A very public post about Facebook privacy

by RhodesTer on May 24, 2010

in Humor/Satire

Always the life of the party by herairplane on flickr

photo by herairplane on flickr

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about regarding Facebook privacy.

I’m of the school of thought that says, “If you don’t want some dude in Nigeria to know certain information about you, then don’t put it on the Internet.”

Granted, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg allegedly called us all “dumb fucks” a few years ago and that’s not cool, but it’s also not the first time I’ve been called that by an arrogant, twenty-something year-old rich douchebag. At least Zuckerberg didn’t say it to my face as he stiffed me on the tip and raced away in his Ferrari.

But Facebook, even though they’ve been a bit sneaky and manipulative about the information you put on your profile and post in your conversations, isn’t the first to use it to their advantage.

I remember the first time I noticed Google Ads after signing up on Gmail, and I’d just had an email exchange with someone where I’d jokingly used the phrase, “It’s a real circus around here!” This is because things were hectic and busy, so when my friend asked how things were going, that’s what I told him.

Well as you’ve probably guessed, there were ads for circus tickets showing up in my sidebar. I was certain Google was reading my Email, but then I thought, “What kind of idiot is extrapolating that I need circus tickets because I used the phrase ‘it’s a circus’ to describe how busy things are?”

Then it occurred to me that it wasn’t an idiot person, but an idiot computer that was using the keyword “circus” to send me ads for circus tickets.

It was also the first realization that, human or computer, my Email was NOT really private.

That was quite some time back, so now I’m used to it. If I have an email discussion with someone where either of us has mentioned the eighties group “The Cars,” and how much we like that song “Drive,” I get ads for auto sales. So who’s the dumb fuck, really? HUH?

If you Twitter about Marijuana, whether you smoke it or not, you’ll suddenly get followed by a whole bunch of people who do. I know this from personal experience, and I was rather surprised they could focus long enough to set up the API auto-follow thingy.

The same thing happens on Facebook, but certain people seem to be panicking as if it were a brand new revelation to them, and pulling out.

Some, I think, are overreacting.

I have this friend who I’ll call Nick, because he’s being really weird about his “privacy” right now so I’d better not use his real first name, which sounds a lot like “Nick” anyway, but I don’t want him yelling at me in Gmail and then Gmail throwing ads up in my sidebar for megaphones.

He’d have to yell at me in Gmail because he deleted his Facebook account, or at least he put it in hibernation, which is all they really let you do. You can’t really delete it, so if you tell them your name is “Zokie Bubbles” and you live in Placerville California, that’s going to stay in their system forever.

So anyway, Nick claims some pictures he’d posted showed up elsewhere without his permission along with information he’d put on there. Now, if that happened to me and the pictures were of me and a hooker named Zokie Bubbles that were snapped in a motel room in Placerville, I’d be incensed. But I don’t post pics of myself with any hooker, let alone Zokie, so I’m not too worried about it.

“But Rhodester,” you say, “if you were posting this write-up on Facebook instead of your blog it would get linked on the hookers page and everyone would know you’re patronizing hookers.”

“Well you,” I say, “if you can’t see that I was joking then you must think someone at Google is reading your email and trying to sell you circus tickets.”

Several people told Nick that he must have been hacked, and not really HACKED hacked, but it’s simply a matter of someone stealing his pics and using them elsewhere, along with that information. That’s kind of a risk we all take here on the Interweb, unless we write in a journal and lock it up in a trunk where no one can see it.

The irony is that Nick has a blog, and he posts the same kind of stuff there, so it’d be easy for me to steal his pics and info, and use it in hilarious ways.

Here, let me demonstrate how simple it really is..

I have this friend named Christopher Dennis who happens to be known as “The Hollywood Boulevard Superman.” For nigh on twenty years, Chris has been dressing as Superman and standing on Hollywood Boulevard to get his picture taken with tourists. They even made a movie about him.

He also does personal appearances as the man of steel at events like Comic-Con, and he has a Facebook page. Go to Facebook and type “Christopher Dennis” into the search bar and you’ll find him.

I didn’t have to because he’s already a friend of mine on Facebook (which may not be the case after this), so it was easy to find his profile and help myself to a pic..

Chris Dennis Superman

Chris Dennis as Superman

I stole this pic without his permission, and then I thought it’d be fun to open up my graphics program and make Chris a Superman pirate, which would be really terrifying when you think about it..

Chris Dennis as Pirateman

Now Chris is probably going to fly to San Francisco and squoosh my head in for doing that. If that happens you’ll know it because this will be my last blog post, unless someone assumes my identity and starts blogging here under my name.

But it was too easy, anyway. I know Chris, so to make it a little tougher I thought I’d come up with a random name – TAMI – and I did a search for people named Tami on Facebook. Of course my first results were people named Tami who are friends of friends I already have on Facebook, so I didn’t choose any of them because I don’t want the mutual friends getting mad at me and squooshing my head in.

