Friday, November 23, 2007


Further to my Statement of Loathing concerning Facebook, posted some time ago, I noticed a couple of newspaper items that confirm my worst suspicions*.

Facebook will give marketers aggregated data detailing the age, sex, hobbies and other information about the consumers who see Facebook Ads. Facebook will also track how people are talking about the products and brands of participating advertisers.

So, without your knowledge and certainly without your express permission, marketing companies will monitor your online conversations for mentions of their clients' products. And it gets worse. Logically, if one of your friends on Facebook mentions how much they love their new Crocs, they'll be flagged by the people at Croc Marketing, and their friends, including you, will be noted as having strong potential for Croc purchase... guilt by association, as it were. As a result, if one of your idiot friends gushes about how much they love their Zune music player or Halo 3 or Hayden Panettiere, expect to be bombarded with advertising from Microsoft, Sony or the NBC Network.

The second article was even more troubling:

Some users of the Facebook website have been startled by a new feature that tracks their activity outside the site and shows it to their friends, renewing questions about the privacy implications of a growing practice of exploiting personal information in online advertising.

The social-networking service this month began posting updates about users' activities on websites outside of Facebook and on commercial pages within Facebook, in some cases alongside ads from the companies behind those websites or pages.

For instance, a user who logs on to Facebook may see an update in a section of the site called the "news feed" noting a movie the friend rented from an online site, along with a photo of that friend and a movie rental ad.

Thus if, say, you have a hidden, shameful taste for oestrogen-enflamed movies and secretly rented 'Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants' and 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back' while your wife or girlfriend was out of town, Facebook will take it upon itself to tell all your friends (and family, and colleagues, and teammates, and book club members) exactly what you've rented. Humiliation of biblical proportions ensues.

Still think Facebook is just a fun way to keep up with friends? No wonder I've come to despise it.

* Well okay, not my worst suspicions, which would involve live organ harvesting and alien invasion, but still pretty bad.


Anonymous ultrabert said...

Bland one: Here's the Facebook-related quote I mentioned. It is embedded near the bottom of this section ripped from November's '' review of a book titled "Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World" by David Wells. Apologies for the length, but it's helpful context.

Wells "suggests that we have moved to 'postmodernity' not so much because people have all started reading Derrida or Foucault with their cornflakes, but because of the pervasive influence of social change.

The very experience of 21st-century living, with its utterly bewildering array of nearly limitless choices (in knowledge, information, entertainment, commodities, interests, lifestyles, and so on) has the pyschological effect of fragmenting our lives, and destroying any illision that there might be one overarching truth or 'big story'. There is no fixed truth, no unifying story, no galvanizing purpose. There is nothing that explains me, or locates me in the world as past of a fixed tradition or community. Everything is difference, diversity, plasticity, fluidity. ... It is up to the individual to try to fashion some satisfactory 'self'--some thing that is uniquely and authentically 'me'--by selecting from the google-sized cultural menu.

...Each person on Facebook crafts and builds their own Facebook identity, which consists of my status, my photos, my music, my friends, my travels, my cat, my movies, my books ... [my rashes?]. This is what life is about: each of the individual millions seeking to create an identity in an anonymous, meaningless world by attaching enough genitives [yes, that's spelled correctly] to themselves. By choosing all the things that are mine, perhaps I might have substance in the world. I might be special.

This, of course, is what shopping has become..."

But, there's no need to single out Facebook.

Writing on the state of blogdom,
Caslon Analytics quotes researchers from the Oxford English Dictionary on the 15 most frequently used words in the blogosphere: blogger, blog, stupid, me, myself, my, oh, yeah, ok, post, stuff, lovely, update, nice,
[four letter word beginning with s]

9:21 PM  

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