back to article Data cops seek 'urgent clarification' on new Facebook advertiser plans

Facebook never fails to whip up a frenzy about privacy each time it proposes changes to its personal-content advertising platform. This time around users are slowly starting to complain about the risk to security posed by the company's plans to help "improve the quality of ads." Needless to say, Facebook is entirely answerable …

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Anonymous Coward

Facebooks current problem

is that 80% of it's userbase have diddly squat in the way of disposable income (the more cynical amongst us would say that's because they spend 80% of their waking day on Facebook).

I read a comment a while back where a poster suggested Facebook might develop a "Facebook Plus" type offering, with a subscription model. However, the only thing most people on Facebook would pay for is to lose the ads. There's a certain delicious irony that the more wealthy would rather not see the ads that the marketers would rather *only* they saw.

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Re: Facebook's current problem

If you took the above comment and replaced "userbase" with "viewers" and "Facebook" with "daytime TV" I suspect that the statement would still be true.

The fundamental issue here isn't so much a Facebook-related one as a "how does *any* company generate income using adverts people would rather avoid?"

BTW, fixed the possessive apostrophe in the title

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Facebook's current problem

You don't. Make something the customers will rush out to you for. Or put your adds where they want them. Don't try to push the adds in peoples faces.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Facebooks current problem

I resent your opening sentence and posit that you are incorrect.

Why, 80% of my waking hours would be almost 6 hours and there's NO WAY i spend that long on Facebook.

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the only thing most people on Facebook would pay for is to lose the ads.

There's a wonderful plugin for chrome and Firefox that means you never get to see them on the desktop version....

They will find it tough to drive adds into the mobile version especially when a lot of people access from things like blackberries which doesn't really work well for hiding adverts amongst posts. Once the adverts on mobile become the norm a lot of people will simply switch to twitter

The number of people I've seen posting on Facebook now were the post has originally been made on twitter and an API is copying it across has gone up recently so maybe people are already sick of the mobile version

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Anonymous Coward

The generic blocking plugin is breaking up

It doesn't work as good as it used to. Now we get sponsored crap again

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Anonymous Coward

Why is there no simple decentralized FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

Waiting for Diaspora forever and wondering why there isn’t a simple FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts? So a decentralized social network based on email alone. We could start by adding an extra folder for Public messages (Posts)…

Let me just say first, I realize there are lots of limitations here. I’m making this case to illustrate that FB isn’t much better than email, and is sorely lacking for forum use. Especially when you consider that FB doesn’t even have a comprehensive message search facility.

Private messages would be exactly the same as regular email. These type of messages get copied to private email accounts today anyway if FB notifications are turned on. So little change there! Public Messages or FB Posts would be email messages that are copied to everyone in a user’s contact list that has not been explicitly excluded by the user. On the receiving side, public messages would be filtered into a Public message folder i.e. organized under a ‘Public’ label in Gmail for instance. This filtering could be implemented using crude rules, such as prefixing the subject line or message body with a reserved Tag etc. The filtering could also be implemented using rules based on the number or type of recipients in the message header etc. Immediate limitations :-

#1. How do I delete Private Messages?

Just delete the email from your inbox, and delete-forever too from the Trash if your mail provider works like Google! Of course this doesn’t delete the recipient’s copy if you were the sender. Even in a centralised system like FB, you can’t delete Private Messages you send?! Corporate networks have always had a feature to claw-back unread messages in the event you’ve sent something in the heat of the moment.

#2. How do you delete Public Posts (Public Messages)?

Not easily. The client or email hosting provider would need to recognise this as a special request and filter previously public messages thus deleting them permanently!

#3. What about Likes?

Likes usually have follow-up comments too, so is this feature that important? Especially when we know the Like system is riddled with fraud. How many people sell LIKED pages to 3rd parties for profit etc?! That said, the client or email hosting provider could send status emails to everyone in the contact list indicating a message had been read or include an actual like / hate button.

#4. What about comments?

These get treated as normal public messages but are sorted by subject in the Public folder so they act just like replied-to messages!

#5. What about forums / discussion pages?

This is one of my pet hates about FB. I’m forced to use these ‘documents’ as part of a course I’m doing. Using these Blog like layouts for discussions is horrendous versus conventional forums. Why? Because FB has no good search or filter options. So the order of the posts change depending on the most recently updated entry, and not the most important topic. If everyone on a course posts mundane one-liners, the page gets saturated with noise, and it becomes impossible to sort the gems from the bloat!

#6. With FB you can add/delete friends, change email provider, change privacy?

True, but that’s hardly sound logic for being used as a product. Different levels of privacy could be implemented by having multiple contact lists or groups. Contacts could then be edited and exported/imported to new platforms. Revised account / friend details could also be emailed to everyone in a particular list announcing any changes. Users would have to act on this though, so it would be unreliable without help from email providers!

#7. What about apps and gaming?

Tricky. I don’t care what my friends are looking at, what they are playing or what their score is. If its that important they’ll send follow-up messages anyway. But this is big business or at least it was for Mark Pincus whose fortunes are now evaporating. Personally, I found Zynga poker with its UI from 10 years ago rather tripe. Maybe I was expecting 3D PKR Poker avatars. In any event all these games can always be played outside FB, and still enjoyed with friends and family regardless.

