Facebook Doesn’t Want To Be Friends With Activists

September 18, 2010 at 2:20 PM (Uncategorized)

Facebook has put into place a series of convoluted rules and policies, some of them not very transparent and many of them enforced sporadically and inconsistently, that severely limit certain political and anti-corporate activists.

A small “Boycott Acme Widgets!” page with a few hundred or a few thousand members might have no problems. However, once that page grows beyond a certain point and might actually be having an effect on the target of the boycott, Facebook may suddenly decide that it violates some policy or another and start disabling features. As you would imagine, many activists are pissed.

Don’t be too surprised by that. The people who use Facebook are not Facebook’s customers; they and their private, personal information are just a commodity being sold to the corporate advertisers who are Facebook’s customers. Is it any wonder that vague, inconsistently-applied policies cause a headache for activists who oppose corporations who I’m sure have no problem at all running their own Facebook pages?

Just take all this as a lesson. When you set up one of those activist pages, use it to drive people toward a website that you control. Don’t let your entire project be at the mercy of a company that might not agree with your activism. Take whatever steps are necessary to ensure you retain the ability to get your message out, even if Facebook suddenly decides your project violates some obscure policy nobody’s ever heard of.

(h/t to Rainey Reitman of Bradley Manning Support Network)

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Blaming The Victim For The Crimes Of Her Attackers

September 17, 2010 at 1:14 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

There is a traditional defense used by the majority of all rapists throughout history. The woman was asking for it. She was dressed like a whore. She was drunk. She was shaking her ass at the crowd. It’s her own fault she was gang raped.

In the past, that would be the defense of nearly every rapist put on trial for his crime. Recently, this sort of defense has been forbidden in more and more court rooms. It is unacceptable and for good reasons. You don’t blame the victim of violent crime for the crimes committed against them. You blame the person who committed the crime.

I chose rape as an example here because it is the most heinous violent crime I can think of. It’s worse than murder in my opinion. I got some pushback on Twitter saying I wasn’t making a fair comparison. I don’t agree with the reasoning, but this post is about violence, not specifically rape, so here are a few different examples.
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Baptists Tell Grieving Mom Her Son Burns In Hell For Going To The Wrong Church

September 16, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Uncategorized)

A mother sits on her porch watching her children play in the front yard. Down the street, a small contingent of Baptist proselytizers carry their pamphlets from door to door. They approach the mother’s house and she steps down off the porch to chat with them.

In the course of the conversation, the Baptists remark on the children playing in the yard and ask if they belong to the mother. She tells them she has four children and that she just recently lost a fifth child. One of the Baptists asks the mother where she attends church and she gives the name of the Episcopalian church just up the street.

The Baptists frown and shake their head in sadness. They explain to the mother that her eldest and recently deceased child is burning in Hell because she goes to the wrong church.

Yes, people like that really exist.

Not only do people like that exist, they appear to be quite proud of themselves. The mother in question blogged about the incident. If the story itself doesn’t slake your thirst for outrage, scroll down and read all the comments from someone calling themselves “Bless_the_Beast.”

Not only does Bless_the_Beast defend the reprehensible behavior of those Baptist proselytizers, he or she actually takes other commenters to task for daring to speak out against them, then tries to start a flame war with those commenters who are Catholic. Another commenter, addressing Bless_the_Beast directly, puts it best: “May God put His arm around your shoulder and His hand over your mouth.”

If only he’d do the same to all his believers.

(h/t Mojoey)

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Privacy And Privilege – Anil Dash Nails It

September 13, 2010 at 2:16 PM (Uncategorized) ()

Go read this. Read all of it. When you’re done, scroll up and read it again.

If you are twenty-six years old, you’ve been a golden child, you’ve been wealthy all your life, you’ve been privileged all your life, you’ve been successful your whole life, of course you don’t think anybody would ever have anything to hide.

The Facebook Reckoning

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Tweetdeck Hijacks Your Settings, Opens Accounts In Your Name

September 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Have you updated Tweetdeck recently? Then you had better double-check your settings; the most recent update (0.35) hijacks your setting for image hosting service and changes it to yfrog without your permission (and without bothering to tell you). Nice, right?

Tweetdeck is a very popular desktop client for Twitter, Facebook and various other social media services. It lets you read and update status messages, view and upload pictures and watch YouTube videos without having to use a web browser. It includes support for uploading to several image hosting services.

At some point or another, Tweetdeck began recommending yfrog (owned by Imageshack) by default over other image services. With the PC desktop version of Tweetdeck, you can go into the settings to change the image hosting to any of several other services. However, the next time you try to upload a picture, Tweetdeck will pop up a large dialog window telling you that “Tweetdeck recommends yfrog.” This dialog displays a huge button to “continue using yfrog” and a tiny link to “continue using [other service].”

This aggressive promotion of yfrog is obnoxious and intrusive, but at least it only does it once. I assume Tweetdeck is being paid by yfrog to promote their service.

The newest Tweetdeck takes this intrusive behavior straight into the realm of malicious activity. Not content merely to throw a pop-up window at you to ask you to switch services, the update to version 0.35 simply hijacks the setting. There is no dialog, no consent, no notice and certainly no ethics involved. The very next time you use Tweetdeck to upload a picture, it places it on yfrog instead of your preferred service.

“Hang on a second,” you say. “I don’t even have a yfrog account.”

Well, you do now. After hijacking your settings, Tweetdeck misuses your Twitter credentials to create an account on yfrog.com—in your name—without asking for your permission or even telling you it’s done it.

The people who develop Tweetdeck ought to be ashamed of themselves. This is completely unethical and is not how a responsible software company should behave. You can promote a service if you want, but you should never take control away from the user and hijack settings like that. And you absolutely do not EVER open accounts under another person’s name without their consent. In almost any other circumstance, that is called fraud.

When I worked in the anti-malware software industry, we had a name for software that behaved like this. Seeing the same behavior in software from companies that wish to be considered legitimate is surprising and disappointing. Tweetdeck’s developers need to put a halt to their malicious and unethical behavior.

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Ignore The Spin. Cash For Clunkers Was A Win, Not A Failure.

September 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM (Uncategorized)

Cash for Clunkers has been declared to be “a classic government folly” by those on the right. The argument is that the Clunkers program, by permanently removing 700,000 vehicles from the market last year, has driven up prices for used cars this year (by about 10%). Conservatives and libertarians are spinning this to mean that the Clunkers program has penalized poor people who might have wanted to buy a car this year.

I respectfully disagree with that assessment. The resale value of my car is now 10% higher than it would have been otherwise. If I wanted to sell that car this year, I would be in a slightly stronger position to do that than if the Clunkers program hadn’t happened. If I were to buy a new car, my current car has a slightly higher trade-in value. If I were to buy one of those slightly more expensive used cars, the slightly more valuable price of my own used car offsets most of the cost increase.

In that last scenario yes, the Clunkers program makes buying a used car a tiny bit more expensive. What, you wanted a government program that was 100% perfect without a single trade-off? While you’re at it, you may as well wish to live in some fairy tale paradise where everyone rides a unicorn to work. In the real world, nothing is 100% good or 100% bad.

Oh, and let’s not forget that this shortage of used cars is very temporary. It will not magically reach into the future to take more cars off the market. The supply of used cars will be back to normal within the next year or two.
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The Bible – One of History’s Most Violent Books

September 3, 2010 at 12:44 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The Old Testament really ought to come with parental warning labels.
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