Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Yet Another Reason To Hate Facebook

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The stories continue to build-up. First they sued over someone using the suffix "book" for their own website. Then they patent  the term "Face." Now it is revealed that Facebook can track you (whether you are a member or not) with the "Like This" link button that many sites use.

I tried to completely shutoff the use of cookies on my system, but too many websites became unusable. I am seeking other options to try to rid myself of third parties watching my every online move.

The line between privacy and usefulness continues to blur.

Why I Am Still Glad That I Quit Facebook

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Last week Gizmodo revealed that a hacker had gathered 100 million Facebook profiles and produced a BitTorrent download (nearly 3 GB worth) of user’s personal data.

Let’s be clear here; there was no hacking involved here. Ron Bowes simply used Facebook’s wide-enough-to-fly-a-747-through API and the fact that its users are strongly encouraged to reveal everything about themselves. Remember, these Facebook users have willingly revealed this data to the world already.

What my Facebook friends didn’t seem to get is why this bothers me so much. I would still be on Facebook if I could undo what I had shared and simply return to being a name (and maybe a picture). I simply do not trust Facebook to let me return to that state of online being. They know that I am single (and I get hammered with never-ending ads for online dating sites despite telling them that I am not interested). Until I made it clear that I was an atheist, I even got ads for finding Christian single ladies.

The next day, Gizmodo updated the story by revealing just who was downloading all this personal data. Here is where it gets creepier.

  • Apple
  • AT&T
  • Church Of Scientology
  • Halliburton
  • IBM
  • Oracle

This could be users on their networks doing this rather than the corporations themselves. But doesn’t this send a shiver down your spine? Just a little one?

Can you not imagine what could be done by cross-referencing this information with previously collected data (you do read the fine print on every license agreement and contract you sign right…)? What if your insurance company hikes your premiums in spite of your good health because you have Facebook-ing about your new-found love of thrill seeking?

It is disconcerting to see gathered into one place all the information that is publicly available. We have all given up this data in one way or another. Quitting Facebook was my tiny attempt to strike back.

A Week Without Facebook

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I quit Facebook over privacy concerns.

My email inbox in considerably quieter, I like that. There were some people I was keeping in touch with only through Facebook, I do miss that.

Overall, this has been a good decision I think. Even setting aside the privacy issues, Facebook was becoming a noisy, spamming headache that demanded constant attention. This was even not playing all the insipid games that tried to further encroach on your personal data!

I hope that the people who really want to stay in touch with me will do so through this blog.

Quitting Facebook?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

To quit or not to quit?

That is the question…

I, like tens of thousands around me, have become very concerned about my personal information and Facebook’s blatant abuse of it. What really started this for me was the visualization of Facebook’s privacy changes. This really got me thinking. I read the Quit Facebook Day site and announced my intentions to quit on my status.

 My good friend Mike then posted the following rant on his FB status:

I see people saying they’re quitting FB due to FB’s privacy policies. I don’t particularly care who quits FB for any reason but why are people complaining about this? It’s not a bank or credit card company. They are under no obligation to protect you any more than Google is. If you want to use the service you agree to their terms.

These settings can be manged. Admittedly, they continually change making it very annoying but it can be done. Alternatively, you can simply change your name to say Mike D. and remove personal information from your profile. This is a fun way of keeping in touch with people, not some high security web site for storing all your personal info. Quit being retards and lighten up.

Evil Interfaces

This started an interesting conversation between several of us. The best piece of information from this was the Reclaim Privacy site. If you use Facebook, use this site to check on your privacy settings. I took minor exception to the “retard” comment and referenced the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s essay on “evil interfaces.”

James used the analogy, “complaining about a lack of privacy on Facebook is like walking around naked and then calling people perverts if they look at your wiener.” That was rather funny but I felt it was also a bit flawed:

First; when we signed up to FB, we had clothes on. Sure, they were skimpy and revealing … but clothes nonetheless. Over time, FB has been stripping us naked. Most didn’t even know it … the few that did found it next to impossible to do anything about it. The so-called controls changed nearly weekly (see the “evil interfaces” essay I mentioned).

Second and possibly more important. I don’t care if you guys make fun of my weiner. We’re friends. It is practically a prerequisite! What bothers me is when your friends whom I don’t know – or worse yet, some unknown app or “Liked” group that one of you happens to load/click – now gets to see my weiner without me knowing about it.

Mike still wasn’t buying my argument:

…it still boils down to this…FB is not a medium for securing your personal info. It’s simply a way for us to keep in touch in a common forum. Like I said, change your name to M.A.G. and don’t post personal info like place of work, contact info, etc. You really have no valid complaint. FB is, and should be, allowed to modify the app in any way they see fit. If you were somehow under the impression that FB is the e-version of Fort Knox you were misled.

Rest assured, I do not think that Facebook is Fort Knox. I removed as much personal information as I could – interests, political opinions, quotes that I liked, my education. Today I discovered (a bit naive given that I am in the database field) that once Facebook “knows” something about you, it won’t forget.

Conclusion

I am quitting Facebook. Early on, it was my addiction to Facebook updates that killed my first blog. I want this blog to be the interface for my friends and family to follow my life.

Social networking is an interesting new application. I may return to it when it gets better. Diaspora offers some hope. In the mean time, here are some useful links to consider: