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GuiA 455 days ago | link | parent

With great power comes great responsibility.

Companies such as Facebook and the like undoubtedly draw great power from their "social graph"; however, human interactions are subtle, complex, multifaceted and often contradictory.

Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph"; it will always lead to situations like that which are, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, dangerous, for whoever is in the system.

I don't think it's a matter of doing things the right way or fixing them- trying to put human relationships in a computer system will never reproduce the human experience (however, you may make marketers very happy). The best you can do is complete certain very focused subsets of it in an interesting way.

Zuckerberg's views on privacy and openness are laughable, and to be completely expected from someone of his background and world experience. If you think about who the average Facebook employee is, you'd realize that you probably wouldn't want them to be in charge of designing a system meant to model the intricacies of human interaction.



achompas 455 days ago | link

Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph"; it will always lead to situations like that which are, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, dangerous, for whoever is in the system.

What does this even mean? The "dumb algorithm" here will (a) take a user's query and (b) search that user's friends and public profiles for hits on that query. What's next: shouting about the robots taking over? Lamenting about how we're all losing our humanity and man weren't things better back in the old days?

I'm really disappointed this is the top comment on HN's top post. Users identified by Graph Search have public accounts and have willingly entered personal information into Facebook. We go thorough this song-and-dance every year: FB updates security policies, everyone is up in arms, then -- gasp! -- everyone updates their security settings. Facebook has a clear transaction with users: build a profile, get sold as eyeballs to advertisers. If you don't like it, then quit.

"With great power comes great responsibility," indeed. People have received numerous warnings about Facebook and privacy, and yet they've chosen to share personal information with everyone they know. At this point the user is responsible for choosing to participate or drop out. Meanwhile, every third HN post includes a commenter, wagging their finger, reminding us in a nasally, know-it-all voice that we're not the customer if we're not paying.

Is Graph Search really that shocking to you--to anyone on HN? Why the hell is anyone up in arms about this in 2013, given what we know about social networks?

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mark_integerdsv 455 days ago | link

If you fail to see the danger that a tool with the ability to search a network for such things as "Islamic men interested in other men, living in Tehran," a tool that can then display their place of work or other contact details (that they may have willingly ((yet unwittingly)) entered), in the hands of bullies, bigots or oppressive regimes then personally I feel you are similarly limited in your world experience to what the grandparent poster is accusing Zuckerberg of being.

Basically, it's one of two things:

1.) such incredible naiveté that, frankly: you require supervision

2.) such hideous cynicism, so deeply felt, that it represents, to my sensibilities, a form of evil

This thing is dangerous. The people to whom it poses danger are the ones least likely even to comprehend the danger imposed upon them.

I cannot see how you could defend such a thing.

BTW: decrying the state of HN when you feel personally ill at ease with the general feeling of the community is poor form and a very strong indicator of butthurt.

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mseebach 455 days ago | link

Here's a thought: If you live in a country where people are summarily executed for being gay, don't put "I'm gay" on a public website with your name on it.

YES people should be allowed to be gay in Tehran, and YES Facebook should help them with that - and they do: By not requiring you to enter your sexuality.

I don't live in Tehran, so I am privileged here - but if I put "I did tax fraud, I win!" on my public Facebook profile, and the tax authorities decided to investigate me, anyone suggesting that I didn't bring that upon myself, frankly required supervision. Even if I did it on my closed Facebook profile and a "friend" decided to report me, it's still not Facebook's fault.

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mark_integerdsv 455 days ago | link

> YES people should be allowed to be gay in Tehran, and YES Facebook should help them with that - and they do: By not requiring you to enter your sexuality.

Forget about being gay in Tehran. How about being gay in cyberspace?

It strikes me that you are of the belief that cyberspace ought to mimic life in meatspace directly. That one fixed identity should be all a person is entitled to.

What a waste of so many wonderful possibilities!

Cyberspace and the promise of a digital space in which to express abstract selves is something precious that is to be protected.

I believe this and I believe that exposing innocents to those running at a deficit of scruple for personal enrichment is evil.

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mseebach 455 days ago | link

> It strikes me that you are of the belief that cyberspace ought to mimic life in meatspace directly.

If it's a problem that Facebook uncovers someone who's gay in Tehran, then that is only because that persons cyberspace identity mimics his meatspace one. If the gay person in Tehran profile doesn't actually link up to a physical person in Tehran, then there's no added danger to anyone.

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mark_integerdsv 455 days ago | link

Maybe we missed each other... In my example I am talking about a man whose identity is necessarily hidden in meatspace due to an oppressive government.

