For current political commentary, see the daily political notes.
RMS' Bio | The GNU Project
Toggle Dark Theme
Why you should not 'use' (i.e., be used by) Facebook.
I have never had a Facebook account. There is a Facebook account called "Richard Stallman", but it is an impostor.
Putting the photo of someone on Facebook (or Instagram) contributes to surveillance of that person. Please don't post any photos there that include me, and I suggest you avoid posting photos of anyone else too.
If you feel your organization needs a "presence" in Facebook see this page.
Here's a good article to present many of Facebook's injustices to your friends.
Control of media
Facebook requires useds to use their 'real' (the name they normally go by as defined by Facebook) on the site or risk having their accounts suspended.
Facebook is not your friend. Its 'real name' policy is enough reason to refuse to let it use you, but there is so much more nastiness in Facebook.
Facebook spontaneously asked its useds questions trying to expose useds who had not given their real names.
Facebook with its 'real name' policy makes itself the arbiter of other people's selves.
Under pressure from cross-dressers, Facebook said it would relax the 'real name' policy and allow people to use aliases, but only if they are generally known by those aliases or if they were victims of certain types of abuse or stalking.
This relieves a very specific acute problem, but does not enable ordinary people to use Facebook without being tracked.
However, reportedly Facebook has not really changed the policy.
Even if Facebook makes this change, it will be unacceptable because companies and the state will be able to connect the account with your real identity. In order for the site not to mistreat people, it must let you have one account to show your boss and your parents, another for your friends, and others for various kinds of political activism.
What happened to Koko the clown demonstrates why it is very foolish to talk with your clients through Facebook or to keep any important information in a Facebook account.
Facebook makes a practice of asking its useds* to rat on their friends who use aliases.
People who don't dare identify themselves feel compelled to be used by Facebook, so they register under pseudonyms, which makes them vulnerable to blackmail by those who threaten to report their real names to Facebook.
These people feel compelled to be useds of Facebook because their friends and relatives are useds of Facebook. In other words, their friends and relatives are victim-coperpetrators: initially victims of Facebook, they contribute to its wrongs by pressuring others to be useds of Facebook.
Don't do this to others — don't be used by Facebook yourself!
Facebook silently changed its search system to expose the existence of hidden accounts.
Facebook has frequently removed postings about protests (both planned and ongoing), political satire, and various political issues. Specific examples are given below.
Facebook deleted the news item announcing a major protest against Monsanto.
Facebook blocked a page announcing a protest in Russia obeying orders from the Russian government.
The order says the protest is illegal. In a tyrannical state, protests are generally illegal.
Facebook has yielded to Turkey's religious censorship, just as previously it yielded to China's political censorship.
Jim Wright forcefully condemned the pressure put on Americans to endorse all the bellicose or dangerous "responses" to the September 11 attacks. Facebook censored it, apparently for political reasons.
This shows the danger of depending on facebook.
Facebook deleted without explanation the page of a publisher in the UK that had posted articles about publications that criticize Erdoğan.
The article shows that Facebook has censored on behalf of Erdoğan before.
Facebook blocked the account of activist Shaun King after he posted a racist email that was sent to him.
Algorithmic filtering can affect history, not just hide history. Facebook's filtering algorithm suppressed news about the riot by uniformed thugs in Ferguson until after it became national news.
Facebook censorship guidelines have been leaked. They include political censorship catering to various countries that do not respect freedom of speech.
Facebook has censored political satire aimed at the UK unemployment agency and associated organizations, apparently at the request of a target of the satire.
Facebook banned a video made by the Swedish Cancer Society about breast cancer because it showed cartoon figures with circles as breasts.
It got Facebook to accept the video by putting in squares for the breasts.
The real problem here is not that Facebook draws the line at the wrong place (though it does). It is that Facebook has so much influence that organizations such cancer charities feel obliged to publish through Facebook.
Facebook censored an ACLU post about censorship.
Facebook deletes postings for obscure reasons, and even denies deleting them. It is not safe as a platform for journalism.
By the way, I cannot understand why people make a fuss about just how they find out that someone they loved is dead. Compared to the fact of that person's death, such details seem insignificant.
If Facebook achieves its goal of becoming the main publication site for journalism, it will be a new chokepoint for censorship.
Facebook wants to present itself as a virtual town square … a censored one.
Facebook deleted a statement by a human rights group, then said that was a mistake.
That Facebook invited the group to post the statement again — instead of undoing the deletion — demonstrates arrogance.
However, the problem here goes deeper. It is not good for human rights groups' (or anyone's) statements to be posted using a platform where statements are censored.
