OddThinking

A blog for odd things and odd thoughts.

Why you shouldn’t use Facebook and why you shouldn’t not use Facebook

Dear Non-Facebook User,

I completely respect that you don’t wish to use Facebook. I am pro-heterogeneity. For the same reasons we should be wary of monocultures on farms, I think society is generally well-served by not having everyone using exactly the same software/systems.

I am happy for people to consider the facts, to factor in their personal preferences and circumstances and to come to different decisions about what software to use.

However, if you are going to share with me your reasons for avoiding Facebook, they should at least be sensible ones.

Let me help.


  1. Bad reason: I am a parent worried about paedophiles. I don’t think children are safe on Facebook.

    That’s a reason for children not to be on Facebook, not for you.

  2. Good reason: I am a child, and my parent is worried about paedophiles and my ability to interact safely on the net.
  3. Good reason: I don’t have time.
  4. Good reason: My dislike for targetted adverts outweighs the perceived benefits of the service being offered.
  5. Good reason: My personality means I get more enjoyment from bucking a trend, even if I lose out on some benefits.
  6. Bad reason: I speak to my best friends all the time by phone.

    Facebook offers benefits for interacting with people who aren’t your best friends.

  7. Bad reason: Facebook is making too much money; I should get some of it.

    If Facebook is offering you a worthwhile service to you, the amount they make behind the scenes is irrelevant for your rational choice to take up the service.

  8. Good reason: I get too many chain-mail-style messages (including hoaxes) and other low-value crapola from my so-called “friends”.
  9. Bad reason: I don’t like the idea of Facebook using my Hotmail/Gmail password to scrape info.

    Don’t give it then.

  10. Bad reason: I don’t want strangers looking at photos I’ve taken.

    Don’t put them up then, or restrict the access.

  11. Bad reason: I don’t want strangers looking at photos of me that other people have taken.

    I’ve got some bad news. The photos are up there anyway, even if you don’t log into Facebook.

  12. Good reason: I am in the witness relocation program.
  13. Good reason: I am a bigamist.
  14. Good reason: My ex gets jealous and is rude to my new friends.
  15. Good reason: I am George Costanza, and I don’t want my worlds to collide.
  16. Bad reason: I am generally unhappy with the privacy issues.

    When I ask people for details here, they vague out. I am still waiting for a realistic example of their concerns.

  17. Good reason: I don’t trust the Facebook people to stick to the privacy agreement.

  18. There! Now you can have a rational reason for declining to use Facebook.

[Update: Added numbering, event though it makes the formatting uglier, to aid discussion.]


Comments

  1. I am still waiting for a realistic example of their concerns.

    See danah boyd.

  2. (Should I respect that woman’s unconventional capitalisation preferences in her name? I am going to avoid saying her name, so I don’t have to decide.)

    I’ve been reading her blog for a few while. She occasionally has some very interesting things to say.

    However, in this case, she seems a bit vague. It seems to be summarised as “Facebook’s privacy options are confusing and the default is broader than you would expect.”

    Since her post (Sep 2007), there have been some improvements in the granularity of data privacy levels. There is a link on the home page to one’s privacy settings. I wonder if she would still claim it was confusing.

    I also wonder how many people, given some time to reflect on their preference, wouldn’t stick to the defaults anyway.

    For the record, I don’t stick to the defaults for privacy, but I am still reasonably liberal with my Facebook data. Then again, I haven’t entered my phone number, home address, date-of-birth, mother’s maiden name or regular email address, so I am not as worried as I might be.

    So, in conclusion, “Good Reason: You are more concerned about privacy than the average person but fear you will be unable to stop yourself from entering too much personal information and then will be too confused by the UI to prevent it from being inappropriately shared.”

  3. Yes, Facebook has added more privacy switches.
    I’ve got news for (some of) you…

    That only fixes the problem of who, LOGGED ON TO FACEBOOK, has access to components of your account. What it doesn’t fix is the fact that your information is STILL SHARED.

    You can read this for yourself in Facebook’s policy pages.

    Facebook still, probably more than ever, allows third parties to track you, and upload things DIRECTLY to YOUR computer, and doesn’t even monitor WHAT. All the social ads place tracking cookies, regardless of whether you’ve opted out Beacon and other programs. And it has been proven that the tracking continues even after you’ve LOGGED OFF.

    Facebook refuses to remove you from this activity, and doesn’t feel there’s anything wrong with sharing the information with marketers, etc., even after informing them directly you haven’t consented.

    Like any such site, Facebook won’t let go of (what they perceive is) their right to capitalize on whatever revenue they can bring in through cooperating with the Great Marketing Machine.

    YOUR CONSENT is not even considered a factor in the equation.
    And, Facebook won’t even let you directly DELETE your account once it’s established. (Not without some contact with them.) Even then, it’s still on their server for a while. (Again, read their own policies.)

    So, the privacy issue will always be present, no matter how many whistles and bells they give the user.

    The same goes for anything that contains your personal info. The question is, simply “Do I want to join, and can I do it without sharing anything I don’t want to?” If you’re going to participate, you have to avoid putting anything into that account you don’t want getting out in any way. If this isn’t possible, you need to think about not joining.

    I won’t even get into the issue of what happens when a website gets SOLD (happens all the time).

  4. Julian, you’re being facetious with that “good reason,” aren’t you.

    How about:

    “Facebook systematically imposes extra effort on users wanting to ensure that information is not inappropriately shared, which makes me disinclined to enter the information in the first place. But an empty profile is pointless to begin with, so why bother?”

    And beyond that:

    “Facebook has a track record of disrespecting users’ privacy as a company, so I’m disinclined to give them any information at all.”

    (As for danah boyd’s preferences about the capitalisation of her name: I’m not sure. Actually now that I look at her papers available as HTML it appears that she uses the properly capitalised form in formal settings, so maybe she’s not picky. I just defaulted to writing it the way she seems to prefer, since it seemed the courteous thing to do in the absence of hints.)

  5. The privacy guarantees on Facebook are necessarily better than those provided on the Internet at large (ie none). Which makes it hard to understand why anyone would refuse to use Facebook on the basis of inadequate privacy protection, but then post personal information on a public website.

    Of course the thing about personal information is that it’s not easy to separate into public and private; there are many intermediate positions between the two extremes. For example: I am quite happy to post pictures of my children online, as long as only my friends can see them.

    It is quite legitimate in my view to be undecided or conflicted about what level of exposure is acceptable for a given piece of personal information. In fact this question should in general be subject to a lot more critical thought IMHO.

    Being undecided is a good reason not to post personal information online at Facebook or any other site for that matter.

    However, even when an individual has a clear picture about who can see what information about themselves, it is often not obvious from the outside as to whether a given site can accurately reflect those fairly personal decisions. So you might weigh up this kind of uncertainty against the as-yet undetermined benefit of the site in question and decide against it – this to me would be a Good Reason.

    In other words Julian’s Good Reason in comment #2 above assumes that the site in question can in fact make the desired guarantees on access of personal information.

  6. Thanks for the comments, all. Some thought-provoking discussion.

    Devil’s Advocate warns:

    That only fixes the problem of who, LOGGED ON TO FACEBOOK, has access to components of your account. What it doesn’t fix is the fact that your information is STILL SHARED.

    Agreed, and that is an important point. It is one thing to protect your privacy from your enemies and random members of the public. It is another to protect your privacy from random developers. As someone who has written exactly one Facebook application with exactly one user, I know there is little vetting involved.

    However, Facebook’s changes do go some way towards addressing the issue that danah boyd raised.

    Facebook still, probably more than ever, allows third parties to track you,

    Agreed. That (along with putting up with adverts) is the fee you pay for membership. My question for you is: Can you give a concrete example where that fee is too high?

    upload things DIRECTLY to YOUR computer

    Please explain what you mean by this. Do you mean malicious software or merely cookies?

