, 2010


And it's important to point out that we're talking about the UI here, which was created in an open source way by an open source non profit company.
The UI of Mozilla was pretty much identical to the template laid down by Netscape, and Firefox was a stripped-down version of that. It's wholly disingenuous to say that there's no connection here.

As far as ease-of-use goes, too, a whole chunk of the new additions are wowsa. I don't know if people are still complaining about the orgasmo-bar, but about:config, profile management and the "Applications" preferences tab are damning enough evidence for me that no, Firefox isn't a sterling example of what great ease-of-use OSS can create.
posted by bonaldi at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2010


With all the problems and sleaziness inherent in Facebook's way of doing business, I'd just like to give a small shout-out to metafilter and its mods and all the other users; this is a really nice place on the internet, and I'm glad it exists.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2010 [39 favorites]


Blizzard's battle.net to integrate with Facebook.

Yup, now your friends will publish when they ding in WoW, and bombard you with Starcraft invites while trying to trade Diablo loot.
posted by mek at 12:41 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


limeonaire, you might yet be able to recover your fb-deleted former interests. The same thing happened to mine, and I was able to extract them using the Give Me My Data app. Choose "Personal Information" in the app's first drop-down menu.

As for me, I'm unhappy with what facebook is doing, but I don't anticipate leaving, and I'll really be sorry to see any of my friends go. I've been bedridden for a few years now (an awful illness you've probably never heard of), and facebook, along with maybe a short email or two on days I can manage to write them, is pretty much the extent of my social activity.

It's made life so much less lonely, to be able to hear what people are up to so easily and not need to do a whole lot to hold up my end. And now I know what became of all my summer camp friends, and I can check out people's creative ventures, and enjoy seeing travel photos of places I'd never otherwise be able to see. Is most of this possible without facebook? Yes. But it's the ease of sharing widely that opens new horizons for me, and I would guess that most of my friends don't even know what a difference their little bit of sharing makes in my life.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:42 PM on May 9, 2010 [28 favorites]


I'm no apologist for Facebook and the concentration of power in corporations, especially monopolies, is a valid concern.

But I guess I'm still unconvinced that this is a Really Big Deal. To me it has the flavour of a moral outrage for people who are quite well-fed, have a nice paying job and basically don't quite have enough to be outraged about -- a bit like the local council not doing enough about potholes, graffiti on trains, or the BBC wasting money.

Big deals to me are issues that ultimately have the potential to cause major suffering, or death, to humans or animals: poverty, war, health care, factory farming, threats to democracy. Tell me (I'm open to being swayed), are there any really big deal implications to your status updates being searchable, or does it just piss a few people off a little bit? Is it a potential threat to democracy, for example?
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:49 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Making that public public is what disturbs people. It robs them of their sense of control—and their actual control—of what they were sharing and with whom (no matter how many preferences we can set). On top of that, collecting our actions elsewhere on the net—our browsing and our likes—and making that public, too, through Facebook, disturbed people even more. Where does it end?

That's really just an illusion of control. Once you share anything with anyone it's already beyond your control, and could foreseeably end up in the hands of anyone else. You could share with your fiance your a fetish one night, and she could blog about it the next. I think that kind of an explanation falls short of why it really disturbs people. I don't know what the answer is, but it's an interesting question.

Sometimes I think that all Facebook is doing is the inevitable: expanding the number of connections between things, sort of like an artificial brain producing synapses. I think this is, in the long run a good thing because it's a kind of distributed intelligence which will in the end expand our horizons. It's the transition that's painful, and I don't understand why people are so protective of their privacy in the first place. Doesn't it just come down to not broadcasting things to people you would later regret?
posted by tybeet at 12:51 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I first wandered out into the internet in the mid 90s, AOL profiles and, a bit later, Yahoo profiles were the best avenues for (what would later be called) social networking. But time, of course, marched on and things changed. Being a confirmed curmudgeon, I was content to let it pass me by and largely ignored that whole MySpace/Facebook thing when it came through town. Friends would say "You should get on Facebook!" and I'd respond. "Ehh." Then, one day, I found myself getting sucked into the mighty FB. I felt like Rip Van Winkle. Everything had changed. People now put profiles on the internet... using their real names??!! That was, like, a violation of the cardinal rule. And then they listed their friends' names, their employers... uploaded photos of their children and announced to the world at large (or even just to a group of sixty or seventy "friends") that they were going on vacation or had just received a promotion??? How could this be right? If I'd suggested to someone, in 1996, that they add all this info to their AOL profile," that person would have looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I asked myself; Have people really changed so much, in the last ten years or so, that what was once considered a huge risk is no longer a problem?. I conceded that it was possible, but a sober view of the rest of the internet argued against this hypothesis. True, people put their real names on blogs and on Amazon reviews, but people also hid behind pseudonyms on web forums and screamed about their privacy being violated by a new Google app or a merchant. Even more disconcerting, the people who worked in the IT industry or knew a lot about it were writing lots of articles about privacy, how to maintain it, and the ever increasing efforts to violate it. Things had changed, sure, but things had also stayed the same.

So yeah, I've always been uncomfortable with the whole-life-online aspects of Facebook. It's just that I was beginning to think I was the only one.
posted by Clay201 at 12:51 PM on May 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


So much so that my god the short-sightedness of Facebook's approach is mind-boggling.

So, I was legally able to drink alcohol when the infant running the show was a gleam in his parents eye.

Its all so "woo hoo" the young CEOs and hotshots ~ so much so that I heard the US Ambassador point him out as an exemplar of "innovative youth" - not a bad thing, imho, as Paul Graham says, its the young that have the energy to "start up" - but its the wise who then go hire themselves a professional, experienced CEO to manage the shop after...

just sayin...
posted by infini at 12:52 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


bonaldi: Firefox isn't a sterling example of what great ease-of-use OSS can create.

I think Wordpress is a great example of an open source application with a well-designed, very easy to use UI. OSS doesn't necessarily mean hard to use.
posted by oulipian at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. Just used "Give Me My Data", worked fine.

Explicitly unchecked the allow app to post on my wall option.

Removed app.

What was on my wall?
"djgh just removed "Give Me My Data

Reason given: No longer need it

Comment | Like
Motherfu....
posted by djgh at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


limeonaire, you might yet be able to recover your fb-deleted former interests. The same thing happened to mine, and I was able to extract them using the Give Me My Data app. Choose "Personal Information" in the app's first drop-down menu.

jocelmeow, THANK YOU! Everything was there. You've made my afternoon.

And yeah, I'm pretty much in the same camp as you are (minus the illness). I'm still going to keep using Facebook; I'm just not going to rely on it to keep data available and/or private.
posted by limeonaire at 12:59 PM on May 9, 2010


Weird, djgh. I apologize for the inadvertent wall-posting. I just tried removing it myself and didn't have that happen. At least you got what you needed out of it.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:01 PM on May 9, 2010


Once again a nerd-centric publication finds it hard to imagine there are non-nerds in the world. Chris Anderson, eat my heart out.

Facebook's won. We've had a lot of challengers in this social space, but Facebook managed to make itself simple enough and addictive enough and useful enough that it's acquired an extraordinary population and is now proceeding to lightly abuse us all. What's more it'll get away with it until an alternative exists. But such alternatives are harder and harder to find, because nobody wants to leave a site they like, and because Facebook's done a smash-up job of constantly making sure it's doing things nobody else is doing.

I'm a college student. Suggesting to a college student that he or she stop using Facebook is outrageous; I've given up my account once and I've had friends delete theirs, but nobody lasts more than about three days. College is a place where you don't keep in intimate contact with everybody you know; so having a medium that lowers the barrier to communication like Facebook completely changes how people talk.

I use Facebook for event planning, timewasting, intimate heart-to-hearts with friends, lengthy debates about aesthetic philosophy. I've used it to meet friends-of-friends by merit of the songs they've posted to walls. It makes bringing an enormous mass of people to one place easier than it would ever be via email.

My parents talk to their friends on it, because it's easy to connect to people electronically and see what they're up to. My 13-year-old campers use it as a way of getting close to one another. It's easy enough that a young child can use it, and it's well-designed enough that my network of user interface design assholes can tolerate it (though they're irritated at the lags it's been seeing this month).

Wired is really suggesting fucking open-source? It wants to make me work to set something up? It points to a bunch of geeky fucking NYU students as an answer? To succeed at making something this enormous work you have to have a team of asshole megalomaniacs. Otherwise you're not going to work hard enough to make something accessible.

I'd murder somebody if I lost my Google Chrome or Safari. If I had to give up OS X's design for that of Ubuntu I'd go postal. I don't like having to put an effort into making machines work. It's not my job. I'll pay for it, I'll sell my data for it, but I should not have to work to get into a network of friends.

People who think Facebook's time has passed aren't people with an at-all typical network of friends, particularly more youthful friends. Twitter's appealed to the narcissists, Tumblr's appealed to the socialites and drama folks, Formspring's gained ground among people who like stalkers — but all three of those tie back into Facebook. That's the canvas upon which most of the Internet exists for a shitload of users, and that shitload doesn't really care about privacy.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:02 PM on May 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


Is it a potential threat to democracy, for example?
You know, it's totally possible to be an aid worker devoting your entire life to easing the suffering of others and yet still get pissed off that the pothole outside your office never gets fixed.

But, yes, I think the connections in particular can have big effects on people's lives. This was totally private plain text last week, now it's out-of-content quotes made public. So if you had put something like "Looking after my darling kids Jeff and Alana" in your activities and Facebook decides to make that public (because you can only control what appears on your profile -- you are always available in the fan list on the page for "Alana" it has created), what happens when your mad ex uses the Alana page to track you down?

That example sounds contrived, but it is only slightly. The problem is that the new setup is so byzantine it's very hard to describe, and so it's hard to grasp the consequences of the changes -- and this isn't by accident.

It's the transition that's painful, and I don't understand why people are so protective of their privacy in the first place. Doesn't it just come down to not broadcasting things to people you would later regret?

People are protective of their privacy because they have complicated lives, and need to disseminate personal information in order to remain social beings, but for various reasons can't have it being entirely public. They realise there are risks in doing so, but they weigh those risks against how much they trust the person they're telling it to.

Facebook was a facilitator of this kind of information, and people were encouraged to see it as trustworthy. Sure, things could leak, but it would be because of the human participants, much like your friend can accidentally print your email and leave it lying around.

These changes are the machinery turning on you, like Gmail publishing snippets of interesting emails on its front page for people to gaze at.
posted by bonaldi at 1:02 PM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Facebook has ads? It must be my spectacular ad-blocker, which is free to anyone who uses FireFox, because I never see them.

By the way, any social networking site is going to turn into this. Giving your attention to another one is just going to turn it into another myfacespacebook. Turn on your ad blockers and don't give out your address/credit card numbers (you're stupid if you do) and you'll be fine.
posted by Malice at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem is that whatever replaces Facebook will have to be as easy and simple to use as Facebook

There is nothing simple nor easy about Facebook's UI.
posted by cj_ at 1:15 PM on May 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm a college student. Suggesting to a college student that he or she stop using Facebook is outrageous; I've given up my account once and I've had friends delete theirs, but nobody lasts more than about three days. College is a place where you don't keep in intimate contact with everybody you know; so having a medium that lowers the barrier to communication like Facebook completely changes how people talk.

