Sunday, January 2, 2011

Facebook Brings Out My Inner Luddite

In my travels around the Internet today, I encountered a couple of interesting articles related to Facebook. Given that Time magazine seemed to think that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was more worthy of being named Person Of The Year than Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, or any of a hundred or so heads of state, perhaps we should take a moment and look at what Mr. Zuckerberg has wrought.

The first is from George W. at Decrepit Old Fool:
Recently I used a “Log in using your Facebook account” button on a blog somewhere to leave a comment. I was then informed that doing so would “reset my privacy settings to Default” and on checking, it was true. All the adjustments I’d made to my Facebook privacy settings were gone and everything was set so that “friends of friends” could see everything. (A little math would reveal why that’s a staggering number of people even if, like me, you don’t have that many friends).

To Hell With Facebook
Based on the second thing I read, there might not be that many Facebook friends, or whatever they're called, who would bother with all that math, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Meanwhile, count this as being among the reasons I'm not on Facebook. If you are, George has a bit of advice I think you'd do well to follow:
I’m going minimal. I’ve stripped out as much personal information from my profile as I can. I’ll “friend” people that I actually know in some way (please don’t be offended if I don’t recognize you – sometimes context plays identification tricks on my mind). But otherwise the profile is only required information and I won’t checking the account very often.

To Hell With Facebook
Generally speaking, I think that's good advice anywhere, but it's especially good when you're dealing with a service that pulls this kind of crap on a routine basis. I've read and heard enough, mostly second hand, that I haven't wanted to get within ten bastion hosts of Facebook, but I'm not especially sociable, anyway.

Meanwhile, here's an example of what people do on Facebook. It comes courtesy of P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula:

Yes, not only was what this individual wrote spectacularly wrong when she (that blurred-out picture looks like a "she") asserted that something was a "Fact", but she couldn't stand to be corrected. I must add that it wouldn't have taken an astrophysicist to know that she was utterly, one might even say cosmically, wrong.

I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that I could avoid these people there if I wanted, but still, it's an example of how social networking can insulate you from the opinions of others, if you really want it to. I realize that not a whole lot of folks with differing views from mine are likely to happen by here, but I figure if I've made a mistake, it's nice that there are plenty of folks who can just wander by here by mistake and correct me.

At least, that's the theory...

I guess I'll just hang out here a while longer in Internet 1.0, at least until they turn out the lights.


Emily S said...

The sad thing is that's not the worst of what I've seen on Facebook. Or at least certainly not the dumbest.

Cujo359 said...

That is sad. Not wanting to be corrected when one is so clearly wrong is as dumb as I ever want to see.

Murr Brewster said...

True, that. On the other hand I have 300 FB Friends and I've hidden eight of them. They were Republicans. Choir only, please...

Cujo359 said...

Despite my moniker, I'm not really all that interested in arguments. But, as this story shows, it's possible to be so insulated from other opinions that you can avoid being right. Much as I don't like controversies, I'll take the chance of having one as the price of knowing.

george.w said...


I don't mind contrary opinions if they are relevant to the topic of the post, and if the commenter offers some support for them. I have threatened to ban commenters who try to turn every thread to their fave topic though. Usually they leave in a huff.

Cujo359 said...

Around here, if a commenter does nothing but insult either me or another commenter, that comment is deleted. Mostly I do this rather than respond to pointless insults with more pointless insults. I don't recommend insults, but if they're accompanied by some cogent reasoning, I leave them in place. Beyond that, and the obvious spam, pretty much anything is OK.

I haven't had the misfortune of having someone comment here who tries to hijack every thread, though. That would get tiresome, and I agree that letting them move on is probably for the best.