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I like the comments on that page. Various users complaining how evil and vile they find Facebook. I take it they are annoyed because they use Facebook and want to do client-side parsing.

Why not, y'know, just not use Facebook? Are we complicating this issue just to have a discussion? The solution is really simple, yet there seems to be tunnel vision when it comes to thinking of it.

In the past people would serve "stuff", and I'd have a client to receive that stuff.

The whole point of the WWW is that you must not rely on your user having a particular browser. Or operating system. Or display resolution. Or a display at all. You serve valid stuff and allow the client to parse it how they like. You can suggest nice font sizes and good contrast colours, but if they want to view it at 72 pt in pink on yellow they can.

Lots of the WWW ignores the fact that people may be using different screens or different whatever to view the content. Luckily we're moving away from fixed font sizes and a little fixed width blob of content in the middle of an otherwise white screen, but there are still weird lock ins around.

And Facebook are just following this trend - "this is our content, and it's our service, and you'll view it how we want you to".

Your wider point is a good one though. If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting the site serving those ads, with maybe a polite email explaining why they're not going to visit again.

One comment really caught my attention in there:

>> Man, this really blows. FB Purity helps me, a blind user, actually use Facebook more effectively than without it. sighs I do hope you continue to fight the power.

I'm glad you raised this. To me, this case is most interesting not as a way to bash FB (I'm not a member), but as a conceptual marker:

Is it OK for a user agent, running on my hardware, to alter the way content is displayed? Can the FB TOS actually be binding when it restricts your ability to do this?

> If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting the site serving those ads..

If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting ad servers. Hence, AdBlock and Ghostery.

If they object to paying for the service, they should stop using the service- not just stop paying for it.

In what sense does directing one's browser to issue HTTP requests towards a foreign endpoint imply payment? Am I "paying" HN for POSTing this comment?

Sigh. You know full-well what I am talking about. Discussing it in terms of what is technically occurring does not achieve anything- Facebook is a service. The service is provided to you for free in return for showing you advertisements. If you block those advertisements then you are depriving Facebook of the means by which they pay for your presence on their service.

No, it is not a direct payment. Yes, it is a transaction.

Right, but it's worth pointing out that business models reliant on browser-requested ads are based on a faulty assumption that site owners control clients. Does Facebook's TOS include a statement to the effect of "the user must make a best effort to download all resources linked from each page"?

You realize that argument is like saying that you shouldn't have to pay for the bus if you're able to sneak on via the back doors without being seen.

Yes, there are ways to get around Facebook's ad serving and use the service "for free", in that sense.

Is it possible? Sure.. Is it legal? Probably.. Is it the right thing to do? Probably not..

If you object to the ads being served to you on Facebook, you should probably not use the service at all..

No, it's not like that at all.

It's more like I want to go to the store, so I invite the store to send me a driver who will use my car to drive me to the store. The store accepts my invitation, but when the driver shows up he wants to invite a bunch of hitchhikers into my car but I politely decline. Meanwhile, I'm driven to the store.

Your bus analogy assumes that Facebook owns and operates my browser. That is incorrect.

These analogies are stupid, but in your example it's more like you invite the store to send a driver and they say "sure, he's going to bring five people with him", you say "OK, fine", then when he arrives you forcibly eject the five people you agreed to ride with.

But like I said. Analogies get really dumb when you get too deeply into them.

This isn't really relevant to Facebook. Facebook ads are pay-per-click. If you don't click FB ads, they don't make any money anyway. Also FB serves their own ads from their own servers, so you can't just block the ad servers.

Facebook serves their own ads, so blocking servers won't help.

> Why not, y'know, just not use Facebook?

The snarky knee-jerk answer is, why not throw away my cellphone and cancel my contract with the ISP while I'm at it? They also do things I disagree with.

The longer answer is that Facebook is how most of my friends communicate now, and how they schedule social events. I could delete my account, but it would mean a lot more friction when trying to talk to people, planning events, and attending events planned by others.

Then use the service as intended.

Not sure how helpful your comment is either. It would be like saying how evil and vile you find the US government, and your response would be to tell them to move to another country.

Sure, that's a like for like. Moving country - deleting Facebook account.

Facebook interoperates very poorly with other systems, and there are a lot of people who are using Facebook as their primary communication tool. If you don't use Facebook -- I, for example, don't use Facebook -- you are forced to keep reminding certain people that you exist and that you can be contacted by email / IM / phone / etc.

> you are forced to keep reminding certain people that you exist and that you can be contacted

perhaps those people need to pay more attention to you, instead of to your facebook status and/or wall. Real friends sms or call once in a while.

Nuh-uh! Real friends use a hand-forged knife to sharpen the point of a quill, which they dip in locally-sourced artisanal ink. Then they write you a thoughtful letter in beautiful calligraphy on home-made organic paper. After blotting it dry, they seal it with wax and hand it off to a messenger on horseback.

Technology changes. Preferences vary. Declaring your friends inadequate based on chosen mode of communication is ridiculous.

I got off of facebook a year ago and haven't looked back. I've actually been surprised at how little effect it's had on my life. The UX is only going to get worse as Zuck & Co. have to operate their newly-public company more in the interests of their investors than their users.

Between TV, magazines, in-game advertising, billboards, and now airport screening trays, the ad overload finally became more than I was willing to tolerate.

The problem that you are missing here is one of history. The phone company you so quickly push people to use has a long history of monopoly and abuse (at least where I'm from, where the telephone was invented). For the longest time you could only connect blessed telephone company equipment to your line, nothing else was allowed by law. It wasn't until people fought back that we could even use acoustic couplers. The telephone company was government sanctioned, but it was still a private company just like Facebook is.

So instead of telling people to take it, do like or predecessors and fight back. I'm pretty sure if this was back in the Ma Bell days, you'd be telling the crowd that 'Real Friends' send letters via post!

Unfortunately, social convention evolves independently rather than being dictated. If convention evolves in the direction of Facebook events and newsfeeds instead of mass SMS invitations and e-mail, one is forced to choose either to use Facebook or to become a social outcast.

did you ever think about whether facebook's marketing and influences have an effect on this evolution? Its not like "society" can think for itself - its just made up of people.

It isn't evolving "independently" - its just the sum of the actions of everyone. So, to dicate it, you can attemot to convince your friends of the benefits of moving off it. If it is true that there is benefit form moving off, then it will happen eventually.

...oh except of course, if you get locked in, as designed.

> perhaps those people need to pay more attention to you

When you become a squeaky wheel by demanding special treatment, you don't always get the oil - sometimes you get taken off and left in a ditch.

Yeah, I'll stop using Facebook. I'll just convince all my family, friends, and co-workers to all switch to G+.

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