Just so you know, this changes massively once you graduate from college. Facebook was released midway through my college career, but by senior year, it was huge--and used in exactly the way you suggest. But you know what? It's not now. From braggy wall posts to my mother-in-law chastising me for cursing to people who teased me in middle school trying to reconnect, 95% of the "connections" made through facebook these days don't help me to socialize or enrich my life--they make me roll my eyes. Once your college friends are scattered, facebook really, really loses much of its function. And there's nothing particular about facebook, technologically, that allows it to maintain these connections. My freshman year of college, my entire social circle was on AIM 24/7 to keep connected, and most of us had livejournals. Had you asked us then about giving up these services, we would have freaked. These days, almost none of us do.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:20 PM on May 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


As far as a decentralized alternative, see: GNU Social

Just had a vision of an internet meme kicking in just after someone layers a facebook sheen over a gnu package and a bunch of preteen girls decide that's what they just must do. Turns out they need pgp keys signed. I just want to be a fly on the wall for that unix user group key signing party when 150 way fashionable young ladies descend on the geeks, all impatient for a shiny new key. "Yes Miss, you must choose a long complicated pass phrase that no one else can guess but never write it down"...
posted by sammyo at 1:26 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My slightly jaded rationale for why open-source social networks won't work: Because if such a system gains meaningful traction, established players will threaten them with patent infringement (with or without merit, doesn't matter) and they'll give up or be forced out.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


thank you for the very thoughtful insightful peek into the mind of a college student. it gives me something to ponder when considering our collective emerging future, globally, and the systems and methods that we need to develop in the now so that they're effective a generation or two forward.




pours a laphroig
posted by infini at 1:28 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still a little confused about the real dangers here -- I wish someone would write a proof-of-concept thing to show how the info FB knows about me can be used. I know there was a "see what FB shares about you" thing a week or so ago making the rounds, but when I put in my info, all it gave back was my name. So either I've got my settings right, or the tool didn't go deep enough, or this thing is a bit overblown.
posted by statolith at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2010


Except for facebook, who will delete your account if they suspect you of lying about your name. I don't think they worry about the address, but once you have someone's name, it's not too hard to get the address.

How much of a problem is this actually? I entered a name of Heinous Anus and "they" seemingly had no clue I wasn't telling the truth about my name.
posted by juiceCake at 1:31 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I 100% agree with PhoBWanKenobi. Facebook makes sense on a college campus, but in the real world it's a bizarre David Foster Wallace-style time suck. I recently reactivated my account after having it shut for a while because I'm about to start grad school, and it really is a good way of keeping track of new acquaintances in an academic context-- but once I know my cohort well enough to use the good old fashioned telephone, Facebook and I are done forever. Can't wait.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:31 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Once you share anything with anyone it's already beyond your control, and could foreseeably end up in the hands of anyone else. You could share with your fiance your a fetish one night, and she could blog about it the next.

(a) "fiancée" if it's a she.
(b) You know, I actually know my friends, and I can trust them; I should hope that I would know and be able to trust anyone to whom I was engaged even more. This argument that as soon as you tell anyone anything it's out of your control ignores the fact that you can choose whom you tell what and can, hopefully, rely on them. I wouldn't tell just anyone the things I would tell my friends. Facebook, at least formerly, presented itself primarily as a means of communication that facilitated your talking with other people whom you already knew, not as another party to the conversation whose trustworthiness you'd have to evaluate. Now that it's made the transition its utility has been much decreased; your best friend, on facebook, is now only as trustworthy as facebook is.
posted by kenko at 1:34 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: That wouldn't surprise me. Inspired by this conversation, I started talking to my next-door neighbor about this (on Facebook, of course), and he said he's keeping Facebook until he doesn't need to plan social gatherings anymore. So after college if everybody winds up working at some company or other, then maybe FB won't be necessary anymore. (That's a bit of an if, of course, since I'm at a college that focuses on art and entrepreneurialism, so there's a chance that lots of the people here will form their own companies and stick together.)

However, it wouldn't surprise me either if lots of the people I'm friends with keep using Facebook. Perhaps the friends lists will change — I don't maintain a big friends list, since I don't like using Facebook if it's not going to be somehow moving me in interesting directions; and I suspect that once college flirting stops I won't feel such a need to keep up certain bland social habits — but there're certain people that I really appreciate having close to me on Facebook that aren't necessarily part of my college social circle.

Know what really turns me on about Facebook's design? The flexibility. I like that Facebook's such a huge heap of features that all kind of intersect in five places at once. It means that I don't have to know exactly what I want to do on Facebook to make it happen. If I want a conversation about a story I can link it and tag people, or write a note and tag people there, or post it to a friend's wall, or write him a message, and each method will inspire a slightly different conversation and show up differently to friends. If I want to share a poem I can quote a line, or post the whole thing, or link to it elsewhere, or record a video of me reading it. It's not a logical thought process. It's more impulsive, intuitive, emotional. I don't think about how I'm using it. I just use it.

It's not about communicating directly to a friend. I email some people who aren't in my social circle, and am completely comfortable with it. But Facebook's more social, because anybody can jump in at any time. So I don't have to think, "Let me share this Shaun of the Dead quote with Bill." I can just post it and see who reacts to it. And because I have a small group of friends who I all like and who all like me, generally when I do something it starts a conversation, and those conversations lead to other fun things.

Which is why I also get really excited when Facebook does something that everybody hates. Like pages? People HATED pages. But then they realized how being fans of things let people post comments on their feed, and suddenly it was really awesome. Now Facebook's changing it and people are losing that, but I bet they'll find some way to take advantage of this weird "every interest is a page" thing. It'll change the social space again.

On preview:

once I know my cohort well enough to use the good old fashioned telephone, Facebook and I are done forever.

This might just be me, but I hate using the phone sometimes. It's great for when I'm walking places and want to talk, but when I'm busy working I don't want something that takes THAT much focus.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:35 PM on May 9, 2010


I find all of the screaming about Facebook and lack-of-privacy to be kinda ironic. Why? Well, I had a Facebook account, and I deleted it (or deactivated it, whatever) some time ago. Because the thing refused to let me set my profile to be visible to anyone passing by; at the time it was all about only showing stuff to one's "friends".

And as a result of this, my Facebook account was mostly the source of a slow trickle of friend requests in Arabic from dudes on the other side of the world who were friending everyone that showed up in a search for "egypt+female", and couldn't see anything more about me than one icon-sized picture and my username. I wanted to be less private and it wouldn't let me, so I left.

I was just funneling feeds of stuff I posted to LJ and Flickr anyway; it's not like any of my social circles really hang out there. We're all Livejournal and mucks and maybe Twitter.
posted by egypturnash at 1:44 PM on May 9, 2010


I apologize for the inadvertent wall-posting. I just tried removing it myself and didn't have that happen. At least you got what you needed out of it.

I suspect it was an in-built Facebook thing that I haven't throttled to death yet, rather than the app itself. I'm not fussed, as I deleted it from my wall as soon as I saw it, and now have my data. So far more win than fail - thanks for the link. I had actually just thought of "but how will I know who all my acquaintances are" stumbling block to leaving Facebook, and you solved that issue.
posted by djgh at 1:45 PM on May 9, 2010


That wouldn't surprise me. Inspired by this conversation, I started talking to my next-door neighbor about this (on Facebook, of course), and he said he's keeping Facebook until he doesn't need to plan social gatherings anymore. So after college if everybody winds up working at some company or other, then maybe FB won't be necessary anymore. (That's a bit of an if, of course, since I'm at a college that focuses on art and entrepreneurialism, so there's a chance that lots of the people here will form their own companies and stick together.)

. . . what does working at a company have anything to do with it? Seriously, I have no idea why this would be relevant. Are you saying that the close proximity will mean that you won't need facebook? Because facebook's not a big help for socializing if you're halfway across the country and, trust me, five years or so after graduation, the exodus will be complete: you'll see most of your current facebook cohort only once or twice a year. At first, you'll feel like keeping track of your former close friends via facebook is keeping you closer together, but then you'll realize that, while apprised of their weddings and babies and new jobs, you won't have actually exchanged any meaningful communication with these people in years. It's the sort of social networking that is great for convenience, but terrible for meaningful contact--because of the public nature of it, maybe, but also because it gives you the illusion of closeness without the actual need to interact with a person. You'll start to realize that it's no more or less convenient to email them. The "impulsive, intuitive, emotional" aspect will no longer be useful--it will actually be a drawback. Because, crap, you friended coworker X at your job, and you know you're leaving in a few months, but you haven't given notice yet, so when your posts on your wall to say that he can't wait until you move across country to be closer, you have to rapidly delete it before anyone can see. The utility of such ease of . . . impulsiveness actually rapidly declines after college. Without that, you're left with what we started with: either totally private communications (email), or totally public (so, like, blog posts). And you don't need facebook for any of that; there's nothing inherent about facebook that increases the utility or ease of either totally private or totally public communications.

I agree that it's good for party planning, but it's utility in that is limited insofar as everyone you know and want to invite needs to be on facebook. There was a time when myspace was the preferred service for party planning; that day ended when users began to leave the site.

This might just be me, but I hate using the phone sometimes. It's great for when I'm walking places and want to talk, but when I'm busy working I don't want something that takes THAT much focus.

Dude, texts. If there's one thing graduate school taught me, it's the convenience of texting. That (and email), not facebook, is how we all do our planning these days. We all friended one another on facebook just to message each other and ask for phone numbers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:51 PM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


most of my friends don't care about privacy, and they like Facebook.

Follow Facebook's example -- sell them to the highest bidder, pocket the money, and spend the proceeds to acquire a better group of friends.


Ouch! Burned again. I don't care about privacy (at least not to that extent -- I happily tell everyone my name and where I'm from, even (mostly) on my Wikipedia userpage). I invite you to explain how that makes me an awful person.

Oh, and I totally agree, that was a pretty dick move, for FB to promise you something you guys apparently liked and then pull it away like Charlie Brown's football without any notice or any way to opt out.
posted by Xezlec at 1:51 PM on May 9, 2010


People who think Facebook's time has passed aren't people with an at-all typical network of friends, particularly more youthful friends.

Well, I guess I've just had my first real generation gap experience. I've been reading this thread because this topic fascinates me--mostly because people get so unsettled about Facebook changes--and I don't understand the appeal of Facebook at all. And this stuff isn't new to me, I've been on the internet a really long time.

Also, how naive does one have to be to trust a free service in any real sense of the word? I mean, I love Metafilter, but I'm not going to post my address and all of my personal life details on it either. If I want to keep in touch with a friend, then I visit them. And if I can't visit them because they're too far away, then I fucking take the time to call them.
posted by belvidere at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


In which should the typical not-particularly-tech-saavy person place more trust, a commercial organization that with resources, lawyers, a natural liability aversion, a natural profit motive and approach that I understand, and enough prominence that various watchdog groups exist to gripe about them ... or a distributed system run by people (by which I mostly mean small hosting companies, since no way, no how is the average user going to manage and host their own) who I do not know but who I suspect are far more likely to both be technologically saavy enough to subvert the system and are (in my personal experience) far more likely be social misfits (or staffed by clowns, like many of the small hosting providers in my direct experience) with motives neither they nor I actually seem to understand clearly?

I trust Google with my mail more than I trust a volunteer-supported server that I also have access to -- the difference is, I KNOW Google is looking at my mail, and I understand why they are doing so, and any creepy individuals there have systems they must bypass to snoop, and even then I'm just a needle in the haystack....

I'm not sure people aren't viewing the threat backwards. Who cares if some large, professionally run organization full of process and whatnot uses your information to sell you crap? For most individuals their notion of privacy is not "freedom not to be profiled for ads by massively parallel datamining jobs" but rather "freedom to not be stalked by individuals."

