Home Culture End of the World Facebook…WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!

Facebook…WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!


I woke up the other day to read this on my Facebook home page:

[Redacted] is now single.

Well, should I comment in public on my friend [Redacted’s] breakup? “He was cheating on you anyway.” “She was so fat, it was about time!” “I told you you needed to get your teeth whitened.” “Look, I never wanted to tell you this, but he liked watching midgets wrestling.” “You can do better.” I mean, what are you supposed to comment on?

Am I the only person who finds a newsfeed of my friends’ and family’s personal lives run as an ad-based network rather frightening? People now use Facebook for party invites, abandoning such olden timey modes of communication as email or, god forbid, mail. People (myself included, God help me) are so addicted to their friends’ status updates that they follow it like a rolling soap opera of work frustrations, dating outcomes, and life ennui.

The disturbing thing about this exciting new mode of communication is that it is actually a money-making enterprise designed to use your demographic info to make gabillions of dollars:

Mark Zuckerberg & Co. stood up in front of the advertising community in New York today and unveiled Facebook Ads, an ad system that allows companies to use the Facebook social graph and to develop highly targeted ads. Large brands such as Coca-Cola (KO), Sony Pictures (SNE) and Verizon (VZ) have signed on for this effort. Part of the engine powering this new ad system is called Beacon, which takes data from 44 web destinations and mashes it up with Facebook’s internal information to help build more focused advertising messages.

Although Facebook did make some changes to its Beacon advertising system after consumer outcry, it didn’t go away. It is still a privacy nightmare, and now Blockbuster is being sued for its participation in Beacon:

As if Blockbuster didn’t have enough problems trying to justify its existence by making an ill-conceived buyout offer for Circuit City. Now, it is being sued for privacy violations related to its Beacon ads on Facebook. And, no, the plaintiff is not Michael, although he did once point out that the way Blockbuster used the names and images of Facebook members without permission to hawk its service could be a violation of their privacy rights. It could also be a violation of the Videotape Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits video stores from sharing customer rental information without written consent. The plaintiff is a woman in Texas, who is suing under that law and seeking class-action status.

For a more general take on the poopiness of “social networking” in general, here’s cranky Tom Hodgkinson in the Guardian:

And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn’t it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.

I doubt that millennials and post-millennials– raised in the specter of post-9/11 security, cell phone connectivity and the general neon glow of the Internet — have any idea what privacy means except not letting your significant other get hold of your password. Sharing your every ephemeral thought with hundreds of your friends is as natural as peanut butter.

Is there any way to fight back against this Michael Rennie-like invader? It’s probably way too late for that, especially as smart phones and iPhones link us all with GPS. In Japan, cell phones beep when a friend is near. Who needs Big Brother any more? We’re all doing the job.

  1. This is exactly why I dropped my facebook account after 2 or 3 months of trying to figure out what the hell it was good for. Absolutely nothing, say it again. And I don’t manage my myspace either. Too busy staying alive.

  2. As a “millennial” (who hates that name, and any other generational generalization you’d care to name), allow me to pop that self-righteous old person bubble. I’m not on any social networking sites, and I certainly don’t share every damn bit of my personal life with the entire outside world, or even my general circle of friends. Amazing as it may sound, there are indeed some of us who aren’t attention whores.

  3. Hey, lay off Facebook. If nothing else, it helps kill time while waiting for fresh articles about how ditzy Supergirl is depicted on comic book covers.

  4. Am I the only one who sees the similarity between this technology complaint and the knee-jerk finger pointing of the 50’s anti-comic book crusade?

    I mean, I have a friend who once spent a Saturday night sitting alone drinking, doing nothing but reading X-men back issues. We need to stop this comic book menace now. Did you know they have ads ,aimed at children no less, for x-ray vision glasses?!

    Each generation sees the evils in whatever new media is in ascendancy.
    Comic books, film, video games, social networking, they have all been accused of ushering in the apocalypse, never quite pans out though. Common sense eventually wins out.

  5. For me- it’s mainly been for finding folks I haven’t seen in years, catching up and (trying to) promoting my Web site.

    You know- there’s just going to be some other Web thing along in a couple of years to be mad about. People have been saying these things about being online in general for many, many years. What makes Facebook so much more insidious than anything else?

  6. there’s a flip side to all this, which is that party invites on Facebook can tip you off to a party that you otherwise wouldn’t have been invited to (trust me, it’s true – i have first hand experience). i get my family photos from Facebook (from cousins and siblings). i catch up with old friends from towns i moved away from long, long ago that i would never EVER have been able to find otherwise. and i get a venue to advertise to people that actually know me. i drive a decent amount of traffic from my Facebook groups and postings to my blog / podcast, my music, and my other creations around the web.

    if i need something to be private, then i don’t put it on Facebook. it’s just like adult content on TV — parents, if you don’t want your kids to see it then don’t let them turn those channels on in the first place. it’s not the channel’s fault for running the adult material. and private content online is the same way. if it’s private, then don’t put it out there. it’s not Facebook’s fault for putting out that private content. people want you to see that stuff. even if it is TMI, some people get off on sharing that sort of personal info.

