Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The idiot assimilators

Sara Hoyt has a legitimate complaint about Facebook and the mindless Faceborg who successfully attempt to enlist unwitting others in their cherished causes:
People with zero affiliations with — or even knowledge of — particular groups are publicly made members of them without their consent. All it takes is a friend putting you in a group, and then you are in it without your consent....

There is something downright Orwellian about this, and if you don’t think it can be used for Orwellian political purposes, imagine yourself working in an office with Facebook friends who include supporters of a presidential candidate for whom you don’t intend to vote. If that “friend” puts you in, say, an “I’M VOTING FOR JILL STEIN!” Facebook group, then you are in it, and you have to un-join. Suppose your supervisor or next door neighbor put you in it? The implications are as obvious as they are odious; not all of us are political junkies with the balls to issue public statements about whom we support or don’t support, and not all of us are so public that we might find something like this amusing enough to write a blog post about the experience.
Now, I'm not active on Facebook.  While I do use Twitter, I only belong to most social media groups in order to prevent my more creative critics from attempting to pass themselves off as me.  But I am a registered user there, and so every day I am the recipient of spam from groups like Friends of Protection For Men.  Not only is the constant barrage of email annoying, but it has the counterproductive result of making me feel entirely unsympathetic to the Friends of Protection For Men.  Every time I see another stupid piece of mail from them it makes me want to kick the sender in the teeth.  Not that I often see one, of course, since my spam filter is cranked up to 11, which is why I occasionally fail to receive legitimate emails from readers attempting to contact me.  But I just looked in my Junk folder, and sure enough, there are a pair of emails from the wretched Friends that arrived this morning.

So, for the first time in ages, I logged onto Facebook and removed myself from the various groups into which others have conscripted me.  But, as Miss Hoyt points out, I shoudn't have to do that.  Opt-out is reprehensible and opt-in should always be the standard.

I appreciate that Facebook and other social media can be a useful means of contacting individuals and organizing groups.  But don't ever sign people up for causes that you believe to be worthy, even if you are 100 percent sure that they agree with the goals of that group.  It's just obnoxious, and to be honest, Mark Zuckerberg should be repeatedly punched in that flat, stupid, thieving face of his for his refusal to prevent Faceborg from assimilating others.



Anonymous Roundtine October 16, 2012 4:44 AM  

I deleted my Facebook account and don't miss it.

Blogger Shimshon October 16, 2012 4:44 AM  

Why not negate the concept of privacy settings altogether by allowing friends to "introduce" (ie "friend" them, not suggest) each other? This is so absurd I have a hard time even coming up with a reason for FB to allow, let alone defend, it.

I routinely disregard or reject friend requests from people I don't know or have any interest in at all. One time, one rejectee was so offended he told me off. He actually asked how I expected to meet new people if I didn't do so through friend requests like this! He didn't see the irony.

Anonymous VryeDenker October 16, 2012 4:49 AM  

there are settings you can change so that you don't get bombarded with spam emails. Can't say the same for the notifications you get in-page though.

Anonymous Roundtine October 16, 2012 5:19 AM  

This also sounds like the libertarian paternalism argument. They advocate policy changes such as making 401k participation automatic, and then people must choose to get out. And also when investments are made, they might initially go into several funds, instead of money market funds. Since most people are lazy, they will go along with the default setting.

Anonymous Rantor October 16, 2012 6:10 AM  

Reminds me, infowars is reporting that some EULAs now give the company the right to activate your camera and microphone, track location (yes google has been doing that) and send text messages, alter files or change passwords.

Even if it is to help with customer support or the like, it just sounds wrong... Time to cover that camera lens when not in use.

Who knows, maybe Facebook will let your friends take more control of your system someday.

Blogger James Dixon October 16, 2012 6:58 AM  

> I deleted my Facebook account and don't miss it.

Since, unlike Vox, I'm not a particularly public figure, I've never felt the need to create one. Things like this merely reinforce the wisdom of that decision.

> They advocate policy changes such as making 401k participation automatic, and then people must choose to get out. And also when investments are made, they might initially go into several funds, instead of money market funds.

I'm pretty sure those were government mandated.

> ...the right to activate your camera and microphone, track location (yes google has been doing that) and send text messages, alter files or change passwords.

A word to the wise is sufficient: Cyanogenmod.

No, I don't use it, I don't have a smartphone. The company I work for provides me with a phone so they can reach me, and that's all I need.

Anonymous Kickass October 16, 2012 7:29 AM  

And people mocked me for unplugging my web cam when not in use oh so long ago...

Anonymous TLM October 16, 2012 7:49 AM  

There is no justifiable reason for any man to have a FB account. Problem solved.

Anonymous Roundtine October 16, 2012 8:13 AM  

I'm pretty sure those were government mandated.