I think what I'm trying to get at is this -- in many ways, the power of individuals scales up as organization size scales down, and one outcome is that you can't trust small companies or organizations that host an application as much as the larger, more professional organizations. I've known sysadmins at smaller hosting companies who scrape email feeds for photos, and two who read their ex-SO's email for a year+ after they broke up. I strongly doubt this happens at Google or Yahoo Mail.

So it is not clear to me at all that at the user level, Diaspora and similar solutions (which will be hosted in practice) will not actually average _less_ privacy in important ways than Facebook over time. Yes, a point compromise doesn't compromise the whole world.
posted by rr at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dude, texts. If there's one thing graduate school taught me, it's the convenience of texting. That (and email), not facebook, is how we all do our planning these days. We all friended one another on facebook just to message each other and ask for phone numbers.

I'd say the proliferation of Blackberries, iPhones etc. will speed this up as well. I haven't got one, but I hear that Blackberry Messenger is popular - a fairly frequent status update is along the lines of "New BB Pin: 123456" or somesuch.

To be honest, when everyone has insta-email on the go, I can't see much else muscling in.
posted by djgh at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2010


when I'm busy working I don't want something that takes THAT much focus.

Oh, I absolutely hate long phone conversations, too. I use the phone to make plans, and usually I'm only using text messages for that. What I mean to say is, I think it's just a fundamental difference in how people (or my peers, at least) socialize post-college. Right now, in my pre-grad school, post-college, mainstream job-having life, I have a smaller, but much closer, group of friends than I did in college. We aren't in constant contact throughout the day like we were in college; instead, we spend time face-to-face, one-on-one or in groups, a few times a week. That's when we all get most of our social time. If there's some particularly awesome YouTube video that one of us has to share, or a big party that needs planning, it's done over email or gchat. While I was in college, Facebook was absolutely as big a part of my life as it is yours. It just doesn't seem necessary anymore, and it's nice to be able to shut out the constant noise Facebook provides when I'm doing work or relaxing.

Many of my much older and much younger family members, however, use Facebook very differently than my peers and I ever did. Lots of games, oversharing, soapboxing. I don't really get it, but they seem to like it.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:55 PM on May 9, 2010


Whoa, whoah, whoah people. Let's not get all up in a knit. Facebook has made it waaaaayyyy easier for me to stalk my ex-girlfriends.

And I thank them for that.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:00 PM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Is it a potential threat to democracy, for example?

Yes, absolutely. Right now, it's much less of a problem than other threats to democracy, but in the future it won't be—the real problem isn't Facebook per se. Facebook is just one of many centralized communication networks, and the first of many privacy disasters that await us in the future.

The real problem is centralized communication networks. The reason most people don't realize this (yet) is because, for all of human history up until the last decade or so, every communication network has been decentralized: face-to-face talk, snail mail, carrier pigeons, telegraphs, telephones, email, text messages, blogging—in every one of these, communication does not pass through a single point under one private entity's control. You can make a phone call to anyone in the world no matter what phone company you have. You can send anyone an email through any server you want, and you can change email accounts at will. You can even IM someone on Google Talk if you don't have Google Talk.

But you can't send anyone a Facebook message without using Facebook, or tweet without Twitter, because they own the pipes through which communication travels. This means they hold absolute power: if you don't like how they treat you, you can give up altogether, but you cannot switch service providers, because no competition is possible. You can switch to an entirely separate network, but you can't make other people join.

Here's the problem: the privacy of communication is a strong as the weakest point through which it travels. In a centralized network, it all travels through one point—a point controlled by someone who has little reason to care about your privacy, and is an especially vulnerable target for governments or anyone else who'd like to steal the basket with all your eggs in it.

Twitter was a great help in Iran. Why? Only because Twitter is based in the USA, whose government likes freedom of speech and doesn't like Ahmadinejad. The next Twitter may not be so lucky.
posted by k. at 2:08 PM on May 9, 2010 [21 favorites]


It's the internet, people. We can already blog and link to stuff. If that's what we want to do, why not keep using the simplest and most effective tools?

Most of my family is on Facebook, and it's a pretty big family. None of them has a blog, and there is close to 0% chance that any of them will start because of this or any other reason. We use it to keep track of family get-togethers and events, and it's very convenient. Most of my friends are on Facebook, too, and almost none of them has a blog. Not everyone is as into this stuff as you might think - in fact most people are much more casual and will never develop the skills or cultivate the desire to blog, even though Facebook is a little like a blog anyway (so is Myspace, for that matter). It's just that they make it easy for people who aren't technically oriented, which is the vast majority of people. I don't like some of what Facebook does, but I only reveal there what I'd be comfortable with everyone knowing anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:16 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


But you can't send anyone a Facebook message without using Facebook, or tweet without Twitter, because they own the pipes through which communication travels. This means they hold absolute power: if you don't like how they treat you, you can give up altogether, but you cannot switch service providers, because no competition is possible.

Or you can email if you need privacy (using encryption if necessary) and use Facebook for casual communication.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:19 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Facebook makes sense on a college campus, but in the real world it's a bizarre David Foster Wallace-style time suck.

Here's a real world example:

I avoided all social sites like the plague.

Four weeks ago I decided I was going to go to LA. I knew that two people I went to film school with were out here but for the life of me, I couldn't find contact information for either one using any traditional method, and I'd been trying for a few years, asking every mutual acquaintance I came across and regularly searching with Google and other search offerings.

I joined FB three days before my flight. I found both people within minutes. Both were happy to hear from me and I now had folks who would show me around town. (Prior, I literally knew not a soul here, had no car, and knew nothing of the geography, bus systems, etc.)

So, I keep the facebook thingy up. I rent a bed and breakfast room from a stranger through AirBnB. She friends me on facebook. Over my first three days out here, she introduces me (irl) to a series of her friends. All friend me. I start getting invites to parties, concerts, performances, art galleries... all from people that were strangers to me two days ago.

Yes, I could have given these people my phone number and just hoped they'd call, but 1) it'd be long distance for them unless I got a local disposable phone, which I didn't really want to do as I was still getting texts from my Toronto friends and 2) one of the reasons I did get invited is because these people were using FB to contact their own friends about their parties/events. A few of these people even picked me up in Venice on my birthday (which they found out about via FB) and drove me downtown for a nice dinner and drinks after I'd spent the afternoon with one of my own friends.

So, what could have been two weeks of nice weather and me getting frustrated trying to figure out where/when everything was happening and how I'd get to it via bus or foot became an absolutely fantastic vacation that involved multiple parties, dinner parties, lunch dates, business networking, poetry readings, museum visits, trips to Topanga, Culver City, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Echo Park, Silverlake, the Griffith Observatory, etc etc.

Literally none of this stuff would have happened without Facebook and all of it happened not just with Facebook but because of it.

I hate to trumpet FB as loudly as I am because I was previously actually rolling my eyes anytime it was mentioned by a real life friend, just based on thinking it was a "time suck". I hate their privacy bullshit and would love if things were changed for the better but I think FB does have real world uses beyond staring at a screen.
posted by dobbs at 2:20 PM on May 9, 2010 [28 favorites]


Some of the more invasive tracking Facebook does on external sites can be removed with Adblock rules. See this post on Make for information.

This doesn't affect your interest data or whatever on FB itself, but it makes me feel a little better browsing the web now.

And it's not the service itself that makes it so successful and useful. It's the network of users they've built up. It's incredibly hard to build that network from scratch if you're developing a new social networking service.
posted by formless at 2:25 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


How much of a problem is this actually? I entered a name of Heinous Anus and "they" seemingly had no clue I wasn't telling the truth about my name.

They do delete a lot of fake sounding names, even if it is a real person.
posted by delmoi at 2:25 PM on May 9, 2010


Honestly, most of these objections seem abstract and academic; there seems little adverse effect from Facebook privacy policies for people who are otherwise used to advertising. Unless Facebook's privacy policy impacts the user experience in a significantly negative way (getting your bank account cleaned out, etc.), and the end user can make a direct and obvious connection to Facebook being the cause of the problem, there is little motivation to move to an alternative, "open" social client. Talking about this as a Big Deal without some demonstrable and legitimate cause-and-effect in hand will seems to make folks tune out from what otherwise looks like a boring dish of philosophy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:26 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was planning on killing my account this weekend (it was in my status and everything) but I ended up killing it on Thursday.

Why?

Well, because they pushed an election poll on everyone in the UK this Thursday. And, like a prat, I clicked and said who I voted for. There was even a little graph showing how many people had voted for each candidate. All well and good.

Except, underneath the graph was the option to see how your friends had voted. What the fuck, facebook?

That was the final straw for that particular broken camel...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


dobbs, you make a very valid point about the value of FB as an extensor of the social network and finding the people you want to, especially those who tend not to be savvy enough to blog, set up pages etc online. that's essentially the basic function of a social networking tool.

however, as k. said above and then krinklyfig added,

But you can't send anyone a Facebook message without using Facebook, or tweet without Twitter, because they own the pipes through which communication travels. This means they hold absolute power: if you don't like how they treat you, you can give up altogether, but you cannot switch service providers, because no competition is possible.

Or you can email if you need privacy (using encryption if necessary) and use Facebook for casual communication.


I would say that if left at this point, there is no problem with FB. However, over time, you forget the larger challenge outlined so well by k. and you share photos, rss feeds, google sharing, bla bla bla and add people you met in a conference to the friends list that include your cousin at the other end of the world or your high school buddy whose location is blank and then you start getting into a complex miasma of pattern recognition / apophenia that totally borks your life and makes you want to sink back into the gunk that is at the bottom of the "cloud" like ocean.

one idiot leaving a facetitious comment can screw life if time zone differences prevent you from making an instant deletion

at least with my blog i have no illusion of privacy or a closed circle, which is why i bring this back to the differentiation jeff jarvis made about "a public" and "the public" not to mention where and how and who owns the pipes.

i see FB's trending as an unhealthy indicator of the ideal towards which the webz will evolve as long as people think its great that FB is bigger than Google. I can still control my google search results, I can't and have no control over FB. that's not an illusory difference.
posted by infini at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly, most of these objections seem abstract and academic
Yes, that's kinda the point. It's deliberately flying under the rader, and it's what makes Facebook such sneaky bastards. The difficulty is in articulating and demonstrating to the impatient, but that doesn't mean the concerns aren't real and with far-reaching consequences.

The reason most people don't realize this (yet) is because, for all of human history up until the last decade or so, every communication network has been decentralized: face-to-face talk, snail mail, carrier pigeons, telegraphs, telephones, email, text messages, blogging—in every one of these, communication does not pass through a single point under one private entity's control.

snail mail: passes through sorting offices, where interested governments can and do position their security services.
telegraphs: ditto, in the past tense.
telephones: are about as centralised as it gets. Every exchange is a point of control, especially with state-run services.
text messages: there are generally fewer than four carriers per country, and those carriers feed texts through a centralised set of servers.

There is more than enough centralised communication in your list to destroy the "human history" line. In fact, communications have mostly gone through chokepoints where interested ears can flap. Even decentralised ones like face-to-face talking are easily eavesdropped for a determined enough government -- ask the Stasi how simple it is.
posted by bonaldi at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like facebook. It solves some problems

* take part in live of your friends
* take easier track of your friends email/don't lose contact
* No spam - I never got spam email. It would also be easier to filter spam on FB

Don't like to have your profile pic public?

