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Facebook Makes It Official: You Have No Say (dashes.com)
106 points by phwd 1784 days ago | hide | past | web | 51 comments | favorite

The author's proposed solution is to give users the illusion of control, by adding a set of radio buttons to the settings dialog which claim to limit how "other people" can use a post. But the very strictest option is today's default, which people are protesting for being too permissive!

What people are actually asking for is a way to forbid Facebook itself from using or copying a post, which any technically- or legally-minded reader would interpret as forbidding Facebook from storing posts at all. Obviously most users don't actually want their account and posts to be deleted, but they're asking for just that, and become angry when Facebook does not comply.

If you are truly upset that a company somewhere is making money by hosting a service that you post your private life to, there are a couple simple solutions:

1) Find some registered non-profit with blog hosting (does this even exist?), and only post there.

2) Host your own site, set a password so only your friends can see it, and only post there.

3) Stop posting your private life online.

It's super, super silly that Facebook users feel so wed to the service that they demand a say in it's governance. Sorry, that's just not even close to how it works.

Your options are restricted to playing by Facebook's rules or leaving. It's okay to leave, it doesn't hurt at all, except for the occasional impulsive typing of 'faceb' into your URL bar before you remember what life was like before Facebook, and in fact, what it is like after it.

I find this mentality, one I've often found in the US, disturbing.

I've had the benefit of living the better part of a decade in Europe where data privacy protections are stronger, and there is a resulting expectation that companies can only do with customer-provided data what they had agreed to when it was supplied. That means only using data for the explicit purpose it was gathered and not changing or using the data for expanded purposes later.

It is bizarre to me to think that one should just accept that the receiver of the data can unilaterally expand the use of it later without informed mutual agreement.

The 'mentality' is that if you don't like what the site is doing with data, you should leave the site and not use it.

Do you use Facebook from Europe? If you are not using it, then you are probably not really disagreeing with what the parent said.

I really could have done without the anti-US bigotry here, it is flamebait and not entirely related to the topic

> 1) Find some registered non-profit with blog hosting (does this even exist?), and only post there.

dreamwidth.org is a for-profit org, but it strives very hard to be privacy aware.

tl;dr: Any illusion of privacy on Facebook is just that: an illusion. Everyone needs to realize that in the privacy convo.

Four-ish years ago Facebook made all private profile pictures public. No warnings, no options. My girlfriend at the time (soon to be wife) and I weren't publicizing our relationship then because of serious cultural and religious issues that we knew we'd face when we told our parents. We didn't get to make that decision, because a picture of the two of us was her profile picture... one day it was private and the other it wasn't. This had a profound impact on my life in a very real way and has come to represent everything I expect of privacy on FB.

Anything you do on Facebook is owned by Facebook. It says so in ther TOS. If they wanted to make a Billboard out of an embarrassing conversation you had on the site they could. Any illusion of privacy is just that: an illusion. Zuckerberg an FB have been very open about the fact that they see privacy as a dead concept, and that everything should be share by default.

The sooner everyone realizes that there is no such thing as private data on FB the sooner we can approach the service on realistic terms.

Everything you said is spot on, but your particular situation was not unique to FB. If your relationship was a very sensitive issue, then it was bound to be revealed unexpectedly if it was a profile photo...there's no FB setting that will keep your friend, or a friend of a friend, from passing that photo along to someone who you don't want to see it. I don't mean that you can't block friends of friends from seeing it on FB...rather, I mean that you can't block a friend passing it along rough email or in careless bar chatter.

I'm not victim blaming here...but pointing out that the Internet as a whole makes unwanted sharing much more frictionless...and the enemies of our privacy will not always be corporation or high tech blunders.

Definitely true. I just mean to mean to illustrate that on FB the very definition of private changes. One day something is explicitly private, the other FB decides its unreasonable.

I'm not even blaming Facebook per se. This is a whole new territory and they've been anything but timid with their approach to doing what they think is right. That boldness is probably necessary. But, with that in mind users have to recognize exactly what that means to them.

Spot on. If you want privacy, don't use Facebook. I don't.

My worry is that the whole world is getting so tangled into The Social Web that soon, you won't be able to buy an ice cream cone without alerting every advertiser and government agency in the world.

