It’s remarkable, you know. I see patterns other people don’t and there are people who know me and think I’m too full of hyperbole to pay attention. Even when I’m right. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?”
Early this year, in the mad grab for Hamilton tickets, I decided to go ahead and get a full subscription to the Hippodrome in Baltimore. I invited a friend to join me, and we got a pair of tickets for the coming season. Continue reading “Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…”
The following four articles led to this note. Please read them in order (but watch out for the AUTO LAUNCH VIDEO in the first link):
3. The Guardian: How to protect your Facebook privacy – or delete yourself completely: If you found the Cambridge Analytica data breach revelations deeply unsettling, read our guide to the maze of your privacy settings
Upshot: Panic in the streets. Momentary threats to leave Facebook. And in a week, when something new distracts us, another privacy violation or some other horrible thing that happens in government or in your local community pushes the panic out of the way and we resume our daily lives.
On the 23rd, I posted the following comment on Twitter in relation to this panic, and I think it bears repeating here:
“You know, the conspiracy theorist in me wants to think that the Cambridge Analytica blow-up is meant to destroy our ability to talk freely to one another. If we all delete FB, how will we be able to share this data across a free platform and warn people about stuff like this?”
One friend claims email or texting is sufficient, but she has missed my point completely. We’re all howling now because we know this is a problem and we know it because news sources we trust have covered it. And you know what? Fox News knows it. Just read the comments to see what I’m talking about. Yes, really. This is where it’s important to see what the other side thinks, now more than ever.
Here’s one more article, which I haven’t posted anywhere else until now:
Fox News: Here’s why the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy matters. Interestingly, the comments are similar to my take: Shut down Facebook and the Right loses a platform to reach millions.
For the record, I’ve been warning people about Facebook manipulation in Facebook Notes that go as far back as November, 2012, so this isn’t news. The bottom line is that you can choose what data you want to share with friends or strangers, but the key is to be diligent in managing your own data, and protecting yourself starts and ends with understanding FB’s labels.
Quizzes are a bad deal and they always have been. If you participated, and even if you didn’t, but someone else left their settings wide open and slurped up your data, the first thing you’ll need to do is shut off the apps and access to your account.
The Guardian’s article provides this handy link for checking whether you’ve got apps connected to your account: <https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications>
Click the link to see what apps you’ve authorized. At the moment, I have only three links authorized, and only one set to Public (and that’s Twitter, because I’m often posting to Twitter first, which then posts to FB for me).
If you have a pile of apps you don’t recognize, delete them by clicking on the app picture and then the x. If you want them, but you don’t want others to have access to the data, set them to Private by clicking on the pencil.
But that’s only part of the picture.
Below the Apps, there are four additional settings: Apps, Websites and Plugins, Game and App Notifications, Apps Others Use, and Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile.
If you allow apps to post cross-platform like I do (for Twitter), you have to leave the first of these enabled. If you don’t connect anything to Facebook and you don’t want to, change this setting and disable Platform entirely. FB warns you of the following:
“If you turn off Platform apps:
· You will not be able to log into websites or applications using Facebook.
· You will not be able to log into mobile games or applications using Facebook.
· Your friends won’t be able to interact and share with you using apps and websites.
· Instant personalization will also be turned off.
· Apps you’ve previously installed may still have info you shared. Please contact these apps for details on removing this data.
· Apps you’ve logged into (with Facebook or Anonymously) will be removed.
· Posts by apps will be removed from your profile.”
This is perhaps the MOST important thing to do to lock your account down.
The second most important: Apps Others Use.
This is the setting that (in theory) keeps your data from being slurped up via apps like Cambridge Analytica. I go in periodically and confirm that these settings are still off, because when FB pushes updates, they sometimes change those settings for me, and I have to change them back again. It’s a once-in-a-quarter housekeeping thing that’s totally worth the sixty seconds of my time. Click Edit and make sure every box is unchecked.
Third, I shut off Game and App notifications a long time ago, because I got tired of telling my friends to police their own games. If those game notifications are annoying you, you haven’t turned Notifications off yet.