Make a comic pic of you (like I did): http://faceyourmanga.it/welcome.htm
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:45 PM on May 9, 2010


Talking about this as a Big Deal without some demonstrable and legitimate cause-and-effect in hand will seems to make folks tune out from what otherwise looks like a boring dish of philosophy.

One of the primary concerns of privacy advocates is that these sites aggregate data about their users in order to target advertising and therefore increase revenue, and most tech companies are historically very willing to turn over their data if the government asks, even if there is no compelling legal requirement like a warrant. So, I can understand this concern, as I share it. But it's becoming nearly impossible to be on the internet without this sort of aggregate collection practice sweeping you up in its net. But I cannot be separated from family and friends on a matter of philosophical principle with a nebulous outcome, well that's the choice I made anyway, and, yes, it's a trade off, but it's one I can live with for now.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:50 PM on May 9, 2010


"Well, I guess I've just had my first real generation gap experience. I've been reading this thread because this topic fascinates me--mostly because people get so unsettled about Facebook changes--and I don't understand the appeal of Facebook at all. And this stuff isn't new to me, I've been on the internet a really long time. "

It's the opposite for me. I never paid any attention to Facebook because it sounded like the cellphone 2.0, a yoke I'd have to bear for no benefit. But the comments in this thread are making it sound a little appealing - if it's some kind of undying virtual billboard and not just another medium of communication. Everything on the Internet is so perishable and temporary, it might be cool to have a place that's always there, where people can find you if they want to. You might answer or not, but the latent possibility of the connection would be there.

I can see why Facebook's move away from privacy would make users mad, since the terms were different when they signed on, but the basic concept of the site sounds kind of cool, so long as you go into it with the expectation that what you're using is a billboard and not a private party.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:56 PM on May 9, 2010


one idiot leaving a facetitious comment can screw life if time zone differences prevent you from making an instant deletion

???

I might understand what you're saying. I can't really control the actions of others, though sure I can edit my profile on some social networking site. I'm not sure how someone being snide would "screw life." Surely nobody would think less of me if someone else were rude. But maybe I'm not clear on what you're saying.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:58 PM on May 9, 2010


Except, underneath the graph was the option to see how your friends had voted. What the fuck, facebook?

Yeah, I don't do politics on Facebook at all. I don't want it to be an issue between family and friends. I can see how Facebook might think people would want that feature of that poll, but that's one of those blind spots these sites sometimes have, like their recent policy change which put everyone's info public unless you chose to opt-out. I see these more as blunders than consciously malicious, though they have a bad habit of doing this sort of thing.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:06 PM on May 9, 2010


Talking about this as a Big Deal without some demonstrable and legitimate cause-and-effect in hand will seems to make folks tune out from what otherwise looks like a boring dish of philosophy.

One day Facebook decided that my wife and I weren't real people. Never mind that we were using our real names that could have been verified with 2 minutes of Googling. Someone, out of the blue, decided to exercise their ability to cute off a mode of contact with our friends and family.

Eventually everything was resolved, but how and why it happened, I have never been told. That a company should have that power and be answerable to no one should give a person pause.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:06 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


"You are not their customer. You are their product. They are selling you to their customers, the advertisers."

Hmm, where have I heard this before... what sort of pinko... AH! Yes. I believe it was Chomsky!


It sounded familiar to me, too, but I was thinking of Google's annual report.
posted by rokusan at 3:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eventually everything was resolved, but how and why it happened, I have never been told. That a company should have that power and be answerable to no one should give a person pause.

What power, exactly, do they have in that situation? Take away something they give away, with a user agreement stating they reserve the right to kick anyone off the service (like all free and sometimes paid services)? That's dumb of Facebook, and I'd be pissed off, too, but to whom should they answer?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:23 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is more than enough centralised communication in your list to destroy the "human history" line. In fact, communications have mostly gone through chokepoints where interested ears can flap.

All the old networks like telephones and snail mail offer some degree of competition. In the US you can use USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. to send mail to anyone you want, without the recipient "belonging" to any of those shipping services. You can make a call from any phone to any other phone, no matter which company provides the service on either end. Yes, it would be possible for one company to own an entire physical network, but laws prevent this—that's why AT&T got broken up. There are no such laws for networks that exist only in software.

You're right, of course, that any communication, public or private, can be spied on. Most decentralized networks offer less privacy protection than I would like, because there are only a few chokepoints to choose from. But centralized networks have only one.
posted by k. at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2010


...it might be cool to have a place that's always there, where people can find you if they want to. You might answer or not, but the latent possibility of the connection would be there.

Yes. I registered a domain name of my real name, and put up really simple web page that gives my name, city, state, and an expendable email address--easily changeable if spam gets out of hand. People who know me can Google my name to contact me. It's not hard. And if a person can't figure that out, well it's probably my Grandma, and she already has my phone number.

There's no need for the rest of humanity to know much about me. Why would they want to know? Posting that stuff is narcissistic anyway.
posted by belvidere at 3:38 PM on May 9, 2010


Wired is really suggesting fucking open-source? ... I'd murder somebody if I lost my Google Chrome or Safari.

:cough: :cough:
posted by ryoshu at 3:39 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, because they pushed an election poll on everyone in the UK this Thursday. And, like a prat, I clicked and said who I voted for. There was even a little graph showing how many people had voted for each candidate. All well and good.

Except, underneath the graph was the option to see how your friends had voted. What the fuck, facebook?

That was probably an "application", not an official part of facebook. There's very little control over FB apps and they get to see a ton of your data. So not only are you trusting your data to FB, you're trusting to any random 3rd party that you agree to "install" an app from.

And on top of that, they share information with tons of other websites as well, like with facebok comment widgets, etc. It's just annoying.
Wired is really suggesting fucking open-source? It wants to make me work to set something up? It points to a bunch of geeky fucking NYU students as an answer? To succeed at making something this enormous work you have to have a team of asshole megalomaniacs. Otherwise you're not going to work hard enough to make something accessible. -- Rory Marinich
The fact that myspace got so popular indicates any idiot could have created a popular social network at that time. And that was right after friendster. It was probably the "right time" in terms of technology cost to actually make something like this work in a cost feasible way.
I'd murder somebody if I lost my Google Chrome or Safari. -- Rory Marinich
Chrome is open source.
What power, exactly, do they have in that situation? Take away something they give away -- krinklyfig
Facebook didn't give anyone their friends, or family members. The problem is that if your friends communicate mostly with facebook, and you get kicked off facebook, You lose a lot more then anything facebook actually created, just because they got lucky and rode the growth wave at the right time.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is that if your friends communicate mostly with facebook, and you get kicked off facebook, You lose a lot more then anything facebook actually created, just because they got lucky and rode the growth wave at the right time.

That's right. But that's true of any successful social networking site, right? I mean, you can get kicked off Metafilter, too.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2010


You're right, of course, that any communication, public or private, can be spied on. Most decentralized networks offer less privacy protection than I would like, because there are only a few chokepoints to choose from. But centralized networks have only one.

searchable and in the hands of children in addition to the above. there's no single gargantuan databucket outside these kind of apps - not even google
posted by infini at 3:55 PM on May 9, 2010


The fact that myspace got so popular indicates any idiot could have created a popular social network at that time. And that was right after friendster. It was probably the "right time" in terms of technology cost to actually make something like this work in a cost feasible way.

Both MySpace and Facebook are, or were, incredibly simple programs. Emulating MySpace's featureset is a pretty basic exercise for a programmer. Ditto Facebook until they started really innovating. When I joined it was all static pages and you had to load a new page to do anything.

But Facebook was different because it was gorgeous and it was tight. Even before they added the feed, Facebook was clean, white, and easy to use. Even now that it's getting more and more complex, it's remarkable how clean-cut its information display is. That's what won people over. MySpace felt and looked like shit. Facebook disappeared and let you focus on friends.

(I'd go so far as to say that the original Facebook was one of my big inspirations as an early designer. Facebook circa 2005 was a thing of pristine beauty in a wave of shitty Web 2.0.

Chrome is open source.

Chromium is open source. Chrome itself is a proprietary browser developed by people Google has paid lots of money.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, people did manage to enjoy life before social networking. Some might say even more so.
posted by jonmc at 3:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


What power, exactly, do they have in that situation? Take away something they give away, with a user agreement stating they reserve the right to kick anyone off the service (like all free and sometimes paid services)?

If they're kicking a user off because they're claiming they isn't using a real name, when that is patently false, a legal case could probably made for FB interfering with business.

That's dumb of Facebook, and I'd be pissed off, too, but to whom should they answer?

The legal system or potentially a nation's political system.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If they're kicking a user off because they're claiming they isn't using a real name, when that is patently false, a legal case could probably made for FB interfering with business.

What business? What sort of contract do you have with them that requires them to provide a platform for you?
posted by krinklyfig at 4:04 PM on May 9, 2010


I don't mean to dominate the conversation, and honestly I'm a strong privacy advocate and a real-life card-carrying member of the ACLU and EFF. I think if the FTC wants to advocate for privacy on behalf of citizens that's a great thing. But I think some of the concerns are a bit overwrought and/or aren't unique to Facebook in the least. For instance, anyone can get kicked off any social networking site for any reason, including this one. That's a feature, not a bug.

Anyway, I need to work out so am going to bow out for a while ...
posted by krinklyfig at 4:13 PM on May 9, 2010


But Facebook was different because it was gorgeous and it was tight. Even before they added the feed, Facebook was clean, white, and easy to use. Even now that it's getting more and more complex, it's remarkable how clean-cut its information display is.

This intuitive, easy-to-use Facebook that you mention, the one that has a workflow based on what feels right — is totally foreign to me. I was given a Facebook page to manage for work, and trying to figure out basic tasks had me more frustrated than anything I'd had to deal with before as someone paid to work on the Web.

Maybe they've improved it in the past year, but it's too late — I'm not inflicting more of that unnecessary confusion on myself.
posted by rewil at 4:19 PM on May 9, 2010


Diaspora sounds interesting, but I don't believe for a second that Joe Facebookuser is going to set up a server and run his own node. My prediction: Whoever comes up with a robust distributed social network, that the average mom or dad can use, will make a fortune. I'm talking about something as simple as a Firefox add-on, or maybe someday, a built-in component of all the major browsers. The tricky part is keeping nodes alive when the server/browser is closed. It won't rival Facebook unless it's always on.

That's just one part of a two-fold formula. Not only does it have to address the technical issues of decentralization, encryption, and privacy protection (stuff only nerds apparently care about) but it also needs a kick-ass interface and some awesome features. A very clear UI that shows who can see what and allows quick, sweeping changes with a single click. The marketing should be oriented exclusively around "keep your work life and your [X] life separate, for real!"

I'm not convinced the technology's here yet for distributed social networking. Even if it was easy to set up and run a local node, most people don't have the bandwidth for serving up galleries of photos and video. Maybe in ten years when we all have fiber running up to our houses.

I like the concept of Tor but it's still firmly in the territory of software geeks, privacy nuts, and the ...less respectable... element. It's also unbearably slow and hidden services are unreliable. It's not ready for the mainstream yet. However, the tech would improve exponentially and also be more useful to a broad audience with two changes:

1. A dramatic increase in bandwidth, everywhere. Bad news is, it's a long wait; good news is, it's inevitable.

2. Integrate the kind of social network I described above. Imagine if every Tor node was a node in a decentralized Facebook that allowed people to share as much as they want with the people they want... yet at the same time be truly anonymous to others as needed.