I continued farther down the list and decided to go with the first Tami who popped up who did not know someone I know, which was about a page in. I had no idea so many of my friends knew people named Tami.

Frankly, I was hoping for someone like this..

NOT Tami

NOT Tami

I mean, isn’t she a perfect TAMI? But no, I got this person..

Tami Zebi

Tami Zebi

This is just a random person named Tami who I don’t know, and none of my friends know, and now I’ve stolen Tami’s picture, and now I’m going to make Tami into a gay pirate..

Tami the gay pirate

Tami the gay pirate

See how easy that is? And it’s not Facebook’s fault, it’s just what can happen when Tami posts that pic. Sure, Tami can sue me or squoosh my head in, or just write to me and ask that I remove the pic, but the point is I’ve taken it and posted it and manipulated it and posted the manipulated version, and it was really easy.

By the way, the rest of Tami’s info was locked up tighter than a drum, except for what schools Tami went to and who Tami has worked for and who Tami’s four friends are..

Tami Zebi's profile

Tami Zebi's profile

This is because Zuckerberg..

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

..and the crew at Facebook DO have privacy controls in place, and they’ve been in place for some time. So Zuckerberg is not really the pirate he’s being made out to be..

Facebook CEO Mark Pirateberg

Facebook CEO Mark Pirateberg

And just so you know, I can’t believe I’m defending a twenty-something billionaire douchebag either, but the point is that if you start getting Facebook ads for razor blades on your profile, it’s probably because you told someone in a wall conversation that you really like “cutting-edge technology,” which is fairly stupid but there you have it.

“But Rhodester,” you say, “you still don’t get it! They sold my name and the fact that I live in Boise and like Starbuck’s mocha frappucinos to STARBUCKS for a shitload of money, so now I keep getting ads for deals on Starbucks frappucinos in the Boise area!”

“So what?” I say to you. “You like Starbucks frappucinos, right? And they’re sending you coupons so you can get them at half-price, right? So what if Facebook made a million dollars from Starbucks for selling them the information of a billion users and what their frappucino preferences are? They made a million and you saved a couple of bucks.. sounds like a win/win to me!”

So maybe I’m really missing the whole point. But even after a thousand words or more and some silly pirate pictures, it comes down to this..

DON’T POST WHAT YOU DON’T WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW OR SEE.

No matter what so-called “privacy” settings you use.

This goes for Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, BLAH BLAH BLAH.. all of them.

Some of them just make it a little tougher to get the pics and info, whereas Facebook will sell it to a guy in a trench coat on the street corner if he can cough up a million bucks. But trust me, it can be got if someone wants it bad enough.

I was recently hired by Alexa Internet to test their website. God knows why they hired me, other than the fact that I live in San Francisco and so do they, which makes us neighbors, but they paid me for coming over for a few hours and giving them feedback on their site.

One of the questions was, “Do you trust the information that was given you?”" I had to say, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t trust any information from any Internet company because you’re all just trying to make money and the search results could be skewed to that purpose.”

I mean seriously, how am I supposed to know if they’re on the level just because they SAY they are? But I still use Alexa and I still use Facebook, dumb fuck that I am. I told the Alexa guy doing the testing that I HOPED the information was accurate, but I didn’t TRUST that it was.

In closing, I’ll just tell you now that I live at 15th and Mission Street in San Francisco because I’ve mentioned that several times before, but I won’t give you the exact address and my cell phone number, so if you want that info you’re going to have to hire a hacker, or a guy on the corner wearing a trench coat.

But let me save you the trouble on the pic..

Rhodester The Pirate

Rhodester The Pirate

RhodesTer on Twitter/Facebook/Subscribe to this mess

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Judy Curran May 25, 2010 at 6:52 am

Zokie Bubbles?????? This whole post had me spitting out my coffee and spraying it over my screen…. thanks Dave

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2 RhodesTer May 25, 2010 at 6:58 am

I’m going to have to find an affiliate that sells screen wipes!

Oh, wait..

Fellowes Screen Cleaning Wipes 100/Tub Pre Moistened Wipes

Reply

3 cinderkeys May 26, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I used to hang out on bulletin board systems. They were text based and you had to use a command line to telnet to them. Eventually person who ran the last one I was on got even more paranoid about privacy and made it so you had to use ssh to get there.

That was reasonably private. For sure nobody was selling our information to businesses. But I never talked about anything I wouldn’t want to get out. I bitched about a bad job I had a whole lot, but never mentioned the company or particular nemesis by name. All anyone ever needed to do to blow my cover was copy-paste something incriminating and e-mail it wherever it would do the most damage.

Facebook? I just assume everybody will be able to read everything I said eventually, and post accordingly.

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4 RhodesTer May 27, 2010 at 3:22 am

You should be a carpenter, you nailed it.

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