Facebook becomes the corporate face of ‘creepy’

If Facebook were actively trying to define itself as ‘creepy’, it couldn’t do much better than this.  Two reports over the past few weeks have caused me to wonder at the sanity of anyone who still uses the service.

First, it seems Facebook actively marketed to advertisers its ability to ‘target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability’.  Wired reports:

Data mining is such a prosaic part of our online lives that it’s hard to sustain consumer interest in it, much less outrage. The modern condition means constantly clicking against our better judgement. We go to bed anxious about the surveillance apparatus lurking just beneath our social media feeds, then wake up to mindlessly scroll, Like, Heart, Wow, and Fave another day.

But earlier this month, The Australian uncovered something that felt like a breach in the social contract: a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”

The 23-page document had been prepared for a potential advertiser and highlighted Facebook’s ability to micro-target ads down to “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” According to The Australian’s report, Facebook had been monitoring posts, photos, interactions, and internet activity in real time to track these emotional lows. (Facebook confirmed the existence of the report, but declined to respond to questions from WIRED about which types of posts were used to discern emotion.)

There’s more at the link.

Not content with that, it seems Facebook is trying to patent ‘creepy technology which spies on people and automatically analyses their facial expressions’.  The Sun reports:

The social network applied for a patent to capture pictures of a user through their smartphone.

The creepy designs, which date back to 2015, were discovered by software company CBI Insight, which has been analysing Mark Zuckerberg’s “emotion technology”.

. . .

Researchers at CBI Insights warned that the plans could put a lot of people off using the service.

“On the one hand, they want to identify which content is most engaging and respond to audience’s reactions, on the other emotion-detection is technically difficult, not to mention a PR and ethical minefield,” it wrote in a blogpost.

Again, more at the link.

So Facebook now wants to use the camera on your smartphone to watch you while you use the device.  Why would anyone in their right mind allow a social media network this kind of intimate access to their thoughts, feelings and emotions?  Is there no value attached to privacy any more?

From my moral perspective (which is admittedly that of an older generation), this seems not only an invasion of privacy, but actively evil – trying to use your own emotions to manipulate you, and/or sell data about you to advertisers and others (for example, political parties analyzing voter emotions and behavior) who will use it to manipulate you.

News reports like this make me devoutly grateful that I have no Facebook presence at all!  If you do, in heaven’s name, why do you want to expose yourself to this???



  1. But they won't let me market my dojo using phrases like "helps with weight loss" because that gives people bad body images.

    This is just MESSED UP.

  2. The concept of using your own emotional vulnerabilities to manipulate you is as old as the hills. It's at least as old as the insurance racket. Why do we buy life insurance when we're not going to be around to enjoy the death benefits? Insurance sales are largely based on fear; the fear of catastrophe. No one wants to bring up the obvious, that the client (AKA mark, victim, insured) is betting that he'll be forced to endure some calamity, while the insurance company (who owns the game) is betting he won't. Guess who makes out on this deal.

    There is no privacy on the Internet. Email isn't private. The name suggests it is, but anyone who knows how email works knows for a fact that email is public. The same thing is true of any other form of social media. All that's happening here is that new technology is surfacing, and someone has found a different way to use it.

    It comes down to the shark attack theory that I learned in Florida, right after Jaws hit the theater. Florida natives (I'm a Midwest transplant) know that there are sharks in the ocean. They also know that the one sure-fire way to avoid a shark attack is to stay out of the water. If you don't want to deal with social media's perceived invasion of privacy and immoral use of same, stay off social media. Cover the camera lens. Stay out of the water.

  3. I used FB to follow writers like jim butcher ILOH-Larry etc

    But that was it Just deactivated account with excerpt about 14 year olds as reason.

    Thanks now I have more time for blog following

  4. I've always considered myself as a techy type of person. I don't go as far as writing code but I've been online since 96ish, assembled my own computers, have been active on forums and even on Usenet back in the day and still belong to very esoteric tech hobby email lists and keep pretty current on internet culture. Setting aside its evil and the evil of its evil creator, for the life of me I've never understood the allure of Facebook or its ilk. From what I've observed it's little more than a drama generator which is probably why it's so popular with females. Speaking of females, I've also noticed that a majority of the divorces I'm aware of the details about have Facebook as a major component nowadays. The adultery was initiated through Facebook by friending an old flame or some other member of the opposite sex. Probably also why the single guys I know who are out tomcatting around swear by it for finding chicks who are, to put it bluntly and in the vernacular, DTF. Not that there aren't other online options but Facebook seems like old reliable to them.

    1. It does allow a certain amount of connection that otherwise hasn't happened. Old school buds, old co-workers, widely-separated family members, etc. That's the only reason I finally signed up.

      Whether that's enough to make up for *this* is another question altogether.

  5. And this, dear children, is why you always keep a piece of scotch tape over your computer's camera lens.

  6. An example of the invasive powers of FB.
    As a long-time FB hater, I reluctantly opened an account to monitor my Amateur Radio Clubs FB page.
    As profile info, I used :
    a) Part of my Christian name.
    b) Part of my callsign.
    c) A disposable email address, used only for FB.
    d) My date of birth.

    I have no "friends", and the only group I belong to is the Radio Club.

    Two (rpt TWO) days after signup, I start getting "do you know?" suggestions for people I actually know at this time, and for people I was at school with forty years ago.

    FB have deduced so much about me from so little, and seem to regard this a something I should appreciate and co-operate with????????

    Foxtrot Oscar!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. When our congress establishes privacy for us on ohr phone and personal computers, this will all end. Obama excellerated Bush efforts to monitor. Trump has yet to correct the Constitional invasion.

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