Cyberspace allows him freedom from this oppression.

Hope that makes it clearer.

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boboblong 455 days ago | link

Wait, then what's the problem?

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mark_integerdsv 454 days ago | link

He is 'outed' in meatspace by his cyberspatial identities trough the irresponsibility of FB and himself, and all of the other none the wiser users enabled through this product to harm themselves.

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wtvanhest 455 days ago | link

Does anyone on this thread know why they have to identify the people's photos and names in the search to still allow marketers to be succesful?

If it didn't identify individuals would it be any less useful to marketers?

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koide 454 days ago | link

This reminds me of gun control debate. The more features FB enables to dig deeper in the social graph, the more chances for people to shoot themselves in the foot.

Should we restrict guns so there are less accidents and murders with them, or should we trust personal responsibility, with the cost it goes attached? Is restricting even possible?

That's for you to decide, but a cost certainly exists.

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lusr 455 days ago | link

What is your opinion on the following scenario:

An "Islamic gay man living in Tehran" in 1997 creates a web page and populates it with exactly the same personal information you are describing. Sometime later Google comes of age and indexes his site for the world to easily discover.

Do you feel that Google and Facebook are acting differently in this scenario, and if so, why?

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mark_integerdsv 455 days ago | link

I do. Primarily because Facebook caters to users with low technical ability and includes baked in privacy settings that are notoriously ambiguous and difficult to understand.

Facebook actively promotes an anti-privacy styled online presence.

Those with the skills to build a website in '97, along with the requisite metatags to allow for the type of indexing you describe can reasonably be expected to understand what they are doing.

Not so with Facebook.

Adding content to a webpage is a pro-active move. Vanilla Facebook with no security tweaks or other expert knowledge (by my understanding) leaves users wide open through no action on the part of that user.

Did anyone opt-in to being included in Graph Search results? If they knew what it was, would anyone do this?

It's an interesting question that you pose and I think there is definitely more to it but the answer above is from the top of my head. I will mull on it some more and add should I come up with anything further.

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josh2600 454 days ago | link

I built a website in or around '97 on geocities. You talk about metatags being required for indexing but I think you forget that the web was young once. Google had a voracious appetite to index and they still do.

The barrier to entry for someone to build a website in '97 wasn't much higher than it is now. Things just look prettier these days.

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pbhjpbhj 454 days ago | link

Prettier than Geocities? Unpossible.

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oh_sigh 455 days ago | link

> such things as "Islamic men interested in other men, living in Tehran,"

Do you know what this search will return? "0 results". Because nobody who is gay in Iran is going to put the fact that they are interested in other men on their facebook.

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axusgrad 454 days ago | link

If you scroll down the link, it's right there.

http://actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com/post/412333061...

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oh_sigh 454 days ago | link

Sorry, I should have added a final point that I made in another post: "Interested in" is not interpreted by everybody as "sexual attracted in". I'd be willing to bet that in Iranian culture, it's quite common to say you are interested in being friends with men, and it is not viewed as homosexual.

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gknoy 454 days ago | link

Bullies, zealots, and police are prone to misinterpreting words in the way which is most beneficial to THEIR ends, not yours. The kids denied entry into the US because they said they were going to "destroy" $CITY were a prime example of this, where "destroy" was local slang for "get drunk and party in $town".

Similarly, anyone looking to oppress gays will say, "He likes men. Why didn't he say he likes women? He must be gay." You can't argue what you really meant in a kangaroo court, or when a mob of angry villagers are throwing stones: it's too late by then.

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oh_sigh 454 days ago | link

I completely agree. Let's stop using words altogether because they can be misunderstood. You first please.

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joe_the_user 455 days ago | link

"Is Graph Search really that shocking to you--to anyone on HN?"

Are serial killers who actually kill people really shocking to people? Well, the answer to that question depends a lot on how much you let its framing determine your thinking, right?

Sure, I too, personally, don't share anything personally identifying on FB, in violation of FB and G+'s TOS BTW. But all those naive people, they walked through the door, they didn't see the samurai behind the door and pow, what do they expect? They won't be play in the Seven Samurai now. Why should we Samurai give a heck about them morons? Well, there are some reasons, starting with the fact that we have personal relations, with non-Samurai.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Samurai

"Again we are defeated," Kambei muses. "The winners are those farmers. Not us."

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achompas 455 days ago | link

Are serial killers who actually kill people really shocking to people?

Yes, universally so. Because they kill people and murder is a Bad Thing.