    If you are concerned about the former, FaceBook is no worse than the rest of the web – the same precautions are required as you should take when visiting this blog.

    If you are concerned about the cookies, you need to justify it. I thought paranoia over cookies had settled down over the last decade. Note: This blog also uses cookies.

    And it has been proven that the tracking continues even after you’ve LOGGED OFF.

    I am not sure what you are referring to. If you mean that sites can co-operate to track your visiting patterns, then Facebook is again no better or worse than the rest of the web.

    [Facebook] doesn’t feel there’s anything wrong with sharing the information with marketers, etc., even after informing them directly you haven’t consented.

    I don’t know the details here, but part of signing up with FaceBook is agreeing to having the information you provide being shared with marketers. The Great Marketing Machine is sponsoring your fun. What I am looking for is concrete examples of suffering or potential suffering caused.

    Facebook won’t even let you directly DELETE your account once it’s established. (Not without some contact with them.) Even then, it’s still on their server for a while.

    It gets worse. Even once it is deleted from the server, it is probably still on a backup tape! And possibly Google caches. And the Wayback Machine. It is very hard to unleak data from the web.

    The same goes for anything that contains your personal info. The question is, simply “Do I want to join, and can I do it without sharing anything I don’t want to?” If you’re going to participate, you have to avoid putting anything into that account you don’t want getting out in any way. If this isn’t possible, you need to think about not joining.

    That is absolutely correct. I avoid putting moderately-to-highly sensitive information into Facebook, or any web application. I should probably take the same level of care in protecting my email and my snailmail!

    I’m still missing something here.

    Marketers can find out who my friends are, and “what character from Princess Bride” I am. They can use that to target their adverts… In exchange, Facebook offers me a service of telling me who my friends are and which Princess Bride character I am. Seems a fair payment to me. Of course, you are welcome to disagree (see item 4.)

    If they can do something more sinister than that, please give an example, remembering I don’t publish my phone number, I use a disposable email address and I don’t upload photos of myself partaking in sexual role-playing in fetish costumes.

    Perhaps there is something more sinister possible and I simply don’t have the imagination to think of it. Then again, if you saw those photos you wouldn’t question my imagination!

  7. Aristotle writes:

    Julian, you’re being facetious with that “good reason,” aren’t you.

    Only a little. :-) It was worse before I toned it down.

    “Facebook systematically imposes extra effort on users wanting to ensure that information is not inappropriately shared, which makes me disinclined to enter the information in the first place. But an empty profile is pointless to begin with, so why bother?”

    I would argue that a profile with no sensitive personal info still has social networking value. If you consider who your acquaintances are as being sensitive, then I retract that claim, but am interested in your reasons.

    “Facebook has a track record of disrespecting users’ privacy as a company, so I’m disinclined to give them any information at all.”

    Sounds like a good reason, but I think that is similar enough to item 17 to be covered.

    As for danah boyd’s preferences about the capitalisation of her name

    Here’s her take on it.

    When Prince changed his stage name to something awkward, I didn’t feel the need to respect that; I found the moniker “the dickhead formerly known as Prince” to be the most convenient.

    I am still in two minds about DB. Mainly, I don’t think she warrants a whole entry in my style guide. On the other hand, I have no problem with “van der Bilt”, for example.

  8. Alastair writes:

    The privacy guarantees on Facebook are necessarily better than those provided on the Internet at large (ie none). Which makes it hard to understand why anyone would refuse to use Facebook on the basis of inadequate privacy protection, but then post personal information on a public website.

    I have two responses to this.

    The first is a question of whether this is a strawman. The people who decline Facebook for privacy reasons may also decline to put any similar personal information up on any web-site.

    The second is a minor technicality about “harvestability”. I may share my mobile phone number on a For Sale sign on a public noticeboard, but not make it available on Facebook. Similarly, I may make my email address available via EmailShroud but not in clear text.

