Felix Writes: Stay Away From Facebook

DigitalThoughts / Stay Away From Facebook

I never trusted Facebook. A walled garden, where you enter content that is subsequently inaccessible from outside, and which tracks your every move on the Web, and shares your information with way too many people, is anathema to me. But sometimes I need to bend my principles.

I recently got a job that among other things involved working with the Facebook API. Naturally, that wouldn't have gone so well unless I understood how FB worked. So I reluctantly made an account, using a pseudonym and not actually posting anything. (I also set the privacy preferences tightly -- the menu item is quite visible nowadays.)

But then the job only lasted one day (yes, another one; found another in the mean time, though), and I pondered what to do with the account. And though Facebook, from the little I've seen, is completely useless to me, I have friends there. So why not? Changed my name to the real one in the settings, and tried to start connecting with them.

The account was unusable now, apparently pending a confirmation. Huh? I checked my e-mail repeatedly. Nothing. Were they expecting to call me? But I never gave them a phone number... And why did it take a confirmation in the first place? People use pseudonyms all the time, for a variety of reasons, and I was switching away from a pseudonym in the first place. (Not that the software had any way of knowing that; did I mention how you shouldn't let a machine dictate policy?)

In the end, I did about the only thing that was still enabled and deactivated the account. And now I'm wondering: who the hell do they think they are? A secret police? And a private one at that? Not to mention operating across national borders? Gee, Facebook, thanks for making it clear once and for all that I was right about you in the first place. Way to blow the opportunity to turn a critic into a customer.

Stay away from that hellhole, people. Just... stay away. And if you know how to do it, also configure your browser to reject cookies and scripts from them. Nothing is too paranoid when dealing with these guys.

2011-02-02