Social networks that index information produced willingly by members aren't in the same country as your analogy.

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ed209 455 days ago | link

Except that in Iran, you get hung for being gay. It's not a huge stretch to see what this search is implying

> “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran“… “Places where they’ve worked.”

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dutchbrit 455 days ago | link

Indeed.

The thing is, the results in that screenshot don't necessarily mean gay.

Interested in might mean I'm interested in networking or meeting new people, being male or female. Interested in doesn't necessarily mean I'm interested in sticking my penis in *.

Also, all people in that screenshot are also interested in females.

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ed209 455 days ago | link

We've heard plenty of stories of false accusations in order to settle old family scores.

"Interested in men" does not necessarily mean in a homosexual way, but it can be twisted to look that way.

I accept what I'm implying is a stretch, but I'm not 100% comfortable with Graph Search either.

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runn1ng 455 days ago | link

What should Facebook do?

Censor itself in Iran?

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varjag 455 days ago | link

> Users identified by Graph Search have public accounts and have willingly entered personal information into Facebook.

This is quite misleading. Before Graph Search much of that capability was limited to Facebook Inc. and the affiliated government. This really opens the floodgates.

Were they warned? If you follow Wired and HackerNews yes. For general population though it's not something they were warned enough. They teach you how to cross a road in elementary; nobody explains you how to use privacy controls.

The whole liking and sharing ecosystem is promoted by social media itself. While you have skills to be critical of privacy implications, many more people have very vague idea or none whatsoever. Facebook de-facto is seen as a way of communicating with your social circle, that's why normal people join it; there is a (misguided) expectation of the same kind of privacy that you have in a clique of friends.

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mosselman 455 days ago | link

It is obvious that you either didn't read the search queries on the linked page, or you don't understand the impact that some of these queries can have on peoples' lives.

People are stupid, so when warned, the will still act stupid. Despite this it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

I also agree with the argument of others here that facebook, to some, seems like a social requirement. It is like having a phone. You don't NEED one, like we need air, but it makes social life harder not to. That of course doesn't mean that you need to put everything online, but that is another matter. What is happening with Facebook again and again though is that they change the rules. 'Liking' used to be quite harmless, now suddenly, my old 'harmless' likes can get someone killed or arrested, as is demonstrated in the demo searches. Not good...

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Karunamon 454 days ago | link

>it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

I think this is a philosophy you will find a great level of disagreement with. The ignorant should be protected and informed, the stupid, notsomuch.

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boboblong 455 days ago | link

>People are stupid, so when warned, the will still act stupid. Despite this it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

Is this really a mainstream political philosophy on HN?

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mosselman 453 days ago | link

We keep smoking when we know it is unhealthy, we keep drinking and driving, we vote on politicians based on one liners and the amount of media attention they get, we believe that the evolution theory is 'just a theory', we get in huge debt because of loans we cannot pay and we keep posting things on Facebook despite knowing better.

We are stupid in the sense that we do very stupid things even though we, in many cases (should), know better. It is the task of 'us' (people who know about internet privacy) to protect other people around us from being stupid with Facebook just as I would like to be protected by others in the things I am stupid at.

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sebcat 454 days ago | link

"If you don't like it, then quit"

My former boss said this in a morale speech. At the time I thought was being an a-hole. There had been some complaints on safety and usefulness of an exercise and that was his response to it.

Then I realized he was right, and that's why he's a former boss of mine.

Just silently quitting facebook was something I did recently. It's not the end of the world. Quite the opposite really.

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sebcat 454 days ago | link

"If you don't like it, then quit"

My former boss said this in a morale speech. At the time I thought was being an a-hole. There had been some complaints on safety and usefulness of an exercise and that was his response to it.

Then I realized he was right, and that's why he's a former boss of mine.

Also, bjust silently quitting facebook and sinking back to real life

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derleth 455 days ago | link

> If you don't like it, then quit.

Assuming you're socially allowed to quit Facebook.

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ghshephard 455 days ago | link

"Assuming you're socially allowed to quit Facebook."

I don't even know what that means. How is it that all of the rest of us managed to quite Facebook and continue to have a relatively vibrant social life. Is it the case that WhatsApp/Viber/SMS/Email are no longer considered effective means of communication to get together?

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derleth 455 days ago | link

> How is it that all of the rest of us managed to quite Facebook and continue to have a relatively vibrant social life.

Because some people have different lives than you.

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oh_sigh 455 days ago | link

Please provide a little story of the type of person who cannot quit facebook, and why he cannot quit facebook. Until you do, you're just making up boogie men.