Last, I set all the Old Versions to Only Me, because if that’s all I can do, it keeps my data private.
That’s how you keep your data from being slurped up, but how do you manage annoying ads?
Years ago, when FB first introduced the concept of Likes, they told you straight up that your choices would shape and mold what you saw online. An equally long time ago, I removed most of the “Likes” I had in my profile, because I wasn’t interested in seeing all the ads for Red Lobster or whatever. But the majority of my friends never touched their settings, so I see junk in my feed all the time, and it’s coming from their profiles, not mine.
In the course of the last six years, FB has changed the way Likes work. Tracking your interest in items posted on Pages has been a thing for years, but as I found out recently, there’s no longer a link to manage your “Likes” separately, and that’s part of how you control the ads that show up on your feed.
So just how do you control those ads?
Well, there are a couple of places, if you’re on the Desktop version. Note: I can’t speak about the Facebook App for your phone because I never installed it. I use Chrome on my Droid. FB complains, but so far, I can still read the content using the phone browser.
But I digress. And here’s the counterintuitive part: While you manage the above settings using Ads (on the left side of your Settings page), you can’t get to your Likes that way anymore. They’re really in two places and you need to manage both.
The first part you control here:
[Helpful hint: If you don’t have “F”luff “B”usting Purity installed, go get it. I’d post a link, but FB has decided to flag posts that promote the site as spam, and this article is more important than fighting with FB over controlling what we see here, so go search for it yourself on Google.]
Two of the most useful options show up here, and are for removing “Your Interests” and “Advertisers you’ve interacted with” to control what you see on your feed.
Click into each one of these items, hover over the picture, and click the X to get rid of the item. For example, I clicked on an NRA article at some point, and magically, there it was. This hampers FB’s ability to dump crap on your feed.
The second section of this page contains even more invasive stuff. Every one of the options in these two tabs (“About you” and “Your categories”) helps give FB access to the things it thinks you care about the most. Every time you like an article or click through a link, you get tagged and FB builds data on what you care about. Turn all of it off.
In the next section, Ad Settings, you’ll find three options. These are equivalent to choosing your poison. Turn them all off.
Finally, on that page you’ll find “Hide Ad Topics” (targeted to a demographic FB has decided you fit). For example, on my feed, the following options appear:
Alcohol, Parenting, Pets.
Each of these has a separate set of controls. I set all three to permanently hide ad topics.
And you think that’s all, but you’re wrong.
For the next set of changes, you need to be on your Home page. On the left side of your Home page, click on the Pages link.
On this page you’ll see the following: Top Suggestions, Invites, Liked Pages, and Local Picks. If your page is like mine, you’ll default to “Liked Pages” and this is where you’ll find all the things you’ve Liked since the beginning. Theoretically, at least.
There is no easy way to dump the Likes here. You have to click into each one and select “Unlike” to dump the connection.
FB has offered a handy tool on the upper right side, that lets you click multiple pages to unlike all at once, so if you have tons of these, use the tool. I leave the ones that belong to my friends and to select celebrities and politicians I want to follow, but we’re talking about 73 total, and of that only a handful are for people I don’t know in real life.
And that’s about it (for now). Will these options look the same next week? Probably. Three months from now? Maybe. A year from now? I doubt it seriously, but by then you may have decided you’re done with FB forever.
Is there anything else out there that’s comparable?
G+ tried to be relevant, but in all honesty I trust Google even less than Facebook, if that’s possible. Twitter isn’t the same at all. Just about everything is public or locked to friends, and the structure for finding what you write is even worse than it is on FB, so no. I have an Ello account as well, and a Pinterest account. Instagram is part of FB, so you’re not really leaving if you go there. LinkedIn is useful, to a point, for work-related stuff, but I don’t mix that with my interactions on Facebook.
