August 16, 2007

felt violated lately?

if not, just jump on facebook, that ought to take care of it. rg's rage for this latest trend-of-all-trends has reached critical mass for the following reasons:

1) unlike its sister networking tool myspace, facebook doesn't have a random search function; the 'user' or curious net wanderer needs to register. so if, like rg, emails have popped into your inbox with 'joe blogs added you as a friend on facebook' and, being the curious person you are you decide to see what all this means, you need to provide (a) your name, and (b) your email address. there is no option for checking out joe blogs' profile, or the site in general, without providing this information.

this is the part where rg gets livid.

2) by virtue of logging on, your profile is created and you will find in a short period of time friends requesting confirmation from you so you can join their hub, or whatever the tech-savvy term is. rg views this as nothing more than glorified spamming. not being an uber tech whiz, rg has been troubled by the how of all this: how do people know that i'm suddenly a member? then it dawns on me...

(and rg is completely open to anyone who is in fact an uber tech whiz to explain the process or set rg straight on any confusion apparent from this post)

3) in effect, it's a virus philosophy. how could it be anything else? a user's email address must be the key. if rg logs on, facebook checks other members and anyone with rg's email address in their contact list automatically 'invites' rg to be a friend in their network. how else could it work? this would explain how (real, human) friends of rg's registered with facebook have invited rg to be a contact, but didn't actually or consciously do the inviting; it occurred through some other mysterious, automatic means.

4) privacy, or utter lack thereof. facebook certainly has an option to limit/expand who can view your user profile, but the bitch of this is you can only do it once you've registered. surely this means that the email address you register with has already been bouncing here, there and everywhere 'inviting' people in your contacts to be your 'friend' before you limit access to your profile. rg's head is about to explode.

5) deleting your account. not possible, from what rg can gather. facebook enables you to deactivate, but not delete entirely. rg wonders if this results in remaining a 'registered' user, but a 'sleeper', if you will. is rg's account information still considered accessible by facebook?

truth be told, rg does feel violated, cheated, conned and exposed. i have the right to surrender my anonymity if i choose; i absolutely object to this right being denied by something as insidious as farcebook.


jade said...

i only joined facebook a couple of weeks ago so i don't know too much about it, but i can correct you on point (3).

you CHOOSE to search your address book for any friends with facebooks. it brings up a list with those registered and you can select with checkboxes those who you want to invite. i, for example, only selected people who, like yourself, already have an internet "presence" and i thought might be interested or even already registered. so facebook doesn't automatically scan through your address book for contacts to send invites to, you have to ask it to. so far i've done it three times and each time new people in my address book have signed up - it's amazing how quickly it's TAKING OVER THE WORLD ;)

however, i wasn't aware you couldn't delete your profile once you've created it, and that IS shit. i too was peeved to find i had to make a profile to check it out. but then i got sucked into it (predictably...) so i haven't tried to delete mine yet.

just this week i've had someone i'm not interested in getting back in contact with try to "friend" me three times. i just ignore their requests. however, it would be far preferable if the fact you were registered was hidden until you chose to reveal it, i agree.

RG - parental politico said...

very helpful, jade.

if i understand your point correctly: person A nominates or invites person B to be their friend; the 'friend' request received by person B isn't an automatic response to person B registering with facebook. person B can then choose which of the contacts waiting to be confirmed in their profile they 'activate' or accept as a friend.

as an aside, what happens to the other people who aren't accepted as friends, such as the serial harasser (a whole other point) you mentioned? do they whither and die from rejection, or know that person B has no interest in them being part of their network (given they most likely know you're registered and can obtain such information by searching)? can you remove their 'request'?

privacy in such a public sphere as the internet is more complex an issue than rg can fathom. however, at the very least, the user should have the option to relinquish their privacy rather than have that decision made by default by another party.

missv said...

I still don't really understand the whole facebook thing. I have set up a profile but I haven't been very active on it.

However I have had one person who I haven't seen in over 15 years "friend" me and then this person has been uploading photos from the past and 'tagging' the people in the photos, including me. I don't particularly want photos of myself that I have no control over, appearing on the internet (particularly from the awkward adolescent stage).

Although no malice is intended it does feel rather violating - I don't like the lack of control you have in this situation.

RG - parental politico said...

spot on, miss v.

rg supposes one of the key differences between facebook and, say, a blog of website is the 'friends' factor, and tagging as you mention.

for example, rg can post a personal picture on the mother load and the only people who will see it are those who stumble across the site. in addition, rg can email those in the picture and send it along to them to see (or scream in horror at) and distribute at their own discretion, should they wish to. nb: the people in the picture get to choose to do that.

rg suspects it's far less likely a person would would send a picture of old friends (for example only) to their entire email contact list - most likely on the assumption that not everybody would be interested, or it's not everybody's business. the sender would need to exercise some thought and/or intent.

(based on rg's limited experience) i feel this is avoided with facebook. 'friends' are notified every time a profile is updated (again, from rg's understanding) so technically if you've got 100 friends, each one of those is able to be alerted to a shit shot of you that's been posted. how could a person not, as you rightly say, feel they lack control?

this is where the definition of 'friend' comes in - were it a 'real' friend, you would most likely be able to request that such an image, or whatever, be removed or explain that it upsets/violates you; the facebook concept of 'friend' is potentially a stranger who knows jack-all about you, and you about them, and is most likely unconcerned about 'feelings' and other esoteric notions.

Lad Litter said...

I'm on it, after a friend invited me but I don't like it. Thanks for the advice on your great post. As a blogger I ilike putting my thoughts out there, not myself.

RG - parental politico said...

ditto, lad litter.

like many others, rg values a venue where the views and opinions are aired, not the person.