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achompas 455 days ago | link

It's true that some people (like me) only use Facebook for its usefulness as a social tool. In that case, just strip your account of any serious personal information.

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MortenK 455 days ago | link

Quitting Facebook is really not that big of a deal. You won't become a social pariah, an outcast or loose all your friends because you cancel a website account.

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Nursie 455 days ago | link

You might well lose touch with a geographically diverse crowd of people. FB and the like keep people involved in the minutiae of each others lives and very much help keep real friendships alive.

Of course FB is trying to destroy this as much as possible by controlling what you see of what people post. Trying to decide what's important to me is another facet of the 'dumb' algorithms the OP complains about.

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Karunamon 454 days ago | link

>Of course FB is trying to destroy this as much as possible by controlling what you see of what people post.

Because the alternative brings the wingnuts out. The more Facebook lets people see, the more they get castigated for doing what the entire freaking purpose of a social network site is!

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Nursie 454 days ago | link

I know there have been a lot of issues about information leaking out because of various security and privacy defaults being bad, but that's not what I meant.

There seems to be some algorithm deciding what gets put into your stream by weighting posts on who you most frequently interact with and how "important" the news is, meaning that your fb experience turns more and more into a echo chamber, and posts by people that don't post often seem to get lost.

Anyway, meh I say, meh!

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mark_integerdsv 455 days ago | link

I guess that depends.

I'm 33, married, two kids.

I have never used Facebook but I do feel 'out of the loop.' especially since the baby arrived - I don't hear about things 'through the grapevine' and subsequently seldom find myself with many social options on the days that I have free.

This is good for my startup but bad for my self esteem.

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Jgrubb 455 days ago | link

Hey there, 34, married, 3 kids here. You have two good options in this situation. One is to get your wife on FB so she can keep you in the loop. The other is to have one more kid and then you won't have to worry about what to do with your free time because you won't have any ever again. If you're starting up, I'd recommend option A.

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mark_integerdsv 454 days ago | link

Shit. I'm also 34... Totally forgot I had a birthday recently. My life seems to take place between 4am zombie walks to the kitchen to make milk bottles.

I do have sort of a wife's account vector but tbh: she also starts feeling shit and creeped out after being in there.

It's ok, as the apologists are wont to point out, there is a choice.

Mine is made.

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Joeboy 455 days ago | link

There, of course, people whose circumstances mean that Facebook is a (/the) major source of human interaction in their lives. I really wish those people, and the rest of us, could move to something less ethically troubling.

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driverdan 455 days ago | link

Because people didn't have a social life or communicate before there was Facebook? Give me a break.

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icesoldier 454 days ago | link

I can't help but think that statement is similar to saying, "Letters are a perfectly valid means of communication; I don't see the use of these telephones."

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potatolicious 455 days ago | link

> "Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph""

These aren't algorithms. This is a search engine - what you put into it is up to you. It can be anywhere from the silliness seen in the link, to "friends who live in London" before you take a trip.

This is just handing people another tool - the uses, and misuses, of said tool are entirely on the users.

> " If you think about who the average Facebook employee is, you'd realize that you probably wouldn't want them to be in charge of designing a system meant to model the intricacies of human interaction."

A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all nerds as socially inept! How clever.

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GuiA 455 days ago | link

>A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all nerds as socially inept! How clever.

Not at all. I'm just willing to bet that the average Facebook employee has never had to hide his sexuality/political/religious beliefs for fear of execution/incarceration/abuse to his family/etc. Yet a non-negligible part of Facebook's user base are people precisely in this situation.

That being said, the very fact that you call what the link demonstrates "silliness" speaks for itself.

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hcarvalhoalves 455 days ago | link

> I'm just willing to bet that the average Facebook employee has never had to hide his sexuality/political/religious beliefs for fear of execution/incarceration/abuse to his family/etc. Yet a non-negligible part of Facebook's user base are people precisely in this situation.

And how is that different from real-life?

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I think by 'silliness' he's referring to "Girls who live nearby who are single and like Getting drunk!" Fair call in my opinion.

I made this point in another post: the take-away from this link shouldn't be how bad it was of Facebook to not realise that making available powerful search tools for already-public data might put some people in an unfortunate spotlight. The real take-away is that we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change. And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.

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fusiongyro 455 days ago | link

This isn't an opportunity for wishful thinking. Read about what's happened to Walid Husayin, a Palestinian man from the West Bank, since blogging openly about being an atheist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walid_Husayin

All the stuff he's gone through—death threats, imprisonment, torture—has been for the sole "crime" of apostasy.

