Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reason #1,782 Why I Stay The Hell Away From Facebook

The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get

Reason #1 -- The whole idea makes my skin crawl.  The world is full of lunatics and perverts and not all of them work for the NSA.  The idea of everting my personal life onto the internet is, by my standards, insane -- especially when the repository for that information is in the hands of a corporation whose whole business plan is based on tricking/faking/forcing me to share ever more of my personal information online and mining ever more of my life for its advertisers.  Now of course I don't want to force my standards on anyone else, but if you hand the keys to your innermost thoughts over to a for-profit corporation, don't expect me to be shocked when they abuse your trust for money.

Reason #1,781 -- So while I have a minimal F/B page, I stay off of it.  And yet no matter what I say or do or don't say or don't do, I always have "14 messages and 1 invitation pending".   As regular as clockwork (or fundraising letters from DFA -- "Dear Drift, Can you believe what these folks are up to now!  Yadda Yadda.  Latest GOP travesty!  Sent us $5.")  whatever I delete or respond to, "14 messages and 1 invitation pending".  Suspicious!

Reason #1,782 -- Guess what information about you F/B is secretly sharing with strangers now!
On Second Thought …

Facebook wants to know why you didn’t publish that status update you started writing.

By Jennifer Golbeck

We spend a lot of time thinking about what to post on Facebook. Should you argue that political point your high school friend made? Do your friends really want to see yet another photo of your cat (or baby)? Most of us have, at one time or another, started writing something and then, probably wisely, changed our minds.

Unfortunately, the code that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it. It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren't entirely private.

Facebook calls these unposted thoughts "self-censorship," and insights into how it collects these nonposts can be found in a recent paper written by two Facebookers. Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, have put online an article presenting their study of the self-censorship behavior collected from 5 million English-speaking Facebook users. It reveals a lot about how Facebook monitors our unshared thoughts and what it thinks about them.

The study examined aborted status updates, posts on other people's timelines, and comments on others' posts. To collect the text you type, Facebook sends code to your browser. That code automatically analyzes what you type into any text box and reports metadata back to Facebook.

Storing text as you type isn't uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don't expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.


D. said...

The wisdom of refusing a Facebook presence becomes more evident daily. Not that Google is any better, but (so far) they can only /s/p/y/ /o/n/ /m/e/ track my Blogger maunderings and occasionally my YouTube usage when I'm signed in. Which I'm not at the moment.

Weren't we warned about this sort of stuff back in the '60s?

Anonymous said...

If it means anything to you, I get those same "You have 14 friend requests and 1 invite!!1!" emails, and I don't even have a Facebook account.

Otherwise, I have email accounts that I haven't touched in years, and the only "social media" one is an OK Cupid account I haven't touched in... 4 years? I let my YouTube account expire when Google took over because it seemed like too much work. I don't know enough people who care what I think to go on facebook or the twat things with the twits. I don't think I would be a good or effective blogger.

To the bigger picture...

I wonder how much of this is a holdover from the old American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and White Man's Burden.

I was thinking about that earlier while wandering around under a tree. (Yes, my life is that exciting.) Culturally, "we" were told for generations that as middle-class white Americans, our opinion was very important. On one hand, yes that's true in the civic forum and with voting. It's the basis of democracy. However, as Melissa Harris-Perry has noted, white people thought they had very important opinions on where poor black children go to school.

Culturally, this reinforces complacency, and it also gets viewers to watch the news. (This is a "both sides" issue, but it's a bit lopsided.) The notion that "my opinion of Ukraine entering the European Union is important" is nonsense. While I *want* to know, I have no impact on Eastern European international politics.

In business, this is exploited for "customer loyalty". The whole "your opinion is important to us!" is nothing more than savvy marketing.

On a personal level, it's good escapism. If you feel uneducated an powerless, than having a very strong opinion on President Obama's Birth Certificate and the Conspiracy and the Reptilians and whatnot can give you a sense of purpose. Plenty of people avoid their own problems by focusing on problems of others That! Must! Change!.

So, keep that going for a few generations, and you have the mindset of "everyone needs to know what I'm thinking!". "People want to know what I had for breakfast!" Personally, the *only* reason I care what my partner has for breakfast is because I do the grocery shopping.

And... I wonder how much of that goes back to White Man's Burden, and the idea that "we" are *supposed* to have opinions on what everyone else is doing, and act on them.


Anonymous said...

I am with you brother...and I am certainly no Luddite.
After watching the progression of various increasingly intrusive internet communication technologies from prodigy and CompuServe accounts in the mid eighties, through aol chat, chat in general, texting, MySpace, twitter and Facebook....I have jumped off the train.
The thing is, if I want to communicate with someone, I will find them and let them know. The idea of putting out some publicly visible portrait of my life, and maintaining it for everyone to see, is just plain creepy...
I had a Facebook account for about a year after creating it so I could post on some blog, and see somebodies kids pictures. When I tired of the constant barrage of messages and friend requests from people I had some vague association with in the past....I discovered the true horror: A Facebook account is virtually impossible to kill.
I say may be actually..There are still some sites I go to that try to get me to log in....
I want to be part of the
"Anti-social network"....