    Of course the thing about personal information is that it’s not easy to separate into public and private; there are many intermediate positions between the two extremes. For example: I am quite happy to post pictures of my children online, as long as only my friends can see them.

    After Devil Advocate’s point, that should read: as long as only my friends and marketers can see them.

    Being undecided is a good reason not to post personal information online at Facebook or any other site for that matter.

    Agreed, but I am decided that my name and friend information is not private, so I can enjoy Facebook. I am undecided about how private my religious views are, so I haven’t posted that.

    In other words Julian’s Good Reason in comment #2 above assumes that the site in question can in fact make the desired guarantees on access of personal information.

    I think this is subsumed by item 17 again.

  9. @Julian:

    (ME) “Facebook still, probably more than ever, allows third parties to track you,”

    (YOU) “Agreed. That (along with putting up with adverts) is the fee you pay for membership.”

    Wrong.
    When it comes to ANY sharing of information, or ANY tracking of a user’s habits, the practice is supposed to WITH AGREED CONSENT.

    In Facebook’s case, you are given a few vague option switches to opt out of “Beacon” and “Other apps…”, which don’t all work the way you would expect.

    There’s also an option to supposedly stop “your information from being shared”, yet the cookies, etc. are still planted by every 3rd party connected to every page you load, and they remain active as long as they’re on your computer, logged in or not. That’s wrong, according to my privacy selections, and according to laws in effect in Canada and the US.

    I’ve even contacted Facebook directly and stated, unequivocally, that I have never agreed to this activity, and they are to stop allowing this. All I get back are boilerplate, unrelated replies. If I don’t delete the cookies, they’re at work. I’ve recorded the activity, as have a number of others (Google’s your friend).

    And, among these cookies, I still find the Beacon one, though I completely opted out of that one. This is just a blatant example of a site saying one thing (“We care about your privacy, blah, blah…”) and just doing something else.

    (YOU) “My question for you is: Can you give a concrete example where that fee is too high?”

    I don’t know where you’re going with the “fee” thing.
    If you’re saying that the sharing of personal info and/or activities is supposed to be an accepted “exchange in lieu of” a fee that’s not being paid (as it’s “free”), sorry, wrong… go to the first answer.

    If that’s what you mean by the “fee”, then I think the “cost” would be “too high”, as it would mean I am supposed to forfeit a basic legal right in order to participate. Such a “term” was NOT outlined in Facebook’s policies when I joined.

    (ME) “Facebook doesn’t feel there’s anything wrong with sharing the information with marketers, etc., even after informing them directly you haven’t consented.

    (YOU) “…part of signing up with FaceBook is agreeing to having the information you provide being shared with marketers. The Great Marketing Machine is sponsoring your fun….”

    My point above was, I DIDN’T have to agree when I joined. Perhaps something changed since, but that wasn’t “renegotiated” with those who joined prior.

    I also said I had informed them directly they didn’t have my consent, to no avail. Question of “harmless display of honour” vs. “petty intent”, maybe? And, we’re all supposed to have the right, in Canada and the US, to directly ask them to stop.

    (YOU) “What I am looking for is concrete examples of suffering or potential suffering caused.”

    As far as “suffering” goes, I haven’t put myself in that position in the first place, so I won’t be giving you personal examples. However, having said that…

    (ME) “Facebook allows 3rd parties to upload things DIRECTLY to YOUR computer…”

    (YOU) Please explain what you mean by this. Do you mean malicious software or merely cookies?

    Point #1: UNSUPERVISED third-party uploads are allowed to ALL USERS. THAT was the actual point, NOT necessarily what is being sent. Who’s to say what (has been / is being / will be) sent by any of these at any time. The fact is, the door has been left open for abuse. I don’t know of too many reputable sites that DON’T screen this activity.

    Point #2: You divide this into malware and “merely” cookies. You need to remember there are more than one cookie design.