I don't understand why anyone is surprised by this. Facebook is a commercial service that aims to make money from advertising to its users. That is the goal. Keeping the info (that you willingly put up!) private is only important insofar as it doesn't upset users enough for them to leave. Experience has shown so far that the majority of users don't care enough about privacy to stop using their service. Furthermore I can't even think of any other commercial service providers that allow users to vote on their policies. Actions speak louder than words; if you want facebook to change its course, vote with your $ and your feet.

I care about my privacy to an extent, and in my experience, Facebook's privacy tools give me more control over my privacy than any other product on the internet (except email, perhaps). To assert that Facebook users must simply not care about their privacy is to be blind to the possibility that most users are comfortable with the controls Facebook has provided.

This. Seriously, you're not paying for the service. You are the product being sold. Don't like it? Go somewhere else.

>you're not paying for the service. You are the product being sold.

This line bothers me because the relationship is more complex than that. You are receiving services from Facebook and in return you are giving them your information. Facebook does not sell your information to anyone - instead they sell the ability to advertise to different groups of users (who you are one of). To say that you are the product implies that companies are getting "you," but they are only getting ads displayed on Facebook. They do not have any idea about you or your specific information.

If you don't give Facebook information, it directly hurts Facebook. If you don't browse Facebook, it directly hurts Facebook. Their revenue absolutely depends on users enjoying their service.

Broadcast television uses a similar model, but no one accuses them of "selling" their users.

Thank you for putting into words something I've wanted to say for a long time. "You're being sold!!!1" is the belabored rallying cry of the social media hater (and often the tinfoil worthy privacy nutter on a level that would make even rms reconsider).

I'd take it a step further though and say the entire "you're being sold!!!eleven" isn't contingent on the level of information an advertiser gets about you (of which, like you said, they simply don't have), it's a pithy saying with zero basis in reality used by those with a hipster mindset, who feel somehow superior for not using that damn money grubbing Zuck's advertising site.

If you (the general you, not you you) don't want to use Facebook because it's a timesink, or because you don't have friends on it, or because it could cause you negative real life consequences, or whatever else fine - just do me a huge favor and spare me the breathless moralizing and predictions of dystopian "papers please" futures. You don't have to justify yourself to some random on the internet, and I kind of wish you wouldn't besides.

You use a false premise, that in order to create a social network, it has to be set up to profit from users information through advertisement. Who said it has to be so in the first place?

I didn't say anything about social networks in general, just about Facebook's relationship with their users. I didn't mean to imply anything more than that.

I see. Well, I don't think there is a real way to "fix" Facebook in this regard. The problem should be approached on the deeper level - i.e. the whole network should be built differently. So other alternatives have a chance to be better.

Is this really all that can be said? Because it's brought up in every single FB-policy thread.

What else do you want said? Regulate facebook?

Yes, they're scummy. But they didn't force you to put your personal info or photos on there. Don't want the internet to know something? Don't post it on facebook.

Also make sure nobody else posts it on Facebook.

That's not a new problem, right? Anyone can publish anything about anyone else, pretty much. That's the foundation of about 99% of celebrity magazines.

For non-celebrities, it very much is a new problem. Facebook, cheap digital cameras and widespread internet use have turned average people into paparazzi. You can be a regular Joe Schmoe, go to a party, and have everyone you know looking at pics the next day (or the same night). That didn't happen 10 years ago if you weren't famous.

I don't know, but Anil Dash is the one bringing it up. Why aren't those who write as if there is something else going on subject to criticism in these threads if it's so obvious? From these responses to posts on the topic you'd think that "control and FB" stories would exist in the same thoughtspace as "One Weird Trick..." ads.

Google's umbrella.

FB's mistake was to even propose this voting scheme...I would think of all entities, they would be the first to know firsthand the worthlessness of quantity. How many users in the last week posted that stupid legal notice asserting rights over their content?

The real truth is that users in general have little concept of what they're giving over to Facebook. And even if FB made it dead easy to understand their TOS, the majority of FB users would still be clueless.

IIRC, one of the biggest controversies in FB's history was when it implemented the newsfeed. Apparently, users thought that if something was easier to find (i.e. not having to visit each person's page to see their latest activity), a sacrosanct privacy line had been crossed. And this was back when FB was mostly college students who, you know, are supposed to be in a state of constant learning and reading.