#8. How could you get people to change over?

Not easy, but going back to the days of Altavista+Excite+AskJeeves versus Google. The cool people in the room switched to Google first. Then the sheep inquired: What’s that? The they made the switch too, even at a time when Google really wasn’t that special. Of course serious trend setters would be needed to get a billion people off FB. But it could be done. Celebs and Film stars with a monetary interest in a GREENER alternative could sway the balance here I think.

Waiting for Diaspora forever and wondering why there isn’t a simple FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts? So a decentralized social network based on email alone. We could start by adding an extra folder for Public messages (Posts)…

Let me just say first, I realize there are lots of limitations here. I’m making this case to illustrate that FB isn’t much better than email, and is sorely lacking for forum use. Especially when you consider that FB doesn’t have a good message search facility.

Private messages would be exactly the same as regular email. These type of messages get copied to private email accounts today anyway if FB notifications are turned on. So little change there! Public Messages or FB Posts would be email messages that are copied to everyone in a user’s contact list that has not been explicitly excluded by the user. On the receiving side, public messages would be filtered into a Public message folder i.e. organized under a ‘Public’ label in Gmail for instance. This filtering could be implemented using crude rules, such as prefixing the subject line or message body with a reserved Tag etc. The filtering could also be implemented using rules based on the number or type of recipients in the message header etc. Immediate limitations :-

Q1. How do you delete posts (Public Messages)?

Not easily. The client or email hosting provider would need to recognise this as a special request and filter previously public messages thus deleting them permanently!

Q2. What about Likes?

Likes usually have follow-up comments too, so is this feature that important? Especially when we know the Like system is riddled with fraud. How many people sell LIKED pages to 3rd parties for profit etc?! That said, the client or email hosting provider could send status emails to everyone in the contact list indicating a message had been read or include an actual like / hate button.

Q3. What about comments?

These get treated as normal public messages but are sorted by subject in the Public folder so they act just like replied-to messages!

Q4. What about forums / discussion pages?

This is one of my pet hates about FB. I’m forced to use these ‘documents’ as part of a course I’m doing. Using these Blog like layouts for discussions is horrendous versus conventional forums. Why? Because FB has no good search or filter options. So the order of the posts change depending on the most recently updated entry, and not the most important topic. If everyone on a course posts mundane one-liners, the page gets saturated with noise, and it becomes impossible to sort the gems from the bloat!

Q5. With FB you can add/delete friends, change email provider, change privacy?

True, but that’s hardly sound logic for being used as a product. Different levels of privacy could be implemented by having multiple contact lists or groups. Contacts could then be edited and exported/imported to new platforms. Revised account / friend details could also be emailed to everyone in a particular list announcing any changes. Users would have to act on this though, so it would be unreliable without help from email providers!

Q6. What about apps and gaming?

Tricky. I don’t care what my friends are looking at, what they are playing or what their score is. If its that important they’ll send follow-up messages anyway. But this is big business or at least it was for Mark Pincus whose fortunes are now evaporating. Personally, I found Zynga poker with its UI from 10 years ago rather tripe. Maybe I was expecting 3D PKR Poker avatars. In any event all these games can always be played outside FB, and still enjoyed with friends and family regardless.

Q6. How could you get people to change over?

Not easy, but going back to the days of Altavista+Excite+AskJeeves versus Google. The cool people in the room switched to Google first. Then the sheep inquired: What’s that? The they made the switch too, even at a time when Google really wasn’t that special. Of course serious trend setters would be needed to get a billion people off FB. But it could be done. Celebs and Film stars with a monetary interest in a GREENER alternative could sway the balance here I think.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why is there no simple decentralized FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

First a general comment: your entire post seems to be predicated by the idea that FB is somehow for users. That's only true in the same relationship as milk bottles to cows.

To resume our regular programme:

Corporate networks have always had a feature to claw-back unread messages in the event you’ve sent something in the heat of the moment.

Long ago, and I hope you're not basing this on the callback feature of MS Exchange because that's an MS Exchange specific feature - if you sent an email to an outsider who doesn't use Outlook (for instance, because they see the message on a smartphone) then all you see is an extra message stating you'd like to kill the previous email. Which would be the moment I'd read it. Having said that, it IS possible to nuke a single message to all from the mail system, but you end up with an audit problem - a lot of corporate email is also tied to permissions, process and compliance so the moment you start messing with the integrity of the message base is the moment you can no longer rely on email to perform those functions.

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Re: Why is there no simple decentralized FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

Google plus does the sending posts to email addresses. And other stuff. And very cleanly. Might be what you are looking for.

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Silver badge

Re: Why is there no simple decentralized FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

The internet works just fine for those of us who chose not to use FB, and it has for years. We've been talking with one another via e-mail, public and private forums, file sharing (like photo sites), guest books, blogs, web pages, and much more. Facebook caters to those who are lazy, eschew the internet, or can't resist something fashionable. No new service is going to fix those problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrote to Irish DPC about DOWNLOAD A COPY OF YOUR FACEBOOK DATA

I wrote to the Irish regulator a few months ago informing them that the DOWNLOAD A COPY OF YOUR FACEBOOK DATA system excluded most of my email messages. I had already heard from other users on the community forums and got friends to check too, so I knew this bug wasn't isolated! The regulator responded with this :-

..........................'In relation to access to personal data, the agreed upon goal with this Office was that wherever possible the data in question should be available to the user without having to make a formal access request. Therefore personal data is available to individual members of FB-I through (i) their own account, (ii) their Activity Log which provides a detailed description and ability to interact and control all their actions on the site, (iii)the download tool which provides additional data which users are typically interested in and (iv) what is termed an expanded archive that provides more detailed information which many users are not seeking to access. FB-I has indicated that it has made the data available through various channels due, in part, to what it terms limitations in the platform infrastructure that underlies the operation of the download tools. FB-I is therefore NOT ABLE to make every piece of data available by means of the download tools. This includes certain messages from users but they will still be in the user's account. In terms of access to personal data, as long as the data is available to the user in their account, their Activity log, the download tool or the expanded archive we are satisfied that their right of access is met.'

I find it hard not to snicker every time I see the FB-I moniker. Especially after The Onion’s article ‘The CIA’s Facebook program has dramatically reduced the agency’s costs’, which someone in Iran took seriously! It makes me crack up like someone saying ‘Bickus-Dickus’ in LOB! But hey, the regulator sees no irony here! So here’s what I wrote back to FB-I’s bitch :-

..........................'Enlighten me, how is it ok for Facebook to supply a subset of messages in the download without informing the user? Why even have this feature? Its very convenient for Facebook to say they are providing access to messages through their web-based user interface… Have you ever tried searching for a previously sent message, or tried retrieving old emails? A. There is ostensibly no email search tool. B. Its cumbersome beyond belief manually trawling through pages and pages of old emails waiting for Java-script code segments to execute! Its a sub-par messaging system, with no proper subject, message or date search built-in. Furthermore, there is no means to copy emails out of Facebook with any structure in place! None of this makes sense to me, unless FB-I’s real goal is to obfuscate their system to prevent users from switching their profile to a possible future competitor like Diaspora etc.'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrote to Irish DPC about DOWNLOAD A COPY OF YOUR FACEBOOK DATA

Quote: 'Enlighten me, how is it ok for Facebook to supply a subset of messages in the download without informing the user?

Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence. That is called Facebook System + Software + Network engineering and architecture.

Now move along please.

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Gold badge

Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence

Oh, here we go again. THEY ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. Especially in FB's case is it entirely sensible to assume a combination.

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FAIL

god I wish people would research before they post

Facebook beholden to Wall St.? Did you read their IPO filing ? Of course not, you took the lazy way out and assumed that because they'd had an IPO they must, perforce, be chasing dollars. If you bothered to research their share structure and read the SEC filings you'd realise that Zuckerberg is still in charge and that he doesn't give a toss for Wall st.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: god I wish people would research before they post

@Nicho

it doesn't matter a jot who is "in charge" of Facebook. Now they are a quoted company the board of directors are obliged - by law - to maximise return to shareholders. Or face a lawsuit from said shareholders.

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FAIL

Re: god I wish people would research before they post

@ac 10:21 - This is exactly what I'm talking about. Do some research. You are completely wrong. The board is obliged to follow the articles of incorporation, as well as SEC guidelines and other rules. They are not required to maximise shareholder returns. The reason you think this is because in most companies maximising shareholder return is in the articles of incorporation and is also part of their prospectus, meaning that if they fail to do this the share price tumbles, they can be voted out and possibly sued. In Facebook's case who's going to vote Zuckerburg out? He controls the majority of voting stock. He can do (within broad parameters) exactly what he wants and if you don't like it your only sanction is to sell. The IPO filing said explicitly that facebook is not about profit, it's Zuckerburgs personal vehicle for changing the world. If you bought shares and didn't read that then you're an idiot.

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Childcatcher

think of the children

Ok, so i am betting just about every person who has posted here has read El Reg before.

Now can we maybe be a little less surprised when we see a bear actually defecating in the woods or when FB do exactly has they have been since almost day one and also doing pretty much what any of us facebook sceptics have predicted.

copy / paste your standard comment :

1) what you put on the internet is public domain, publish accordingly

2) think of the children

3) i hate facebook

4) i am so smug and clever i never had a facebook account in the first place"

Thank you, now move along.

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Bronze badge

Re: think of the children

4) i am so smug and clever i never had a facebook account in the first place!

And Mark Zuckerburg looks like a grown up Barry Guiler (the 3 yr old child who was wisked away in Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Anyone know if he played that role in the movie?

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Anonymous Coward

There is a reason why...

...it's called Farcebook. Only a damn fool would be on it.

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Boffin

freedom

What if to stop public data–strip–confessions, disregard this “appalling spying machine” as Assange dubbed facebook, stop feeding spies and enrich facebook owner who makes money on people private data, and start new site, on which only pseudonyms and avatars will be allowed?

Alice-Sofia

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