    Most are innocent, and meant for simple “user recognition” and save having to always retype the same things. Such cookies are, of course, no threat and now have wide acceptance. There is the issue of these cookies being searched and hacked by others for log-in info or accounts, etc., but I consider that threat as a user responsibility.

    Then there are tracking cookies.
    Some are harmless, as they are only for tracking a user’s activity on the site itself. Such cookies are inactive when logged off.

    Some tracking cookies track all your activity, until you leave the site.

    Then there are pervasive tracking cookies.
    When a user is being tracked for all their activity, whether logged in or not, that’s pervasive. Also…

    When such a cookie is placed in a folder you can’t block (because that folder is necessary to in order use the site), that forces the user to make the choice to participate or remove the account.

    The above 2 paragraphs describe Facebook third party tracking cookies at the present time. A year ago, that wasn’t the case.

    Regardless of what cookie design we talk about, we also have the issue of WHO gets to upload them to you. Most sites like to do that themselves, both their own cookies and those of their partners. My understanding is this is simply a basic security protocol.

    (YOU) “I thought paranoia over cookies had settled down over the last decade. Note: This blog also uses cookies.”

    “Paranoia” is the act of being unjustly afraid.
    That is certainly the wrong word for me. I’ve been very involved in computers since their inception, and my work (and life, sometimes) is still built around them. Knowing what’s “out there” and the reasons to be concerned is being SMART, not paranoid.

    I’m not the least bit concerned over the cookies you use, as they are what they should be. (I always have a look at these things whenever I use any new site.) The ones I get from Facebook, are not.

    All the failed attempts to get honest, straight answers from FB about that, coupled with their complacency in allowing 3rd parties direct access to my drive, does concern me.

    It’s not always “intent” that is cause for worry.
    Sometimes, you need to examine the “behaviour” and “attitude” that lead up to the intent. Facebook’s behaviour has not demonstrated the “intentions” they continually say they have.

    Fair is fair. There are countless people who will knowingly share the info the marketers are looking for. It’s not necessary for EVERYONE to participate, whether they like it or not. That’s not good PR. Making such a thing completely voluntary would also yield more reliable data on their side.

    I will be removing my Facebook profile soon, for these reasons, and others. The only reason I’ve kept my FB profile active is to be able to witness when the inevitable happens: One day, a third party will dump that cookie that leads to a malware download – all in the name of “better targeting” sales.

    When this happens, I’m willing to wager that FB will try (again) to fall back on “posted policies” to escape blame. Either way, I will not be part of the collateral damage.

    Anyway, this reply is getting waaay to long. (Sorry!)

  10. The first is a question of whether this is a strawman. The people who decline Facebook for privacy reasons may also decline to put any similar personal information up on any web-site.

    Well if it’s a strawman, it’s one you provided. danah boyd puts a lot of personal information about herself online, and has been known to criticise the Facebook privacy policy. (To be fair, I don’t know whether she has refused to use Facebook on this basis, but I don’t think this changes the underlying point.)

    The second is a minor technicality about “harvestability”. I may share my mobile phone number on a For Sale sign on a public noticeboard, but not make it available on Facebook. Similarly, I may make my email address available via EmailShroud but not in clear text.

    Right, and that goes to my subsequent point about personal information often being somewhere between the extremes of 100% public and 100% private.

    I think this is subsumed by item 17 again.

    No it isn’t.

    Let’s say I have the set of all my personal information, I. And the set of all the people in the world, P. My privacy requirements can be considered as a subset of P for each item in I. The question is: can I represent these requirements using the site? Does it have the resolution to define the required subsets of P? Can access to my information be granted based on these subsets?

    It’s not a question of trust; it’s a question of capability.

  11. I found the moniker “the dickhead formerly known as Prince” to be the most convenient.

    I doubt that not-Prince-anymore is someone to whom you have ever directly addressed any utterance (in the comment section of his weblog, say), or have otherwise have had any semblance of interaction with. So that would certainly work for you.