This graph search is going to enable sadists to lower their bar for finding victims from "people who openly and loudly proclaim their beliefs" to "people who accidentally clicked 'like' or forgot to fix their privacy settings." I have some difficulty deflecting the blame for Walid's treatment to simply being born on the wrong side of a fence. He may have known better, or perhaps he is on a crusade for religious freedom, but it's going to get a lot harder when we start talking about people with no interest in being martyrs being tortured and killed for this great cause of openness and improving the world.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I can see your point. I'm not saying it's a pleasant prospect to consider. I do consider these sorts of things inevitable teething pains of a one-way process though. Perhaps that seems a little harsh.

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fusiongyro 455 days ago | link

I'm not sure what you mean by "one-way process." I think there are certainly situations where bad things happen yet nobody is responsible and nothing needs to be done differently. I do think randomness plays a big role in my arriving at that conclusion, and I don't see a very big role for randomness in the potential abuses of graph search.

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cantos 455 days ago | link

Often the best first step to stop something evil is to remove the tools that make evil's job easier. In this case Facebook is facilitating persecution by making better and better tools to filter data on a large number of people simultaneously. If you want persecution to stop you can't just automatically absolve Facebook of responsibility for the consequences of the design choices they make. Sure people should be careful about what they post online but Facebook and the companies advertising on it offer incentives to get people to do it. Past 'likes' will now be easily accessible forever. It isn't only what you've put on your profile, inferences can be drawn based on the information about your friends. If all your friends are openly gay but you don't want others to know you're gay it can now quickly be deduced with a search.

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flyinRyan 455 days ago | link

>And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.

What? Of course we all want the world to be a better place, but Facebook has no right to put people's lives in danger to try and force the issue. If they're so worried about making the world a better place they should do it themselves, not just open the flood gates on their users.

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derleth 455 days ago | link

> we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change.

Right. Wonderful. How?

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

How should I know?

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Nursie 455 days ago | link

So in the mean time it's ok that this sort of tool is freely accessible to make it real easy to persecute them?

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fusiongyro 455 days ago | link

You could watch The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski.

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WickyNilliams 455 days ago | link

Bought this series on DVD recently, only watched a few episodes but it really is great. His presenting style leaves a little to be desired but this is a man of extraordinary intelligence and breadth of knowledge.

If anyone is wondering on the subject matter, it plots of the ascent of man not in terms of biological evolution but cultural evolution - which seems to me to be an oft overlooked facet of how we came to be.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

Sounds interesting. Any reason in particular you're recommending it?

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fusiongyro 455 days ago | link

Well, it's fantastic, but what makes it germane here is because the author/narrator switched from being a mathematician/physicist to a biologist mid-career because he saw no other way to continue working on nuclear physics without causing more harm. Several other physicists of that era did.

We are to some extent liable for the ill perpetrated by other people using our technology. The extent is debatable, but it must be greater than "not at all."

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pyre 455 days ago | link

  | This is just handing people another tool - the uses,
  | and misuses, of said tool are entirely on the users.
The same applies to building hand-held nuclear weapons and handing them out on a street corner.

The same could be said of convincing people to put CCTVs in their houses and then hooking them all up chatroullete-style.

That doesn't mean that it's a good idea.

  | A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all
  | nerds as socially inept! How clever.
I see it more as Mark Zuckerberg having lived a rather sheltered life. E.g., his view that people having different 'faces' with different people as being disingenuous is laughable. Many people only show selected parts of themselves to certain peer groups, while showing other parts to different peer groups.

That, and I assumed the 'average Facebook employee' part was assuming that they were all 20-somethings from (on average) middle-class or above backgrounds (i.e. possibly sheltered and lacking in life experience).

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nemothekid 455 days ago | link

Maybe because I am also a "20-something", but I do not see how Zuckerburg/facebook employees being "sheltered" (I don't know why you asserted that, unless you went to high school with him) has anything to do with Social Graph.

1.) The fact that they had this information is not surprising at all. Again maybe because I am a 20-something, I think its pretty obvious that if you had terabytes of data you would want to search it.

2.) While many people do show different parts of themselves to certain peer groups, the data Facebook has was posted to Facebook. Facebook did not install a CCTV in anyones home and log their guilty pleasures. This gets parroted a lot, but if you don't want someone to find out you love Lifetime originals, don't post it on facebook. It won't end up in the graph, and you can continue playing your identity game.