The news feed was FB's killer feature back then (compared to MySpace) and if it had been put to a vote, users would have undoubtedly quashed it. Is it any wonder why FB will never take users' concerns seriously?

To go back to the sham-legal-status-update thing that was being posted...it's just kind of sad that at this stage of the Information Age, the average person is still too lazy/too entitled/too dumb to look things up and think for themselves. FB may not be the "good guy" but to rehash the old Batman cliche, it seems to be the social network we deserve.

> FB's mistake was to even propose this voting scheme

I have to wonder if Facebook did this on purpose, knowing they would drop it when it not longer served a purpose.

When Facebook was new, they gained critical mass by working the "exclusivity" angle. Originally, they were only going to allow ivy-leaguers to join, which tricked them all into joining because there is nothing they like more than an elitist society. Once the purpose was served, Facebook dropped that whole idea in the interest of a bigger user base.

When privacy was a big topic, Facebook came up with the whole voting scheme to ease everyone's mind. Now that has served it's purpose, Facebook are dropping it and moving on.

You have to wonder if going back on their word has actually been a good thing for Facebook.

When people mock the Facebook share price and question their long-term sustainability, remember that they're in a position that no company has ever been in before. They are trying to monetize personal data that has been provided willingly. They'll always be walking a fine line of giving their users what they'd like and giving their customers what they'd like.

This is just Facebook trying something that is entirely consistent with their philosophy and historical trend.

They're hardly in a unique position.

Look at gmail, for example. How do they "monetize personal information"? Or look at twitter. If I set my account to be protected (which I do) then I have a modicum of security in knowing that my personal messages won't be viewable by the entire world without me knowing about it.

It's not that difficult to get the basics of privacy right. Many companies do it just fine. The difference is that facebook doesn't care.

You want to know a way to "monetize personal data"? Let users pay $20/year to not have their data harvested by the highest bidder.

Wouldn't work, because they're also monetizing inter-personal data.

It's ironic, that in the comments section of the article it says: Comment using... Facebook. Some other obscure options aren't helpful either. Why can't one comment using Mozilla Persona or OpenID? If someone is criticizing Facebook (very reasonably), but at the same time requires Facebook to comment, it sounds hypocritical in the least.

More on the subj itself - I'm not sure really what the author expected from FB. They don't care about users' privacy - period. I.e. they don't respect their users. If you don't appreciate it - quit using Facebook and use privacy respecting social networks.

I don't think it's ironic because Anil clearly values Facebook and wants them to "do the right thing". This is made clear in the opening paragraph:

> Now, Facebook follows the steps that most tyrants do, quietly moving from sham elections to an official policy that users will have no vote in site governance.

When I read this my first thought went to the ridiculousness of comparing Facebook to a dictator. But it shows that Anil sees Facebook as almost necessary infrastructure. Not using Facebook is not a realistic possibility. Instead we must hope against hope that they will right their tyrannical ways.

Frankly I'm not holding my breath, but Anil has reach so maybe something good could come out of it.

Not using Facebook is the only solution. Or to be more precise - instead, one should use tools which are built from the ground up for the sake of users and social networks, rather than for the sake of profit by exploiting users' profiles.

Attempts to "cure" Facebook sound like attempts to tame poisonous snakes not to bite when they feed. It simply sounds like nonsense to me. Facebook from the start was for-profit thing directed by its owners, and never had any "users governance". If someone wants "for people, by the people" - let them use Diaspora*, Friendica or whatever else emerges on the horizon to fulfill that purpose. But if someone is using Facebook, they shouldn't complain that it doesn't respect its own users. That's the way it was built from the ground up.

But it shows that Anil sees Facebook as almost necessary infrastructure. Not using Facebook is not a realistic possibility.

If he really thinks that, he needs to take a serious step back. This is just ridiculous.

I don't think he consciously thinks that, but his entire argument seems to stem from Facebook being such a necessity that they are morally obligated to follow social norms or be somehow coerced into doing so, despite evidence that this has ever been a possibility.

>> Not using Facebook is not a realistic possibility.

Funny, my life still seems pretty realistic since I deleted my account. Maybe more so.

