What's next, remotely controlling your video chat?

I want to tell you about Jack. He's a  13  year old boy who lives in Washington. Today he woke up at about 7am and threw a rock at a passing cyclist. Nice kid. He thought it was funny and so did his friends. Then he had oatmeal for breakfast, which apparently was too runny. Then it was off to soccer practice with all those lame toeless wannabes he has to put up with every week. Not his fault he didn't make the advanced team. The scrimmage sucked and then he had to wait for his dad, Jack Sr., who is always late. Seems he's always looped too. Marney thinks it would be great to have a dad like that since hers is always on her case about everything. Especially school. She's flunking 3 classes. Might not graduate middle school. But back to Jack. He just wishes he could stay at this mom's over the weekend but she's busy screwing every guy in town. So he has to stay with his dad. Not all bad, he gets to hang out in front of the TV all afternoon drinking what's left in the beer cans laying around. How cool is that?

I've never met Jack. Or Marney. But seems one of my fb friends knows one of their friends and now thanks to Mark Zuckerburg I know everything they say and do 24/7. And for millions upon millions, this is OK. Sure you can stop it. Well, not really.. You can only make sure that your information isn't up there. Until someone else comments on it and then all the world's a stage. So is their any privacy left? Sure. You can ask everyone you know to unsubscribe to you. So your posts and comments simply don't appear for anyone. Which means that basically we're just logging in to see what everyone else is doing. Creeping my daughter says.

I wrote a blog about this. How silly it was to be on Facebook if you weren't going to participate. I had a friend doing that. He still does. I criticized him for it. I take it back. I was, ahem, um, wow this is hard,.... wrong. There. I. Was. Wrong. Not so hard I guess to say. Facebook is a huge repository of information about you. Your family. Friends. Job. Coworkers. And now it's even better.

Soon, if I still want to use Facebook, I can know exactly where my 20 year old daughter is. Who she's with. What she is listening to. Reading. Watching. Eating. And well... everything she is doing. In real time. I was 20 once. That's unacceptable.

And bullying. It's bad enough now. Imagine if everyone could see what Jack was thinking and feeling, even if he didn't want them to because they aren't his friends. They are someone else's friends. And now they have the opportunity to see everything in his life without his permission and use it. To bully further. Sure we hope that all this newfound social interaction is used for the common good. We hope for world peace too.

Have you ever commented on a friend's wall or post about your job? something you would never post on your own wall where a coworker might see it? Well, they'll see it now.

That comment you made on a friend's post about your boss being a jackass? Well Jackass just saw it scroll on down his screen. That comment you made about your sister's little drinking problem? Yep. She saw it.

Mark Zuckerburg wants us all to have a really intimate social experience on the web. The kind we DON'T want or have in real life. And there's a reason for that. In real life, we decide what to share about ourselves and with others. In his world, he decides. And that's just too creepy for me.

I was going to simply deactivate. But I need to watch over my kids. So I will stay in the background and be, well, a creeper. I've removed my photos and work and school and any other information that I only share with friends. I've disallowed any apps from accessing my information. And here's a warning. When you agree to allow those apps in, they are in. They access what they want when they want and use it how they want. Why would a game need 24/7 access to your data on FB when you aren't playing? Think about it. When you agree to allow them to email you? And perhaps allow their trusted partners to email you? And have your information? I can't stress this enough. Whatever they learn off of facebook about you they can use. And so can the scammers.

I'll leave you with this true story. I will omit one or two details so no one gets ideas on how to replicate this. Guy trolls facebook and in 3 hours gets enough personal information to have someone's home phone forwarded to his cell. Then, he contacts a local bank, one his "mark" likes on Facebook. Convinces them he has forgotten how to log into his account. Thanks to Facebook, he has enough personal info to do so. Of course they call his "home phone" to verify. Which is this guys cell. So he logs in. Starts transferring money to another account. On a weekend. Sure by Monday the bank has figured it out. But by then, our scam artist is a few thousand richer and moving on to the next target. That girl who works at the local coffee shop? She's on Facebook. He's going to go in and re-introduce himself. They met the other night at the Vics concert? He was sitting behind her and her friend Gina? They were in school together at St. Mark's? Chem class with Mr. Imasucker?

Is anyone beginning to understand this? Social networking can be great. In fact the new timeline seems historic. Epic even. Here. Watch.


So great huh? I did something like that for my daughter's graduation. Problem here is that it's NOT PRIVATE. It's in cyberspace and not locked up in a cybervault like your picassa album. There's no security. You say don't share but someone else might anyway. The history of your life for all to use as they wish. You can do this for yourself with software and share it with your family friends in other ways. This can truly be a fabulous tool.

But only if you control the flow and visibility of your information. With Facebook, do you really think you do?

And thus today's title. What if you sign up for video chat and provide access to your camera?... which I have NOT done... what's to stop the program from activating your video camera without your permission? What if they programmed the app to give control to another user who wants to visit with you? Or spy on you? Where does all this stop?

Personally, I prefer Google +. I would prefer it more if my friends were there. I invited them, and a few showed up. But Facebook is like a drug for many. They reel you in and you somehow think your life will never be the same if you leave. Trust me it will. Better yet, pick up your phone and CALL people. Socialize. Get out of the house. You do not need to know everyone's life story every minute of every day. I wonder what dating is like when you already know everything about a person from their FB life history. Half the fun is getting to know someone by having those conversations that begin with "when I was 7." Would you go out with someone who publicly dumped their ex on FB? Or thanks to relationship status you know has been through 10 in a month? Hmm? Or seeing a comment he/she posted about the threesome they had last night when their bio says "Born-Again Christian?"

So if you love the idea of everything in your life, and everyone else's, being exposed to 750 million others then I suppose this is the ultimate experience for you. For me, Facebook was a great way to reconnect with some people who were important in my life and still are. I'll try to keep those contacts with me as I veer away.

Now if only people would share things with me on google + once in a while I'd at least feel like I wasn't cooped up in my own world. But sadly, I'm not elevated into anyone's high circle of sharing yet. Perhaps maybe that's the appeal of Facebook for so many. You feel like everyone cares about you because they share with you. Get over it. It's not about you, it's about them.

So I will spend this weekend filling my contact list in google with all my facebook friends. I'll take your phone numbers and addresses and personal information and store it permanently. So we can stay in touch. And now some of you are rethinking having that information out there aren't you? Because FB promises when you deactive the access to your private info is blocked. Comforting isn't it. Don't worry. I'm on your side. And if you are that worried about me having your info you shouldn't be my FB friend anyway. I'm guessing you wouldn't want to be friends in the real world. And therein lies the heart of the problem.

Nobody actually has 1,079 friends. They are FB buddies. Learn to know the difference.







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