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pyre 454 days ago | link

  | Facebook did not install a CCTV in anyones home and log
  | their guilty pleasures. This gets parroted a lot, but if
  | you don't want someone to find out you love Lifetime
  | originals, don't post it on facebook.
You're either misreading my post or being disingenuous. I said:

  | The same could be said of convincing people to put CCTVs
  | in their houses
I could easily just say, "If you don't want people to see what you do, then don't allow a CCTV into your house." You're acting like CCTVs are by definition involuntary.

People put most things into Facebook because they don't understand the real implications of it. They say, "I like Lifetime originals," because they want their friends to know that, or because they view Facebook's profile questions like a survey. Most of these people are techno-illiterate (including the newer generations which are just more adept at using/consuming tech than their parents).

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speik 454 days ago | link

GuiA answered your question above: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5101237

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zaidf 455 days ago | link

This is a tool that lets you search data, some of which was collected on a false(or dishonest) expectation set by facebook that the data will not be searchable in this manner. That is a violation of trust. I say this as a huge fan and user of facebook's privacy features.

In most cases, I am arguing on the other side telling people how misinformed they are when they complain about a lack of privacy features. But this feature even has me blindsided and I am someone who uses almost all facebook privacy features very carefully(I have posts visible to Public to posts visible to only selected people, for example).

I fully expect a new set of privacy controls from facebook specifically around this feature.

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achompas 455 days ago | link

The Facebook Graph Search article making the rounds mentions that (a) posts are not searchable at this time, and (b) FB is launching a suite of new privacy settings for Graph Search.

Here's a link:

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/01/the-inside-story-of-gr...

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psbp 455 days ago | link

This tool is part of a much larger machine that may actually affect society more than it serves it.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

What exactly do you mean by that?

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psbp 455 days ago | link

I think socialization under the umbrella of a facebook type environment will eventually create predictable and malleable identities which are inherently the consequence of a mix of various societal pressures which are in turn constricted through the lens of the facebook environment.

Combine that with facebook's transparent use of corporate cohabitation with people's relationships, and I think you quickly have a society which is much more determined and artificial.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I think "socialisation under the umbrella of a facebook type environment" was inevitable one way or another. The advantages of an efficient system for socialising with a centralised online persona system are just too huge to forgo. I'd be interested to hear what you consider might have been alternatives, but personally, I think the economics lead inexorably to a free-to-play ad-supported system such as Facebook. Show me the day when you can convince a couple hundred million people to sign up for a paid social network product and I'll eat my hat. Show me the day that an open-source community can compete with a for-profit business in terms of attracting the best talent willing and able to slave away for hours to build great products, and I'll eat my hat.

I don't think it means the end of individuality as we know it. We've had ad-supported newspapers for hundreds of years now and people seemed to manage okay.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

I think you can create services which achieve the same function as facebook while making a dispersion of self and novelty apparent to its users. I'm not arguing monetization, but the means and consequences of exploiting users responsibly.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

Yet again, I struggle to make sense of what exactly you're trying to say. You're using a lot of big words, but not necessarily making your point clear. What does "making a dispersion of self and novelty apparent" mean?

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psbp 455 days ago | link

The ability to express your self uniquely among different groups of people without residual consequences, and the ability to explore disparate interests in the same way.

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boboblong 455 days ago | link

But what about free ponies?

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pyre 455 days ago | link

I assume something like:

The social implications (for good or ill) are greater than the immediate, personal benefits are (in aggregate).

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CoffeeDregs 455 days ago | link

Wow. When Graph Searches were announced, I thought "meh, I'm tired of FB...". I never thought to explore what Graph Searches actually meant. And I would never have done so or will do so, but I'm very glad that someone has investigated the system.

>it will always lead to situations like that which are [bad]

I wonder if there isn't some definition analogous to "Turing complete" for social graphs? i.e. with a sufficiently powerful API, any question can be answered. Just as Turing complete-ness leads to viruses, worms, etc, might "XYZ complete" social networks lead directly and predictably towards A, B and C bad outcomes?

>Zuckerberg's views on privacy and openness are laughable

Perhaps. I'm not versed in them well enough to know. But I wonder if he isn't a bit Bill-Gates-eyan in his perspective of pushing the border between X-Y quite hard to see what bends and what breaks. For Microsoft, it was Code-Data and, while there were certainly people saying don't mix Code and Data!, people happily used their Excel spreadsheets and we suffered mightily from the resulting viruses. Whereas "viruses" were the unintended consequence of mixing Code-Data, are "outings" the result of mixing Social-Search?

