Fear and loathing and Facebook

I don’t like Facebook. I don’t trust it. I don’t like the way it enables people you’ve avoided for 20 years to annoy you. I don’t like the way its privacy settings are so complex it needs an enormous article to explain them. And I don’t like its ambitions to enclose the entire Internet. There was a good example of that this morning, when it asked me to “Try Friend Finder”. All I need to do is give Facebook my email address and password.

Friend Finder has been around for a while, and what it does is simple: it uses your email account to email your contacts and tell them to join Facebook. I think that’s a step too far, and so do the German authorities, who may fine Facebook for breaking the country’s strict marketing regulations.

It’s no secret that when you use Facebook you’re its product, not its customer – its customers are the marketers who want to precision-target you – and yet I still have an account. If Facebook is so evil – and I think it is – why keep using it? Instead of keeping the “keep me signed in” button unticked and keeping your personal data to a minimum, why not just commit Facebook suicide?

The answer’s simple enough. It’s where my friends are. I’d much prefer it if they used email and Twitter, but they don’t, so I have a choice: put up with Facebook, or lose touch with people I don’t want to lose touch with.

A post on Metafilter – in a discussion about blocking Facebook Connect – last night expressed it perfectly. Over to you, Manjusri:

It’s like everyone I knew in highschool, and all my former coworkers and extended family decided to get together for a party. But for some reason they decided to hold it at residence of the biggest dick in highschool. Apparently they don’t see this guy as a dick, or his dickishness doesn’t rub them the wrong way. In any case I can either skip the party on principle or show up and politely warn friends about the host and enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with people. Just because I accept that this is where everyone is doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.






0 responses to “Fear and loathing and Facebook”

  1. Sjoerd de Haan

    Well said, except the e-mailing your friends part. Facebook does this only for people who are not paying attention. There is a button on the ‘these people are not on facebook yet’ page to skip it.

    I do agree with you on the fact that its rediculous it keeps asking to email everyone and its even worse that it selects the entire list.

  2. Gary

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  3. And then there’s Openbook:


    where you can look at anyone’s FB posting via keyword(s), whether they want you to or not.

  4. Well, not quite whether they want you to or not: Openbook does obey the privacy settings. The eople you can see in there have (foolishly) made their posts open to everyone, though they (reasonably) weren’t expecting anything like Openbook to exploit that.

    I think Facebook’s really good, as long as you remember who you’re dealing with. I’m quite happy to stay on there and not put any personal details up there that I don’t want publicised and leave most of my settings on maximum privacy. They’re like Ikea: great product, but you can only buy it from utter bastards. But it is still a great product. I much prefer its messaging app to standard email.