Couple that with an interface overhaul for simplicity's sake and that's a direction I'd love to see social networking (and the whole internet) go in the future. Tor is open-source, so somebody should make a social network spin-off project. And not advertise that foundation at all, because nobody cares. Then they'd already be two steps ahead of the Diaspora guys, who don't know how to present themselves to the masses at all.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 4:19 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


But Facebook was different because it was gorgeous and it was tight. Even before they added the feed, Facebook was clean, white, and easy to use. Even now that it's getting more and more complex, it's remarkable how clean-cut its information display is. That's what won people over. MySpace felt and looked like shit. Facebook disappeared and let you focus on friends.

You probably missed the boat on friendster, but facebook's interface was clean, white, and easy to use. In fact, around the time facebook started to let non-college students join, I pretty distinctly remember my sister saying she refused to join another friendster clone social network; at the time, it seemed like a pretty valid objection.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:38 PM on May 9, 2010


But Facebook was different because it was gorgeous and it was tight. Even before they added the feed, Facebook was clean, white, and easy to use.
You don't need to be a coding genius to make a page that isn't butt ugly.
Chromium is open source. Chrome itself is a proprietary browser developed by people Google has paid lots of money.
You seem confused here. "Chrome" is just a trademark like "RedHat" Everything in a redhat distribution is open source, and everything in Chrome is open source (except for licensed codecs). The name is separate to prevent people from releasing their own versions with the same name. That's it. There's nothing "proprietary" about it, except for the name. this page goes over the differences. All the code that goes into chrome gets put into Chromium first.
Diaspora sounds interesting, but I don't believe for a second that Joe Facebookuser is going to set up a server and run his own node.
No one is saying that they will. I've been advocating for this idea for a while, but the point is that anyone can run a hosting service for people who want an easy setup, with the option of taking your information to another hosting service, or your home computer. Running a server isn't difficult, it's just that the 'standard' way of doing with LAMP isn't exactly user friendly (or designed to be)
posted by delmoi at 4:39 PM on May 9, 2010


You probably missed the boat on friendster, but facebook's interface was clean, white, and easy to use. In fact, around the time facebook started to let non-college students join, I pretty distinctly remember my sister saying she refused to join another friendster clone social network; at the time, it seemed like a pretty valid objection.
Yup, friendster did everything facebook did, but that actually was poorly programmed, and ran way to slowly.

Interestingly, google offered to buy friendster for stock that, in 2008 or whenever I read about it, would have been worth about $1 billion.
posted by delmoi at 4:41 PM on May 9, 2010


I think if the FTC wants to advocate for privacy on behalf of citizens that's a great thing.

but what about the rest of us grils on FB?
posted by infini at 4:41 PM on May 9, 2010


My prediction: Whoever comes up with a robust distributed social network, that the average mom or dad can use couldn't use if their life depended on it & therefore cannot snoop on their kids, will make a fortune.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 PM on May 9, 2010


I regret ever having joined Facebook. The people who post on my page post way too much. Too much of nothing. I'm going back to email. Facebook: thanks for nothing.
posted by kozad at 4:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


infini wrote: "one idiot leaving a facetitious comment can screw life if time zone differences prevent you from making an instant deletion"

You must know some uptight people...

I don't like Facebook much. I like to see other people's status updates, and it's nice having their birthday, phone number, and other relevant contact information automatically downloaded to my phone.

That said, it annoys me to no end that my friends using an application somehow magically grants them a gateway into everything I've posted on Facebook. But it's not going to somehow ruin my life if third parties do get information on me or if someone posts something stupid.
posted by wierdo at 4:58 PM on May 9, 2010


What business? What sort of contract do you have with them that requires them to provide a platform for you?

Any sort of business. Since FB is s networking site, it's very possible to establish and develop business contacts there. If FB then kicks you off the for citing reasons that are provably false, and thus disrupting business, it would be interesting to see what a court of law would say about that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:07 PM on May 9, 2010


What's weird about facebook's "targeted" ads is they keep serving me ads about North Virginia, where I have never been, don't know anyone, no connection at all. They did this for a couple of months and then they figured out I live in Syracuse and started giving me Syracuse Dentist and real estate ads. Now they go back to North Virginia ads every week or so for a little while and then we go back to Syracuse.
posted by Melsky at 5:10 PM on May 9, 2010


Melsky, you should live in NoVa. It has been decided. Resistance is useless.
posted by Some1 at 5:20 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I nuked my facebook account -- which is disturbingly difficult and, according to some sources, not total or complete

If you think that that is disturbingly difficult - try nuking your facebook account when you don't actually even have one. I wrote something on this before, but I'll try to recap:

I didn't like Facebook from the beginning when it was an .edu only service. It had a weird, suspicious beginning and has been embroiled in privacy controversy since the start.

After a year or two after Facebook was open for invite to the general public, after a year or two of having friends (and complete strangers) sign up and allowing Facebook to auto-harvest their contacts from email address books I had had enough of getting invites to a service that I wanted nothing to do with, and a lot of these invites were from people I just happen to be on a special interest group plain old email lists who just happen to have my email address in their contact lists because of things like gmail's auto-add contact feature, or even Outlook - so I wanted to make Facebook forget that my email address even exists at all.

At first I made the mistake of "signing up" just to make it block any further invites, which just resulted in more spam. I found the "deactivate" button, and found out it's useless. I then found the hidden and buried "delete account" button. (This was before I was seeing any news about this creepy bait-and-switch tactic.)

So I finally started emailing Facebook support saying I wanted them to effectively block any and all requests, and further that I wanted them to permanently delete and/or block my email address, any links or information associated with it and that they should not have me or my email addresses in their databases at all for any reason whatsoever.

It took a month and about a dozen or so emails starting with exceedingly polite and professional that developed into terse and threatening legal action on my behalf.

The first email reply was an outright dismissal, which was unprofessional and rude and simplistic. The second and third were basically "Are you sure? You'll never be able to sign into facebook or make an account." (using that email address, obviously.) The fourth through the twelfth were me re-iterating over and over that I wanted them to completely eliminate all traces of my email, my name or my account from their databases and that I didn't agree with their terms of services and that if this issue wasn't resolved I would be contacting the EFF, the ACLU and seeking out a lawyer to explore the options of a lawsuit.

No matter how clearly or directly I worded my concerns and what I wanted - their replies never became more concrete or clear than "Your issue should be resolved." "What issue? Does this mean you've permanently blocked and banned my email and associated information including links to other users from your database? Please state in clear terms to confirm if this is the case." And then yet again, simply "Your issue should be resolved." Not "Yes, we did X as you requested." Just the wimpy, ass-covering non-specific legalistic weasel-worded response of "Your 'issue' 'should' be 'resolved'."

So frustrating. I suspect that my email address and any fragments of the precious data I generated - well, really the precious data that people I don't even know generated for me - are still in their database. I don't think for a second they followed my request to the letter. I bet their still accumulating spurious "links" between me and others I don't even know, because I'm on a lot of different private and public email lists, and people are still signing up for Facebook.

Hey, Facebook? Fuck you in the face. I hope that someone eventually sues you into the Pliocene era and leaves a smoking crater where your vulture of a company once stood. I hope your creeping tendrils wither up and die. I hope you go bankrupt.

Why so much anger and frustration? Because these things fucking matter today. For all I know there's someone out there that I'm "associated" with that's a complete nutcase. What if they go off and do something stupid like fly a plane into a building? I don't have any control over those links or associations. I don't have any option or recourse or way to prove that I don't actually know this person, and it's presumptuous to assume that I would "trust" Facebook with that data in any form, especially considering all the privacy issues they've been involved in ever since the start.

Also, and perhaps even more importantly - I miss being able to contact and communicate with my real friends outside of a walled garden. I miss getting directly invited to events or parties. I miss getting actual emails from my friends instead of inane one-sentence wall posts. I miss being able to see pictures of friends and family just because I don't want to sign up for a Facebook account.

I've watched Facebook go from passing curiosity and MySpace replacement to an entire pseudo-culture built in an artificial petri dish with artificial nutrients of limited interaction. Facebook is a medium - that medium colors the output, culture and interaction that grows on it, and it should be considered harmful. It's not free speech, there are no rights there, and it's damaging the internet as a whole and limiting interaction, not encouraging it.

I strongly support people leaving Facebook and returning to the open culture of the internet. Yes, social networking is a powerful tool, but it's long past time for an open, decentralized format - which we used to have in a variety of forms, but people seem to have forgotten about.

Kill your Facebook account. Come out, come out, wherever you are. There's still a whole wide internet out here, but it's languishing without you, and who knows how long it will last if willingly handing over your privacy to marketers in exchange for ease-of-use becomes the default mode of interaction.
posted by loquacious at 5:24 PM on May 9, 2010 [46 favorites]


Oh god, where to start with Facebook. Over the past spring I've been struggling with what to do with my online identity there. I'm not so much concerned with the data privacy issues, since I don't share my "business" with the world. However, to me, Facebook overconnects the social network and dilutes it. It's like mashing 100 peoples' houses together, gutting the interior walls, and having all our social interactions in there 24/7. There are a pallet of wobbly cubicle partitions that can be erected to help with privacy and a pad of notes to pass private messages around, but still, it's a big mega-living room.

I guess that's good for extroverts and blogging, or hanging out with very small circles of friends, but it disturbs me that this is becoming a de-facto venue for online social networking. With friends and people I care about, if it's gotta be over the computer, contact is truly meaningful and personal only with one-on-one e-mails (or crafted cc: messages). There are some old friends I used to e-mail back and forth with years ago and it was a special thing receiving an e-mail from them. Nowadays, the same gesture of "keeping in contact" encourages posting polite or witty comments on one another's wall, the personal element much more diluted than the old format, and as this becomes the de facto form of social contact. Yeah, you can do PMs, but it's awkward and why do this when there's e-mail. I think the disconnect hit home for me when good friends from 10-20 years ago connected with me and though we had a lot to talk about, most of the contact ended up being them sending me Farmville presents and updating me on their Mafia Wars scores.

I have not cancelled my FB account, and probably won't, but I have scaled WAY back on using it, and am making more of an attempt to do my social networking over e-mail. I have thought about maintaining two accounts, one for closest family and friends and the other for networking (to completely demarcate them), but then I start thinking why the hell am I doing this to begin with. If I drop out, I miss family updates or the chance to make business contacts or announce a new product to people who like what I'm doing. Do the privacy controls help demarcate things? To me, no. And I struggle with all this.

Yeah, there needs to be some sort of paradigm shift away from FB and to something else, but what I don't know. What I fear is FB becoming so ubiquitous that people begin shunning e-mail en masse, esp. with spam being the last straw, with most Internet users connecting only in a Facebook type venue by 2015 or so. If that happens, oh boy, that's going to really, really suck. Already with the proliferation of GMail, fewer people are using client-side solutions and e-mail itself is becoming slowly centralized.. just how long until some GMail-Facebook behemoth are managing all personal contact?
posted by crapmatic at 5:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Inspired by this post, I was just deleting a bunch of crap from Facebook.

I was going through my privacy settings and found, somehow, even though I had opted out of the website connection bullshit, a certain unsavory site connected with Gawker media was lurking in the list of pages that could have some kind of access to my wall.

I'm genuinely curious how that happened. I'm not a careless web browser, and I try to keep facebook locked down pretty tightly.
posted by device55 at 5:45 PM on May 9, 2010


I am not yet on Facebook. But I have human "friends", some in different nations, who are using are using Facebook messaging as their comm system, other than the "classic" e-mail. The temptation to join in is irresistible.

It feels to me kinda like that episode of Star Trek TNG, where everyone is playing this weird video game with the balls dropped into funnels (accompanied by an endorphin rush)(infiltrated by evil Romulans (or something like that)). The rational cybernetic Data is disabled, and the only member of the crew of the Enterprise not deviated by this mid-altering conundrum is the geeky young Wesley (apparently of the demographic which is the prime target for a video games) and only because while all of this is happening, he is just beginning to discover human sexuality, which is a big distraction.

Finally, Captain Picard leads the crew to hold him down, and force this video game down his brain.

I cannot remember how this episode ends, but I presume they all survive.
posted by ovvl at 5:52 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time to Quote e.e. cummings and Finish this Pint of Whiskey

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victum(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if-listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go

posted by Juicy Avenger at 5:53 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I cannot remember how this episode ends, but I presume they all survive.

basically you need Ashley Judd to help you destroy Facebook
posted by Greg Nog at 5:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps someone tech-minded could answer this for me:

Would it be possible (& legal) to set up a kind of pseudo-Facebook client that has the ability to interact with the real Facebook?

I'm not talking about a rival social network like Diaspora. I mean a software client that is specifically designed to read information off, and send information to, the real Facebook. The reason for doing this would be that the pseudo-Facebook would have strong, transparent privacy controls.

Is that an obviously stupid idea? It's 2am and I can't tell.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:02 PM on May 9, 2010


Is that an obviously stupid idea? It's 2am and I can't tell.

It's not stupid at all. Facebook has a public API for just that sort of thing.

Applications like Tweetdeck exist to manage your facebook and twitter accounts (particularly useful if you're managing multiple accounts for work or whatever)

There are also some web-based tools like Brizzly and (I think) Friend Feed.
posted by device55 at 6:04 PM on May 9, 2010


I should point out, that these applications might prevent the deluge of stupid advertisements, but they don't really help with the privacy issues.

(And I doubt the privacy controls are available via the public api)
posted by device55 at 6:05 PM on May 9, 2010


I've been worried about this for a while, and really worried for about a month. So it's great to see so many others have concerns too. I study this stuff for a living (kind of), and even then I have no idea how the privacy settings really work, or of how to manage them (or what I am managing). So I've figured that enough is enough, and I've been telling people to contact me by other means. I was going to nuke the account but maybe I will leave one privacy related message up there instead.
posted by carter at 6:10 PM on May 9, 2010


Any relation to Wynonna Judd?
posted by ovvl at 6:12 PM on May 9, 2010


Is that an obviously stupid idea? It's 2am and I can't tell.
If you're just reading and sending to Facebook, there's no point because ultimately you're at the mercy of their privacy controls. If you're making a wrapper around their site and using it as a transmission layer, there are better ways to do it and I'd use them, because Facebook would sue you backwards.

They already claim that services that scrape a user's own data for them are criminally illegal.
posted by bonaldi at 6:16 PM on May 9, 2010


Yeah, I loved when Facebook did it's last "privacy upgrade" and made pictures visible to everyone. I really would have rather come out to my conservative christian father on my own time, but you know. I'm just a product.

As dramatic as that all was, I thought about how many teenagers in small towns just got outed, and how well that turned out for them. Assfaces.
posted by jnaps at 6:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [23 favorites]


Once again a nerd-centric publication finds it hard to imagine there are non-nerds in the world.

What makes you think a corporation selling customer information is a "nerd" issue?

It's a corporate power issue. It's a privacy issue. It's a thinking-ahead issue. It has nothing to do with computers.
posted by DU at 6:39 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Facebook's ad engine thinks that I have a kid and am interested in becoming a cop.
posted by box at 6:49 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's a life coach too?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing. I'm not a fan of Facebook's privacy moves, but I'm going to have a hard time leaving. Partly it's because I've found that having a social network is not only a fun way to avoid work and kill an afternoon, but because it's an actual boon to my social life. It also let's me keep in touch and keep track of friends and acquaintances, a sort of gestalt cloud of my relations.

The other thing is that I run a social group (boardgaming group that meets weekly in the DC Metro area). I use facebook to organize and plan the weekly events (which change day, location, and everything else), talk with members, etc, etc. It's not perfect, but Facebook has just about every feature I need or want (and the rest I can usually find workarounds). I could use something like evites or Socializr, but I know that it would fall apart immediately. The built-in passive audience of Facebook is what keeps the group going, along with the little reminders and messaging that are built into the network. I could slap together a dedicated website (and have been playing around in Drupal to do just that).

But we've had at least two dozen people join and come to our game nights because they found the group on Facebook, just looking around. Many of those have become regulars. And without a social network backing up the group organizing, none of it would work.

I'd happily leave for a better social network. But unfortunately, a decent system and GUI is only a fraction of what makes Facebook useful to me. It's the huge audience.
posted by X-Himy at 7:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a herd issue.
posted by sneebler at 7:18 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yay! +1 for the death of Facebook. I'm sick of being called a holdout and a refusenik because I really don't give a shit. Having a party? Invite me, or not. Show me pics of your kids? Email me your Flickr or Picasa links, or invite me over to tea to actually see your kids, or not. But Facebook? Ewww. Stop being lazy.
posted by goo at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2010


One thing I really dislike about FB is how completely confusing their various privacy settings are. They were obviously grafted on after-the-fact, and very much have a closing-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-has-gotten-out feel. How many people really know how to use friend lists? How many people know how to prevent apps from knowing anything about them. Precious few.

But what DOES happen is that occasionally something will prick their ears up a bit and they get paranoid and look into their privacy settings ... only to set all of them to the HIGHEST settings imaginable. So basically, you wind up with two camps of people -- those who make almost everything available, and those who make next-to-nothing available. It seems like I'm always wanting to add people to my network, and then am forced to email them off-site telling them, "hey, I can't find you on FB." Turns out they have their settings dialed up so high that people outside their network couldn't even find them, AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN AWARE OF THIS.

I can't imagine what it's like for the average user to actually try to USE their privacy system and conditionally make some things available and not others. How the hell do they keep track of it all?

Really, whoever it was upthread who said their UI was simple and easy to use? They must have serious lung problems from the prolific amounts of crack cocaine they're smoking.

But anyway, as previously stated, my biggest problem is not their dominant market position, or even their actual practices. It's their fucking attitude. And I think loquacious hit on this a bit. They live in a world where they just CANNOT IMAGINE why you wouldn't want to share certain things. And to them, whenever they make more of your information available, they're just "Making The Internet More Social!" Because really, who the hell are you, and what is your problem? Are you some kind of ... ANTISOCIAL PERSON?!

I swear, one day I'm going to wake up and everything I ever typed or clicked on in FB will be publicly available, and Mark Fuck You Zuckerberg is gonna be on CNN and he'll be all like, "Try it, you'll like it! We're just making the internet more social!" (you do know they keep all that stuff, right?)

I think their entire approach can be summed up as "the customer is always wrong." Unless of course, as has been suggested above, you start thinking of their customers as the advertisers.

It really is time for fee-for-service social networking. Like it or not, that's our only way out of this.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:32 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I clicked the "forgotten your password?" link, and it just logged me in to my mother's account

Well, it *is* Mother's Day. Maybe you needed a reminder.

wanders off to play Tater Wars on MetaBookFilter
posted by lukemeister at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2010


Ubu just sent you a plate of beans with a portobello mushroom on the side!

Click here to send your personal information to the highest bidder accept your gift!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:50 PM on May 9, 2010


Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids

Seriously, the olds are going to help us kill Facebook. The best part was when it was just a college network it was called "the facebook" (and thefacebok.com link works) so when it is just a tool for the AARP set, it will be easy to type into their "search engine."

I've never liked Facebook and didn't see the point. It sort of reminds me of AOL. It wants to be a walled garden where even when you're offsite, you're still leaving breadcrumbs. And a lot of people say they're concerned about leaving FB because it is a pain because all their friends are on it and their birthdays, etc. When it was AOL, no one wanted to give up their @aol.com email address (even though it was lame-o).

But I have to keep up with it for work. I finally relented and created an account for myself last year. Practically everyone I'm friends with on FB are actually my friends. My active friends rebroadcast their tweets as status updates or vice versa. I had hoped that now there's 400m people on FB, some friends I lost track of that I've been dying to reconnect would be on it. But they're like me and unlikely to join. But within a few hours of signing up people from my past that I didn't really want to keep up with sent me friend request. Because I'm not using it to hook up with new people or interests. So it sits and languishes there. Most of my friends and I keep up the way we did pre-FB: email, IM, phone, sms. I usually only log into the account when I read about changes to the privacy policy to make sure my settings are updated. Some of my friends love FB and think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread and they don't care about privacy at all. I love them, but I remember the same thing about friends on AOL.

But as a marketer, I'm curious to see just how far FB will go. The current ads on Facebook terrible and 20th century styled shotgun approach. But with the data behind the users, you could score people and their "likes" and associates against each other. Between what a person says about themselves in the profile, who their friends are, and what they talk about in status update or comments on other pages, they could makes some pretty sophisticated models on what ads to serve what customer. People with [hometown] that currently live in [current city], that like [music], [car], [local restaurant] will be x% more likely to click on an ad for [company].

Today there was an ad from a guy offering law mowing services. Well, I rent. Rather than serve me that ad, they could be more precise with the ads. If I "liked" my apartment or if FB had my address and the property type was multifamily they'd know this.

But the text ads off to side, even if better targeted won't make big bank for FB. They'll have to get more in-your-face about it. So if you post about not wanting to mow the lawn, a bot will have a "likes this" response and comment from the lawn mower guy. You'll also get more since you like [band] you'll also probably like [new band]. And the beauty of the all the "likes" pages will be for sale. You like "beer" well perhaps instead of a wikipedia page on beer, it might be content provided by a beer company. They say the interest/band/etc pages will be communities, but who in the community knows more about beer than the big global beer company? You add in things like Foursquare and Yelp GPS stalking apps and you can start marketing the hell out of people.

But I suspect Facebook will lose favor when something new comes along. Google and Microsoft are scared shitless and trying to develop a FB killer. As FB figures out internally the sky isn't the limit and seeing defections rise, they'll get be bought by someone big and be just like what happened to MySpace after NewsCorp bought it.

I never figured why Google never did anything with Orkut (outside BR and IN) instead going with Buzz.

But I suspect the next big thing will start in a dorm room but that kid is still in high school right now.
posted by birdherder at 7:55 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really, whoever it was upthread who said their UI was simple and easy to use? They must have serious lung problems from the prolific amounts of crack cocaine they're smoking.
Hahahah.

Facebook's UI isn't poorly thought out, it's devious. It's easy to do the things facebook wants you to do, like post pictures, post crap on walls, and install applications from your spammed "news feed".

But what's not easy to do is manage the privacy settings or figure out what the hell is going on there.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not too worried about the Facebook privacy thing, to be honest. I'm putting up with it, because Facebook is still useful and interesting enough for me not to want to quit. I don't mind being served "targeted ads" - the only game I play on Facebook is clicking the "irrelevant" button on every ad they serve me.
posted by Jimbob at 8:05 PM on May 9, 2010


Chrome and Webkit are open source, but they are open source projects driven by for-profit corporations that pour a lot of money into them. I'm not sure about Webkit, but I'd bet at least 90% of the commits to Chromium are by Google employees.

