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For current political commentary, see the daily political notes.

RMS' Bio | The GNU Project


Reasons not to use Facebook

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.

Real Names

Censorship

Privacy

Ads

Psychological Harm

Taxes

Control of media

Miscellaneous



Real Names


Facebook is not your friend. Its "real name" policy is enough reason to refuse to use it, but there is so much more nastiness in Facebook.


Facebook with its "real name" policy makes itself the arbiter of other people's selves.

Facebook slightly relaxed the "real name" policy under pressure from cross-dressers. It allows people to use aliases, but only if they are generally known by those aliases.

The site remains unacceptable because companies and the state will be able 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.


Facebook makes a practice of asking its useds* to rat on their friends who use aliases.



Censorship

Facebook practices heavy censorship


If Facebook achieves its goal of becoming the main publication site for journalism, it will be a new chokepoint for censorship.


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.

Facebook wants to present itself as a virtual town square … a censored one.


Facebook does censorship of photos based on prudish criteria.


Facebook has a history of blocking the posting of links about certain controversial political issues.

Facebook censored an ACLU post about censorship.


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 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 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 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 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.



Privacy


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!


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.


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's mobile app snoops on SMS messages.


Facebook invites useds to nag other useds to fill in their profiles with all sorts of personal information.


When useds log in to a site through Facebook, Facebook gives the site access to lots of information about the user.

If this is what a site demands from you, you should not touch it anyway!


Facebook carefully studies all the text that its useds type in and then don't submit.


Facebook, as an "experiment", collected the text its useds started to enter as status updates and ultimately did not send.

Facebook also announced it planned to track mouse movement even in the absence of a click.

These work by means of malicious Javascript code.


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 useds' browsing, which applies even to users that don't have Facebook accounts.


Facebook's tracking of users 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.


Facebook has a new trick to get people to identify their spouses and babies in photos.


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 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.

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, 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.


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.


For more see here.



Ads



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 Facebook used 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.



Psychological Harm


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.



Taxes

Facebook is a tax dodger.

Of course, it's not the only one, but that is no excuse.



Control of media


Facebook Is Eating the Internet.


Facebook's corporate-only news feed both directs users away from independent ournalism 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.)



Miscellaneous


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.


How "personalization" done by Facebook, presented as a feature, turns into a dangerous because it is done corruptly.


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 user 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.



* We call them "useds" rather than "users" because Facebook is using them, not vice versa.

Copyright 2011-2013 Richard Stallman released under Creative Commons Attribution Noderivs 3.0 unported