Internet

How Dare They Change This Service We're Not Paying For?

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Facebook, an endless fucking high school reunion that never fucking ends

Color me agnostic on the Facebook terms of service rebellion. Facebook/Livre du Visage is a wonderful service that didn't exist just a short time ago. (At least it feels like a short time to me; you kids today think you invented sex.) It's been useful to me in getting contact information for many people. I have no expectation of privacy online and in fact would be flattered if even my family members took an interest in anything having to do with me.

Nor do I understand the problem with the new terms of service (beyond the apparent law of nature that every change to Facebook's TOS infuriates people). Is it the (now kiboshed) prospect that you would be able to see the list of friends (or fretends) in search results? That seems like a useful function: If you're looking for a particular Joe Blow and the search returns fifty Joe Blows (Joes Blow?), looking through the friends list seems like a good way to figure out if you've got the right yegg.

That having been said, all these TOS rebellions are sort of meta-struggles over how much people want their networks interacting with other networks. Facebook is called a "social networking" app, and the real value of a social network has always been the ability to exclude people. To a degree, a more public Facebook is a less attractive Facebook.

In any case, people are fuming. The Electronic Freedom Foundation's Kevin Bankston tells the San Jose Business Journal, "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."

TechCrunch's Jason Kinkaid writes, "Facebook is giving up its reputation as a 'private' social network — where the default is to restrict access to everything that is shared — in favor of something that can challenge Twitter head on. And, as I wrote last July, it may well be a disaster in the making."

And from one of my own fretends, whose privacy I am guarding with my life: "What's this Facebook is now CHANGING the 'privacy' rules so that I can NOT keep my profile picture or name private? This AFTER the disclosure that 40% of registered sex offenders prowl social networking sites for potential targets??"

Maybe there's a reason for all those scare quotes around "privacy." Back when the Web was new, Miss Manners recommended treating email as a more or less completely viewable medium like a postcard. Because of the infinite nature of electronic media, online communications are actually a lot more viewable than that—as Paris Hilton and the generation of sexters she inspired have all learned. But the premise still holds. Putting stuff online (other than password and financial information on a secure server where you see the little lock icon, and even then don't expect miracles) is a form of publishing. If you're not publishing something with the goal of having it seen by as many people as possible, you've got it backward.

As Facebook security/hygiene concerns go, I'm much more concerned about a measurable increase recently in "Youu have been caught on camerrra" messages from my fretends. Unfortunately, while a Million People United may be able to get Facebook to change its policies, no force on earth can stop your friends and family members from being numbskulls who pass along virus spam.

Related:

You should have seen the February Facebook Terms of Service rebellion. I tell ya, it makes this one look a tiptoe through the tulips.

Only the guilty need fear, as GesichtBuch helps catch barroom criminals.

See Cult of the Amateur author and professional abuser of the English language Andrew Keen refer to "an immense amount of followers" here.

Sexual predators, the truest Facebookers of all, can't get Illinois to accept their friend requests.

And you guys probably haven't heard about this, but you can follow Reason on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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  1. Nor do I understand the problem with the new terms of service (beyond the apparent law of nature that every change to Facebook’s TOS infuriates people). Is it the (now kiboshed) prospect that you would be able to see the list of friends (or fretends) in search results? That seems like a useful function: If you’re looking for a particular Joe Blow and the search returns fifty Joe Blows (Joes Blow?), looking through the friends list seems like a good way to figure out if you’ve got the right yegg.

    Uh…. what?

    1. Old people are Old

  2. I’m sorry to see that you have bought into the panic about registered sex offenders on social networking sites. An article from CNET News contains this statement from Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace parent company News Corp: “There are still zero cases reported of any registered sex offender who was booted off MySpace being prosecuted for illegal contact occurring on MySpace.”

  3. “Sexual predators, the truest Facebookers of all…”

    That’s just fantastic.

    And ending with the plug was great.

  4. a good way to figure out if you’ve got the right yegg

    We only take yeggs what’s been to college, ain’t that right, Tim?

    People are retarded about Facebook and Twitter, because it’s like their favorite hangout. Imagine if Nat had changed the interior and menu of The Peach Pit–Brenda would have freaked out and smashed the place up.

  5. Do what I do and never go on Facebook. It’s easy.

  6. “There are still zero cases reported of any registered sex offender who was booted off MySpace being prosecuted for illegal contact occurring on MySpace.”

    Is it even possible for illegal contact to occur on MySpace?

    1. Yeah. It’s a 5 yard penalty and an automatic first down.

  7. It sounds as if a lot of people want to be able to splatter their information around without the terrible bother of thinking about it first. Oh the humanity!

    This is the sort of thing that makes me feel that the Nanny State is winning, and winning big. People don’t want to do the simplest things for themselves anymore. I just hope I pass on before the day comes when healthy people are complaining about having to wipe their own asses.