Facebook arbitrarily censors and closes the accounts of prisoners.
Facebook did an experiment in biasing the filtering of useds'* news feeds (which are always filtered by Facebook in other ways) towards the emotionally positive or the emotionally negative. This experiment was widely condemned as "unethical" based on details, but this criticism was naive in that it disregarded the fundamentally unethical nature of Facebook.
Facebook deleted a photo of two men kissing, which was used to support a kiss-in in a pub that had shown bias against gays.
The person who posted it thinks that Facebook is not anti-gay, but rather than it is quick to censor whatever someone complains about.
While it might seem that the former would be worse, I think the latter makes Facebook really dangerous. Don't use Facebook as a substitute for your own web site!
Facebook censored a photo of two men kissing, posted as a protest against India's criminalization of homosexuality.
There's more about Facebook censorship.
Reportedly it is possible to actually delete a Facebook account.
I would not suggest trusting Facebook to delete all the data it has about you, but you may as well try.
Facebook buys personal data from various data brokers, and correlates that with what it figures out directly about its useds.
Facebook advises useds that they can tell the data brokers to stop collecting data about them, but it doesn't ensure that this really works. After all, no one will punish Facebook for false claims of that sort.
Facebook snoops on surfers via disqus comments: when a page uses disqus for comments, the proprietary disqus software loads a Facebook software package into the browser of every anonymous visitor to the page, and makes the page's URL available to Facebook.
Facebook provided personal data to Mastercard.
The data was provided in anonymized form, but Mastercard could reidentify the data by correlating it with other data.
Facebook's "conversation topics" experiment actively shows certain selected useds everything that their "friends" are doing.
A detailed, long list of the data Facebook collects about each used, for targeting ads. Facebook may collect other information which is not used for targeting ads.
Look at the way the article ends by considering it incredible that someone might not submit to this. Maybe Facebook has Peter Eckersley, but it doesn't have me. Don't be a used of Facebook!
Facebook bought WhatsApp and committed not to combine that data with Facebook's other data. Now it is going to do just that.
For Facebook, any commitment is meant to be broken, after a delay for people to forget about it.
The Facebook app obtained useds' whole contact lists, either directly grabbing them or by tricking useds into agreeing without knowing it.
You have to expect a nonfree program to be malicious.
Facebook's app has started scanning photos people take with their phones.
The article says "camera", but that word is misleading; cameras do not have a Facebook app installed in them. This applies only to phones and tablets.
I suspect the face recognition is done by sending the photos to a Facebook server. If so, the server could do other things with those photos. It could save them and send them to Big Brother. From now on, when people want to snap me with a mobile, I will verify it does not have a Facebook app installed before I say yes.
Facebook's mobile app snoops on SMS messages.
When useds log in to a site through Facebook, Facebook gives the site access to lots of information about the used.
If this is what a site demands from you, you should not touch it anyway!
Facebook also announced it planned to track mouse movement even in the absence of a click.
Pages that contain Facebook "like" buttons enable Facebook to track visitors to those pages. Facebook tracks Internet users that see "like" buttons, even users who never visited facebook.com and never click on those buttons.
The ACLU has a way of enabling users to click a Facebook "like" button, which avoids this problem. Its pages have a link called "like us on Facebook" that leads to a Facebook page where it is possible to push a "like" button for the ACLU. But if you don't follow that link, Facebook gets no information about your visit to the ACLU page.
This page gives details about how much Facebook tracks people's browsing, which applies even to people that don't have Facebook accounts.
Facebook's tracking of useds through cookies combined with Like buttons violates EU law.
Facebook has turned on automatic face recognition on photos.
Facebook says that it only suggests identifications for faces in photos for people who are the used's friends. However, it might run the algorithm over every photo posted and not publicly announce the results.
I ask people not to post photos of me on Facebook. You might want to make the same request, for you and your children.
Facebook goes to great lengths to hide some privacy settings. Apparently it wants to claim useds have that option while making it so hard to find that people won't use it.
Innocent-seeming text posted on Facebook could cause you lots of trouble, due to development of systems to deduce things about you.
Facebook has automatically pushed useds' @facebook.com email addresses (which they never asked for) into the contact lists in other people's phones.
The lesson here is that it is a fundamental mistake to trust a company such as Facebook to give anyone data about you. It will give them the data it wants them to have, not the data you want to give them.
How did Mari Sherkin end up on a dating site unwillingly? Facebook opens browser windows showing other companies' sites, which trick Facebook useds* into agreeing to let those companies get their personal data from Facebook.
