In a Shocking Twist,


The thing that kills me is that the takeaway for a lot of people here will be “don’t use two-factor authentication”, not “maybe don’t participate in a platform run by a criminal organization”. If almost any other company did this, especially Apple, people would be screaming about it. On Facebook.

But if back-to-back stories about Facebook exploiting kids doesn’t do it, nothing will. These last two months have been the social media data security equivalent of Sandy Hook. Kids got hurt, no one cares.

I got to make my daughter cry two weeks ago when she asked me if she could download a free messaging app to stay in touch with her friends. It was Facebook’s, so I had to let her down. It was fun trying to explain gently to a nine-year-old that the friendly people with the fun app see her as livestock.

Talk About Adding Value!


I can’t imagine how little self-regard you’d have to have to actually put a Facebook-operated camera and microphone in your living room. Especially after the last two years, let alone the last decade. Hell, just after this month.

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

Cambridge Analytica got shit tons of data that helped the Trump campaign by gaming Facebook.

People are going to call this a “hack” or an “exploit”. It was not. It was unethical harvesting, but it was using a system that Facebook set up as a key part of their core business model. From Daring Fireball, where I saw it linked first:

This was not a security breach. This is simply what Facebook is: a massive surveillance machine.

Between this and their profiting off of Russian trolls and misinformation that they pointedly did not ask questions about, it’s clear that Facebook is a big part of the reason why a probable felon who sexually assaults women and doesn’t have the attention span to read a two-page brief is President of the United States of America.

The 21st century definition of irony: Political outrage posted to Facebook or Twitter.

Update: Facebook fixed the problem by banning the whistleblower. Letting these people install software on your phone sounds like a good idea.

More updates: Even better! Their chief information security officer left over a dispute about this kind of thing. Includes a shocking revelation that security concerns on this issue were overridden by money concerns. And Zuck knew about the Russian accounts when he dismissed the idea publicly:

By November 2016, the team had uncovered evidence that Russian operatives had aggressively pushed DNC leaks and propaganda on Facebook. That same month, Mr. Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the notion that fake news influenced the 2016 election, calling it a “pretty crazy idea.”

You’ll have to come looking, I guess

I ditched active participation in Twitter several months ago. The outrage cycle was tiring. People shouting THREAD over and over again was tiring. The endless punishment of women and people of color while the Nazis were constantly given what could only absurdly be termed “free speech consideration” was exhausting.

Twitter seemed so full of promise once. It looked like it could change the world, and unfortunately, it did.

It’s like a high-speed microcosm of the Boomer generation, all promises of a new world of prosperity and ideas shared and debated, but then money and power start making demands and everything gets thrown in reverse. Such is Twitter, and such is America forever if we don't figure it out.

Though I had “left”, I kept coming to Twitter when called; I still had my blog alert my followers there when I made a post. I did that because of you, because Twitter brought a tsunami of wonderful people into my life, and I am desperate to stay in touch and remind you all how much you mean to me.

But it was also about ego. It was about “outreach”, a word that here means faves and attaboys. I hunger for that too, and it is a part of me that I would drag into an alley and kick to death if I knew how. But I can at least starve it.

I have no dreams of blogging professionally. I have a career that I like that pays me more than all but the most successful writers dream of, and that gives me options I would not otherwise have. So it wasn’t ever about money or fame. I’m just a dog whining to be petted, when you get right down to it.

I could justify that to myself before, but it's getting harder now. Not when women are being banned for criticizing men while the president* unintentionally brags about the size of his clitoris to North Korea and intentionally stokes the fires for war. I can't even distantly participate in a service that bigoted and loony. If I do, I’ve sold off the best part of me just like Jack and Biz did.

So I’m done. Facebook will never touch my new phone and I'm cutting the last remaining cord to Twitter.

I do hope you'll keep poking around here from time to time, and yes, that is still about both you and me. I'm working on it. But I hope I'm at least finally content to wonder whether anyone's listening, without seeking an answer.

"Like" This, For the Love of God

So Facebook is pretty terrible.

I know a lot of you hang out there. I used to, briefly, but it got to be too much. I spent my time at Facebook like I do every church I've ever belonged to--with one foot out the door, the main reason for sticking around being the wonderful people I'd see there.

Sixty percent of my reason for leaving was Facebook's Josef-Mengele-with-a-chainsaw approach to my privacy and data security. They've been playing grab-ass with people's data for years, and it generally takes the threat of a federal investigation to remind them that scruples exist.

(Just as an aside, I wonder whether most people understand what can be at stake. Witness the Girls Around Me app shitstorm of awhile back, in which people's Facebook and Foursquare accounts were turned into a potential tool for sexual violence. That app's dead now, but the ability to get that data isn't.)

Anyway, there's still that remaining forty percent of the reason I left, and, paradoxically, it's identical to the reason I stayed: the people there.

I love Twitter, though it's slowly turning into Facebook. Someone once said that Facebook's the family you're born with and Twitter's the family you choose, and that's true, but don't take that to mean that I don't love the family I was born with. On the contrary, I adore them.

Family Is Hard

I love every person who I followed on Facebook, I do. And that's why it was excruciating to see the old high school friend parroting a facile stance on a complicated issue that they heard from some braying television jackass, the colleagues I hold in high esteem using idiotic phrases like "death boards", the people I would die for gleefully supporting policies that harm other people I would die for.

I die a little every time I see it, especially when I see someone swinging someone else's life around like a dead cat because they can, because to them it's not real, it's just an issue or a "stance". Sometimes I want to grab those people and shake them and ask them how they can dare be so wonderful and so necessary to me and yet be so glib about other people's lives.

There's the "hide" button, of course, and I've used it, but only for acquaintances. I can't bring myself to do it to people who have touched my life deeply, people who mostly post touching, funny, uplifting stuff. So I walked. Maybe that's a cop-out.

I'm just self-aware enough to be pretty sure that others among my friends and family likewise have shaken their heads in disbelief and sadness at things I've written online, and that's why I try like hell not to talk politics in public fora. I know some of them read my Twitter feed and this blog, and I'd rather not cause them that same pain. I frequently fail at this, though, when I get angry or feel like making a yuk-yuk or am otherwise irrational. It's hard, I get it. But I'm trying.

Boy howdy, am I glad I'm not on Facebook this month.

On August 1, the Best Babysitter in the World got the kids excited about going to Chick-Fil-A. This, midway through one shitter of a week--she wanted to take them there that day of all days. And that's not a conversation I wanted to be forced to have with a five-year-old boy who's excited about chicken and indoor playgrounds. How does one explain both human sexuality and otherwise good people supporting hate groups to a five-year-old boy in the same conversation? God bless my wife, who handled it with love and tact.

Parenting sucks sometimes. Okay, weekly. But mainly, all this just leaves me tired all over.

GRAR RAR (I'm a Scary Monster)

The Internet Rage Machine is powered by bile and lubricated with froth. It cannot wait to tell me every single day of my life who I should hate, who I should support, who is a hypocrite, and who is a saint. (Answer to that last one: Fred Rogers. Everyone else is suspect).

The net effect is that it strengthens my ambivalence and apathy more than my resolve. Don't get me wrong, the issue of equal rights for my LGBT friends and family is an important one to me, but I also shop at Target and still buy food that comes from ADM and Cargill and I'm sure that at least half of my income goes to moustache-twistingly evil places, because it's impossible to avoid them. They're running things, after all.

I can't do nothing, of course. I'm exhausted with discussions about which comedians supported Daniel Tosh and which didn't, but I'd like to see rape culture in this country be given herpes and set on fire, and I know that problems don't go away if we don't talk about them until everyone damn near starts rending their garments. Every now and then, someone actually learns something new. I know I do. Occasionally.

Still, it's all devolved into one big game of Issue Volleyball, and not the sexy kind of volleyball with the sexy athletes in the sexy panty outfits pulling the sexy wedgies out of their sexy bottom cracks.

And I'm tired. I'm tired of "winning" and "losing" and I'm tired of dragon fighting and I'm tired of outrage and I'm tired of a world in which I can't get a fucking chicken sandwich without punching a trans person in whatever genitals they have that are none of my business.

I'm also convinced, and I talked about it some in that last link, that at least some of this is a shiny thing dangled before us to distract us away from the more fundamental problems of money and power.

The one time I had a shred of respect for Karl Rove was an interview I read in which he admitted that he didn't want Roe v. Wade overturned. Why? Because he knew it would do to the GOP what the Civil Rights Act did to the Democratic party: it would destroy them for at least a generation.

I didn't put a link in that last paragraph, because I can't find one, so I'm beginning to doubt my memory there. But look to history: In the first six years of the Bush administration, with unprecedented control over all three branches of government, they did precisely zippo to re-criminalize abortion, which they claim to be one of the party's flagship issues. Nothing. What does that tell you about priorities?

I'm tired of that corruption, and I'm tired of those who profit from "us" vs. "them". Surely I'm not the only one. And just as I cringe at the growing political tribalism of modern-day Christianity and rolled my eyes clean out of my head at the presumption in the phrase "I'm a Christian" that the Best Babysitter in the World offered up in response to the Chick-Fil-A thing, I can't quite bring myself to carve up my loved ones into those two buckets and toss the one labeled "Them".

Nor do I think the accelerating trend of politics-as-blockbuster-movie is going to end well for any of us. Surely there must be some other way. Preferably one that no longer necessitates "Hide" buttons for anyone.

Hey, maybe this is a start.