So, if someone were to start an open source alternative to Facebook that got the same results as those two, they'd probably need a lot of funding. I'm not sure where those with deep pockets will find the profit motivation to build something like that.
posted by ignignokt at 8:13 PM on May 9, 2010


I'm not sure where those with deep pockets will find the profit motivation to build something like that.

Oh, Google is desperate to pull that one off. It's tried with Orkut, with Wave (sort-of), and with Buzz. But it fails every time because it the reason it wants to do it is so it can mine all the data and have its way with it, and the public's wise to that. (It just hasn't realised that Facebook is starting to do all of that and much, much worse).
posted by bonaldi at 8:16 PM on May 9, 2010


I've got my FB settings locked down about as tightly as they'll allow while still being an active user.I've also never provided any credit card info, or my home address. And I don't even use my full name - just first and middle initial and last name. The funny part is, if you know who my husband is and Google him, you'll find our home address anyway, because he just doesn't care. Which is annoying, but another post ...

I run AdBlock Plus, so I never see any of those supposedly targeted ads - and I don't feel the least little bit bad about it, because I'm sure FB is still making money off of me somehow. And I run this greasemonkey script to keep things like MafiaWars and FarmVille out of my feed. It takes a little work, and the script needs to be reinstalled occasionally, but I've found that it makes the whole thing much more usable.

I also adhere to a simple rule: I don't put anything on FB that I wouldn't want to see on the front page of a newspaper or have my grandma read. Because my grandma is on FB, in fact. Along with a lot of family and friends. In real life, I'm known to speak my mind, and it's no different on FB, but I always keep in mind who has access. It's convenient for me, and is actually aeasy way to keep up with far-flung friends from another on-line community that I decided to stop participating in for non-user related reasons.

All in all, by being an informed user and judicial in what I share, I'm OK with FB. I'm realistic about the asshattery, but right now, I'm getting more from it than it's taking, so for now, I'll keep it.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:41 PM on May 9, 2010


bonaldi: Oh, yeah, good point. Although, I think Wave and Buzz have failed more because of a non-compelling user experience than because of any data mining. Buzz tried to force you to socially network with everyone you've emailed, whereas Facebook lets you choose your friends, at least.
posted by ignignokt at 9:14 PM on May 9, 2010


...now if only the "save" button wouldn't stop mysteriously malfunctioning.

I just removed things from each section and then saved immediately after removing them from that section.
posted by movicont at 9:17 PM on May 9, 2010


And I run this greasemonkey script to keep things like MafiaWars and FarmVille out of my feed. It takes a little work, and the script needs to be reinstalled occasionally, but I've found that it makes the whole thing much more usable.

You don't need a greasemonkey script for that. Just click hide next to anything you don't want to see and it will ask you if you want to hide "all farmville" or mafiawars post in the future. You won't see any again.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:44 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


favourited loquacious hard and sweethearted him

Hey, Facebook? Fuck you in the face. I hope that someone eventually sues you into the Pliocene era and leaves a smoking crater where your vulture of a company once stood. I hope your creeping tendrils wither up and die. I hope you go bankrupt.

Why so much anger and frustration? Because these things fucking matter today. For all I know there's someone out there that I'm "associated" with that's a complete nutcase. What if they go off and do something stupid like fly a plane into a building? I don't have any control over those links or associations. I don't have any option or recourse or way to prove that I don't actually know this person, and it's presumptuous to assume that I would "trust" Facebook with that data in any form, especially considering all the privacy issues they've been involved in ever since the start.


somebody upthread said my friends musta been uptight or my situation weird? read that again

also of note is that there's a pattern between FB's attitude and customer service and the college age crowd's enthusiastic embrace of FB ---> most like FB's offices are a frat house, still

damn, i feel like i'm back in university administration again
posted by infini at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2010


infini wrote: "somebody upthread said my friends musta been uptight or my situation weird? read that again"

Yeah, I stand by that. If their posting something can cause you a problem, you've got uptight friends. (or you know, only friend people who are actually your friends)
posted by wierdo at 10:35 PM on May 9, 2010


i'll plead the 5th weirdo, and yeah, so am I and all my "friends" too :)
posted by infini at 10:44 PM on May 9, 2010


Yeah, I stand by that. If their posting something can cause you a problem, you've got uptight friends. (or you know, only friend people who are actually your friends)

If "friends" are the problem, I'm guessing they're not "uptight."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:41 PM on May 9, 2010


I just nuked my account. It's been on my mind for awhile. I really kinda hated facebook anyways.

I'm a nerd, and an introvert and have always been cautious about who I share information with. Their Privacy issues just flat out stress me out. It's not worth it, cancel that bullshit.
posted by jefbla at 2:07 AM on May 10, 2010


IMHO, the main problem to solve in replacing Facebook is on how to implement a distributed social-graph authentication system. I.e., a way of (a) identifying users, and (b) securely proving that user A has given user B access to something. This would be distributed, with a service hosting the user's identity and answering challenges about access. As for the sites that host your status messages, notes, photos, and show them selectively to your friends, they could be your own site, or a public service, which connects to the identity server. The system could perhaps be implemented on top of OpenID.

If an open standard like this came about, soon we may see a WordPress which lets you link to your social graph and make friends-only posts (like a distributed LiveJournal), photo galleries and Twitter-like microblogging tools with similar facilities, and also other apps well beyond the "like Facebook but not evil" remit. (It'd make nifty groupware for ad hoc distributed teams, for example.) And other sites which currently do their own social-network handling/authentication could work it in as an option.

I'm thinking Google could probably clean up here. They had some talks on exactly this sort of thing at Google I/O a few years ago, as Facebook was rising. (The gist was not "identity can belong to Google and we can do it better" but "identity doesn't have to belong to any one provider", IIRC.) If they released a stack for open cryptographic social-graph authentication, with open-source reference implementations, it could ride the Facebook backlash and get adopted by other sites. Come to think of it, Google I/O's in a few weeks' time, isn't it?
posted by acb at 3:23 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Found another disturbing feature of the 'interests' pages:

My profile lists my employer ($BIG-COMPANY), and the company name is now a hyperlink. Clicking on that hyperlink takes me to the interest page for $BIG-COMPANY, and I can see all the people who 'like' the company, and a profile of the company.

But I can also see a newsfeed of people who mention $BIG-COMPANY by name in their wall posts - even if they have their profile set to friends only. I'm unable to browse to their page and see what they're saying, but anytime they mention my company, it gets automatically posted to the company's wall, and anyone can read it. Great feature Facebook. Where's the Unlike button?
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:30 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Similarly, any sites that use Connect now appear in your application list. Click the application profile page and you can see everyone else who uses that app -- ie your browsing is no longer private. Nasty.
posted by bonaldi at 4:45 AM on May 10, 2010


looks like I got out in time
posted by infini at 5:09 AM on May 10, 2010


me : "Well, because they pushed an election poll on everyone in the UK this Thursday. And, like a prat, I clicked and said who I voted for. There was even a little graph showing how many people had voted for each candidate. All well and good. Except, underneath the graph was the option to see how your friends had voted. What the fuck, facebook?"

delmoi "That was probably an "application", not an official part of facebook. There's very little control over FB apps and they get to see a ton of your data. So not only are you trusting your data to FB, you're trusting to any random 3rd party that you agree to "install" an app from."

It almost certainly was an app. But it appeared at the top of my facebook profile, in the "facebook has something 'important' to sell tell you" spot.

Which means it was either a facebook promoted app (bad facebook), or someone managed to push their app onto my profile page in the important messages location (very bad facebook).

Either option gets facebook a smack with a rolled up newspaper and has it's nose rubbed in it.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:34 AM on May 10, 2010


I'm a pretty limited Facebook user, but I may be limiting myself even more. I can't bring myself to nuke it though, I really like being able to keep track of events and birthdays, and I have managed to find some people that I'm really glad I reconnected with. (Er, and some I wish I hadn't.)

Stupid question time: I assume MySpace would love to get their market back. Why don't they just steal all the good ideas from FB, keep a lid on the abuses, and re-launch themselves as a more private FB alternative?
posted by JoanArkham at 6:36 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stupid question time: I assume MySpace would love to get their market back. Why don't they just steal all the good ideas from FB, keep a lid on the abuses, and re-launch themselves as a more private FB alternative?

Mostly because MySpace wouldn't know good design if it bit them on the arse. It's an ugly, sloppy, badly implemented mess of stuff thrown together by someone without a clue.

Even when Google handed them social widgets, they botched the implementation so badly that developers looked at it briefly, wrestled with the bureaucracy and then stopped trying.

Short of scrapping MySpace and reimplementing it from scratch (and getting in a new team who know what they're doing), it's not going to get any better.
posted by acb at 7:19 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I run this greasemonkey script to keep things like MafiaWars and FarmVille out of my feed. It takes a little work, and the script needs to be reinstalled occasionally, but I've found that it makes the whole thing much more usable.

You don't need a greasemonkey script for that. Just click hide next to anything you don't want to see and it will ask you if you want to hide "all farmville" or mafiawars post in the future. You won't see any again.


I was also going to suggest this. Actually, this is the only game I play on Facebook. I'm up to 93 hidden apps (incidentally, I just checked my "score" yesterday).
posted by mysterpigg at 8:05 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


For me it's not even the privacy thing. That's annoying, but I recognize it as a battle I've lost. What bugs me is essentially being told by Facebook that I'm not using it the way they want me to, and from now on I'll have no option to continue not doing so. I already don't give much of a crap about FB and use it pretty sparingly, but these changes don't make me want to do more, they make me want to question even that.
posted by Legomancer at 8:16 AM on May 10, 2010


"The reason most people don't realize this (yet) is because, for all of human history up until the last decade or so, every communication network has been decentralized: face-to-face talk, snail mail, carrier pigeons, telegraphs, telephones, email, text messages, blogging—in every one of these, communication does not pass through a single point under one private entity's control. You can make a phone call to anyone in the world no matter what phone company you have."

Telephones aren't a good example of this historically. For the first 60 years or so, most people had no choice who to use. The huge expense of long distance calls meant the overwhelming majority of calls you made were local. And every call required the intervention of an operator who could and often did listen in on any particular call. The privacy invasion was retail rather than wholesale but it it was pretty well always in your local community where it could do the most damage.
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on May 10, 2010


I'm unable to browse to their page and see what they're saying, but anytime they mention my company, it gets automatically posted to the company's wall, and anyone can read it.

I'm at work so I neglected to draw the obvious implication that this could lead to
situations such as "It's tough being gay at $Big-Company" or "terrible day at $Big-Company, I hate my boss!" getting much wider circulation than the author intended.

Another cruddy feature: I've just started getting updates in my feed from all the bands that I listed under my interests. Which is a lot of bands. No FB, if I wanted to actually follow them, I would deliberately follow them. I put them on my profile for other people to see...
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:29 AM on May 10, 2010


Wait, what's all this noise I've been hearing about "Privacy" on the internet?

Honestly, I'm surprised by the level of 'betrayal' a lot of people are expressing. Were you just as 'shocked' when your high school boyfriend showed off those titty pics you sent him with your cell phone, because he "totally swore he wouldn't show anyone because he like, said he loved me" ?

What the HELL people.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:44 AM on May 10, 2010


Were you just as 'shocked' when your high school boyfriend showed off those titty pics
I'd have been fucking well shocked if the phone had secretly sent copies of the pic to yelp, Microsoft and Pandora, too right.

