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« No hurry | Main | Well, no »

Sep 27, 2011


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Thanks for this.


I'm done picking cotton. I may reactivate when I feel sufficiently out of whatever loop I may have been in, but now it's just freedom. Oh for the days of livejournal: more words and ideas, less hipster-image and socially-sanctioned paranoia. BLAH.


I use Facebook to follow one author, and a couple family contacts.

I wouldn't use if more, even if I had cause to. because of this kind of shoddy coding

And yes, I think it's shoddy coding, not anything more sinister.


who really thinks *anything* one does online is private? the comments on this site are findable with a simple search query. does that mean we're "picking cotton" on ed's site? (that's a highly distasteful analogy, btw)

facebook is a social network. their front-end is designed to optimize that position. if one don't want to share his/her activity, all one has to do is stop liking things, telling the world where you are, etc. blaming facebook for cashing in on and optimizing the visibility of those personal decisions is kinda goofy. yes, i understand that facebook has been pressured to provide explicit privacy controls, but come on, really? is this an actual user concern or a bunch of early adopter geeks and devs picking apart the facebook machine because it's an easy target? that was a rhetorical question, of course, as users all across facebook land are hearing about this "big brother part 126 intrusion" and will start an outcry in 3, 2, 1...

Ed Cone

Big difference between leaving a comment in a public forum and having one's activities at multiple websites tracked by Facebook even after you've logged out of the service.

I agree that users of social networks should understand the principle that if you don't pay for a product, the product is you, but Facebook has consistently pushed the boundaries on privacy and has sometimes had to pull back (e.g., Beacon), and this seems to me to be more of the same.

So I don't think it's just noise about nothing.


For those of us still trying to figure all this out, does signing into multiple platforms via Twitter serve up the same tracking issues as Facebook?


Meno, apparently so.

I have no idea what "picking cotton" means in this context. A Google search failed to enlighten me.

"...is this an actual user concern..."

Sean, since I read this post a few hours ago, I have visited other web sites, with and without Facebook open, and I haven't deleted cookies. So I'm not freaked out about the tracking, but it's good to know.

Ed Cone

I'm an actual user, and it's a concern to me, although, like Michele, it's more something I'll keep an eye on than something I'll panic about today.

Meno, some good discussion, including info on other services, here.


The cotton reference was in regard to the plantation reference in the original post.

Facebook *is* noise, but it's a noise everyone is making and enjoying and that's okay...


Thanks Michele and Ed.


Thanks, Dan. I'm slow. ;)

You're welcome, Meno.

Ed Cone

The reference is to digital sharecropping, a term used by Nick Carr way back in 2006, in the early days of Web 2.0, and defined in an earlier post linked in the one linked here: "By putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those same masses any ownership over the product of their work, Web 2.0 provides an incredibly efficient mechanism to harvest the economic value of the free labor provided by the very, very many and concentrate it into the hands of the very, very few."


Michele, I'm lackadaisical on my best days.


facebook is fulfilling the promise of web 2.0 in a number of ways, but only one is ruffling people's feathers -- making money. online privacy is fantasy. who in their right mind trusts a stranger with private information, let alone a faceless company? speaking of sharing data, most people are hypocritical as they love it when they see their flickr shots on a seemingly unconnected map service (which made a business deal with flickr), but lose their minds when another company is aggregating their facebook activity and facebook makes coin. why?

activity is to data as a digital image is to data. shared data = $$$.

we're all a part of the machine. some spots in the machine, such as mechanical turk, feel good to us. other places don't feel good or bad, such as here. all of our comments here at ed's spot, a public forum, are generating revenue for organic search engines, as well as ed himself. i know it's close to nothing, ed, but that's not the point. if you were better at generating revenue, it shouldn't be the point either. i've no problem with contributing to this part of the machine, because i'll stand by my words and allow them to be mined, used, etc. however any person developing an algorithm pleases.

so if the concern is that facebook isn't "respecting my privacy" -- no matter the degree, from onsite to off -- then people aren't understanding the promise of web 2.0 (hint: it isn't just for people to feel connected and find useful info). at least that's what i feel, as i only publish activity that i don't mind being in the public domain, no matter what "controls" facebook offers up.

my advice: if you don't want certain things public, by god, don't trust a tech company to keep it private! you know?

Ed Cone

Again, Sean, I see a big difference between comments at a public forum and a service tracking your activity at multiple websites when you are not signed into that service.

The issue goes beyond not wanting certain things to be public, it's also about not knowing that certain things will be public (or captured for corporate use). And it's not just your words that are being mined, it's info on purchases etc at non-FB sites as well (from the link: "Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit.")

You are a sophisticated user, with strong opinions about privacy issues. Not everyone is as knowledgeable as you are, and not everyone who does follow this stuff agrees with you. I respect your point of view, but I don't think this is a trivial concern, or that only noobs find it worth discussing. (I'm also missing the "it's bad to make lots of money" message -- I see attempts to explain the business (Carr's was written back when this was less well understood), but I don't think people hate it, and obviously a lot of people feel they are getting value from these services.)

I tend to agree that online privacy is a losing battle, but that doesn't mean it's an irrelevant one. I tend not to post a lot of info or sign up for a lot of services at FB, less out of concern for privacy than lack of interest, but I'd much prefer that the company was clear about its policies, including opt-in/opt-out for things like this.


my comment was written in a rush prior to a call, so if i didn't clearly communicate that i agree that there's a difference between comments on a blog and this (and other) facebook privacy issues, i apologize.

the point i was trying to convey was that everything we add to the web -- posts, comments, video, images, tags, geo-location, browser movement, etc. -- all of it should be considered public, no matter what any company or person tells you, because ALL interactions online are currently or can be tracked and/or used for profit. our legal system is so inept in this realm (online privacy issues), the question of the DoJ slowing down one of the last major US industries which just happens to feeds on user data and interaction, well, it just seems like a lost cause.

so no, i'm not saying this is the way it should be, but it isn't surprising when internet companies stretch the boundaries of preconceived notions of privacy on the daily to further the bottom-line. i mean, think about how many people wouldn't purchase items online until well after 2000? now e-commerce is an unnecessary term, as the vast majority of people buy everything from streaming video to underwear in the cloud. this industry produces companies that can aggregate pennies like the dudes from office space ("legally"), stomping on hugely lobbied traditional concepts like copyright and then get massive evaluations. so while it's true that not all domains have equal degrees of eff'ed up potential, it's also true that they all reside within a platform (the web) with built in abilities (hyperlinks) to hook into UGC data (with newfangled algorithms and cookies) and move it about for profit.

my "noobs" rant was about the annoying, self-righteous status posts that soon follows an industry mind waxing poetic about a potential issue (dave did use the word "may" in his post), which then makes news in the tech ecosystem, gets written up on a yahoo! blog or similar outlet where millions of people see on their "homepage," who then follow up with the aforementioned self-righteous indignation on facebook itself... when the waxed upon issue may or may not even be an issue in the first place. it had nothing to do with who finds privacy issues worth discussing.

forgive me for the vent -- the circle is annoying. just an observation.

i agree about policy clarity being a good thing, but as far as i can tell from further searches on the issue of external browsing activity appearing in the facebook interface, this privacy concern was a log-out bug and that facebook fixed it... or so they tell you.

so again, unless i take facebook at their word, i'm not sure what fields are being sowed or sharecropped or whatever, by whom and to what degree... which leads me back to saying that no online interaction is a private interaction. admittedly, i've tired of trying to force a self-created and maintained geni back into it's proverbial bottle, so there's that.


Yeah, screw facebook.

Billy Jones

And tracking is only the beginning. Some Facebook and Twitter apps are actually taking control of what you post.


I wish I could click "like" on Dan's comment. ;)


Oh you flatter me. Stop.


If you had a Wordup profile page I'd write something really idiotic on your Wall. ;)



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