  12. Devil’s Advocate,

    When it comes to ANY sharing of information, or ANY tracking of a user’s habits, the practice is supposed to WITH AGREED CONSENT.

    I guess I agree that that is how it should be. Part of the sign up is agreeing that you have read and agree to the Facebook privacy policy.

    In response to your urgings, I read it (again?). If anything, it was more restrictive on Facebook than I had previously thought.

    you are given a few vague option switches [...] which don’t all work the way you would expect.

    Do you mean they are confusing (as discussed by danah boyd) or that they work differently to what the instructions and privacy statements claim?

    There’s also an option to supposedly stop “your information from being shared”, yet the cookies, etc. are still planted by every 3rd party connected to every page you load

    I don’t see any option claiming to prevent cookies.

    The policy says:

    These third party advertisers may also download cookies to your computer, or use other technologies such as JavaScript and “web beacons” (also known as “1×1 gifs”) to measure the effectiveness of their ads and to personalize advertising content. [...] Facebook does not have access to or control of the cookies that may be placed by the third party advertisers.

    As I touched on in a previous comment, the use of web beacons to track you around the web is a general web phenomena, not a Facebook one. If you spend your Facebook-free time visiting other web-sites, the same tracking is happening.

    That’s wrong, according to my privacy selections,

    As above, I am interested which Facebook privacy selection claims to affect cookies.

    according to laws in effect in Canada and the US

    I suspect the privacy laws in Canada have no effect here. Facebook insist on a Californian jurisdiction.

    I’ve recorded the [Cookie] activity, as have a number of others (Google’s your friend).

    Do you mean the same Google who now own DoubleClick? Forget Facebook! If you are worried about tracking and cookies, there’s a company whose stringent privacy policies we are deperately relying on!

    among these cookies, I still find the Beacon one, though I completely opted out of that one.

    Facebook’s position on this (after controversy, protests and mis-information from one of their VPs) is that the Beacon information they receive is deleted if you haven’t opted in. [Ref]

    (I believe the protests were less focussed on Facebook collecting the data, and more focussed on Facebook publishing the data within Facebook.)

    I don’t know where you’re going with the “fee” thing.
    If you’re saying that the sharing of personal info and/or activities is supposed to be an accepted “exchange in lieu of” a fee that’s not being paid (as it’s “free”), sorry, wrong… go to the first answer.

    If that’s what you mean by the “fee”, then I think the “cost” would be “too high”, as it would mean I am supposed to forfeit a basic legal right in order to participate. Such a “term” was NOT outlined in Facebook’s policies when I joined.

    Your assessment of my fee analogy was spot on. I was describing the suffering through targeted adverts and web-tracking as the unofficial/implied price I pay for the amusement provided by Facebook. I am not sure the lawyers would view it as a formal contract, but there is an exchange here of my attention for my amusement.

    Privacy laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but I am unaware of any in which web-tracking violates them. I very much doubt it violates California law, although IANACL. As for the Facebook policies, I am still missing where they are being exceeded.

    To badly mutilate an old saying, I guess I am willing to give up what you consider an essential liberty to purchase a little temporary fun. I think the interesting question here is “Why should I consider privacy against web-tracking an essential liberty?”

    Perhaps something changed since, but that wasn’t “renegotiated” with those who joined prior.

    When did you join Facebook? We can use the Wayback Machine to look at its Privacy Policy then.

    Point #1: UNSUPERVISED third-party uploads are allowed to ALL USERS.

    True, but only through the normal web mechanisms (i.e. there is no Facebook ActiveX object quietly pushing unsupervised software onto your machine. It all goes through the standard browser protection mechanism.)

    This comes back to Facebook’s third-party partners being no better or worse than the other parts of the web you might visit instead of it.

    [...] pervasive tracking cookies.
    When a user is being tracked for all their activity, whether logged in or not, that’s pervasive.

