Thursday, 5 April 2012

While I wait for the Timeline Borg to assimilate me

You will be assimilated
While I wait for the facebook Borg to assimilate me into the Timeline upgrade, I can hear the muffled cries from the corridor as mates of mine are taken over one by one or in waves. For the few days from the 31st of March I checked every hour or two, half expecting the FB police to have broken in and dragged my profile away. But still nothing.  Well past caring at this point, I'm just waiting for them to come and get me. It's not so bad once you know what to do, it's even frustrating waiting for them to come. The fact is that once it happens, I'll be hiding most of posts from the first day to about a month of posts before the top of the month. I've got the software that allows me to not see Timeline on my or anybody else's wall, and Facebook won't be able to have fun with my facts. ( see below)

It's bad enough as a writer that no one wants to pay us to produce content, I'm not going to allow some corporate Nestene Conciousness make money off my whimsy, pics, personal life or serious threads. Unlike some, while I'm not enthused by the lay out and find the look confusing, I'm not objecting to the imposition of Timeline on those grounds, no I have more serious reasons. Reasons that if you think about them, are perfectly rational. First of all, the old wall was a huge mass of difficult to search information of everything we'd ever done or said in Facebook, and that was fine.... but now you get a handy search tool that allows any of your old or new friends to find out what was happening on the 17th of March 2004. I don't remember what happened on March 17th 2004, so why should Reg from Luton know? Am I the subject of some in depth academic study for a graduate student trying to tie in my musings to  political events? Is The Sun doing a fluff piece about me on my choice of toast spread over the last 5 years? If I was, they'd have to ask me first and it would be ME telling them , not some bit of intrusive software.

There are things that happened 3 months ago that want forgetting, let alone what petty or serious trouble I might have got into trouble over in 2006. Today I'm happy, my cat is happy, my wife is happy and my father is happy. None of us need to be reminded about some insanity that occurred so long ago our brains have blotted them out. I don't want to be reminded or let all my mates know about my mother dying last year or how dear departed cat Buzu was run over by a car 6 years ago. Yet Facebook has already started doing the "Keith said: I could kill a cupa about now" or Louise said: "That was the best Doctor Who ever!". Where when???? Doctor Who isn't on now? Oh ... in Dec 2009 they said these things. Do I care? I don't want to know, will I comment all over again???. Wait till my mates get a load of 6 years of my match day highlights.

Here is a sampling
Fuckity Fuck Fuck...... damn
Shoooooollaaaaa Yesssssssssssss
Who hates Howard Webb
1-0 Get in!
Typical Toon
Halftime, off for a slash and some food.

Are you addressing your comments to me?
And as these things are randomly posted, the original posts taken utterly out of context, will seem all the more bizarre and inexplicable. I'm not 12 years old, I'm a mature male with a family, bills to pay and a varied set of interests. Even if I wrote a diary of the events in my life, I wouldn't let  most of my closest friends read it, and Facebook want us to share with all and sundry? I am not a product nor am I source of entertainment to others when they have run out of other things to do. Facebook seems to think that all people want to share their lives and photos and utterances from time immemorial as if we will always be teenagers. Most people and that includes most teens don't want that much info about them that easily found. Why else not friend your parents and your in-laws. What we do and say in Facebook is what we used to do and say in MSN Chat or private e-mails. But Timeline is designed to make it so easy for others to pry,  we've been admonished by Facebook to make sure there's nothing we don't want others to see before OUR Timeline profile goes public.

How badly do you want this job?
Speaking of who's asking.... prospective employers are asking for passwords and looking at Timelines even now. For this there is now a lawsuit in California pending.  Surely Facebook lawyers aren't so stupid as to not have anticipated this? As well, all you need is one false friend to read your deep personal history and you can kiss your identity goodbye. Forget about getting hacked, you can do plenty with less than Timeline offers, get into most credit card accounts and e-mails. Why make it even easier??? Simply saying greed is not an answer, it can't be.

Why are we being forced in the first place? What, other than being more fodder for advertisers, is in it for us? Why are we being treated like naughty children who should appreciate what's being done for us? Why when they are clearly covering their arse , they still adopt a paternalistic tone that makes any person over the age of  15 feel like Nana is forcing you to wear a scarf as it's cold and you're too stupid to figure it yourself? Well I never asked for it. In fact most people asked for the right NOT to have it. Where do these people get off forcing such things on us? They own the site and it's free to use? Not an excuse. It's an abuse of power and at worse an abuse of the information they themselves profess not to own and that we can allegedly control. It's gotten so that to enjoy Facebook, I've had to resort to no fewer than three separate bits of software in Firefox to hide the unwanted, but forced on, news feed that circumvented several privacy settings and caused us to spend a day resetting them. ( while I'm on about this, just how often have we had to reset our privacy settings?),I've yet to make any sense of the private messages I used to have that are now just a jumbled collection of long conversations with people about everything we ever IM'd each other about AND chatted about in chat. I must have  accumulated, at least a week of constant clicking blocking every poxy game and app I've ever been invited to use. And now a  new bit of kit is already installed ready to hide Timeline as and when they assimilate me.

