Facebook Suicide

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“Clickjacking is a technique by which hackers spread malware and redirect traffic to nefarious sites… .

“This latest scam [“Likejacking”]… lures people into clicking on links and messages such as, “This man takes pictures of himself EVERYDAY for 8 YEARS!!” and “The Prom Dress That Got This Girl Suspended From School.”

“…hundreds of thousands of users have already fallen prey to the scam, which routes them to malware-laden Web sites infected by… a variant of [a] worm that made its way around Facebook last month.”
“Facebook Contends With Latest ‘Likejacking’ Scam”,
Larry Barrett, senior editor, InternetNews.com; June 2, 2010

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Adware: Software that periodically pops up advertisements on a user’s computer. It displays ads targeted to the individual user based on key words entered in search engines and the types of Web sites the user visits.

Malware: Software designed to destroy, aggravate and otherwise make life unhappy.

Spyware: Software that sends information about your Web surfing habits to its Web site. Often quickly installed in your computer in combination with a free download you selected from the Web, spyware transmits information in the background as you move around the Web. Also known as “parasite software,” “scumware,” “junkware” and “thiefware,” spyware is occasionally installed just by visiting a Web site (aka: drive-by download).

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Awesome (adj.)
1. inspiring or displaying awe
2. Slang excellent or outstanding

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Late last night I killed my little corner of Facebook. I committed Facebook Suicide.

I did it for a lot of reasons. Computer security was near the top of the list, a realization I was spending long minutes repeatedly clicking “Hide” to rid my “home page” of new and improved gaming applications was another.

Seriously, how many variations on Farmville can there possibly be? At the upper curve I had 168 “Friends”, and at least three dozen of them spent most of their day playing stupid games on Facebook, designed entirely to steal your information and your time, and their statuses would be automatically updated and I’d have to play a whole new round of “Click The Hide Button”.

My own brother’s Facebook account was updated once or twice daily by the PlayStation Network, whenever he reached a milestone on another PS3 game.

He wasn’t even annoying me on purpose, it was his PS3 breaking into my day.

As bad as they are, it wasn’t the constant stream of privacy issues. I knew about them when I made the account, I knew Facebook lies about where and when it collects personal information. I knew when I created my account what was safe to click on, and what was dangerous. I knew that whatever information I gave Facebook would be sold to advertising firms so they could build a better profile of Me.

I also knew how to use the privacy controls to minimize my exposure… but I was willing to live with the stuff I couldn’t stop.

Personal computer security was something that prompted me to “suicide” my account faster than I planned. People I know have had their accounts taken over, mostly because of mistakes on their part. But there’s a whole new threat to my very expensive computer, and it comes from people I was “Friends” with and their inability to say “no” to clicking through suspicious links.

Earlier this week a handful of my “Friends” shared two links called “This man takes pictures of himself EVERYDAY for 8 YEARS!!” and “The Prom Dress That Got This Girl Suspended From School.” Both of which lead to a site which offers a link to the “actual site” which, when clicked, downloads adware and malware (spyware) directly into your PC. Or, of more concern to me, into My PC.

The malware then replicates itself by posting the same message about prom dresses and narcissists as your status update.

Watching people I knew get bitten by this scam, and watching their updates — complete with the thumbs up “Like” recommendation, I knew it would only be a matter of time before one of them dragged me down with them.

But that only sped up my decision. The main reason I permanently “Disliked” Facebook was the social aspect of the site… actually, the complete lack thereof.

Basically I had four groups of friends… those who update long form; those who update cryptically; those who used one word or less and; those who updated their status specifically for a small group of their collected “Friends”.

There were also a few who used Facebook as a professional tool, and they updated several times a day with links and photos and lures to drag you over to their money-making websites.

Trying to decipher the meaning behind the short status updates is annoying enough — I left humour on one post recently, only to find out later they were referring to a parent passing away. How do you come back from that? Seriously, use some frigging words to describe what’s going on. But someone drawing you into a discussion, only to have them ignore you or leave you at the mercy of people you’ve never met, is just downright rude.

Just in the past two weeks I’ve been repeatedly insulted and ignored on a few status updates. Two quick examples: I had the editor of a TorStar Corp. newspaper repeatedly calling me names on one thread, and on another thread someone was getting extremely aggressive over my use of the word “awesome”.

These were people I’ve never met, never will meet, and never “Friended”.

Both of those examples occurred because I got involved in a discussion I thought was open, but was meant for specific people — people who were at a totally different, and more awesome, level of “Friend” with the profile owner than I was.