They weren't and I think they still aren't. You have to sign up to join the 401k, and then unless you do something with the money, it all goes into a money market. But some "libertarian paternalists" were pushing for the change.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan October 16, 2012 8:37 AM  

I'd like to delete my Facebook account, but when my family and half my friends live on the other side of the world and more live far away from me in Japan, there's simply no other convenient way to keep up with everyone and see what's going on in their lives, pictures, etc.

Besides that, I mostly just use Facebook for hosting pictures and linking to music I like.

Anonymous harry12 October 16, 2012 8:42 AM  

I don't know if this will get me on the federal WatchList but I will admit to NOT owning a cell 'phone!!!

Anonymous Dr. J October 16, 2012 8:45 AM  

OT I know, but your prediction about Barry throwing the election and Romney surging to fore is looking increasingly probable. The debates should be the final test of the theory, since Obama could finish himself off if he wants.

Anonymous DonReynolds October 16, 2012 9:03 AM  

Just as every American has the right to vote, every American should be able to do so without recrimination or fear of reprisal or anxiety about being discovered. Yes, your vote is private and confidential. No one will know for whom you voted except you and it stays that way if you never tell anyone later how you voted.

But nowdays I smell fear in the air. People are uneasy about other people finding out how they voted. Perhaps the first reason is the fear of social rejection or blame or labeling that some might do in certain political races.

Lately, Obama supporters have said that anyone who does not vote for Obama is a racist and because they are a racist, they should be removed from certain lines of work, they cannot work in the public sector at all (since racists cannot work for the public) and they cannot be in a supervisory position (where they might advance their racist agenda). Never before have I known of a time when people were afraid to make it known who they voted for. This is oppresive and open intimidation of voters.

Anonymous DonReynolds October 16, 2012 9:12 AM  

I believe this is the reason why Obama is doing so well in the polls.....some people are not willing to admit that they intend to vote AGAINST Obama, especially to a stranger taking the poll. The vote is not going to be close on November 6th.

Blogger James Dixon October 16, 2012 9:37 AM  

> They weren't and I think they still aren't. You have to sign up to join the 401k,

OK, I did some research. :) Yeah, I should have checked before saying anything, but who has time for that, and this is the Internet. :)

We're both correct. The IRS has established something called an "Automatic Enrollment 401K", which differs from a "Traditional 401K" in a number of ways. The key provision, and the reason many companies are going to it is this: "Under an automatic enrollment 401(k) plan with a qualified automatic contribution arrangement, the plan is exempt from the annual IRS testing requirement that a traditional 401(k) plan must perform.".

With an automatic enrollment 401K, the employee is automatically enrolled, and must opt out if they don't want to join. And apparently there are automatic investment requirements for such a plan, though I only skimmed that section.

Interested folks may wish to read the IRS publications at and

Anonymous RC October 16, 2012 10:27 AM  

I'm not on FB for the simple reason that I recognize that I now live in a police state, one that is increasingly taking off the velvet gloves. Why make their job easier?

Like Zuckerburg, I do wish I'd have come up with the FB concept.

Anonymous Roundtine October 16, 2012 10:36 AM  

This phenomena is why I think it would pay off for Republicans to call Hispanics white people. They often self-identify as white, and if the GOP is the white party......

Blogger LP2020 October 16, 2012 11:59 AM  

Many people have lost interest due to the 'FB factor'. FB is nothing but spamming, trolling, trifling henhouse nonsense.

Vox is a real saint for tolerating it all.

Blogger Unknown October 16, 2012 1:06 PM  

Many of those groups seem to be made up of the same people who think all the world's problems will be solved if enough people copy and paste a status message or "like" a page.

Anonymous A Visitor October 16, 2012 1:20 PM  

I deleted my Facebook account, too, a while back. I don't miss it, at all.

Anonymous TheVillageIdiotRet October 16, 2012 3:06 PM  

It wasn't bad enough that I blog alone,
Now I twitter alone.


Anonymous Anonymous October 16, 2012 4:39 PM  

Your spam filter goes to 11? Rats. Mine only goes to 10...


Anonymous Cat McClusky October 16, 2012 5:48 PM  

I don't have many friends on Facebook.

Perhaps it's because I need a life.

No wait, I don't have Facebook friends precisely because I do have a life.

Anonymous Anonymous October 17, 2012 12:35 AM  

Vox, you should have a look at the orchestrated furore with Alan Jones in Australia. In brief, an insensitive talkback host says something dumb (in private) about PM's dead father. He is instantly crucified via social media to the point that advertisers withdraw funding.
This seems like a perfect example of what you are talking about with a handful of activists using social media to force advertisers into dumping a popular radio host.

Secondly, Australia will have internet censorship within a year.

Anonymous Anonymous October 17, 2012 8:30 AM  

Exactly why I have never signed up for a Facecrook account......

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