Your high school friend is watching lizard smut: Social Media run amok

I know that social media has to evolve. But does it have to be so creepy?

You’re reading WHAT?

As an Indie writer, I’m always looking at what new social media has to offer. After all, the ability to interact with like-minded readers and writers is a cornerstone of the indie book revolution, right? But why exactly is Facebook telling me what my friends are watching and reading? That was rhetorical. I know the technical reasons. First, because Facebook is trying to expand its marketing power by suggesting content for me to view. Since someone I know (called a “friend”, although many Facebook folk are acquaintances at best), has decided to watch something through Yahoo!, like a video titled Crazed Monkey Seduces Potato, they figure there’s a better than even chance that I might be interested also.

The second reason, and this is the one that I’m a bit disturbed by, is because a lot of people might not realize that their personal choices might be being broadcast across the Facebook-o-sphere. I say that because recently I’ve been informed, through Trending Articles highlights, that certain Facebook friends have been watching a certain theme of videos that he/she/they would probably rather his/her/their friends don’t know about.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not judging anyone here. I’m more concerned with the loose privacy rules that seem to allow the sharing of information that a person did not specifically decide to share. After all, isn’t that what the Share button is for? Is there a Facebook algorithm that determines “this user probably meant to share this”? If I recall correctly, Facebook may notify you that certain applications you access through them may share your histories, but I think these notifications have been vague at best. Again, some of the shared content I’ve seen in the trending articles tend to be racy, and the names popping up there aren’t ones I’d have expected to be there. That makes me wonder whether they know about it.

I get the fact that there are ways to stop inadvertently sharing. From fiddling around with settings in your profile, to simply not using Facebook. I get it. But frankly a lot people are uncomfortable messing around with any kind of settings on a computer or network. And again, I can’t get past the fact that Facebook is randomly sharing actions of members who haven’t clicked a Share button. But I’ll go ahead and vent my wrath at the social media gods…why does such a problem even exist? The answer of course, is money. And at the end of the day, we users need to be fully aware of what we’re doing, unless you want everyone knowing that you clicked on the latest Snooky video. Shame on you.

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2 Responses to Your high school friend is watching lizard smut: Social Media run amok

  1. I think Facebook hides behind the fact that yes, you can avoid all the sharing and control your privacy settings, but they make sure that the default for everything is maximum sharing, zero privacy.

    I completely agree here – I couldn’t care less that one of my friends watched an episode of a TV show on Netflix, or that they found a magic cow in Farmville. I’ve never, ever, thought about one of my friends and gone ‘I wonder what music they’re listening to, *right* now?’ Facebook always was a place where people sprayed unnecessary details about themselves and what they do in their day to day lives across the internet like a broken fire hydrant, but now it’s getting hard to find the genuine content – the interesting announcements, the witty statuses, the important news – amongst all the insignificant rubbish.

    And the other thing that annoys me is that if I see a link for certain things, I can’t go through to it without subscribing to the app and sharing things myself, such as Yahoo news articles. I just want to read the article; I have no interest in telling my friends about it, yet I can’t do that. I just go and Google the article title. I’d leave Facebook, if it weren’t for the fact that, after uni, I have a lot of friends hundreds of miles away with whom I can’t keep in contact otherwise. Essentially they’ve got us all by the ….er, somethings …. and the worst part is, they know it.

    • W.E. Linde says:

      I totally forgot about having to sign up for those apps to access certain content. The ones that always say “oh, by the way, we’re going to be accessing your friends list even when you’re not online.” I pretty much stay away from all Apps at this point.You’re right…Facebook and the like have become so ingrained in how we communicate with others, it’s nearly impossible to get around all of this. It’s like a privacy minefield.

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