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

Zuckerberg thinks people complain about privacy because they're old-fashioned and scared of the future. He thinks in the future we're all going to be extremely open, share shit all the time, aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

Personally I think he's probably right. It has shades of that old totalitarian argument, 'why should you be worried about privacy if you don't have anything to hide?' but hopefully it'll be a little more... forgiving than that.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

Zuckerberg hopes that we're open to facebook*

I don't see all this "open" information, because I don't have a facebook account.

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chunkyslink 455 days ago | link

> aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

Does this include Corporations and Governments? Or just the users of pathetic chat rooms like Facebook?

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

Sorry, "pathetic chat rooms"? What are you trying to say? And why are you saying whatever it is so bitterly?

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waterlesscloud 455 days ago | link

Does this even include Zuckerberg?

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roc 454 days ago | link

It's worth noting that it's in Zuckerberg's financial interest should such a No Secrets reality come to pass.

Which should give one pause about whether he's giving an honest, objective assessment of the available information. One would expect quite a bit of confirmation bias when billions are on the line.

As to whether there will be a time without secrets: I don't see how that's even possible. Humans are social and tribal but they're also political. Politics is all about the tactful (mis)application of lies to swing tribal balance.

There will always be something people want to keep 'private'. Always something that the tribes disagree on and judge one another over. Regardless of whether those feelings and beliefs are substantiated in objective reality.

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yuhong 451 days ago | link

I don't think so either. But I do prefer people use their real name online if possible. I know it is not always possible right now, but do want these problems to be fixed.

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flyinRyan 455 days ago | link

>He thinks in the future we're all going to be extremely open, share shit all the time, aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

He claimed to believe that after he had make everyone's private account information public again for about the fifth time. I'm not sure if he really believes something so ridiculous and nonsensical or he simply decided to claim to have a motto that would explain why he kept revealing everyone's secrets other than the obvious one: it makes him more advertising money to do so.

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OGC 455 days ago | link

> I wonder if there isn't some definition analogous to "Turing complete" for social graphs? i.e. with a sufficiently powerful API, any question can be answered. Just as Turing complete-ness leads to viruses, worms, etc, might "XYZ complete" social networks lead directly and predictably towards A, B and C bad outcomes?

This graph search is just a fancy database interface, it's basically "SELECT name, age, etc from users WHERE location = 'Teheran' AND looksfor = 'men'" (massively over-simplified).

So, no it can not answer _any_ question, because it's limited by _what_ and _how_ you ask _and_ the data. You can't ask it something it doesn't already know.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

I hate to flip the script on social networking, but I think google is doing a pretty good job with focusing on exploration and compartmentalization of friends and social groups in +. Maybe something like graph search is their eventual intention, but I really hope their vision is less...disastrous.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

Really? Nothing good? From any algorithm at all? How can you be so sure? Amazon seems to do a pretty good job thinking up new stuff I might like with its algorithms, for one.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

I don't think he's saying that at all. The insanity is trying to construct a platform that manifests a person's entire social life. I think there's a harsh combination of conflating business interests and disinterested, contrived people sorting that is potentially very, very bad.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I'm not sure I follow you. Right now, Facebook knows roughly this much about me:

1) All of the people I have legitimated as Friends. 2) Screeds and screeds of data about the quality of all my connections with those friends (have I hid them from my news-feed? how much do I interact with their posts? how much do I interact with them? talk to them? share with them? stalk them? how much time do I spend in interactions with them? how do the patterns of my interactions change with them (mouse-click patterns, scroll patterns, typing patterns)? do I use different words (different emotions/more formal/informal language/different function word patterns?) 3) People I've stalked but haven't friended 4) Brands, companies, causes, ideas, things from history, all sorts of random shit I've liked (along with similar data to 2)) 5) What sorts of things I click on, how I leave the site and where I go. And certainly more.

Etc., etc., etc. Facebook didn't manifest my entire social life. They just built a platform which allowed me to socialise orders of magnitude more efficiently than before, a platform of great benefit to me, and one into which I've poured vast quantities of data (and the amount, quality and variety of the data is only set to increase as we open up more input modalities - eg eye-tracking, gesture-tracking, and biometrics). the data is all there. All facebook is doing is cobbling together some of the most very basic tools one might use to make sense of a subset of that data.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

Do any of your family members under 12 have facebook? Imagine the aggregate of all their experiences in a decade or more.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

My little brother and sister had it from 11 and 12 respectively. Yes, it's quite interesting to think about.