You can do what you want, but I firmly believe my boss has no reason to read my writing in this forum on either LinkedIn or Facebook, and these three things are not connected as a result. Eventually, I will tie this Blog to Twitter, which will then automatically post to Facebook, and I’ll probably be done then, but not before I go and grab all the personal stuff I put on Facebook, that’s now Friends-locked.
I guess it all depends on what you want to get out of Facebook. For me, interactions are for two things: To promote my niche view of politics and philosophy on my own personal soapbox and to promote my work (on a different account).
One more thing:
This is the last time I’ll attempt to post anything via FB Notes. It isn’t the first time they’ve locked one of my posts for including something they considered spam, but it’s damn sure going to be the last. I’m grabbing all the Notes I published there and republishing them here instead.
Take THAT, Facebook Algorithms! HAH!
And as always, your mileage may vary. Taxes, tags, and license extra. Caveat emptor and all that.
Really, really, I do. I try not to get caught up in wishful thinking, which often leads to disappointment when I discover that the thing I really want to be true turns out to be propaganda designed to tie up the Internet and my brain space. Continue reading “Wishful thinking…”
A friend posited the following on her FB page (paraphrased here).
“It seems that Hillary is attacked due to gender-based perceptions: She’s cold, manipulative, sneaky, can’t be trusted, and so on. Very few people are speaking about the actual issues. Foreign policy? Hillary has laid out a comprehensive set of goals and stances. Trump said that generals are impotent and we must throw money at them. The economy? Hillary has a plan with specifics, goals, and a path to reach them. Trump said “I’m successful and that’s enough.” Yet instead of discussing the differences in policies, people complain about Hillary’s demeanor and call her “cold,” which is just a smidgen away from being called “frigid,” which implies that her worth is tied to how much she enjoys sex. Which has what to do with the Presidency?”
I thought it was a good question, and I’ve been hammering at the answer all day. It’s complicated, because the second one brings up the question of gender in politics, lots of people (mostly men) go instantly on the defensive.
Sound like anyone you know?
Him: “Hillary is a warhawk. I problems with the big money associated with her. I also have issues with her pattern of allowing her opinions to “evolve.”
Me: “So you don’t support Bernie Sanders’ new movement, “Our Revolution” do you? That’s unfortunate because Bernie Sanders stumps for Clinton. This is pure cognitive dissonance at its worst. If you’re for the candidate, why did you vote for him? I am supporting HIS candidate for the presidency.”
Him: “Oh I don’t know, maybe because the differences between him and her where WHY I voted for him in the first place? He has been pretty rock solid regarding his principles. She changes her mind whenever the polls shift.”
Me: “What’s really sad here is that I am trying to find a source for the “she changes her mind too much” stereotype and can’t find one that’s cogent because they all revolve around relationships with men, or that it’s a right belonging to humans. You’d want someone in office who believed absolutely that black people are inferior and should be jailed, but can’t accept someone moderating her views based on evidence that she was wrong? Which one has a healthier sense of integrity?”
Me: “From the above article:”
To my knowledge, no new “information” about gay marriage emerged from the day she endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples to the day she demanded the right to same-sex marriage. The immigration, gun control and mass-incarceration issues have been similarly unrippled by shocking new findings. Likewise, the information required to make a stand against the Iraq War was not hidden. Other senators found it and took that position! Perhaps the anti-war information escaped Clinton’s notice—in which case, bad on her—or perhaps she viewed it and decided not to act on it—in which case, double-bad on her. And who among us had a better vantage from which to assemble an encyclopedic view on the Trans-Pacific Partnership than Clinton? She praised it endlessly while secretary of state, but pulled a moonshiner’s turn last week to skedaddle away from it.”
Let’s unpack that accusation, shall we? That No New Information part is opinion on the part of Jack Shafer, the author who wrote the article. It is patently false information.
One: See: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Two: If you haven’t seen the massive shift in opinion over 1) marriage equality, 2) gay rights, 3) prison inequality, or 4) trade agreements, you haven’t been paying attention to politics in the last ten years. Or you’ve been living under a rock.
Get it? No?