Facebook may be able to identify whether each used is mentally ill or not.
Facebook can tell when its useds are asleep. Via Facebook, others can tell that too.
When Facebook sees two useds are in the same physical location, it may suggest that the two 'friend' each other.
This can cause lots of trouble for people in certain circumstances. But remember that the NSA is doing the same thing, and doesn't let you opt out — except the way I do, by not carrying a mobile phone.
Facebook and Master Card will join forces to profile Master Card customers so banks can push them to spend more.
By doing this, Master Card is ratting on its customers. This reinforces the point that using a credit card enables others to take advantage of you. It also interferes with your efforts to limit your spending.
Don't be tracked — pay cash.
Many things can be determined about a Facebook used*, with pretty good accuracy, from the used's published list of "likes".
If you do as I do, and reject Facebook, you are safe from this form of snooping.
How can we get the news items that interest us, without telling a server what criterion to use? Simple: download lists of items, and have software on our own machine decide which articles to show. This software can fetch additional articles (which it doesn't actually show us) just to create a false trail.
Facebook predicts who new useds* know, based on their phone lists and email address lists. Along with the phone and email lists of all the other useds.
This is a measure of how complete and dangerous Facebook surveillance is.
It implies that giving your email or phone list to a company is mistreatment of everyone in that list!
The NSA tracks Americans' social networks, and Facebook is just one of its sources.
Thus, if you talk about your friends in Facebook, you're ratting on them. If you say that you saw John and Arthur, you tell the NSA that John knows Arthur. If John and Arthur are dissidents, or journalists, your information will help the government suppress dissent or journalism.
Facebook invites useds* to nag other useds to fill in their profiles with all sorts of personal information.
Facebook has a new trick to get people to identify their spouses and babies in photos.
Facebook asks its useds to provide their entire list of other people's email addresses.
This by itself is surveillance of those other people, but Facebook uses it to go further and try to guess the relationships of people who are not Facebook useds* (along with collecting their phone numbers, and email and postal addresses).
That information must be worth some money to companies. It is surely worth money to the secret police of any country that isn't democratic enough.
However, the principal wrong here is not that Facebook can guess which non-useds know you or me. It is that Facebook collects information from its useds about whether they know you or me.
I think we can formulate the principle that any social network that asks its members for information about other people is abusive.
Facebook apps have access to that used's* information — and the useds' "friends'" information, too. Thus, if you make the mistake of using Facebook, even if you don't let a company access your data, any of your "friends" can give the company access to your data.
For more see here.
Facebook exploits its useds* by conscripting them for ads.
Facebook settled a lawsuit by promising useds will be able to 'limit' this use of their names and photos in ads shown to other useds. However, since this is "opt-out", by default useds will still be exploited. What's more, it may not even be a complete opt-out.
Facebook will no longer allow useds to decline to let their names be used in advertisements. More than ever, Facebook is really Suckerberg.
In addition, Facebook secretly collects useds' phone numbers. The article says it is not clear why. Perhaps it's a favor for the NSA.
Did the vegetarian used of Facebook* really "like" McDonalds, or did Facebook make it up? In fact, Facebook invents phony "likes", and worse, falsely suggests people liked specific text that they had never even seen.
Facebook sends political messages as coming from people who have clicked Like buttons.
Facebook recently settled a lawsuit, promising to stop a very similar practice involving ads, but these political messages are not considered "ads" and Facebook continues to send them.
Facebook lurkers are likely to feel happier if they stop being used by Facebook for at least a week.
If you want to "engage with others" more, how about doing it outside of Facebook? That would provide the same benefits and would avoid giving Facebook any more information about you or the others you engage with.
Being used by Facebook tends to be bad for your mental health.
Facebook tends to lead its useds into a sort of trance in which they believe, more or less, whatever comes up in the feed.
Reading the feed on Facebook makes many useds feel envy and sadness.
They can reduce these feelings by posting more about themselves. Thus, the system (Facebook and the used) pressures the used into giving Facebook more personal data.
In some regions, 10% of Facebook useds don't realize that talking to Facebook is using the internet. And Facebook is directing millions of people into having no internet access except to Facebook.
This is the sort of thing that a democratic society should prohibit, for the same reason we prohibit other kinds of monopolies.
Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing.
Parents should regard Facebook as a sort of gang that you don't want your kids to get mixed up in.
The competition for "likes" on Facebook lures teenagers to procure "likes" by any means necessary, and no means is too sleazy. The way a player scores in this game is by selling the list of people who "liked" him to a company, thus paying back favors with abuse; but these useds* have adopted an amoral attitude in which they no longer try to judge exploitation ethically.
This competition inculcates an amoral attitude in which nothing is genuine and the only value is success. I don't think that the desire to build a career (no matter what kind) excuses this behavior.
A person's number of 'friends' on Facebook measures narcissism.
Facebook is designed to get useds* addicted to vanity.
One used writes that Facebook led her to be in love with "the projection of [her] own desired life".
Social networks, for lonely people, may only show them how lonely they are.
A study found that being heavily used by Facebook tended to make people sad, independent of how the useds felt at the start of the study.
The study eliminated the hypothesis that people let Facebook use them more because they were sadder to begin with.
This is not yet proof, but given so many other reasons to avoid Facebook, why not take this precaution?
Another study shows that being used a lot by Facebook encourages depression; since people generally post an exaggerated positive picture of their lives, their lives appear to be better than your own.
Allowing yourself to be used frequently by Facebook promotes eating disorders.
Facebook is a tax dodger.
Of course, it's not the only one, but that is no excuse.
Facebook guesses the race of each used, and companies use this to show people different ads.
Facebook has introduced a racial discrimination feature that lets advertisers direct ads at people selected by race.
In response a group of Facebook useds have filed a lawsuit, which has led Facebook to stop allowing discrimination, although only in the specific areas where that is illegal in the US.
In other words, Facebook supports racism as far as the law allows.
Facebook is effectively racially profiling its useds, in an indirect and deniable way.
How "personalization" done by Facebook, presented as a feature, turns into a dangerous because it is done corruptly.
By not letting it use us, we reduce that capacity.
When a company has dangerous power, it is irrelevant whether it got that "fairly" in a "in a competitive open market". We should not let that irrelevance distract us from what matters: protecting ourselves from their power.
It is important to keep in mind that Facebook is bad for many other reasons. This is one more reason to oppose it, but we had plenty already.
It is unfortunate that the article uses the term "content" to refer to published text. Just because CNN does that is no reason why we should follow its example.
Facebook Is Eating the Internet.
Facebook's corporate-only news feed both directs useds away from independent journalism and tracks their reading.
Twitter told people about protests and the uniformed thugs' violence in Ferguson (those who were interested), while Facebook mostly steered people away.
A convicted blackmailer who helped Putin crush independent media in Russia now owns a large stake in Facebook.
Facebook tries to discourage useds* from visiting other web sites.
(This article uses the word "content" to refer to published works. I think that is a bad practice since that term disparages the works. See gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html.)
Facebook draws useds by promising interoperability, then eliminates the interoperability once it gets them hooked. Here's how it did that with XMPP for messaging.
The writer of that page has recognized that the power Facebook has over its useds is dangerous, but hasn't thought it through to the conclusion that we shouldn't let Facebook use us.
Facebook measured the depth of its grip over its useds by trying to drive them away with malfunctioning apps. No matter how bad things got, the useds would not be driven away.
It is very important for you personally to refuse to use Facebook, especially if some of your friends do (or might), because that's how you influence them, for good or for ill.
Facebook keeps track of how long people look at an item.
Unfriend Facebook now — you are its product, not its customer.
Facebook says that a used can't have Facebook's data about him, because it's a trade secret.
A German regulator says that Facebook's face recognition is illegal.
It appears Facebook spontaneously sends phone messages to people in India who have had no connection with Facebook. This person is trying to find out why.
Facebook has put an outrageous trademark claim on the word "book" into its terms of service.
To be dependent on Facebook, or any other specific company you could not replace with another, is to make yourself vulnerable to unbounded legal aggression. Don't be a fool — unfriend Facebook today rather than accept these terms.
A credit agency in Germany plans to evaluate people's creditworthiness by who their 'friends' are on Facebook.
The lesson is that we should make sure that no activities collect information about lots of people's social networks.
Facebook is attempting to gouge companies and web sites that use it to keep in touch with their customers.
The attitude of this criticism is too narrowly commercial for me to sympathize fully with it, and I expect that Facebook will reduce this charge so as to avoid driving these customers away. I am also repelled by the shallowness that leads to thinking that Facebook in April 2012 was good merely because it aided their commercial goals.
Nonetheless, this demonstrates the arrogant way Facebook treats anyone that deals with it, which is a reason not to be one of them.
Parents of children used by Facebook are suing for a refund of money Facebook let the children spend using the parents' credit cards.
Facebook: the most congenitally dishonest company in America.
Copyright 2011-2013 Richard Stallman released under Creative Commons Attribution Noderivs 3.0 unported