Cats, blogs and the internet
More profitable Metro prepares new online strategy

Has Facebook reverted to lies to tempt us into foolish behaviour?

Here's a thing that has puzzled me lately: most times I've logged into Facebook I've been met by Facebook ads claiming this or that friend of mine on the network has used Facebook Friendfiender, urging me to follow their lead.

The thing that's puzzled me about this is that a substantial portion of my Facebook friends are very savy when it comes to technology and privacy. Quite a few of them are journalists well versed in how to protect their privacy and their sources online, and I just couldn't imagine any of these giving Facebook access to their email boxes and -contacts by using Friendfiender. Others are privacy and/or anti-surveillance campaigners, I could't quite see them using Friendfiender either. So when Facebook claimed my FB-friend Leo Plaw, a web developer and artist, had used Friendfiender I shot him an email to double-check. Here's his reply:

"Thanks for heads up. Facebook is lying. FB has become the sneakies bunch of weasels. Blog that one."

Maybe I should start double-checking every time Faceboook claims one or more of my FB-friends have used Friendfinder. This sort of advertisement woud be against the law under Norwegian jurisdisction as it's misleading. I wonder, how does it hold up under US jurisdiction?


This does not surprise me.

I recently deleted my Facebook account as I didn't care for the CEO's attitude about privacy nor Facebook's ever-changing privacy policy.

(It may have been an extreme response, I know.)

I don't think that's extreme, it's a perfectly valid way to mark your disapproval of the whole affair. For me it's different because keeping an eye on what's happening on Facebook is part of my job, it's a useful work tool, and I'm also curious about how things evolve and how people adjust to the way things evolve even if I don't approve of the ever-changing privacy policy. Also, I like many of the things Facebook enables me to do, the people I hang out with there etc. I think the trick is just to not treat it as a private place, it's not...

A rummage through my (rather limited) collection of blogs didn't shed any light on this, although I found similar complaints via Google - which has made me curious. So *if*you*would*like*, I'll friend you with some dummy "A spod" accounts and then leave them dormant. Any FriendFinder ads from those accounts will then be provably false, and you can bring them to the attention of the Norwegian authorities. (I suspect I won't be able to bring them to the attention of the ASA, since the ad won't have been sent to me.)

FWIW I think we are passing beyond the point where it's possible to remain anonymous on the internet. The recent story about Ron Bowes scraping Facebook only emphasises this. (If you've missed it:

I hope the back's fully sorted, now.

@delmer I didn't understand this reaction until I experienced it myself. It's a trust issue. We are trusting websites like we trust people, and so, over time, we become accustomed to their behaviour, however bad that is. Then, when they drop below the baseline they've established, even if that means dropping from the gutter to the sewer, we feel shocked and betrayed and outraged.

Well put, as always, on the trust issue. I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of trust online recently: an old issue I've been returning to from new angles. Perhaps one of these days I'll even get around to writing about it;-)

I'm not so sure there is a point in trying to prove anything about this Facebook friendfiender issue, except perhaps to call Facebook to hear what they have to say on this. I get this Facebook ad for most all my Facebook friends, at least those I communicate with often on Facebook, these days, which indicates to me it's all bollocks.

It worries me that some people could get that ad for me as well, even if I've never used friendfiender. Because if using Friendfiender is synonymous with giving Facebook access to your email contacts, which the ad indicates, it is another way to say you don't care much about privacy or, if you're a journalist, about protecting you contacts.

As for my back, yes it's finally almost back to normal. If you'd been following me on Facebook you'd know the full story;-) In short, I felt it had improved so much I took a cycling class and it got all painful again. So, after one month of backpain, I finally went to the doctor who sent me to a physiotherapist who unlocked some locked muscles and gave me strict orders to relax and drink red wine for a few days;-)

Relaxation is not something I do well, but I obediently went home and opened a bottle of wine & picked up a half decent book of some 1000 pages or so - which seems to have been just the right cure ...

Mmmmm, this could be tasty

Five Californians who believe Zuckerber's outfit lied about their use of Friend Finder are using state law to bring Facebook to book. If Facebook has been deliberately duplicitous, then this case might have the legs to out-run Usain Bolt. Of course it's gonna be difficult to prove, but if two bloggers had amassed a pile of supporting evidence, then maybe they'd be on a plane to the Sunshine State right now. :-P

And FWIW, I saw an announcement from the ASA suggesting they don't have the power to hold companies to account over advertising on their own site. :shock: That will change in March 2011.

The comments to this entry are closed.