Me: “Regarding Syria: One simple word should be everything you need to know. Are they migrants or refugees? She uses refugees (the correct word) instead of migrants (which sounds completely different and not descriptive in the slightest, but what most conservative media sources prefer). Language is everything. Recognizing you’re wrong and correcting your behavior is a big thing. Has President Obama done everything I wanted him to do? No. Why? Because the GOP have stood in his way in nearly every instance. Will that happen with Hillary Clinton? Why the hell are they fighting SO HARD to keep her out of office, and to maintain their death grip on the House and Senate? Follow the money. There’s a foregone conclusion that she will win the White House (by no means assured from my perspective). So conservative PACs are pumping their money into House and Senate races to keep the Democrats from grabbing control again.”
Did you know that there hasn’t been a bulletproof Democratic majority in the House and Senate since Carter was in office? And look what they had to do to take him down? (Iran-Contra. It’s a thing.)
What I want to know is how the GOP glitterati got away with this crap for so long, without ever being held accountable. I want it to stop. If that happens because Bernie Sanders’ revolution and Hillary Clinton’s presidency makes it so, then I am all in favor of electing her for the job. FOR.
But I digress.
Me: “Meanwhile, your source for the article above appears to be shilling for the GOP, which calls the article itself into question, for bias against Hillary Clinton. Oops? Politico.com: Is Politico a GOP Shill? (Actually a letter from Media Matters for America, magnanimously published by Politico itself.)”
Confused yet?I mean, sure, Politico can post articles like these, and expect people to read them, but there’s this thing called the Internet, which makes it easier to trace back a bit. A little more unpacking here:
Me: “From Politico.com: Media Matters Response:”
“One note, though: Media Matters is closely tied, financially and personally, to Hillary ( Newsday had the must-read on that topic). So far, the group stands up for Obama as well as Clinton, and I’m not given to conspiracy theories about financing dictating content. I never had a publisher tell me what to write at the four newspapers I’ve worked for in the last few years. But it’s worth knowing.”
Ironically, the Newsday article that’s referred to in the Politico response leads nowhere, but the article may still be seen beyond the paywall. Its author? One Glenn Thrush, lately of? You guessed it! Politico.
Who to believe?
All of which leads us back to the original question, above. And to this: On the Media: Why Don’t People Trust Hillary Clinton? () and also this:
(Psst: What if it’s real?)
Okay, so end digression. Again.
Oh, it’s so much easier to fling poo than admit that there’s a problem here. And to deflect from the point than actually admit there’s a problem. I mean, research is HARD!
Compare and contrast with: Donald Trump’s Alt-Right Brain
Here’s the problem with complaining that rejection of this woman for president makes you sound sexist: It does, because at some level it is. Women are held to a different standard than men. Lots of people deny it, but the facts outweigh the denials. And we can all thank Phyllis Schlafly and women like her for a good percentage of that.
I wish I could find a better source for this issue, but the fact is that there is simply no way to divide out the inherent stereotyping and discrimination that goes with being a woman in a leadership position with her existence AS a woman. I have been told at work (by a woman) that I am too forceful in my opinions and to tone them down because I will offend the artistic director (a man). The rule is that you only get what you want when you sweet-talk your way.
You can probably imagine how I feel about that.
Here are just a couple of choice articles on the subject:
Scientific American: The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly…
And this doesn’t even begin to address the guilt-by-association that goes along with being Bill Clinton’s wife.
So when a woman doesn’t fit that sweet-talk mandate, there’s hell to pay. And when that woman wants to be President of the United States of America? Well, riddle me this: Would you say the things you do if Hillary Clinton was a single white male?
I doubt it.
[This needs to be a note, and so here it is. Feel free to share this. I’m not out to grab your personal data.]
For the love of ALL THAT’S HOLY, would you please click the link of the profile page for the person who posted the picture you’re sharing? Please?
Because if you don’t that next “Share” may get you on a mailing list you didn’t intend, or hand your profile data over to someone whose views you don’t actually support after all. Or, worse, you just add your profile to the latest Like Farm.
