On second thought, no I don’t like it!

Security & Privacy

FB Likes
Screen capture – hbl.fi

Facebook is perhaps the ultimate example of the old, wise saying. If you aren’t paying for a product, then you ARE the product. Most people are already aware of the fact that Facebook’s revenues comes from advertising. And advertising means nothing if nobody sees it. That’s why Facebook needs you. Seems like this very popular site actually is a giant lab that tests on-line marketing schemes, and how far the line can be pushed before users cry out.

A recent incident here in Finland reminds us of this. Sorry, link only in Finnish. In this case people kept seeing “likes” from a friend that passed away half a year ago. How is that possible?

Liking a commercial product or company is not just a one-time event. It is more like signing up on a list of people who gives the company carte blanche to use them for marketing purposes. You agree to be a mannequin both in Facebook and on other sites. Your name and face may be used in any context, maybe in ways that you couldn’t imagine when liking the company, like advertising a product that you didn’t even know existed. And they can re-use you over and over endlessly. That’s what happened to the dead man. Facebook can’t naturally know that a person is deceased unless the relatives gives them appropriate notice. But incidents like this still underline how detached this kind of marketing is from what people really like and endorse.

Even worse. Some claim that ghost-likes appear in Facebook. People have raised eyebrows when their friends show up beside ads about things they clearly dislike, and swear that they never liked. Facebook’s defense is to claim that they have liked something by mistake. Probably true in some cases, but does that really cover all of it? Doesn’t sound entirely convincing to me.

Time for some concrete advice:

  • Be very selective when liking commercial products or companies. Only press like for products that you truly endorse and want to recommend to your friends, and for companies that you know to be ethically solid. Or even safer, don’t like anything commercial at all.
  • Check your likes regularly. Open your profile in Facebook and select More / Likes… Remove anything that doesn’t meet the criteria in the previous point.
  • Liking your friends’ posts and pictures is of course a different cup of tea. This only applies to commercial products and companies.
  • When you see a company or brand brag about how many likes they have, remember that it really means nothing. You don’t know under which circumstances these people have signed up, or if they even have used the product.

But what about campaigns where you have to like something to participate? Well, now you know what’s the name of the game. It’s your call to decide if it is worth it or not. If you choose to participate, you can always remove the like after the campaign.

Safe surfing,
Micke

2 Comments

People who use facebook are fools. If you use facebook you deserve everything that happens to you. If your on facebook get rid of it. You don’t need facebook, the little cockersuck Zuckerberg needs yu

Well, when we all TAKE what the governmewnt does to us—they win and we lose. I have nothing to hide but I cancelled my facebook, linmkedin and all such accounts. This is to PROTEST the way we have lost our rights, freedoms ans security. Tahoo is a terrible monopoly that wouldnt be alowed if it didnt work with the government and record all we do. It owns gmail and other companies. My friends are saying ‘We have nothing to hide—we dont care” but thats so far from the point! Lets put an open microphone in everyonES living room and bedroom ans stream it to the world. Would you all like that? Its almost the same thing.

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