What are the alternatives, effectively?

All I want is:

- a profile page where I can post something personal

- comments to the posts so that my friends can share what they felt

- sort of a like button or flag to let friends mark posts they like

And maybe these are pretty useful as well:

- ability to post links and images

- ability to create topic specific groups and invite friends there to discuss things

- ability to create events and invite people there for rsvp

And last, the must-have feature:

- my friends are there, also the non-technical ones

While the first items are technically easy (Google+ could do it!), Facebook is winning on the last entry. I don't particularly like Facebook but keeping in touch with friends using email just doesn't work either anymore. Some people don't even have email. Personally, I either make a phonecall or text if it's a close friend, or write nice comments on Facebook if it's a not so close friend.

To free ourselves from the shackles of vendor lock-in, a generic social media protocol similar to email should emerge at some point. It shouldn't matter if I'm on Google+ and you're on the Facebook: if we're connected we're connected and the protocol translates the news between the two implementations.

This seems like an overreaction. Facebook has a billion users, so trying to do things like encourage voting is a nice sentiment, but practically useless in my opinion.

It's better for the company to just do what they want, and if they overstep their bounds and if people don't like it, they'll leave, just like they did with MySpace and Friendster. And if people stay, then it means they don't care. People are allowed to have the right to not care what people do with their personal data. I personally care, so I would close my account, but I'm sure there are swathes of people that simply don't care.

You do have a say. Stop using Facebook.

Serious question for you and everyone else urging this:

How do you maintain weak ties?


Like people you see once a year or less, maybe because they live far away, or maybe they're locals you met once or twice but just don't know that well.

Weak ties can be incredibly valuable for finding events, housing (or roommates), partners, even jobs.

I've been living happily without Facebook for over a year and doing fine. But I realized I didn't have a solution to the weak tie problem, and was missing out on opportunities.

Visiting New York City, I met some great people and thought how nice it would be to hang out with those same people next time I'm in NYC, so I wouldn't have to start over there socially. But that could be a year from now. After a year of no contact, if I call them out of the blue, it'd be awkward at best.

This problem actually motivated me to sign back up for Facebook. In theory any social network could do the trick, but no one's heard of Tent or Diaspora, and only a handful of people you meet are even on Twitter. What most of these folks are on, is Facebook.

I'd really like to know what other ways people keep up with weak ties, or if some just hate Facebook so much they accept the loss of opportunities as a cost of living without it.

After much deliberation, I deleted my Facebook account around 1.5 years ago. I even ensure that nothing from Facebook can be accessed from my computer.

Like you, I have lost out on the weak ties, but have decided that I would rather lose those than let Facebook know everything in my personal life and my activities on the web.

I'm trying to find some middle ground. For example, I use Ghostery to block Facebook comments and like buttons, so they're not aware of my activities on the web. And I've used a special email just to sign up for Facebook, so people don't find me there unless I want them to. I'm not friending everyone I know, only the weak ties I don't have a better way to keep up with (i.e. they aren't on Twitter or something else).

Not sure how it'll work out long run, but right now Facebook knows very little about me.

By talking to them once a year, same as I did before Facebook was invented. I'm not sure why you think there's any awkwardness involved? If you're in New York once a year, you make contact with the people you know in New York once a year. This is perfectly normal behavior, always has been.

For a good personal friend, yes, that works. What if it was just a chance meeting? You can try calling a year later, but in my experience people won't make time for someone they barely remember.

Well now you're talking about a scenario where you don't actually have any connection to the person and don't have anything to offer him next time around to make it worth his while meeting you a second time. In that scenario, spending the intervening year faking a relationship on Facebook doesn't strike me as a productive use of either party's time.

I do have something to offer such a person, and it's the same thing (s)he has to offer me: we had fun hanging out last time, we probably would again.

I don't understand the proposed solution. Hundreds of thousands ask for the default behavior, so the solution is to add a control so they can pick something other than the default behavior? A line of text on the privacy page, and maybe on the signup page, maybe with a little graphic to help it digest, seems a lot simpler to me.

Well you have one say. Don't use facebook.

Taking "off", not taking "of." Right in the first sentence, too.

I am told Facebook's mission is TO SERVE MAN.

Did you really have any illusions on this?

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