    Pervasive tracking cookies sound like the same concept as web beacons. They only work when multiple web-sites co-operate (collude?) to share images/ads/whatever from the same domain. That’s one reason for DoubleClick and Google Adsense making some people a little nervous.

    But, once multiple web-sites have decided to co-operate, you are already lost your essential (?) liberty. Your web usage can be tracked moderately well by IP address and User Agent, even without cookies.

    Is Facebook worse than the rest of the web?

    When such a cookie is placed in a folder you can’t block (because that folder is necessary to in order use the site), that forces the user to make the choice to participate or remove the account.

    That seems a reasonable choice to me.

    One day, a third party will dump that cookie that leads to a malware download

    You lost me here. I can’t see how a cookie can lead to malware. In any case, I still claim Facebook is not worse than the rest of the web.

    Anyway, this reply is getting waaay to long. (Sorry!)

    Not at all. I found it very interesting, and I appreciate you sharing your views.

    They have certainly got me wondering when I (someone who declines to use shopping loyalty cards, who worries about his bank’s knowledge of his credit card purchases and who skips TV ads with a video-recorder) suddenly became an apologist for the Great Marketing Machine!

  13. Well if it’s a strawman, it’s one you provided. danah boyd puts a lot of personal information about herself online, and has been known to criticise the Facebook privacy policy.

    Fair point. Not a strawman.

    (To be fair, I don’t know whether she has refused to use Facebook on this basis, but I don’t think this changes the underlying point.)

    At the time of writing, she has 291 friends. Have I just committed a horrible invasion of privacy??

    It’s not a question of trust; it’s a question of capability.

    I see. So Good Reason 18: You don’t want to include any personal information, because the Facebook authorisation model is not strong enough to control it to your desired levels.

  14. I doubt that not-Prince-anymore is someone to whom you have ever [...] had any semblance of interaction with.

    I was going to say that, if I was such a person, I wouldn’t call him by his stage name. I would call him by his real first name which is… then I looked it up and was surprised to find his real first name is Prince. I didn’t know that.

  15. danah boyd puts a lot of personal information about herself online, and has been known to criticise the Facebook privacy policy. (To be fair, I don’t know whether she has refused to use Facebook on this basis, but I don’t think this changes the underlying point.)

    She personally elects to lead a public life. How does that invalidate her criticism that Facebook makes it difficult to elect whether or not one wants to do so? What is the underlying point that could be changed?

  16. its all bullshit pal

  17. Thanks, “daddy”.

    I was getting tired of the constant fight against spam appearing on this blog, but I feel it is important to keep the channel clear to allow through the sort of high quality comments that posts such as this one have attracted.

    So, it was great that you could contribute to the conversation so thoughtfully, and make that effort feel so worth it.

  18. I’m curious. Given Facebooks recent policy changes and the addition of the “Like” button and Open Graph, do you still find the privacy concerns vague? I have to admit that until the December changes I wasn’t concerned so much with my data being released as with trying to educate people to think about the consequences of putting photos of last weekends drinking binge online. But now that Facebook is making it harder to keep information private, and actually pushing to make as much as possible public, I think the privacy issues are easy to see if you’re paying attention.

  19. Bert,

    I’ll be honest; I haven’t been paying attention recently. I kind of got bored of all the vague privacy claims that didn’t really pan out to anything new, and so I stopped following up every time someone cried “Wolf!”

    I am happy to hear people say “Think about what you want to share with the entire world.” I no longer listen when people say “Trust me! Facebook is evil!”

    So, perhaps you could describe explicitly just one of these privacy issues that are so easy to see?

  20. fuck facebook and fuck you all for coming up with reasons people should or should not have fucking facebook…..everyone who thinks facebook is something real needs to be shot.

  21. Dear Dude,

    Thank you for so articulately demonstrating my premise: that some people are unable to state a sensible reason for not using Facebook.

  22. everything i just read is all a matter of opinion if someone wants to not like facebook for any reason they can facebook is not perfect atleast to you not yet.

  23. antwan,

    If I had said “Strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream,” and gave no further support, you could dismiss it as a matter of opinion.

    However, for each of the listed Bad Reasons, I have given an argument as to why it is bad. So, this is more than just opinion. It is reasoned argument. If you think I am wrong, you should address those arguments, not just dismiss it.

    If someone wants to not like Facebook for a bad reason, they certainly can. I am not proposing to outlaw any thought-crimes. However, if they may be convinced by my arguments to either like Facebook or (more likely) to find a more rational reason to not like it.

    If they stick to a bad reason (without addressing my associated argument), I am equally free to dismiss their point of view as being ill-considered.

    Your point about Facebook not being perfect was lost on me. No-one here is arguing it is perfect. We are arguing about in what ways it is imperfect and how relevant those reasons are in choosing whether to use it.

  24. Facebook is great for having an open social network so you can meet new friends, friends of friends, and live a happy normal life. If you want to keep your privacy then Facebook is not for you. There are alternatives that provide higher levels of privacy, but then you lose the social aspects.

  25. What I find interesting about this discussion is that it is all about the privacy issues. I agree that these are worth discussing, but I think it covers up the more important issues. I also think that the discussion we tend to hear about Facebook is coming from people who live in safe places.

    The TOS says you have to use your real name. This is dangerous for many people in some countries. I think this is important because we are talking about an internet which is world wide.

    To me another important thing is that we are nurturing a potential monopoly here. When everybody is using Facebook for all their communications needs it could be a disadvantage that it is a corporation working as a middle man.

    I appreciate the practical use and advantages of Facebook, but the internet is already able to provide much connection between people. How many bother to use the free web space that most ISPs provide with an account? Forum software is free. E-mail reaches everywhere. Why not diversify? I’m not so concerned about privacy issues when my information is spread over many places. Anybody can find me, and much about me, using a search engine. I think that’s a better way.

  26. I don’t use Facebook because I don’t want to, and that is all the reason I need.

    I also don’t use businesses that will only communicate with me through Facebook or other social media. It is as offensive. Years ago, businesses wanted to see a credit card to accept a check. No business should force me to do business with another business just to do business with it. They certianly lose mine.

  27. Joe, to me that’s rather a non-answer.

    I don’t deny that “I don’t want to” is a sufficient reason for a voluntary activity like Facebook. But it isn’t a sufficient reason if you want to have a serious conversation with me about it.

    Many businesses run in an ecosystem with other businesses: accepting money through credit-cards, cheques or Paypal, communicating over telephones, fax or Internet, using couriers and postal services to deliver goods, publishing notices in newspapers, outsourcing service and repairs, etc. You can choose not to do business with them, but it is a very self-limiting policy.

  28. It depends on what you care about. I pay cash in stores and I always pick up my cash at the same two ATMs. I flout any discounts or bonuses I would get from member/club/bonus card programs that collect my personal data. I also don’t own a cell phone, which I freely admit is a tremendous inconvenience; few can even afford to suffer it (assuming they are willing to in the first place) so as far as I am concerned it is a privilege I enjoy, to not wear a tracking device on me.

    Is it limiting? Sure, that is one side of the coin. It is also freedom, to come and go as I wish. It has to be bought at its own price.

    I am yet on Facebook, but not under my actual name, and I barely use it. I hope in time we can find our way out of the Inner Platform that Facebook is. The web is the social network, we shouldn’t be needing another one inside it. The fact that the architecture of the web itself makes it easier to use a site within it as a social network than to just use the web itself – that is very simply a bug, if not a simple bug.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <br> <code> <del datetime=""> <dd> <dl> <dt> <em> <i> <ins datetime="" cite=""> <li> <ol> <p> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> <sub> <sup> <u> <ul>

Web Mentions

  1. Why You Should and Shouldn’t Use Facebook | Intern-al Reflections