Categories
Business Technology

Facebook killed 14 people in May

That is what the headlines ought to be.  Not “A Facebook bug changed suggested sharing settings to ‘public’ for up to 14 million users“.  Think about it.  Assuming Facebook is telling the truth (and we have absolutely no way to know if it was 14 million, 140 million or all of Facebook affected) out of the 14 million there is an enormous probability that they affected users with serious legal, social or psychological problems.  Maybe a crazy ex wife, a stalker, a student or some other privacy problem which led a percentage of those affected to suicide.  In fact, based on the evidence accumulating scientifically, it is not entirely unfair to say that Facebook not only did it’s best to grab users with mental problems but also that it actively does its best to make those problems worse.

It is pretty safe to assume that Facebook didn’t release this information because of their new drive to honesty.  Even if it was only 14 million users affected (which I highly doubt), that is a lot of time wasting Facebook psychopaths online with the potential to uncover it.  Many of those are constantly checking other people’s feeds, gossiping and trying to find out whether their boyfriend saw that post about that other girl or not.  (And other such human micro drama.)  Facebook had to reveal the bug because a lot of people would have noticed and proved it’s existence.  A lot of the users it managed to make addicted during one of the many hours they spend aimlessly scrolling up and down their timelines and checking other people’s timelines.

Here’s one problem:  nobody can really check up on Facebook.  Here’s a worse problem: their infrastructure is terrible.  Here’s the real issue: Facebook remains the toy of an unbalanced teenage hacker at heart.

In many ways it is a self repairable problem.  Unlike other online tools, Facebook is a complete waste of time.  The company has specialized in providing inconsequential services.  It’s not helping you get to work.  It’s not giving you free document processing tools.  And it’s running out of ways to entice users to spend time on it’s useless, buggy, platform.

Categories
Business Communication Technology

y2k vs swine flu: lessons for two industries

Everyone in the IT industry pretends it never happened.  One of the most succesful marketing fabrications ever in what is otherwise quite a boring sector.  It generated billions in revenue out of nothing.   The y2k bug was a public relations triumph.  And in many ways, it relied on similar scaremongery as H1N1.  Presidents and prime ministers went on record publicly in order to “raise awareness”.  They authorised massive amounts of public funding in order to counter the potential threat.

Potential” the operative word.  Nobody guaranteed that air control, traffic lights and bank systems would crumble as the Millenium dawned.  But everyone happilly got paid overtime to miss the New Year party.  “Just in case”.

Swine flu, though also grossly overhyped at least had some actual victims!   y2k managed to capitalize on the planet’s fear of robots taking over.  A generation of decision makers seeing technology taking over but at the same time not really understanding how it works.

I must admit that I did not personally mastermind y2k hysteria.  In fact I am one of the very few who publicly, clearly and often stated that it is all complete nonsense.  But now older and wiser I am more interested in the hysteria than the truth.  I want to do a Steve Jobs on the planet by actually causing such irrationality!

It is the Holy Grail of marketing.  Selling services for a non existent threat with all the marketing created by terrified, responsibility fearing civil servants.  Anybody with a passion for serious social engineering please contact me;  with the increased pace of technological adoption and dependence, combined with social media we can do better than y2k and swine flu combined!

Categories
Technology

An insane privacy bug in Facebook for Blackberry

So I am at  party and someone is really interested in an event I heard about on Facebook.  In fact she is so keen she wants to go asap.  She insists and we are in the middle of nowhere so she logs out of her Facebook account on  her Blackberry and hands it to me.  I log in, find the event, send her the info and log out myself.   Seems straightforward.   We continue the other discussion and she shows everyone how cool it is that her brand new Blackberry shows up pictures of her friends when one of her friends calls.  “It did it all by itself!”

Two days later I log in to my Facebook account and I am greeted by a message.  Facebook noticed that I have been using Facebook for Blackberry.  Would I like to import my contacts?  What contacts?  Her contacts!   All I did was click “yes” and all her Facebook contacts came to me!

I realise that for any American reading this I am already way off the mark.  This shouldn’t be a blog post, this should be a law suit already!  (OK, it is all documented with screen grabs etc just in case I change my mind…)  With the amount of negative publicity they are getting these days about privacy problems, this could make me a fair amount of money.   It is almost a media frenzy right now without adding one of the most popular mobile platforms for accessing Facebook to the mix.

The beauty of this one from a litigation point of view is that nobody can escape the blame.  I looked over the technical aspects of setting up Blackberry Enterprise Server and the options for social networking integration and sure, we could blame Vodafone (the service provider) for anything mistakenly set up in her account.  But then it was the Facebook application on my computer that offered me her contacts!  And she had done everything “properly” by logging out before handing it to me.

But no, I won’t add to the calls for everyone to delete their accounts from Facebook.  Yet.  In fact I just started a second Facebook account for myself in English.   I will just be more careful not to post any information more personal than I do on this public website.  And for sure I won’t be handing my Blackberry to anyone at parties…