Anyway, what's your point? By the way, you're discussing this with someone who believes that in the future we will record and utilise orders of magnitude more amount of data about our lives and our planet than we do now, enough to make your eyes water, and furthermore, that we are inexorably fated to do so, and furthermore, that it's a really, really good trend, one which is going to play out in highly unpredictable and surprising ways.

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exodust 455 days ago | link

So you're a fan of data, that's fair enough. Who isn't a fan of data? The issue is, who owns and controls that data? You, the true owner and source of the data, or some big advertising-driven tech giant with it's own crappy hollywood movie?

Not only that, but in order to make money from advertising, they link all this wonderful data (your data) with advertiser interests. Much of this linking is done under the radar, via rules you are not allowed to see.

It's very important to distinguish the benefits of shared data with ownership and control of the data, and the rules by which it is mined and accessed.

BTW, a lot of Facebook data is "self-expression" and if given the choice in real-time, many people would elect for NOT for their contribution to go into the tech-giants mainstream database. Going into "settings" and messing around with broader privacy options for content types and particular people is an absolute joke in terms of UX and human experience in relation to expressing personal views or communicating with friends.

"Privacy settings" does not come naturally in communication. Facebook knows this, and knows people will not bother or become lazy with privacy.

Bottom line is, Facebook is an inappropriate platform for the collected data that is your life.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

What, in your opinion, would be an appropriate platform?

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zxcdw 455 days ago | link

A platform which is transparent, open and shared by it's nature. A platform for which the first and foremost priority is to be trustworthy with no conflict of interest between being all the above and economically feasible. This would probably become a government-funded international push rather than a single corporation with commercial interests.

The big problem in the future will be the fact that as the line between "real" and "online" life diminishes, the party which holds the data will become an authority akin to governments we have today. When or why should we trust an authority? How can we be sure that the authority is trustworthy? Politics is hard enough and we all know that we can't trust politicians, how on earth are we going to trust a party with commercial interests to somehow manage our social lifes?

You seem very optimistic about things like Facebook collecting data and interlinking people's social life via their platform by using the collected data. I for one find this very scary, to such extent that I'll rather cripple my social life and not use Facebook than trust an commercial authority over the data collected about me which I have no control over.

I provide the data. I see the data. I own the data. I control the data. What is so hard about it? Honestly.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I suppose I've always assumed that no company can escape government and therefore democratic scrutiny in the long run. Maybe the situation is different in countries with more corporate corruption.

Also, not using facebook is difficult to imagine for me. It's pretty baked in to my life.

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exodust 455 days ago | link

What zxcdw said. :-) Also, my previous post has typo, should read "IMHO FB is not currently an appropriate platform"... damn what a bad typo,.

The thing is, Facebook could be better by allowing members to invite outside data to flow into their feeds from chosen sources, and providing more freedom with data-exchange in general. Enforced segregation is costly.

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psbp 455 days ago | link

Data doesn't need to be implicitly tied with self-expression.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

...

Dude, what does that even mean?

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newman314 455 days ago | link

Try an Amazon account which is shared with family members.

Amazon thinks I like electronics, Hello Kitty and bows.

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corporalagumbo 455 days ago | link

I've got an arduino-powered robotic bow-gun firing Hello Kitty droid-doll you might be interested in...

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batiudrami 455 days ago | link

Well, that's hardly Amazon's fault, it is?

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incongruity 455 days ago | link

Never mind that one account used for shopping for a family is a fairly common use case...

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TeMPOraL 455 days ago | link

Do you want them to start reading your mind, or stop suggesting stuff altogether?

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incongruity 454 days ago | link

As suggested by another commenter, that's a false dichotomy. I'd argue there's lots of room for innovation and refinement here.

Manual or algorithmic identification of family members is one option, but I think there's something more to be gained here by understanding the behavior just a bit more abstractly... Shopping moods? Modes? Targets? Tasks? Something, possibly – but I'm only guessing here. The real power could come from actually working with/doing user research and prototyping.

I'd love the chance to work on such a project, actually – I had a chance to work with data from a study on the online shopping habits of mothers a few years ago and there's lots of interesting angles to possibly explore, IMHO.

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koide 454 days ago | link

They could realize those things are not usually liked by the same person, ask a user if this is a family account and let you define family members and their preferences within that account.

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drivebyacct2 455 days ago | link

Honestly, I have to be nervous logging into my personal account with other people standing around. The "Recently Viewed" and "Recommended for You" are full of things I'd really rather my family members and most of my friends see.

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cheald 455 days ago | link

I suspect you meant "not see".

That said, you can manage that at http://www.amazon.com/gp/history

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