  7. I think most people don’t bother to find out how to change their settings and privacy preferences. You can keep a pretty low profile if you want to, even on Facebook.

  8. Well…. I joined MySpace and Facebook because of beautiful, interesting women (met one via a cellphone newsgroup chat system, the other from work years ago). Facebook is a means to keep in touch with people… it’s like a phonebook or address book crossed with a copy of Who’s Who. There isn’t much community there, but the Six-Degrees model of contacts is interesting.

    Basically, all these sites do is help you create a webpage for yourself. MySpace is pretty powerful, as it allows for videos, music, photos, journals, and all sorts of other add-ons.

    Computers do not replace communication, they are merely another way of communicating. Comics do not replace prose, they just tell a story in a different way. Campfires and cave paintings….

  9. Is there any way to fight back against this Michael Rennie-like invader?

    Yes. Cancel your Facebook account.

    Somehow I’ve managed all right so far without one. From what I’ve gathered, all I’ve missed out on are vampire bites and over-filled virtual fish-tanks.

  10. >>>there’s a flip side to all this, which is that party invites on Facebook can tip you off to a party that you otherwise wouldn’t have been invited to (trust me, it’s true – i have first hand experience).

    EXACTLY, Nick! How are we supposed to shun people with Facebook around?

    Actually, there is at least one person I didn’t friend on Facebook because I don’t want him knowing as much of my personal business as is up there. YOU ARE SHUNNED

  11. I hate it when things designed for teenagers magically compel me to use them in a way that doesn’t bring me delight at all times.

  12. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with old friends that I know for certain that I would have lost touch with without. We can play games and recommend movie to each other, which reminds me to call them every now and then. It also lets me share travel photos with friends, and promote my comic books. I don’t see how ads on Facebook are different then ads in a magazine; in a magazine they say “a person who reads this magazine would like these products”, Facebook says “You, Colin Panetta, would like these products”. It’s just a lot more efficient. I just keep the stuff that I don’t want Facebook to know off of Facebook. It’s that simple.

  13. Users can control what shows up on their newsfeed. All it takes is clicking one little “x” on your profile after making a change and the “story” is removed. Odds are that [Redacted] either…

    A. Doesn’t realize he/she can do this, or…
    B. Purposefully left it on his/her newsfeed in a fit of post-break-up bitterness to make sure everyone knows of this new single status.

    Neither of those are due to any particular shortcoming of Facebook. If you want people to know you’ve changed your page in some way, the newsfeed gives you an option to do that. If you don’t want people to know, either don’t have the information on your page in the first place, or figure out how to use the site’s many privacy options properly.

    I personally love Facebook both for its streamlined design and for the newsfeed, which helps you keep track of who’s up to what without having to just blindly navigate pages and wonder, like you do on MySpace. MySpace has recently added a newsfeed, too, but theirs is pretty well useless when you compare it side-to-side with Facebook’s versatility and clean design.

  14. Yes. Saturday nights in front of facebook. Sad. This introverted geek sure misses the good olden pre-networking days when he’d spend his saturday nights alone at a table in a nightclub, too scared to talk to any girls, and then walk back home alone afterwards crying, like in the Smiths song. Things sure were more ‘real’ back then.

  15. I know you stalk my Facebook, MacDonald. Don’t deny it. And your hubby to me, too.

    Jimmie – you can remove it totally – just send the same message indivually to about ten mates. They think you’re spamming and delete the account…

    Just google the amount of broken people desperately trying to regain their accounts when they do this…



  17. You can’t fight progress.

    Change or die.

    All key phrases to keep in mind. As soon as you start getting angry at new technology that the kids are doing you’re officially ‘not with it.’

    Don’t be that way Beat. You can be better.

  18. Legitsquare, read the rest of that Guardian link

    I don’t see how giving all my demographic info to to a company hellbent on making money off it is modern at all. In fact it’s as old as the hills.

  19. I know that there are times when I get terribly stressed out by the thought that everything I do is fodder for my various online self-presentations. When that happens, I switch off my modem and play Civilisation for a few hours. Or I switch off my computer and go for a walk. It’s just like television: is television a hideous time-sink? Sure. So if you can’t trust yourself to use it in a sensible way, don’t use it at all. There are relatively few people who really need to use social networking tools.

  20. I’ve only recently started with the myspace and facebook stuff, and what you’d think would only take a few minutes of your time ends up reducing you to a some jackass who sends out pokes and plants and whatnot. It’s all silly fun though, I guess:) and kinda cool everybody is on the same page so to speak.
    I still hesitate to post pictures of my son and such -even though he’s got his own facebook page…
    The only real problem according to him is that my picture makes me look emo:)
    Maybe he’s right.

  21. A friend was just telling me about how this new guy she’s dating didn’t have Facebook. I said her that he was a smart man. I told her to get off the smack. Remembering this article and I sent it to her.

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