Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More about the LA Times' "Facebook only" commenting test

I recently wrote about the idiotic test the LA Times is running, whereby only Facebook members can post comments on the LA Times site. I thought I'd post yet more ammunition against this stupid idea.

UPDATE 09/26/11: Here's yet ANOTHER story from the LA Times about Facebook killing its users' privacy...yet I can't comment on the story because--you guessed it!--the LA Times only allows comments from Facebook members!

Today's LA Times has this story, Facebook apps may have leaked millions of users' personal data to third parties, which says:

"Facebook apps may have inadvertently leaked the personal data of millions of Facebook users to third parties such as advertisers, according to the Web security firm Symantec.

Among the information that could have been accessed is data from user profiles, pictures and Facebooks chats between users..."

Last month the LA Times ran this article, Facebook looks to cash in on user data, which says:

"Julee Morrison has been obsessed with Bon Jovi since she was a teenager.

So when paid ads for fan sites started popping up on the 41-year-old Salt Lake City blogger's Facebook page, she was thrilled. She described herself as a "clicking fool," perusing videos and photos of the New Jersey rockers.

Then it dawned on Morrison why all those Bon Jovi ads appeared every time she logged on to the social networking site.

"Facebook is reading my profile, my interests, the people and pages I am 'friends' with, and targeting me," Morrison said. "It's brilliant social media but it's absolutely creepy.

Three days ago, the LA Times ran this editorial, Internet data collection: The privacy line, which says:

"A good example is what Facebook is doing with the "Like" button it has persuaded more than 2.5 million websites to display. The button ostensibly lets Facebook users recommend things they encounter online — a blog post, for example — to their friends on the social network. But researcher Arnold Roosendaal of the Netherlands found that once a Facebook user has clicked on a single "Like" button, Facebook will be alerted to all of his or her subsequent visits to any Web page with a "Like" button. The company even tracks individuals who aren't Facebook members, Roosendaal reported, although it cannot identify them by name..."

Today, the LA Times published this article, Congressmen Edward Markey and Joe Barton ask Facebook to explain security vulnerability, which says:

"Congressmen Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) have asked Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain a security vulnerability that gave advertisers and other third parties access to users' accounts and personal information.

Security company Symantec Corp. discovered the vulnerability and alerted Facebook, which said it was fixed.

Facebook faces growing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators concerned how it protects personal information shared by its users..."

Yesterday's LA Times ran this article, Consumer Reports: Facebook has 7.5 million underage users, which says:

"About 7.5 million active Facebook users are lying about their age -- they're younger than 13. And among those preteens, more than 5 million are under 10, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.

That violates Facebook's own policy, meant to avoid federal regulations that apply to websites with young members. Those regulations require people who sign up to be 13 or older, the report says..."

I cite the above not because it proves privacy leaks--as is so common with Facebook--but because it proves how easily Facebook's own policies can be circumvented. So if the LA Times thinks that forcing people to have Facebook accounts in order to post comments on its web site will somehow keep things, NO! If little kids can figure out how to sign up illegally, I'm sure adults can, too.

You'd think that after publishing all of the above, the LA Times would maybe get a clue.

Here's something I guess they missed, which quotes Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, 'Facebook is the most appalling spying machine ever invented,’ says Assange, which says:

"Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US Intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, all these major US organisations have built-in interfaces for US Intelligence.

It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena, they have an interface they have developed for US Intelligence to use. Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US Intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that US Intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure to them and it’s costly for them to hand out records, one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them..."

Should I go on? I can! "Facebook" and "privacy leaks" go hand in hand. And the LA Times thinks it's a *GOOD* idea to force its users to join Facebook in order to post comments on its web site?


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