Rehctaw said...

Different strokes...
A limited fb presence is probably a more judicious choice than trying to "hide" from the thought police. Hiding in plain sight, so to speak.

New "Normal" behaviors are being established in the data collection and mining fields. The baseline being a computer and internet connection. The more you do to shield yourself from prying eyes, makes you more interesting to said eyes. Your level of sophistication in obscuring your activities can have the opposite effect, making you stand out from "normal".

Those obsessed with onion routers and other advanced methods to scrub their online profile are the kind of challenge that makes uber-nerds drool. Comparatively, your computer kung-fu is pitiful.

There's some measure of security in being more alike than different. "Nothing to see here, move along..." The bots and their algorithms don't scare me as much as the propeller heads with corporate or government mandated access whose sole purpose is to look at the anomalies.

You're not the droid they're looking for. Say what you want. Do what you want. Go where you want. Let them figure out who's naughty and nice. They'll be wrong more often than not anyway.

JerryB said...

I've never trusted F/B. Never participated in it and won't ever no matter how hard they try to hook me in. Why would a sane person put so much of their private lives out there for anyone to use for any purpose?

The future is in developing software that will scour the digital world, find every bit of your online presence and erase it.

n1ck said...

I have a facebook account so that if someone needs to get a hold of me for some reason, they can.

I don't update it, post the color and consistency of my stool, or have 792 friends who 95% of them I've never met.

Facebook and the people who use it on a consistent basis at least gives us sane people an idea of who the sociopaths are and who to avoid.

That is about its greatest use.

dinthebeast said...

I've never had a fb account, but I still get emails from them every day. asking whether I know and want to connect with certain people (my sister, former roommates, people I've never heard of) and that "a lot has happened since you last logged in... I've NEVER logged in, I DON'T HAVE AN ACCOUNT. I know people who use it as a convenient way to stay in touch with their tribe, but for my self it just seems like more of a pain in the ass than it would be worth.
Also, I make a point of not rewarding the senders of unsolicited, obnoxious emails.

-Doug in Oakland

Ebon Krieg said...

Privacy is not a problem. We have evolved to a system of no regrets and no secrets.

Our children have all been scanned,, banned and tanned by our illustrious benefactors. We are the marvel of modern technological wonderment.

This is but a side show.

Three rings of wonder explode upon our senses. If we are the lucky ones (smart people) we may experience wonders beyond our imagination. Learn things, too.

Focus, Drifty...

I have your back.

Cirze said...

I think Linked-in is the Facebook of today's professionals.

Facebook has about faded out from professionals' usage (I never had one - okay - I signed up for a fake-name one for one day and was so aghast at what I observed, I immediately deleted it.), but Linked-in has bloomed in its place. You don't have to give any more info there than you want and it's supposed to help with employment.

I get several new Linked-in requests daily. No jobs however.

Sound familiar?

I'm sure that the Google/NSA/CIA undertow is involved here too.

Thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

What I found on my Facebook page THIS MORNING...

"Frances Langum invited you to play FarmVille 2. 16:22"

What is Driftglass' function? To balance the equation.
What is Blue Gal's function? To UNbalance it.

(Oh, and Ms. Gal, I'm on a dial-up modem. So no can do. But thanks anyway.)

Enjoy your day.

---Kevin Holsinger

Kathleen said...

Great discussion and much food for thought. Thanks for the post,DG, and for all of the insightful comments. I have a FB account but I do not post very much at all. I don't even go to my "Wall" or "Timeline" or whatever the hell the kids call it these days. While I've experienced some benefits by using Facebook, I still basically think it's kind of creepy.

Anonymous said...

You know though, if there were no Facebook, there would be no
Just sayin...

Blotz said...

I use my Facebook account all the time! I'm like the Anti-driftglass in this regard. In fact I can't imagine my life without it. My family does all of their event planning on it. I keep in constant touch with my Mom, who has a bad ticker to keep an eye on. I can talk Reds baseball or the latest DG post with guys I went to high school with. For free. What do i pay? FB and Google target ads at me? BFD.

I completely understand your trepidation Driftglass. I understand the problems. But I'm so far in that getting off Facebook right now would be mean essentially cutting dozens of people completely out of my life. Not gonna happen. Just part of the compromise I make to live in the Future.

Blotz said...

Hey n1ck. Glad to know that my choice of social networking platform gives you such easy insight into my psychological status. And to think I wasted all that money on my therapist.

Fritz Strand said...

I find it a bit astonishing that practically every time I attend an in home lefty organization meeting there is always someone suggesting having a FB page for the group.