Your life as an algorithm

In an article titled FYI: Taking Into Account Time Spent on Stories, Facebook tells us about how they are trying to fit all of their users into one box. They take a one-size-fits-all approach to software design–as many do these days–and falsely seem to think that they can make a magic algorithm that will make everybody universally happy.

However, the more they fuck with the feed, the more people get mad. But Facebook market their chaos thus: “The goal of News Feed is to show you the content that matters to you.” No, it’s not. That is categorically a bald-faced lie. The goal of the news feed is to show content in such a fashion that will maximise their revenue.

Continue reading “Your life as an algorithm”

The Fraud of Facebook’s Censorship

This video is worth a watch:

It shows how Facebook are doing the same thing as dodgy click farmers. And this chap goes to some length of explaining that with Facebook’s policy of only showing content to 10-15% of subscribers, that paying for Likes actually results in less engagement with your core audience, because most of the people seeing your content are the click farmers who don’t even read it.

So it’s a scam. But the effects of it go deeper, because if I Like a page (I stick to very few, and mostly they’re band pages I care about so that I know when they’ve got releases or tours coming), then there’s an 85% chance that I won’t see their posts.

Which really makes it completely fucking useless, both to me as a consumer, and as a producer of content.

What’s the alternative? A webpage. A real webpage hosted on a webhosting platform, not as part of someone’s social network. Heck, even a page on Blogger or if you’re too cheap to pay for a website, or if you’re just doing it for fun.

Honestly, I think that RSS feeds are a far better way of consuming content — real content, not the friend interaction that Facebook started out as. With an RSS feed, I can subscribe to whatever content I want — and most CMS/blog software allows you to subscribe to articles and comments together or separately — and they can be categorised.

And best of all? Shit doesn’t get censored by a company hoping to cash in by defrauding people.

Contact Databases: It’s Not Just Facebook

Packetstorm has an article on the aftermath of the Facebook contact info leak. Short story is Facebook merge contact details for users from any source they can. And if you download your contact list, it will contain all the info about each contact that they can scrape from all the other Facebook users’ contact lists.

Yeah. Think about that for a bit.

But it’s not just Facebook. I haven’t tested the extent of this, but I have a GMail contact, who I’ll call Bob. Bob has a GMail address. In my address book, I have his email address, and the name field says “Bob”.

However, when I create an email, I start typing in Bob’s email address, and choose it from the list (which it matches from my contact list). The name that appears in the To: field? His mother-in-law. Which completely fucking threw me for a loop because I had no idea of her name before that. And it’s not his surname, so I was lost.

Turns out, he and his wife set up a Google+ account for her mother. But because said mother didn’t have an email account (or one they could access from where they were), they put in their own email address.

So now, every time I email them, regardless of what I have entered into my own contact list, GMail places the mother-in-law’s name in there. I can’t change this. It’s completely out of my control. It also means that if I CC them on a list, everybody will see the mother-in-law’s name.

This is not good security. This is not privacy. And this is just another example that Google are, in fact, now evil.

Is this an exaggeration on my part? Possibly, but not by much. I don’t trust them any more. I used to be a Google fanboy, but over the last few years my estimation of them has fallen drastically. Not as much as it has for the likes of Facebook, but no doubt, it’s just a matter of time.

We are no longer in control of our information. The only way to maintain privacy in this Too-Much-Information Age is to live off the grid. Not just off the Net, but real life too. Don’t have a phone, don’t have an email address, or someone, somewhere will add you to their contact list. And when they do, everyone else attached to that service knows your info too. Welcome to the Cloud.

When Facebook says “we care about your privacy,” they are lying. They don’t. Their entire business model revolves around your information and everything you do being as public as possible. If they were building a private social network, they wouldn’t have grown as large, they wouldn’t be making a tenth of what they do from ads, and social games would have flopped. It seems Google are in the same business now. Except Google also have access to all your search queries, cached copies of all your websites, all your emails if you use GMail, etc. Think you’re safe on Hotmail? They have a search engine, they have a web browser, they have a mail system, they have a community–well, several actually if you count their Xbox Live, which may have multiple incarnations–and more.

You have no control of your information. Partially, that’s why I run my own web server, and which is why I’m now posting all my rants on here rather than direct to a social network. If I post it on their site, I have no control over it. If I merely post a link to my blog, then my content remains intact and mine.

That PRISM thing you may have heard of? All they’d need to do would be to have access to Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, then they’ve got 95% of pretty much everything.

Heard the phrase “if you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product“? Yeah. That.