Facebook is watching you!

I recently joined Facebook, within the past week. I know, I know. A bit behind the times. I still don’t have a cell phone.

I probably have my privacy settings too high (considering I frequently post the sort of information most people put on Facebook on my blog, on the internet, for everyone to read). But Facebook is scary! What really disturbs me is that, immediately, right after I’d joined, before I’d tried to add any friends at all, Facebook already had a list of people that it “thought I might know,” and suggested I add as friends. And I did know most of them! How does Facebook know?

My theory is that these were people who had previously searched for me on Facebook, before I was on, and that Facebook saves records of all those searches. I hope that’s true; the alternatives are a little too disturbing to contemplate.

Facebook has already suggested one ex-boyfriend to me as a potential friend. (“Face-your-past-book”) But at least it hasn’t suggested anyone I actively dislike (nor have any of those people tried to friend me). I have also discovered that Facebook provides all sorts of new opportunities for my raging insecurities about myself (“Why hasn’t that person accepted my friend request? Do they hate me? What did I do? Maybe it was [X]. But that doesn’t make sense. I must just be a horrible person….”).

Now we just need to get Tallulah on Catbook.

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5 Responses to Facebook is watching you!

  1. Kira says:

    I had friend insecurity! Pam is visiting me and she mentioned that you were on Facebook now and she was tagging you in photos. I said, “she is! I don’t think we’re friends!” But by the time we got back to my house, you had requested me.


    I guess we’re friends. 🙂

  2. Arun says:

    I have incredibly high privacy settings for Facebook, but I’m still really nervous.

    By the way, the way they know about who your friends are is because some people upload their e-mail contacts to Facebook, to help them find friends (instead of typing each name in manually). (I think this is an incredibly bad idea, considering Facebook’s privacy issues.) So those people have uploaded your name and e-mail address, which Facebook remembers. (So, pretty close to what you guessed.)

    Also, it searches for patterns. If person A, person B and person C all know each other, and have a number of friends in common, then if you are friends with person A, you will probably know B and C.

    I’m getting more and more scared of Facebook. Not really for myself, but for society as a whole.

  3. Kristin says:

    I’m sorry! I didn’t friend Pam first because I liked her better; I just basically started adding people recommended by Facebook as I saw them come up, probably in more-or-less random order. So it’s not me who likes Pam better, it’s Facebook. 🙂

    I still haven’t really searched to make sure I’m not missing people … if I am, it’s not personal. Or, probably not.

  4. Kristin says:

    I worry about the similarities between information people are encouraged to share about themselves on Facebook, and the security questions that your financial institution makes you answer so you can access your account online. I guess you can share that information just with friends, but what if someone hacks into the Facebook database?

  5. Jessica says:

    There’s a lot of talk about Facebook and privacy. Here are some things I’ve learned:
    friends: when you register with your email address, if it’s Google or Yahoo or another common email (in other words, not your work email), you have the option to sync your email with Facebook to find friends, and it will find people you have emailed that are on Facebook. When I first joined Facebook, I didn’t even think about privacy issues and used gmail to find friends (I didn’t find any- I don’t have too many friends, I guess).

    security questions: Facebook is a likely target to be hacked, so choose different answers from your financial sites just to be safe.

    Privacy settings: you do have the option to choose exactly what posts you want people to see (you can even choose specific friends, if you want to be that particular). You just have to know where to go. Click on your account in the top right corner when you are logged in and go through each of the settings to see what your options are. The main one I think is important is to not let your friends post where you are. There’s some place where people can “check in” (ex. So and so and I just checked into such and such bar) and will give the address. So, if you don’t want people physically stalking you, not only should you not “check in” to places when you’re out and about, but you should check the option to not let your friends “check you in” either. Most people worry about that one because it lets thieves know when to rob your house, but I think that’s more unlikely than someone coming to where you are and causing trouble.

    advertising: Facebook advertising targets not only your interests but your posts. So if you post, “I drank large quantities of Vox vodka last night,” you’re likely to see an ad for Vox vodka from now on. If you don’t want Facebook to know what you drink, what medicine you take, or other personal information, don’t post about it.

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