Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I have, or more accurately Guy Mainer has, a facebook page.  And so it was with interest that I read a column in the local free weekly paper wherein the writer attempted to catergorize the facebook users in her experience.  She broke them down into types - photo posters, fitness updaters, lurkers, likers, gamers and kid promoters.  Most of these types are obvious with the possible exception of "fitness updaters". and her description of them was pretty humorous; I suppose if you are one or know one, you know what she's talking about.

Guy Mainer is, at least in the realm of facebook society, a "lurker" and an occasional "liker".  The page was never intended for "social networking", which of course is what the whole concept of fb is about, but just a way to check in from time to time on a couple of pages of interest.  When Guy and I have something I wish to say to our "friends", email is the preferred method if a computer has to be involved at all.  It's quick, easy and, most importantly, private (well, unless you count Google, and maybe the NSA, reading every email that is sent). Facebook is quick and easy for sure, but by no means private.

Here's the thing about facebook:  apparently it thinks nobody has enough "friends" and moreover that the friends that you do have want and need to know everything that you do on facebook.  So when Guy logs on to fb the first thing that confronts him is a "newsfeed" that alerts him to everything that his "friends" have posted on their own wall. OK, that's fair enough as he might actually be interested in what someone he knows  has posted so he can "like" it or add a comment if it seems appropriate. 

But the "newsfeed" also reports other "friend" activity, including what games they have played (including their highest score), what videos they watched and what articles they read.  Really, who wants to share all of those things with everybody?  And who but your closest friends cares about those things, anyway? 

Here's the thing:  all of those nifty free games, videos and other "free" features offered by fb come at a price - when you use them you give fb permission to share your information in any way they want to.  Guy "almost" watched a video that one of his "friends" had watched but stopped short upon reading the disclaimer that the "app" would have access to his "basic information" and email address, and furthermore, "This app may post on your behalf, including videos you watched, people you followed and more."  Seriously, Guy does not want an app to have this information or to post on his behalf.  Too bad, because it looked like a fun video.

Facebook is not your friend, it is a big business that profits from advertisers who target you for ads based on the personal information they harvest from your fb profile and activity.  And don't even get me started about the evil "lurkers" who cruise fb looking for private information about you that they can use to advance their own criminal activities.  Cybercrime schemes and even old fashioned "B and E" crimes are greatly simplified by the information that users foolishly post on facebook in the interest of "social networking". 

It's enough to make Guy rethink the wisdom of being on fb at all.

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