  8. a good way to figure out if you’ve got the right yegg

    ‘Specially if they’s plug-ugly.

  9. My sister has her Facebook profile privacy settings at a high level for a very good reason: She wants to be able to use Facebook while maintaining the ability to remain invisible to a stalker with whom she used to work. This man is seriously bad news and seriously deranged. Even after she quit working at this place (a newspaper with a union that strenuously fought sanctions against her stalker, even after well-documented evidence, including threats against her husband), this guy attempted to contact her through the internet, causing her to have to abandon all of her previous e-mail and social networking accounts.
    If he’s still looking, this guy will find her in a minute with the visible name, photo, and friend lists. Bad move, Facebook.

  10. the real value of a social network has always been the ability to exclude people

    When I studied philosophy of property law, I was surprised to learn that ownership consists not in the relationship between an owner and a commodity, but rather in an owner’s power to exclude other parties from access, use, and the power to dispose (jus disponendi) of said commodity. Thus, all ownership is a negative social relation, actually an anti-social one, which – grossly to understate the case – does not mean it’s a bad thing.

    1. “but rather in an owner’s power to exclude other parties from access, use, and the power to dispose (jus disponendi) of said commodity.”

      That’s interesting. Who decides what power they have? If it’s based on the legal system/government, it sounds like the government can decide what an individual “owns.”

      Does the Constitution say anything specific about ownership? I need to brush up. I remember the right to own property, but I would imagine it doesn’t the government to define what “owning” means.

  11. “These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.”

    If you don’t like the product stop fucking using it. Jesus christ people think they are owed every fucking thing today. The amount of free information and free shit you get today is 100 times that of what you got 20 years ago, and it’s fucking useful to boot.

    That guy is one whiny ass bitch

    1. Especially when you consider that the whiners are paying $0 for using your product.

      It would be one thing if you had paying customers who were mad. Then you had better listen or you will be punished.

      I think this is a great example of how “security” and “privacy” have become hobgoblins in the minds of the unwashed.

      I want to do a face palm every time I see stuff like this.

      So you join a social networking site, but expect to have total privacy? Aren’t you on FB because you want to interact with others?

      Oh, and as for security? Anyone want to take a bet on how many FB accounts have a password of “rolltide” or “yankeesrule”?

      People have read about how important “security” and “privacy” is on the internet and go high and to the right anytime those words are used around them. What they need to realize is that there is no real privacy on the Internet, and if you want to be secure you have to work very hard and forego a great deal of convenience.

      1. “So you join a social networking site, but expect to have total privacy? Aren’t you on FB because you want to interact with others?”

        If they want total privacy, maybe they should just scrapbook their Facebook profile…you know, write down all their favorite bands, movies, and activities in a notebook so that only they can stare at it.

  12. The best thing I’ve done recently is get rid of Facebook. Fuck that creepy stalker shit.

    1. Damn. I was really looking forward to stalking you, Warty.

  13. Christmas Cheer: pics of kids scared of Santa Claus

  14. Welcome home, SIV.

    1. I never really left.The new comments default to whatever handle you last used.I just went with whatever I last put in the box.The field cleared on it’s own so I put SIV back in.

      1. Welcome home, SIV’s handle.

      2. SIV is a ‘bot? Who takes painkillers?

  15. Personally, I like the new changes. It makes it easier to filter who sees what so I can send things to Group A who love politics without peeving Group B who only want to play apps or Group C who are only interested in charities.

    Here’s a tip: if there’s something you don’t want people to be able to access on Facebook… don’t frikkin’ put it on there. How hard is that?

    1. Very hard. Narcissism is a powerful and clever foe.

  16. The best use of facebook that I’ve been able to discover is looking up all the girls who rejected you in high school and seeing how fat and ugly they’ve gotten.

  17. Facebook is called a “social networking” app, and the real value of a social network has always been the ability to exclude people. To a degree, a more public Facebook is a less attractive Facebook.

    Good observation. The minute Facebook opened up to non-.edu e-mail addresses, my use declined exponentially.

  18. I’m a co-op engineering student, so I grew up in one state, go to school in another, and work in another.

    Facebook is useful because it helps me to semi-keep track of people.

    If I had a family and had roots in one place, I don’t see myself giving a crap about anyone else but my family and the people I care enough about to see on a regular basis.

    There was an article on New Scientist a few months back looking at the maximum size of a person’s social network. Some study was done showing the max. size was about 120 people. Anything beyond that, and it’s incredibly difficult to keep up with everyone.

  19. Because people’s rights are being trampled on by a coercive entity, and the author has many concise stated views on the subject, this belongs in Reason.

    Ladies and gentlemen: Free Minds and Free Markets.

  20. Meanwhile, facebook is blocked in China, Vietnam, and perhaps dozens of other countries. The upside is that people don’t “tag” pictures of me on my wall before I can approve of them, or write things that are more appropriate for private consumption. Downside, freedom loses.

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