All this work and effort to make it look like it did BEFORE they fixed it. Surely there must be a message in there somewhere. Perhaps it's "Leave it alone already, it works fine" or "NO we won't let you use our information that way", alternatively "If I wanted to have a news feed that twitched and wobbled like that, I would have asked my 12 year old cousin  to design a web page for me.". Any way you slice it, Facebook has taken the piss so often in the name of monetization that they have gone out their way to make sure we know they don't give a flying fuck what we think. I want my friends, they hang out at the park, if want to see them , I have to go to the park. One day when the police have beaten them, intimidated them and abused them enough, they will move on to a new place. But for now the search parties have come up empty and unhappy. With luck, the European Union will pass laws that protect users from such abuse and identity infringements and actions that are illegal and punishable by the courts.

I doubt the Hive mind that runs Facebook will take any notice of this, but if they are  reading, the law will catch up to you and apply to you. We wish you were as concerned about racism, bullying and organization of looting parties or riots as you are concerned with the imposition of a feature very clearly many millions of people don't want. If we accept that Facebook is a business, than we can assume reasonably that like any business that exceeds it's authority with users, it will face the double consequence of investigation and regulation. What will follow will be no more pleasant to Facebook bosses than the current and continued user abuse wherein Facebook rams down throats, change after change, most designed to make money off our information regardless of how complicated what should otherwise be a pleasant experience becomes.

And let's talk about business. Hundreds of thousands of businesses, political parties and media outlets  have invested money and time to use Facebook as a marketing tool. They have paid Facebook for special apps that work and are appreciated even by most users. But with Timeline as with every other improvement, Facebook have yet again thrown the baby out with the bath water. Companies have seen  potential clients  stop using facebook pages that have gone Timeline in droves, with an immediate and tangible drop off in business for the companies so affected.  Some might call this "loss of revenue", some might call it "breach of contract". In fact some could sue. Facebook, just how much more of this before we all leave or you figure out being a pushy orang-utan with no respect for others is bad for business?

The last time a social media got this out of hand, it went from giant killer money making phenom of the century, to beggar bowl web site wondering what went wrong. In case you're wondering...I mean you Myspace. The only reason Facebook hasn't yet collapsed, is because a viable alternative that respects people's privacy and normal social patterns hasn't turned up.

When I was boy, there was lovely Jewish bakery I used to go to. The nice old man behind the counter could ask me in at least 10 languages "if I wanted anything else and btw , how was my Mother doing?  Here's an extra bagel for her." He knew that being nice to his clients and making them want to come back even if it was a little cheaper somewhere else, was what was going to keep his daughter's child in braces and food. He knew that by being like this to his best clients, even the least of them would come back, even yet, they would tell others about him. That's called goodwill in retail, something Facebook clearly has no concept of. If he'd have chased off his best clients in favour of selling wata ( vata: wonderbread ) so he could live off the trade of toothless morons, he would  have fast gone out of business. Like I said before, soon as we find a friendly place that sells a nice rye or kimmel or maybe those nice kaiser buns or a knish, we'll be gone so fast you won't know to tell a tell the diffrence between a Newcastle Street on a Saturday at 3pm and a deli where the cheesecake has run out. 

I'm going to go back to waiting with deep suspicion for the Timeline storm troopers to take me down, till then remember the wise words of my grandmother, "Always wear clean underwear; if you get hurt and go to the hospital, I don't want the doctors thinking I raised a szwinia" .... So maybe not appropriate for this situation, but still words to live by.

PS: Quick primer on how to prepare for Timeline if God forbid they get you.

1- when you are assimilated, you will be offered the chance to "clean up" or edit your information. DO IT. Start by hiding from Timeline any information older than the last three months.

2- Delete all superfluous posts about games you have played, one line oddness that made no sense even a half hour after it was posted.

3- Insure that if you have a blog or other such public url you are promoting, to keep it open to see.

4- Insure that deeply personal or intimate events that occurred a long time ago stay in the past. Even new friends can read these .

5- Lastly, install the following software. I works on all browsers but IE. (If you're on IE , really still?, get off it, you won't miss it ) It's called TimeLineRemove . What it does is like Feed Filter,  it's got one job only, it hides Timeline. You're still on it, but you can't see it. Your wall and every other wall will be like it was pre Timeline. There will be an icon that allows you enter or exit Timeline block.


Don't forget to purge your  wall of stories to keep up with the blocking of stories you don't want seen. Every person who hasn't bothered to do the above will see your Timeline, you need to be sure only what you want seen remains.  I will be keeping a 30 day buffer that I'll clear out on the last weekend of every month. Yet more work I know, but it's only way to beat them.

Clear as mud? Tell me what isn't.  Happy Easter to my Christian family & mates and Good Passover to my Jewish family and friends. As for the rest of you, you know who you are, eat the chocolate and be nice.

1 comment:

Jeri Westerson said...

You know they'll wait a year, then launch "Facebook Classic," the Way It Used To Be, and try to look like a hero. I can't wait.