A few comments on Facebook in particular, and online safety in general:

A friend in The Netherlands writes:

There’s a lot going on in Europe about an old chat session (especially the last line) that turned up where Mark Zuckerberg says:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS.
Friend: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks.

But… well… he’s right!

Although I have no idea whether this purported exchange ever occurred, I have to agree in principle.

Without wanting to insult anyone, posting anything confidential anywhere on the Web that hasn’t got an “https” address qualifies for Zuckerman’s remark, IMNSHO, (and sometimes I wonder about SSL and TLS).

I don’t trust anyone, especially people who’ll open any file or click any link because it came from “someone they trust.”

#1 – Do they  trust the one who sent it to the friend? Do they  even know who it was?
#2 – How do they know who sent it? Ever heard of  botnets?
#3 – How would they know if a file was safe, or if it had just infected their computer and sent all their friends’ email addresses to Eastern Europe?  Do they think those people provide pop-ups to keep them informed?

I delete, unopened, an amazing quantity of stuff that was sent to me by people whom I would otherwise trust with my life. Eighty percent of people who go online regularly haven’t the vaguest idea of good safety practices — true statistic. Scary.*

I’ve heard otherwise sensible people say, “Well, you have to trust someone!”  Well, no, you don’t. It’s like unsafe sex — you may have a little more fun at the time, but the potential price is just too high.

The Facebook and other online hoorah about confidentiality is sheer b.s. from spoiled brats who want their hands held to keep them out of trouble, but insist on their “freedom” when having them held doesn’t suit.

Bottom line: If you don’t want people to know your shit, don’t spread it around in public.  Period.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too…to sort of but not quite mix a metaphor.  Grow up, people!

Zuckerberg created a service that 400 million of you seem to find relatively indispensable.  He provided it free.  It’s still free, but he and his investors want to get some of the millions of dollars that they’ve spent back in some fashion.  That’s their privilege, and they’ve earned it.

If you don’t like that, it’s easy to deal with: just delete your account at Facebook.  And please, stop the whining. It’s so…so…eighth grade.

*If you don’t know the meaning of “https”, “SSL”, and “TLS”, you’re most likely one of the folks who don’t know their encryption from their elbow.  Here’s a link to get you started if you fall into the great unsecured 80%:  http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/

2 thoughts on “A few comments on Facebook in particular, and online safety in general:

  1. Carl

    Thoughtful advice, Bill. From the get-go, I’ve been conscious of the permanence of net data. It’s captured in myriad ways, by diverse interests. I never considered anything on Facebook private. I do post things with “restricted” access, but still nothing that I would worry about everyone on the globe seeing. For instance, I would only post current vacation photos if my house was secure (i.e: house-sitter).

    I also find the hysteria around the “loss” of privacy on Facebook a bit trite. It might be “monetized”, but if I am thoughtful about what I post, there can be a gain for both of us.

  2. Laura

    Have you ever tried deleting a Facebook account? It doesn’t really disappear. I deleted mine a few years ago and could still find all my information online. When I reactivated the account it was all right where I had left it. Telling people to delete a Facebook account is meaningless. Anything you put on Facebook is there permanently, deleted account or not. You may as well leave the account open which lets you have some control over it versus abandoning it.

    Better yet: Change it all to bogus information and let them waste their efforts.

    Fact is, you have no privacy on the Web, Laura, as you’ve heard me preach before. If it ain’t encrypted, it ain’t private — and you’d best use really strong encryption, then forget the password.


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