Because that's what Facebook is doing. This privacy situation has nothing to do with the human element -- that's equivalent to the "analogue hole" in DRM discussions. Privacy can always leak via the people involved, that's a given.
posted by bonaldi at 9:57 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Day Free Speech Died In The U.K.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on May 10, 2010


Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative

Easy to say, of course but I have been saying this for a while now. Maybe it's an age thing (adult memories of a world that pre-dates even voice mail and pagers) but I've never seriously considered committing myself to a Facebook or a MySpace or a Friendster.

Not that I don't have a few aliases circling around out there; I just don't even begin to trust any large organized online digital network driven (ultimately) by a greed-based corporate agenda. And I haven't needed one that badly. But reading through this thread, I can certainly see that there are many who do. So yeah, lets get to it fellow geeks, nerds, trendsetters, weirdos, visionaries. Open the paradigm up or blow it the fuck up. Either way, let's do it right so that we can all look back in two years (nine months?) at these last five or so years of online evolution time as the DUMB F***ING time it's been.
posted by philip-random at 11:44 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. Gigantic Twitter security fail.
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on May 10, 2010


mysterpigg: "And I run this greasemonkey script to keep things like MafiaWars and FarmVille out of my feed. It takes a little work, and the script needs to be reinstalled occasionally, but I've found that it makes the whole thing much more usable.

You don't need a greasemonkey script for that. Just click hide next to anything you don't want to see and it will ask you if you want to hide "all farmville" or mafiawars post in the future. You won't see any again.


I was also going to suggest this. Actually, this is the only game I play on Facebook. I'm up to 93 hidden apps (incidentally, I just checked my "score" yesterday).
"

The script hides a lot more than those two examples. All games, all "joe likes spam" and "jane and dick are now friends" or whoever joined a group - that's all hidden. It also hides the suggestion, sponsor, and connection boxes. It's actually a nifty little thing, much faster than hiding every junk application, and when it gets knocked out by FB pushing code changes, I feel like my news feed is almost unreadable.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:52 PM on May 10, 2010


Maybe this has been mentioned before in the thread, but what if (instead of having each social application be a network) the real social part was a tracker.

The tracker takes incoming information from any number of sites based on a set protocol, so when you enter "I'm going to be in Boston this weekend, anyone want to hang?" It sends to a tracker at a certain URL, like http://www.socialtracker.com/username.

Part of UserName's account is that the tracker distributes the info to anyone who subscribes to their URL, another part is that their site allows you to follow people's URLs, so that even if someone is using a different tracker, then their friends still get their data.

You don't have to set anything up, because each site that you give your tracker access to automatically integrates their application into your site. The tracker makes money by being a more secure version of social media that isn't network dependent and proprietary, and they split advertising revenue with any social media that opts into it.

I don't see any existant social media site opting into something like that until enough people get fed up with privacy breaches - which may be never.

If some site starts getting scammy, and sharing too much info, or absuing user info in an unethical fashion, then they don't have to worry about losing their contacts, they just drop that application from their profile.

I guess this is almost what Facebook connect is trying to do, except it would be open source and free for competition.
posted by codacorolla at 5:09 PM on May 10, 2010


are there any really big deal implications to your status updates being searchable, or does it just piss a few people off a little bit? Is it a potential threat to democracy, for example?
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:49 PM on May 9 [+] [!]

The Supreme Court has just freed corporations to spend as much money on elections as they like.

Corporations will spend hugely to influence votes starting later this year, and they will need to know you as well as they possibly can to deliver ads that will get you to do what they want and avoid alienating you, because they are planning to say very different and inconsistent things to different demographics.

Facebook is falling all over itself to get rid of privacy protections in order to position themselves to get as much of this money as possible, and they have to do it all now so people won't make the connection as easily and get even angrier than they are going to.
posted by jamjam at 6:35 PM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm interested in how much info Facebook is pulling from my computer (browser cache/history or something - I'll explain, maybe someone can tell me).

All of my language-related settings across my OS and all programs are in English. Yet whenever I read Le Monde and then go on to Facebook, the login is in French.

Which makes me wonder what else they're pulling from my browsing history.
posted by djgh at 9:10 AM on May 11, 2010


It;s probably the other way round - Le Monde is probably altering your browser locale for some reason.
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on May 11, 2010


I think you're right - it doesn't happen with Der Spiegel, for example.

How would I a) be able to find out b) stop Le Monde doing that?

(Safari on OSX 10.6.3)
posted by djgh at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2010


Maybe this has been mentioned before in the thread, but what if (instead of having each social application be a network) the real social part was a tracker...

Didn't you just describe syndication?
posted by tybeet at 10:49 AM on May 11, 2010


OK so Give Me My Data seems to only export the names and locations of your friends. Is there anyway to easily extract e-mail addresses? Or is that something you need to do one person at a time?
posted by stoneweaver at 1:13 PM on May 11, 2010


my high school friends are now accepting LinkedIn requests.. and its scary what they've all grown up to be

otoh pity I can't joke around with them like on FB but that's not enough really and I'm glad they understand that its not personal.
posted by infini at 2:37 PM on May 11, 2010


The Diaspora Project seeks to replace Facebook with a decentralized, privacy-complete alternative by the end of this summer.

There are already several efforts toward decentralized privacy-preserving social networks: PeerSoN, SafeBook, Persona
- although so far more in terms academic research with papers/prototypes/simulations than finished products, they have advanced quite a bit since they all started around 2008.
posted by meijusa at 4:03 PM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for There's so much more to the Internet than this, sign up and we'll let you know when we're ready for your help. You can also get us started by suggesting a relevant Wikipedia article or the Official Site.
posted by morganw at 4:10 PM on May 11, 2010


When Facebook decided that all my interests had to be public and linked to pages, I suddenly developed a burning interest in 'teleology for fun and prophet', took up 'scrivening' as a hobby, declared my undieing devotion to the heavy-rock band "Fearless Leader and the Assassin 8s", and linked to one of my all-time favorite filmes, The Dueling Cavalier.

In short, what had been a profile filled with links to actual interests, actual hobbies, actual bands and actual films, ended up linking to shit that doesn't exist.

Beyond the core identity stuff that they'll delete my account for faking, there's barely a single real, true thing in my Facebook profile anymore. I think the only accurate thing is the attribution on a Bruce STerling quote about J. G. Ballard. ("... Ballard would never just sit there in a heroin stupor while the abyss ate its way up his leg.")
posted by lodurr at 11:00 AM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Malice: acebook has ads? It must be my spectacular ad-blocker, which is free to anyone who uses FireFox, because I never see them.

No, it's not that -- it's that:
  1. People tend not to see them as ads, or...
  2. People just block them out (i.e., banner blindness).
Online advertising consultants roll their eyes when you talk with them about Facebook. All the ones I've talked to regard it as a horrible, horrible investment (unless you're got the $$ to go very large indeed, like building apps and pages and having a full time staff to manage just them), because the visibility of the ads is so poor.

None of them profess to understand why Facebook gets paid so well for ads. In marketing, you stop looking for things to make that kind of sense after a while and shift over to either just trying to get your clients the best bang for their buck, or just trying to suck as many $$ out of their wallets as possible. Zuckerberg falls into the latter category and that's who he and Facebook appeal to.
posted by lodurr at 11:24 AM on May 12, 2010


bonaldi: But [google] fails every time because it the reason it wants to do it is so it can mine all the data and have its way with it, and the public's wise to that.

Heh. Ahem. Well. I have complained so much about Google's bullshit that I feel funny talking about them in the same paragraph with Facebook. It's a whole different realm, I really do believe it -- I mean, I really just thought people were dangerously naive about Google, not that Google was actually evil at the present moment. It was their potential for evil and the blank check people were writing them on it that bothered me.

Facebook, OTOH -- Mark "I'm the CEO, Bitch!" Zuckerberg is such a piece of work, it makes my skin crawl to think people admire the little fucker. He exemplifies exactly the same kind of attitude that caused the financial meltdown, but people admire the little shit. It's frustrating as hell.
posted by lodurr at 11:47 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Figured out how to get contact e-mail addresses. Yahoo! mail will import them. If you don't use Yahoo mail, you can then export those contacts as a CSV file and import to whatever mail program/service you do use. Trivially easy, took less than a minute from signing up for a Yahoo account to finish.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:08 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There’s a Dirty UNIX Joke in the New York Times’ Facebook Backlash Story (Update)
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Facebook calls all-hands privacy meeting (doubtless to them all they're right, they're not working for the new Microsoft, and that the world can go hang)
posted by bonaldi at 2:25 PM on May 12, 2010


FacebookSearch's Openbook:
Examples: cheated test don't tell anyone rectal exam HIV test control urges lost virginity playing hooky

Toronto Star article about FacebookSearch.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:14 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I note that Diaspora has been showing up, of late, in my carefully curated Twitter feeds which tend to be global - veddy eenteresting indeed
posted by infini at 11:58 PM on May 14, 2010


WSJ Blog: Looking to Delete Your Facebook Account? You’re Not Alone
Over the past 24 hours, searches related to deleting Facebook accounts have been some of the top trending items on Google — indicating that the tech-world furor about the social-networking site’s privacy policies may have become more mainstream.

Thursday evening, “how do i delete my facebook account” was among the top 20 trending searches on Google Hot Trends, and Friday morning “delete facebook account” made the list. This doesn’t mean that these searches are at the top of all Internet queries; rather, it’s an indication that the topic is seeing an unusual spike in search traffic...

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land reported earlier this week that topics relating to Facebook account deletion were showing up on the suggestions that Google makes when you type in “How Do I” or “Delete.” By Friday morning, “how do i delete my facebook account” was the first suggestion when a user started typing the common query “How do I” into Google.

Looking at trends over time, it’s clear that terms relating to Facebook account deletion are being more widely searched and are appearing more frequently on Twitter.
e.g: Google Insights: How do I Delete My Facebook Account (last 90 days)
e.g.: Twitter trends for "delete facebook"
posted by tybeet at 10:29 AM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: QuitFacebookDay.com is planning a mass exodus on May 31st for those interested. It's a shame this exodus won't be a diaspora instead.
posted by tybeet at 10:48 AM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think one reason every is cranked up about this "free" service is that it has become the structural equivalent of a public utility--a national phonebook--but has no accountability.

Does anyone remember the finger command?
posted by mecran01 at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2010


Well , These IMS won't help Zuckerman's case.
posted by The Whelk at 4:12 PM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Facebook's a great idea if you want to make money. If you get millions of people to willingly hand you tons of personal data, you can sell highly-targeted advertising as never before imagined. The problem is, people end up interacting with this "stream" of information (that is, their news feed) which flows straight to companies who want to market themselves on Facebook and elsewhere. And now that the Instant Personalization Feature is being rolled out, they're going to have even MORE data.

Facebook deliberately makes their privacy settings confusing and their user interface over-complicated, all under the innocent guise of "encouraging people to be more open." In reality, it's just good for business. The more people are willing to share (or inadvertently share), the more successful your scheme is going to be.

At the same time, YOU are responsible for your private data. Take control of it, become informed, and watch what you post. Or, do what I'm doing and take your data elsewhere: my new blog, LivingWithoutFacebook.com will document my experience in taking part of Quit Facebook Day, both pre and post-deletion and provide some resources to those of us who want an alternative.
posted by rbenhase at 8:49 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Christ, Forget It
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on May 20, 2010


May 31st: Facebook Privacy will be on the cover of TIME Magazine.
posted by tybeet at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2010


Facebook CEO 'Visibly Uncomfortable' When Asked About Privacy
posted by homunculus at 9:25 AM on June 3, 2010


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