Don’t know what a Like Farm is? Here:
Yeah, I remember what it was like growing up in the 70s, and yeah, I do know what pencils and cassette tapes are for, and more. I just don’t choose to share my Facebook account like that.
I mean, you can do what you want, but if your gripe is with the GOP, sharing a photo posted by a member of the GOP means you’re connecting yourself to the member. And frankly they just don’t need more help.
Really. Just don’t.
And yes, Sharing is JUST AS BAD as Liking.
Just say NO!
RM: Click Bait!
Me: And as soon as I posted this, I saw another one of those guilt-driven “66% of you won’t post this” images. Yo. Same thing applies.
Chain letters are spam, too.
KJN: I get to feeling like such a schmutz for slapping my friends when they are being dumb.
JP: That’s why I cut/paste quiz results also.
LS: I am completely and utterly unmoved by “66% of you won’t repost this” memes. Aside from the danger, it’s rude and clumsy arm-twisting of the worst sort. I never repost those things. And I’m okay if people think I support dog fighting and root for the carcinoma side of the War on Cancer because of it.
If you have a cause you are passionate about, by all means post about it. But be original, and don’t imply that people are heartless/spineless dickheads for not echoing you on their own walls.
98% of you won’t repost this rant. I approve of you.
GB: Or at least add a reason. Most people wont understand this particular issue.
JW: If there is something that you feel is worthy of being shared , you might consider what Betsy said at the outset…check the source.
We all agree that Facebook’s News Feed sucks. Neither the Top Stories nor Most Recent settings will get you everyone you might want to track, because NOBODY understands how their algorithm works (the magic that selects whose posts show up on top or at all in the feed).
And with over 675 Friends in my feed, chances are excellent that you might post something but I’ll never see it unless I go look.
Facebook introduced lists a long time ago (a couple of years, at least) but I generally don’t use their smart function because, honestly, I’d rather not tell Facebook who my family members are. So I’ve set up a variety of lists that serve the purpose of staying in touch without worrying so much about the newsfeed.
You can set up as many as you want, add them to Favorites, sort them however you wish. But be careful you’re not setting up a Group (because that’s different – Groups let people communicate with each other, but Lists are just for you).
See that blue bar at the top of the Facebook page? The one with the white square and blue “f”? Good. Looking to the right, you see a white bar (the Search bar) followed by a very small version of your Profile Picture (or silhouette if you’ve never set a Profile picture before).
Click on your name and you’ll see all sorts of things that are specific to you. There’s lots of stuff here, but what matters is the Friends link that appears at the bottom of the big “Cover” image. It should show Friends and a grayed out number (the number of Friends, with some tweaking, because Facebook doesn’t want you to know when someone drops you). But I digress.
Clicking on the Friends link will bring you to a page full of names and Profile Pictures.
You’ll also see a box to the right of the name that has a checkmark and Friends in it. This is the box you want when you’re first setting up the lists.
Mousing over the box gets you the following:
Close Friends Acquaintances Add to Another List…
Suggest Friends See Friendship
Now, Close Friends and Acquaintances are Facebook-driven lists. You can add people to either one and “guarantee” that either you’ll always see their posts or rarely see them, depending. Consigning someone to “Acquaintances” sets the algorithm up so that when you choose to set your privacy on a post to “Friends except Acquaintances” everyone on your Friends list will see the post EXCEPT those people on your Acquaintances list.
It’s a handy setting for folks you’ve never met in real life, or with whom you have a business-only relationship. If you post more personal stuff (as I do, occasionally), you can filter those posts out of other people’s feeds by being selective about who can see what you post.
Lists all work this way, to some extent, but custom lists allow you to further filter, based on your association with the person.
So let’s set up a List and call it Childhood. If you have a few Friends you’ve known since you were in elementary/primary school, you can add people to that list.
Find the first name that fits the List. Hover over the Friends link and then click on Add to Another List…(If the list box goes under the bottom of your screen, use the scroll bar on the right and scroll the Friends list up until you can fit the whole box.)
