Facebook's Ethics

By Xah Lee. Date:

You know? Facebook.com today is the 2nd largest trafficked site as estimated by [ http://www.alexa.com/topsites ], after google.com.

Just spent about 2 hours reading about Facebook.

Looks like the technology and ideas is quite bleeding edge, however, its stance on ethics, is quiet shady, tracing back all the way to its origin at Harvard. I fully support capitalism and the free growth of ideas, but judging from Facebook's track record on issues as discussed on wikipedia, its ethics is quite questionable. Here's a summary, followed by quotes from Wikipedia.

Quotes from Wikipedia:

Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.[1] …

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University.[citation needed][5] The website's membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include (potentially) any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The website currently has more than 400 million active users worldwide.[6]

Facebook has met with some controversy. It has been blocked intermittently in several countries including Syria,[7] China,[8] Vietnam,[9] and Iran.[10] It has also been banned at many places of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service.[11]

Privacy has also been an issue, and it has been compromised several times. Facebook settled a lawsuit regarding claims over source code and intellectual property.[12] The site has also been involved in controversy over the sale of fans and friends.[13]

According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash "used photos compiled from the online Facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the 'hotter' person". To accomplish this, Zuckerberg hacked into the protected areas of Harvard's computer network and copied the houses' private dormitory ID images.

Just six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, while he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.[30]

The three complained to the Harvard Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. Zuckerberg used his site, TheFacebook.com, to look up members of the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. Then he examined a log of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members had ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. If the cases in which they had entered failed logins, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members' Harvard email accounts. He successfully accessed two of them.[30] The three later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, later settling.[31]

Also, there's a entire article of 10.5 k words of Facebook criticisms, with contents largely different from the above. Here's the article: Criticism of Facebook. Complaints, lawsuits, from governments, user groups of tens of thousands, corporations, computer scientists.

The guy who started Facebook seem to be a aggressive scumbag. Perhaps he thinks of himself something alone the lines of “can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs”.

Every Link is Tracked

FAAK Facebook. Every link on Facebook is tracked. So, when you click, it goes to Facebook itself, then redirect you. And with cookies, of course they know everything you clicked, and who clicked what URL of every URL on Facebook.

I noticed this practically… long story long: i use multiple browsers at the same time, one with cookies on sites i have a account, and another browser for general browsing purposes. I use Google Chrome as my cookied browser, and Firefox as generic. So, when i want to see URL on Facebook, i right click to copy the link, then with keyboard macros i've setup i press a button and the URL is opened in Firefox.

However, with faaking Facebook links, i don't get the destination URL but a Facebook page warning me about the danger. Here's a example:

facebook URL tracking warn
The page that results from a URL displayed on Facebook, by right click to copy the URL then paste in another browser.

Here is the text:

Be careful

For the safety and privacy of your Facebook account, remember to never
enter your password unless you're on the real Facebook web site. Also
be sure to only download software from sites you trust.

To work around this, i have to actually copy the URL text as shown on the page by dragging to select the text. This is a more manually labor intensive maneuver and error prone. In some cases the URL isn't displayed, so this work-around won't be possible. In general, just didn't have good experience when i want to see links linked from Facebook.

You might think i'm too idiosyncratic in my computer use, or too weird in my complaints, or that i could simply stop using Facebook… i have lots to say about this but you are right. Though, one wonders why Facebook does such a link redirect anyway? First of all, tracking links can be done transparently with JavaScript, so a hard-coded redirect that goes back to Facebook server is technologically lame. But business wise, of course Facebook does it to gather info to sell. Now, the commercial aspect of this itself i don't oppose, after all, you are not forced at gun point to use Facebook. But having done research on Facebook history (see http://xahlee.org/js/Facebook_ethics.html ) the Facebook is really a scumbag. I think the whole Facebook ways must be the direction of that college boy faakface Mark Zuckerberg.

So why don't i stop using it? No, i will keep using it. That's what i do. I use you, and abuse you, in proportion to how i see you in my eyes. haha. Put in a positive light, this is called, say, raising awareness, public education, non-violent civil disobedience or unconformalism.

Facebook Retains Your Changed Password

faak Facebook again. Today i tried to log in, but by mistake used my old password. Then, it pops up to tell me of the fact. The point being, they retained the info about my old password in their database. FAAK Facebook because the Mark Z something faakface used this wrong password log technique to hack into his enemy's other accounts.

Explanation: when we login to some site, often we may have typed passwords we used in another account. Sites are not supposed to log it wrongly typed passwords, but apparently fb does, at least in its early days. This means, if you ever enter by mistake your other bank account's password while trying to login Facebook, then fb knows, and can use it to login to your other accounts.

Today's password incident doesn't have to do with the above, but is similar. Namely, fb retains the data of your old password, but as far as i know this isn't a standard practice in handling passwords. Combined with fb abuse history, thus faak Facebook.

FSF made a declaration on Facebook. See: Mark Zuckerberg is TIME Magazine's Person of the Year? Where's the “dislike” button? by Matt Lee et al. At http://www.fsf.org/facebook .

FSF say no to Facebook Zuckerberg
Facebook 2011-09-27 Kashmir Hill 2021-12-06
Facebook Keeps A History Of Everyone Who Has Ever Poked You, Along With A Lot Of Other Data By Kashmir Hill. At http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/09/27/facebook-keeps-a-history-of-everyone-who-has-ever-poked-you-along-with-a-lot-of-other-data/
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