The last thing I, or anyone, needs is to be forced to defend the use of the word “awesome” in a mostly open forum, without being able to resort to obscenity and insults.

It just seemed to get to a point where I was going to have to “de-Friend” everyone who pissed me off by ignoring what I’d written on their updates, “de-Friend” people who responded inappropriately to something I’d written, and “de-Friend” all the people who let Sony and Farmville update their status twice a frigging day.

All I’d be left with, after the purging, would be the people who read and comment on my blog. So… what’s the point?

Facebook basically became a place to store photos of my baby. And I can do that here, or over at my photo blog, with more control and better security.

I am losing some connections I’d rather hold onto, and I stupidly blew up my profile before collecting email addresses — but I do have fourteen days to reactivate my account so I may turn my Facebook account into a zombie so I can go back and get the contact information.

But it’s done, I’m done. I have multiple blogs, I have a phone, a PO Box, four or more email addresses (which is basically like saying I have Morse code, but they do work).

And, on the record, I’m not really an absolutist, I may open another Facebook account way, far down the road… but I will never Tweet.

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Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Facebook, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Facebook Suicide

  1. nick108 says:

    Ever notice when writing emails, the next day, the adds on the right column correlate with what was in the email, how much of this stuff really is ‘private’. I thought we only had ‘aliens’ in space, not here amongst us.
    I just pray all scammers and hackers come back as tape worms in their next lives.
    Nick108 Against cyber thieves and maladjusted minds who serve this on our communities.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Hi nick106… that’s Google, that’s how they make their money. They take keywords from the emails you send and receive (if you use Gmail), plus the keywords from the blogs and websites you visit, or search for using Google.com, then use these keywords to generate ads specific to what they believe your tastes are. It can make for some bizarre advertising.

      Believe me, there’s nothing really “private” about the web. I totally agree with you about the tape worms.

  2. Skylark says:

    Well done! I WISH I had the balls to get rid of facebook… for all the security/privacy reasons you state above AND because I spend HOURS a day playing games, AND because it generally pisses me off that it has become so powerful/controlling so quickly. I can’t though because… did I mention those addicting games.

  3. zoom says:

    Yeah, me too. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

  4. BPD says:

    I think you raise an important point, facebook is the number 1 visited website in the states and they compile a huge amount of data about their users, that we hand over willingly! They already use this data to allow marketers to tailor ads towards particular demographic categories….What are they doing that we don’t know about though? Scary! Great post.

    [hi, welcome and thanks for the comment, I took the URL out because it looked a little… spam-like. Let me know if you’ve got another one, or think I’m wrong.]

  5. Clare says:

    poke poke poke

  6. Gabriel... says:

    I will definitely miss the pokes… poke poke poke.

    There was an article a few months ago about the people who design the games for Facebook… which I can’t find, so I’ll have to rely on my memory here. Basically their concept is to make the games easy (without pandering), bright and worth huge points. So, in that jewel game my girlfriend used to play 22 hours a day, points are given out not in 10’s or 1000’s, but 100,000’s at a time so the feeling of accomplishment is that much greater by the player.

    Something else I remember from the article was the comfort level people had playing games within the confines of Facebook. The games were easily accessible, and there was an automatic level of trust associated with them — ie: you didn’t have to search some cluttered and scuzzy webpage for games which may or may not contain malware. Plus there was an automatic opportunity to compare scores with friends, or to compete against them.

    I’m as addicted to video games as any one else from GenX — last month I bought a second PS3 ($300) because the first one burnt out, and I can’t even afford ice right now — so, believe me, I know how addiction can lead to impaired judgment.

    Skylark and Zoom!… I think the two of you really need a Wii. It’d be like upgrading from crack to heroin, but at least you’d know the needles are clean.

    poke poke.

  7. Bromac says:

    I rarely use fb. I often wonder why I even have it. I, too, use it as a place for photo’s. I, however, don’t have a photo blog- or good enough photo’s to start one.

    What drives me bananas are the people who feel it necessary to post every couple of hours to tell you what inane, obnoxious thing they’re doing that hour. (Unfortunately my lovely sil is one) I think the same narcissism drives tweet. Jmho.

    Also wanted to tell you that “they” have blocked all personal blogs at work-grrrrr- so I’ve had a hard time keeping up with you and thor cause I rarely get on the computer at home. However, school is out next week and I will have 6 glorious weeks off to play on the computer to my heart’s content. Off topic, sorry.

    Well, I’m sorry you’ve a bad taste in your mouth with fb but I’ll be bugging you here and elsewhere regardless.

  8. Pingback: Recovery Week 184 In Review | …salted lithium.

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