Monday, July 4, 2016

A quarter of a century late, Big Brother has arrived, and his name is Facebook

Time to get Facebook out of my life
Bill underwood

I’ve been given three good reasons this week to get rid of my Facebook account, and for once in my life I’m going to follow the advice. Should you?

What three reasons? First, the “koobface virus.” Koobface has been around for a couple years, but has gotten worse just in the last month. Most of us know that we can get a virus on our computer from opening an attachment in an unwanted email. What koobface does is to post a message on your Facebook ‘wall,’ inviting you to view a video… something us Facebook users do frequently. If you click on this video, however, you’ll be told you need to download a video player. Don’t do it! Once downloaded to your computer, the koobface worm will send the same viral message to all your Facebook friends, and turn control of your computer over to the hackers. All of your logins to all of your online accounts (not just Facebook) will be stolen. And, to add insult to injury, if you are still able to use your computer, you’ll begin to receive ads for antivirus software (that doesn’t work) and, if the computer in question is networked, for example your office computer, the hackers will be able to use it to try to infect all the other computers at the company.

The second reason for leaving Facebook came up just this week. Facebook has completely redesigned how they work behind the scenes. The upside, for them, is that they can get their tentacles into millions of websites worldwide. The downside, for you, is a complete loss of your privacy.

Facebook interacts with what are called ‘recommendation engines.’ Here’s how that works: According to my account settings, I’m a 50-something single male living in Arizona. The ads on the left side of the page, no matter what page on Facebook I go to, almost without exception say something like ‘Meet thousands of single older women in Arizona!’ While they are annoying they are innocuous enough, I suppose, but Facebook has taken it a step further.

Here’s an excerpt from the new “privacy,” or, rather, ‘Lack of Privacy,’ policy at Facebook as of this week:
“When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. ... The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.”

Facebook is selling your personal information to Microsoft, Yelp, and Pandora; and thousands if not millions of websites will be privy to it, without your consent. This includes your age and gender, marital status, employment history, education, hometown, music and movie preferences, and much more. As a facebook member, when you visit, say, and read a story, your browser will add a “Like” button to the story. Clicking it will share the story with all your friends on Facebook, but that’s not all. It will also add the story to your likes and interests on your profile page. The next website you go to will know even more about you.

The third reason I’m planning on leaving Facebook is personal, and has to do with my Christianity. I joined Facebook a couple months ago to promote readership of this column, and it has definitely helped. However, ever since I started It has made me uncomfortable to apply the word “friend” to people I don’t know, and who definitely do not share my values. 

“Let not any filthy word go out of your mouth,” says Ephesians 4:29, and chapter 5 verses 3 and 4 add, “It is unbecoming for you as Christians even to mention… vulgarity and buffoonery and obscene jesting.” Granted I can, and do, delete tasteless comments that get posted to my ‘wall’ and ‘hide’ individuals whose posts are consistently tasteless or just useless, but I shouldn’t be voluntarily putting myself in a position to have to deal with them in the first place. Much of what passes for social interaction on Facebook is actually ‘buffoonery’ or at the very least, an enormous waste of time.

If you, like me, decide to vote with your feet, how do you get out of Facebook? It is NOT sufficient to simply deactivate your account. Doing so preserves all the information that has ever been posted there, for use by other Facebookers, as well as the aforementioned websites. Here’s what you actually need to do:

1. Delete all the info you can. All your pictures, links, comments, everything you can remove.

2. In account settings, edit every setting you can find to disallow access to everyone but yourself. Remove or alter every piece of information you can… your name, email address, etc. 

3. Copy this link, and paste it into the address bar at the top of your Facebook home page: 

4. Click Submit and follow the prompts. 

5. Do NOT go back to Facebook for 14 days! After 14 days, try going to Facebook. It should not let you in. 

6. If for some reason your Facebook account is still there after 14 days, go here: and scroll down to Deleting Accounts. Buried in the middle of the paragraph it says, ‘click here.’ Click on it, follow the instructions, and again stay away from Facebook for 14 days.

7. If that still doesn't work, email and ask them to delete your account.

I understand Facebook is a business, and every business is entitled to try to make an honest profit. I also can see the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, and know that the whole internet experience is going to continue to change, and not for the better. But for as long as I can, I'd rather use the internet for my needs, rather than feeling that it is using me.

Your comments are welcome. Comments containing links or insulting remarks will be deleted. If you would like to be notified when new articles are posted, please click on 'Subscribe,' at the top of the page. And, since I will no longer have a presence on Facebook, please tell all your friends to subscribe as well. Thank you!

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