My own Creepy Facebook Surveillance Moment

February 17th, 2019

I've heard any number of stories from people about creepy things Facebook or other ad systems have done. "I was talking about X with a friend, and that evening an ad for X popped up on a web page!" The insidious thing is that it *could* have just been coincidence. You can't prove anything.

Well, this week it happened to me, and I don't even use Facebook. I can't prove anything. But it's deeply disturbing. TL;DR: Blank Facebook account I opened 8.5 years ago and never used receives recommendation, out of the blue, to check out a small store I only just learned existed and started patronizing.

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We need GDPR in the US before Facebook dies

December 20th, 2018

Facebook is in hot water these days, as their lies unravel. Maybe—hopefully—this leads to their shutdown, and even to new privacy laws in the US like the EU's GDPR. But one problem occurs to me: We need a GDPR equivalent before Facebook dies.

Picture the alternative. Facebook is hemorrhaging users (to where, I don't know) because people have finally gotten fed up enough to explore the alternatives that have existed all along. Maybe some of the alternatives are even more ethical than Facebook. So far, so good. Facebook stock crashes, advertisers put their money elsewhere. Facebook's investors start knocking at the door: Where's their money?

There are few ways a dying Facebook could pay back their investors, and none of them are good. Outright selling the user data (rather than giving it away for favors, as we now know they have done.) And regardless of how poorly Facebook treats its users, I'm not willing to bet that Facebook is the worst possible holder of such detailed and sensitive user information.

I think the best scenario we can hope for is that GDPR gets adopted by the US with minimal changes, turning the screws on Facebook until it becomes valueless and the user data becomes toxic in the eyes of possible buyers. The investors lose their money, as well they should.

One can hope.

Destroy your Facebook account

April 4th, 2008

As you may be aware, Facebook only provides a way to temporarily deactivate your account, not delete it. Less well-known is an innocuous little form buried deep within their site where you can submit a deletion request. Below I include the link, as well as a sample letter.

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