Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My facebook did WHAT?

First, let me say, "Facebook" is still simply a weird name. Think about it: "face book" - huhwhat? Sounds like an overly-simplified explanation an irritated girlfriend would give to her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend in a sunny apartment in a low-grade comedy film upon returning home after finding out she was cheating on him:

"face. book. facebook!"

Upon completing the utterance of which she would smack him upside the head with a ridiculously large dictionary that just happened to be sitting on the coffee table.

Ok, now that's out of the way, let me alert you to something: face. book. beacon. Facebook/beacon

Say what? Take a gander at this guy's article (and his follow-on article) for more details, in particular about how to stop what I'm about to explain from happening to you. But here's the scenario. I'm playing a game on Kongregate (99 bricks, if you want to know, an infuriatingly frustrating yet way-cool evolution of the Tetris theme - I once did fairly well in a Tetris tournament in my year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Tetris was the cause for the failure of the "y" key on my keyboard when a friend got mad at having lost and slammed down on "y" for "yes, a new game!" and the "y" quit typing thereafter; incidentally, WPI had a really great use for their fantastic lecture hall: on Saturday nights it became a 50-cent movie theatre for the students with one of the best sound systems I've ever heard, and this was back in 1990-1991).

Wait, sorry about that.. where was I? Oh, yeah... Kongregate... so I'm playing a game on Kongregate (99 bricks, if you want to know...), when up pops this little Facebook windlet (that's a mini-window... I like making up words!) that says, "Hey, you last played 99 bricks on Kongregate, you want me to add that to your Facebook?" Um, what's the deal? I don't even have a facebook window open! (I just opened a window, and it has me all logged in now, even though usually it asks me to sign in...) So what's going on?

Looks like facebook is now doing this little "tracking" thing... and lots of people are starting to get in on the action. And they'll (facebook) gladly keep track of where you've been and what you're doing. Now, say you have several people who use the same computer... or you access facebook on a public computer (like a library - yeah, we all know you wouldn't be doing THAT! - or an internet cafe)... and suddenly your facebook profile is being shared around like it's anybody's business. What's up with that? And even if you are the only person to ever use your computer, do you want facebook keeping tabs on you? And suddenly you're getting highly targeted merchandising that seeks to exploit your habits and weaknesses? For example, say you tend to spend a significant amount of time exploring, I don't know, music-instrument-related sites because you really want a set of bagpipes to learn (don't tell my wife), and now when you log into facebook there are 17 bagpipe related ads attempting to pull your hard-earned cash away from important things like food for your family or new jewelry for your wife (sorry, babe... unfortunately this is merely hypothetical... :) but I do love you!)... and it happens to hit on a day when you forgot that an automatic debit hasn't yet cleared your account and you decide it's been a hard day and you want to splurge on just a small practice chanter to get started and then that bill hits and suddenly you're overdrawn and your lovely wife can't get milk and bread and Lucky Charms to feed your 17 starving children (ok, I'm the one who wants the Lucky Charms)...

Not that that has happened, mind you, but I'm just saying. Could if you don't have much willpower. On the other hand, if instead you'd simply had the standard random ads from facebook it's not likely that the one intermittent ad for a bagpipe clearance sale would have caught your attention.

Anyway, you decide... there are instructions on the articles linked above for blocking the facebook beacon site from being able to track you as you bound wildly across the open internet landscape. Oh, and be careful... it's a jungle out there. (As you probably will have guessed if you've ventured onto this blog post, and now I'll bet you're regretting having read for this long.)

3 comments:

Joe said...

Cheap tin whistles!

It isn't a practice chanter, but plenty of people cross over from bagpipe to tin whistle and vice versa. I like the Clarke Sweetone. It's one of the two whistles I have. (My other is a more expensive Susato, also on that page.)

Ninfa said...

Bag Pipes!?!?! I think not! You have enough toys. I, on the other hand, don't have enough jewelry. ;) And who else has given you kids because I sure don't recall 17! I will say that you gave some really good tips in this blog though. Way to look out for your fellow bloggers/facebookers (he-he that sounds like boogers when you say it fast).

Christy said...

I don't care for facebook or anyone else keeping track of me, thank you very much. That's why I don't do the widget thingie. Also, I've considered restricting the use of my debit card. I guess I've become a bit paranoid since the election. Not that I have bad habits I'm trying to hide, it's just the principle of the thing, you know?

Bagpipes? That would be the ONLY reason why I'd be happy you moved. Sorry!