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Archive for August, 2012

Facebook: Lying, deceptive and smarmy

Posted by Ron George on August 26, 2012

Lying Facebook e-mail message 120826

Facebook bait: A bald-faced lie

Now comes the worst lie of all.

I’ve just received a message from Facebook asking that I befriend my sister Sue Utley – who died of brain cancer more than two months ago. “Sue Utley wants to be your friend on Facebook,” the message says. “No matter how far away you are from friends and family, Facebook can help you stay connected.”

What a crock.

I have friends on Facebook. Once upon a time, I had a Facebook account, too – but not since 2007.

I’ve been kidded and ribbed for years about not being on Facebook as though I’m some sort of troglodyte, a kind of cyber-reactionary fearful of technology as well as my own shadow. It’s not enough in my own defense to say Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has totally unacceptable ideas about privacy; such as, it’s no longer a reasonable expectation in this our vaunted era of social-networking. I’m told I’m exaggerating. I’m assured that my Facebookanoia is way overblown. Get over it, one of my colleagues said some time ago. Get into the 21st century. 

Zuckerberg’s company betrayed about 350 million Facebook users, including me, almost three years ago when it de-privatized our names, profile photographs, gender, cities of residence and friends lists, among other things, after assuring us for years that our personal information was secure and would be shared only with those we chose. I simply can’t imagine why anyone would continue to support a company that would pull a stunt like that, let alone why anyone would invest in a company the corporate culture of which rests upon the fundamental deception that its network is about having and making friends and not about selling users’ eyeballs to advertisers.

Not long ago, a Facebook invitation came to my personal e-mail account from my wife’s Facebook account. The message said she had wanted me to become her friend on Facebook. Sweet, perhaps, but not true, just another bald-faced lie. It’s not surprising – businesses mislead the public all the time – but it is brazen, and I have no doubt that many if not most people who receive such messages actually believe that Facebook is telling the truth. It isn’t. It doesn’t and it won’t.

Troglodyte eats computer keyboard

Call me a trog: Art by Mike Reed

Tell me, Mr. Zuckerberg, how will your insanely overpriced and overrated company help me stay connected with my dead sister? Isn’t it bad enough that you trivialized her death and invaded my privacy with a bogus invitation, but then you had to wrap it in smarmy, slithery language about my friends and my family, all of whom are just now beginning to recover from the loss of this beautiful soul. The list includes my 89-year-old mother, whose worst fear in life was to endure the death of one of her three children. The list includes hundreds if not thousands of family, friends and public school students whose lives were touched by Sue’s gracious disposition, musical talent and quirky sense of humor.

What do you know, Mr. Zuckerberg, about my sister, my family and my friends? Not a thing, and our staying connected owes absolutely nothing to your predatory multimillion-dollar antisocial network.

Facebook, of course, had no idea Sue had died, but isn’t that the point? Facebook really has no idea whatever about the lives of its users. All it has is data, lots of data – lots of data for sale, lots of personal data but no sense at all of this data’s being connected with human lives – real people, people like my sister Sue and our mother. All Facebook sees or cares about is what can be leeched out of human life and sold for profit to companies bent not only upon invading our privacy but shaping our habits.

Facebook isn’t the only technology company to engage in this hideous form of capitalized dehumanization, but it is, perhaps, the most egregious, rapacious example of greed overwhelming ethical judgment and common sense. Had there been a conscientious CEO at the helm of Facebook, had it been a disciplined and humane company, I would not have received a lying piece of e-mail assuring me that Facebook could help me “stay connected” with my dead sister.

If I’d never before had a good reason to despise this company, I certainly have one now; and, if that makes me a troglodyte, so be it.


Posted in Death, Ethics, Family, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »