back to article In 2018, Facebook is the villain and Microsoft the shining light, according to techies

Well, it's official. For years, at El Reg offices we have commented on how Facebook is the new Microsoft – and not in a good way. Time passes and so while most people can remember that the Zuckerberg-front ad machine was once a beacon of all that was great and wonderful about social media, few recall that Microsoft wasn't …


  1. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

    How quickly they forget


    Hit X to install windows 10


    I am somewhat biased, the only facebook profile I have is whatever they made themselves, whereas maybe three quarters of my games library is un-usable as I no longer boot into windows at home.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: How quickly they forget

      MS: the company that hoovers up your every keystroke, file accessed, archived file stored on any connected (local/cloud/network) drive, how often you run every program, how many times you run them, every website you browse (and can MITM intercept everything you do via that supposedly secure VPN), all under the guise of "telemetry to improve customer experiences" whether you want them to or not, *can not* turn such telemetry off without knowing enough Admin skills to navigate your way through laborynthian Control Panel/Settings menus, and *ONLY* if you are lucky enough to have an Educational or Enterprise edition of the OS (because Home users can't & Pro users get their copies turned into Home versions via forced updates)...

      MS can't be trusted as far as you could tie an anvil to their face via their tongue & drop them into the Marianas Trench from orbit.

      FB is bad, there's no doubt of that, but you don't have to use it if you don't want to & can block them if you want; try doing that to the Windows machine you may have no choice but to use because you're not Tech Savvy enough to be able to give it an OS that *doesn't* treat you like shit.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: How quickly they forget @Shadow Systems

        "MS: the company that hoovers up your every keystroke, file accessed, archived file stored on any connected (local/cloud/network) drive, how often you run every program, how many times you run them, every website you browse (and can MITM intercept everything you do via that supposedly secure VPN)"

        You've learned well from the best - MS was master of FUD.

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          Re: How quickly they forget @Shadow Systems

          At Sandtitz, re: MS FUD.

          If it's FUD then it was FUD included in the official Win10 Privacy Policy. 2016.06.17, Taken from:

          MS described every bit of data they claimed as telemetry, including but not limited to all the various types of data I described in my previous post. I'm not sure if they've backed off on the level of data hoovering they do, but as of the time of that version of the policy it would be FUD from the horses own lawyers & thus legally binding FUD.

          Go read the policy. I did & it's quite chilling in a 1984 didn't go far enough kind of way.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: three quarters of my games library is un-usable as I no longer boot into windows at home.

            You've decided not to start the OS they need and that's MS' fault? How does that work?

          2. Sandtitz Silver badge

            Re: How quickly they forget @Shadow Systems again

            "Go read the policy."

            I've read the policy, and your 'MS: the company that hoovers up your every keystroke' is a false statement. The MS Privacy Statement in that old page predates Windows 10 and was for the beta versions ("Insider") and I'm sure the data slurp was turned to 11 to get more input for it.

            The page does not exist anymore and the current Privacy Statement is not exclusive to Windows, it's for their other products as well, Azure, Bing etc.

            "MS: the company that hoovers up your every keystroke, file accessed"

            MS published a tool some time ago for users to check what telemetry data is sent to them. I certainly didn't see anything of interest nor any snippets of text I've typed. Yes, I remember the keylogger brouhaha couple years ago, but I don't think anyone showed how their input/messages/files was sent for MS to ogle - I'm sure if it did happen then someone would have shown the evidence already. After all, there are plenty of able people with an axe to grind.

          3. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: How quickly they forget @Shadow Systems

            agreed, MS's EULA and policies are a bit *chilling*. It's another reason NOT to use Win-10-nic. As for things like github and LInkedIn, I've got my eye on them...

            You can try doing like I do: Don't surf the web from a Windows computer (especially NOT Win-10-nic), don't enable Javascript unless you have no choice, and ONLY use 'in memory' cookies for web sites that MIGHT track you (so you can dump them whenever you want).

            And if you need to access a web site with scripting etc. enabled, set up a "sandbox" browser (with a different user login) that dumps ALL history when you're done with it (not just another instance of the same browser you're looking at pr0n in a different tab with, heh). Then it can't attempt to examine the web cache or history of the one you NORMALLY use, either. It won't HAVE a cache nor history when you close it!

            On a POSIX system with X11, as long as you've enabled TCP access for the X server (and blocked port 6000 in your firewall to 'teh intarwebs'), you can run 'remote sessions' from different logins similar to this:

            For the user that starts the X server (I use startx, not gdm or anything like that, YMMV) the '.xserverrc' file will need to contain something like this before you start the X server:

            exec Xorg -listen tcp

            Then, via a 'logged in' user on the desktop, in a bash shell:

            xhost +localhost


            su - otheruser

            (log in as normal)

            export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0

            Then run firefox or whatever, and it will run IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS OTHER USER, which can have its own settings, script enable/disable, etc.. It's reasonably "sandboxed", and won't be 'just another window in the same application' as any running browser on the desktop.

            Oh, and yes - this means NOT running Windows, the FIRST line of defense against MS's EULA and "privacy" policy.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: How quickly they forget @Shadow Systems


          yeah I was ready to thumbs-up all of that until I saw the VPN comment... and how exactly is Micro-shaft slurping every web site you browse via a VPN? *crickets*

          Are they simply keeping a log of the URLs you visit? maybe. Easier ways exist to make THAT happen, including having the browser do that, if they REALLY wanted to do so. But that could be more easily done with a DNS server, too [just log the name lookups]. Right, Google? Or just do like Fa[e]cebook and put an 'F' icon on all of the pages you wanna track, with some scripty/cookie tracking, by paying web content providers to do so via ads [or whatever].

          So yeah some accurate evidence of them spying would be acceptable, but "evidence please" on the MITM stuff. Otherwise, FUD.

      2. 10forcash Bronze badge

        Re: How quickly they forget

        "FB is bad, there's no doubt of that, but you don't have to use it if you don't want to & can block them if you want;"

        It's the other way round - Facebook uses you, well, us. - Conveniently we don't even have to sign-up to be tracked & harvested, the web sites we visit happily feed Facebook (and others) all the info they demand and we are identified by association - sometimes by well meaning but naiive friends who have sold their soul (and other data) to Facebook in return for targeted ads....

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: How quickly they forget

      It has tried to turn Cortana back on and switch the default to also search the internet when I'm doing a local search after updates as well. So even if you figure out how to turn off crap you don't want is no guarantee that it will stay that way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How quickly they forget

        and you can't turn that start menu search off, all old methods magically no longer work.

        ended up digging out classic shell again, it's needed more now than it was even in the Windows 8 days.

        1. overunder

          Re: How quickly they forget

          I'd like to chime in and list the things I see wrong on my Windows 10 machine, but it's currently updating.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How quickly they forget

        I've never had a Windows 10 machine "turn Cortana back on and switch the default to also search the internet when I'm doing a local search".

        So whatever you're doing to turn it off, try doing it differently

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How quickly they forget

      You folks need to get REAL.

      I have repeatedly read the overwhelmingly angry screams over this issue here in the comments. They make it seem that the whole world is up in arms about this. The real truth is that 99.9% of people just absolutely don't care about this issue.

      I just looked at the Alexa app for Android devices in the Google play store. There are over 50 permissions that you have to agree to. They allow the app access to everything on the phone. Your location, your files, running apps, READ incoming and outgoing sms messages, internal and external storage, your contacts, their contacts, etc., etc., and it ends up adding "Updates to Amazon Alexa may automatically add additional capabilities within each group." In the short time it has been on the app store, it has been downloaded 10,000,000 times. The Cortana app and Google are the same.

      Reading here, one gets the feeling that people are angry with Facebook, people are quitting Facebook, Facebook is dying, blah, blah blah. Bunk. Facebook hit 1 billion users in 2012, hit 2 billion users last year, and now has 2.4 billion users. That doesn't look like may people are leaving.

      You folks need to get over it. Most people don't care about privacy, and will do nothing about it.

      FYI - I have no Facebook account, nor app, nor a phone to put it on.

  2. jake Silver badge

    MS and FB are two sides of the same coin.

    Both suck equally. Neither are welcome here. Nor will they ever be.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: MS and FB are two sides of the same coin.

      And nor have they ever been...

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Some what does MS do with the data?

    And it has refused to undertake in the business model of our times – gathering and selling your users' data to the highest bidder - quite as badly as others it seems.

    The best way to refuse to undertake in the business model of our times is to not collect the data in the first place. Windows 10 is an about-face compared to previous versions (unless you allowed the telemetry updates to be installed on 7 or 8.1). If they really aren't selling it, what are they doing with it?

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Some what does MS do with the data?

      whatever they’re doing with it, it does not extend to making a stable OS.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Some what does MS do with the data?

      There was telemetry collection at least as far back as XP. That's what the "Send Error Report" button on the "X has encountered a problem and needs to close" dialogue meant (eg).

      Because of people occasionally hitting the send button, they realised that crappy drivers were causing a huge proportion of crashes in Windows, which is why they moved to the new driver model in Vista, and presumably also got the taste for using user telemetry to diagnose widespread problems.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Some what does MS do with the data?

        "There was telemetry collection at least as far back as XP. "

        Yes, but it was optional. Now it's not. That's an enormous difference.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Some what does MS do with the data?

          "There was telemetry collection at least as far back as XP. "

          "Yes, but it was optional. Now it's not. That's an enormous difference."


  4. N2 Silver badge

    Microsoft, Facebook, Google etc

    All pigs with their snouts in the trough.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS is a shining light?

    After all the issues with the October Windows 10 release?

    My, my some people have really dark rose tinted specs on these days.

    Both are shit and when you add Google into the equation, you are really on the dark side.

    1. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: MS is a shining light?

      Back in the mid 1980s MS were the heros fighting against the EVUL Apple Corps regarding look&feel of WIMP interfaces.,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corp.

      Having earlier sued DRI's GEM interface only to have Atari stick two fingers up with the 520ST. MS following suite was considered a good thing. I gather that later on when Apple got into financial trouble MS bailed them out.

      1. mevets

        Re: MS is a shining light?

        Is this the event you are referring to: ? I can’t believe I linked a ziff-davis article; oh the humanity.

        There are lots of reasons to slam apple, with their moonie like rituals and stuff, but this probably isn’t one of them.

  6. cynic 2

    Grammar check?

    That was painful to read in places. Something closer to English would be nice!

    But on topic, I vote for a plague on both Facebook and MS's houses.

  7. JLV Silver badge

    Dear MS, all your Telemetry is forgiven.


  8. MMR


    And how exactly Microsoft's status has been changed?

    I don't care about stock prices. As far as I'm concerned Microsoft had one of the worst years in history. A couple of big Azure outages, few weeks ago a widespread MFA malfunction. Windows 10 updates anyone? 1809?

    2018 was actually the year I finally booted the last Microsoft product from my home.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    none of the above

    FB, MS, Google, Twitter

    All have a penchant for data theft / acquisition & treat privacy as a joke.

    So really people are just picking best & worst of a bad bunch

    Its the do I want a poke in the eye from a sharp stick or an excrement smeared sharp stick choice.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: none of the above

      Don't forget Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, et al.!

  10. sabroni Silver badge

    I'm super cool!

    I hate them all! And Uber, Deliveroo and all the digital work houses. And Linux! And BSD!!!!!! THEY ARE ALL EQUALLY BASTARD!!!!!!!!!!

  11. fandom Silver badge


    Have people forgotten how Microsoft was an early investor in Facebook?

    At the time it looked like MS wanted in into the social thingy but now it's clear they wanted Facebook's stalking expertise for the win10 developement.

  12. Wellyboot Silver badge

    #3 of 4

    Just out of interest who were the other 3 panellists with the MS history memory lapse?

    She has a point about the genetics companies. It's easily argued that once given away your DNA stays relevant for generations (centuries?) while any current lifestyle could change tomorrow throwing the ad targeting way off base.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: #3 of 4

      "She has a point about the genetics companies."

      Indeed. It's been interesting to see how quickly the commons have been privatised by these outfits - and in the USA how this has been driven by health insurers.

      One might wonder how GDPR applies to genetics data, and what kind of teeth Europe may decide to unleash in the (near) future.

  13. LDS Silver badge

    Will MS fight the CLOUD Act in courts?

    Otherwise it was just some lipstick.

  14. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Who were the other panelists?

    I mean, if you are going to ask an attorney which corporate giant is acting more for societies benefit rather than the norm for a corporate giant which is often more similar to a swarm of locusts or those insects that capture other insects and lay their eggs in them so their young devour their way out when hatched.

    Ms may seem to be more benign and less destructive lately, but all the giving they've been doing lately is aimed at their own interest. They're 'casting their bread upon the waters', because the ducks threw win 8 back at them and ignored the winphones cast before them.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Who were the other panelists?

      "Ms may seem to be more benign and less destructive lately"

      I honestly don't understand why some people think this. They don't seem any more benign to me at all.

  15. Milton Silver badge

    Legislate, regulate

    Legislate and regulate—

    1. No company to be allowed to store more than operationally required user data. No marketing-oriented analysis or profiling is to be permitted based on any data, ever. User data in any form may not be shared or sold, ever. If you're caught doing it, you will face existentially heavy fines. (Cautious exceptions for clinical, law enforcement reasons etc)

    2. Advertising may be targeted by publication but not by user. So, it must conform to the print model: you may advertise horsey things to readers of myhorse.web, but under no circumstances create or publish ads on a per-user basis. Fines, etc.

    3. Use of cookies and any other user-recognition systems to be strictly confined to operational purposes (e.g. returning customer). Such data may never stray outside the site placing the cookie. Fines, etc.

    4. All software, whether locally or cloud-based, may collect only minimal operational data with minimal essential context, never to include any users' data. All data capture must be by explicit opt-in with prominent ability to cease at any time and permanently.

    5. Any company allowing user data to be compromised will be fined according to a scale of data importance and proportion of users affected. Lose 20% of users' data which includes cellphone numbers and email, fine is 10% of turnover. Some redistribution to affected users. Lose 40% of data including credit card details, you're out of business, assets seized, redistributed in proportion to affected users.

    6. The web will be rejigged to ensure that all email and any other messaging costs (say) 0.1p/¢, to send. You use email/ Wossapp/Signal/&c., you pay a lump sum per 1,000 messages. The revenue is used to (a) finance the project; and thereafter, (b) fund a globally-based, scientifically-founded, independent, objective, professional fact-checking service which grades websites and apps for news, politics, marketing, blogging, reviewing etc etc, so that any visitor/user can see immediately how factually accurate its information is. A five-star rating will be highly prized. Less than three stars or no rating at all: you're liars and everyone can see it. All methodology, research, stats, analyses to be transparent at all times. (There will of course be £$billions available for this heroic effort.)

    7. Anonymity is prohibited. A site wishing to host anon users must apply for a licence and give a very good reason (AA; drugs rehab; repressed minority movements, perhaps). You write an opinionated letter to your newspaper, you've always had to include verifiable name and addess. Why on earth should the net be any different? If you're too cowardly to stand behind what you say, perhaps you shouldn't be saying it.

    Good Things That Flow From This Draconian Policy:

    ✩ No company relying on exploiting your data and selling you in exchange for a "free" service will be able to function. Google, Facebook, Twitter will have to charge an above-board sub. (Google may adopt the email model: pay £10 per 10,000 searches or similar.)

    ✩ The likes of MS will be confined to collecting only the narrowest of essential data, never, ever user-identifying.

    ✩ Data loss and consequential loss to users will effectively cease within months.

    ✩ Spam dies immediately.

    ✩ Social media uptake falls off a cliff, as does its use and traffic. If it'll cost you an extra £5/month to upload crass, bad photographs of your salad, you'll think again. Who knows, people might even confine themelves to using FB for what they say they like (staying in occasional touch with distant family) instead of what they actually use it for (boasting, bullying, lying, etc).

    ✩ Noxious websites promoting hate, various *-isms, bigotry etc will virtually disappear. When hate-tard Jimmy English starts peddling lies and nastiness about his brown neighbours, he can no longer hide behind anonymity. Propaganda is pushed back off the mainstream to the dark, dirty corners of the world where it belongs. Haters, bigots, racists, and the rest can crawl back into the muck instead of being gifted a free soapbox. (Even on sites like this we'll have to think twice about what we say ... but grown-up responsibility is not a bad thing.)

    Drastic? Yes: for sure.

    Reintroducing a long overdue dose of grown-up responsibility into this ever-crazier world? I think so. Humanity needs to return to adult civilised thinking and behaviour: else we're screwed.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Legislate, regulate

      Any company allowing user data to be compromised will be fined ...

      No. Don't fine the company. Make the directors of the company personally liable. Send them to prison for the worst violations so they can't just pay off the penalty from the vast fortunes that they will have accumulated by violating others' privacy. Make it hurt.

      Then you stand a chance of making a difference.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Legislate, regulate

      Sure, give a government organisation full control over what can and cannot be done on the internet. Really great idea! What could Possibly go wrong?!

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Legislate, regulate

        IT would only be a pretense at best. What example can you name of a company that was big enough to buy a government representative with pocket change (or a few) who has ever been regulated in any meaningful way, ever?

        You can't unless you cheat and name something like "well, we made them do crash safety tests" which cost them nothing but eliminated competition. Or a bunch of other examples of regulation that just lock in the big boys.

        It's legal for me to avoid taxes the same way they do it - just that it would cost more than my income, but isn't even a rounding error for them. Wonder why that is?

    3. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Legislate, regulate

      started out well, lost steam by “giant govt project, forbidden anonymity and we decide the truth ministry”.

      i’d be happy with big data breach => jail time if egregious misconduct or gross negligence. a lot of the rest follows from there: no data, can’t go to jail.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Legislate, regulate


      No. Just no. Other than something like GDPR, which requires that users would be given a choice regarding the data slurpage, the moment you start doing things like taxing e-mail and prohibiting anonymity... well, let's just say it won't work. "Other Means" will be made use of to circumvent it.

      Anyway, if you *FEEL* (not think, feel) that way about anonymity, perhaps you can set an example for the rest of us by posting your personal data and real name in this forum? You know, name, phone number, date of birth, address, where you work, yotta yotta yotta...

      Oh, that's not very safe, now is it? It's why some level of anonymity MUST exist in public forums in order to have a free exchange of ideas. Then people are free to say/do pretty much whatever they want without being HARASSED I.R.L. about it (when you look at college political correctness activism, as one example, it has a CHILLING EFFECT on free speech. Anonymity protects freedom of thought).

      So, do you see why banning anonymity is a BAD idea?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracking and harvesting

    Why actually care if this happens? I don't see adverts ever. Can someone politely explain why my life will be worse if I'm tracked and my info collated? I don't do anything illegal, nor even, I'd say, interesting

    It seems almost arrogant to think out of all the many millions online, my data will matter in some way.

    So what is the endgame of, say, using Facebook occasionally?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "why my life will be worse if I'm tracked and my info collated"

      Because that data will be used against you to make more money or gain more power. Knowing your weakness means they can exploit them - and there are many subtle ways to achieve it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "why my life will be worse if I'm tracked and my info collated"

        How though? I mean, I don't even know what weaknesses I have. I like a drink on a Friday night. If anyone can make money off that....

        Anything concrete?

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Tracking and harvesting

      "Why actually care if this happens?"

      I can give a lengthy list of why I care, but I won't -- because the "why" is 100% unimportant. The real, actual, important issue is about agency: what I object to is that this data is collected without my specific knowledge and consent. Worse, these companies put a great deal of time and effort into breaking through the defenses I use in order to enforce my wishes when it comes to who gets access to my data.

      That's the issue. If I don't want my data to be collected, then it should not be collected, period. Why I don't want it collected is not actually relevant.

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Tracking and harvesting

      Do you have curtains or blinds on your windows at home?

      If yes, what are doing that's so wrong?

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The halcycon days

    the Zuckerberg-front ad machine was once a beacon of all that was great and wonderful about social media

    There was never anything wonderful about social media. It was always going to see the worst excesses of the echo chamber. But Facebook's invention was extremely clever marketing: by promoting the emotional side of "sharing", it encouraged people to share all kinds of data about their interests, preferences and contacts for Facebook to sell to advertisers and political campaigns.

    Facebook might continue to attract scorn for the problems and ethics but the real risk it faces are people abandoning for messaging platforms, which only the Chinese have worked out to make money from. Though, if reports are to be believed, Facebook is preparing to rollout ads, and therefore tracking, in WhatsApp at some point in 2019. That would have been a more interesting topic for an article, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a beacon of all that was great and wonderful about social media"

      The issue was most journos are "social" people and nosy ones :) And despite their job, many of them may not be the most successful one in their social groups - especially those following tech news.

      Media organizations too like easy sources of personal data, especially gossip and a variety of silly ones. They saw it as a source of easy revenues.

      The idea they could find a lot of people activities, feelings and thought - and lot of images - looked incredible to them. Look at how they raid social profiles of dead people... once it took a lot of effort to collect those data and publish them to attract morbid readers. I think they started to believe Santa Claus was real.

      That coupled with strong PR efforts made FB the darling of most media. Only a few one understood how dangerous it was since the beginning - and that even without knowing before how Zuckerberg made it starting raiding female students photos to build on "men's" basic instincts... yet the honeymoon lasted too long.


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