At the bottom of the list, you’ll see “+ New List. You may also see lists with a little lightning symbol next to them on the right. These are SMART lists, generated by your association with companies or other people’s connections to you. (If a Friend also worked at a company with you and tells Facebook you worked there, you’ll see that lightning symbol next to the list name. I don’t use these lists at all.)
Click on the “+ New List” link and name your new list Childhood. As soon as you do, you’ll see not just that the list now exists, but that there’s a checkmark next to it on the left. That means you’ve applied this list membership to the person in question.
You can go through the steps and mark other people who also qualify this way. Be warned, though. Facebook limits the number of lists that will actually display on your home page to a total of twelve, so if you add too many lists, you won’t see the list and won’t be able to select it from the Home page to use as a feed.
Done adding people to the list? Great. Go back to the Home page. (That’s the link up to the right of your name in the blue bar.)
Now you should see, in order of precedence:
Pages you control (if any)
And your new Childhood list.
Underneath that, you may see Groups you’ve added to Favorites, followed by PAGES, GROUPS, FRIENDS, APPS, INTERESTS and more.
Click on the Childhood list and you’ll see content from the people you’ve added to the list, just like any other news feed option.
Best of all, Facebook hasn’t dumped the options list completely. If you click on Manage List (to the right under Facebook’s randomly selected photo), you can Rename the list, Edit the members of the list, and show the following:
Games (I turn this off for EVERYTHING)
Comments and Likes
Music and Videos
You can also Delete List, if you don’t like the group you’ve selected, though I find it easier to relabel and repurpose the list instead of deleting it.
And that’s it. Lots of time invested, but a better way to manage all the people you know on Facebook, especially if you have a long list of Friends like me.
Now if I could just figure out how to change the photo at the top of my custom list…
BC: Does “close friends” actually show everything people post? I know a normal list doesn’t.
RB-E: I really need to do this. I have one question–when you make a list like this, does it immediately start telling you every time a friend comments or likes something on someone else’s page? The FB lists do, and that’s why I don’t use them. I don’t care when a friend comments or likes the page of someone I don’t know, and I don’t like it when that information shows up in my newsfeed.
Me: I don’t know, BC. I never use Facebook’s version, because I don’t know what they’re doing with the data. If I never connect my close friends to my account, they can’t use that info. Ditto for Family. I get to control who I label that way if I use a custom list..
SD: If you uncheck “Comments and Likes” under :”Manage List”, that list won’t include the times that people comment or like something.
Me: I *think* you can control that information using the Manage List options. You can test it by turning off Comments and Likes (which I think is what makes those things show up in your feed). It’s also possible that Other Activity is what makes those things show up. Facebook is entirely silent on the topic of managing lists, so you have to use trial and error to set the list the way you want it.
Theoretically, true, SD. I just tried it and couldn’t make the comment I was seeing go away, so I’m not entirely sure about that.
SD: Huh. They don’t show up on my custom lists, but then again I uncheck most options other than status updates as soon as I create the list. Maybe it stops showing new ones from the point at which you uncheck it?
Me: SD’s on to something. Under Manage Lists, deselect everything except Status Updates. The Likes are definitely controlled by Comments and Likes and the “Has now friended X” goes away when you unclick Other Activity. If you don’t mind the Photos, Music and Videos, you can leave those in, but if they’re just clutter, ditch them, too.
SD: I suspect that Facebook is trying to encourage the use of custom lists, which is why they’ve removed the options list from individuals and kept it on custom lists. They need to publicize them more heavily though – I think the reason most people don’t use them is that they don’t know about them. They take almost no time to set up, unless you have several thousand friends, and they make it much easier to browse quickly for the posts you’re most interested in seeing.
RB-E: Awesome, thanks! I’ll have to do some Facebook pruning to see if I can get my newsfeed back to what I want.
DK: thanks. I sent you a PM. thanks for explaining things. I appreciate it.