evil and watched it take place.
For evil's been done in every case.
The laws are all made in our hearts, of course.
But every one must be maintained by force.
We stare at life through the eyes of a souse:
We have made this planet a slaughterhouse.
-- Jens Bjørneboe (*)
the image leads to the source (Free Software Foundation)
something else again, after yesterday on genius and on Feynman, and
of the things I simply cannot
believe about real genius prior to my own prefrontal
lobotomy, for today's subject is the utter scam that's called Facebook.
My main sources are these three, in order of importance, with the
original titles and link so you can read all - which I strongly
recommend if you are a Facebook "friend":
The Facebook enigma - sort of
We all know, "know" and guess what others are like by analogy to
ourselves, and in terms of the education we got at home, in schools,
universities etc. and the books and interests and likes and dislike we
My own background, knowledge and life are far from ordinary, as are my
judgments of many things, but I admit - university educated
psychologist and philosopher and all - that I was rather amazed and
also quite disappointed by the enormous popularity of Facebook,
because ever since reading about it I felt quite like Mr Hodgkinson, whose
fine article I mentioned and linked above, and who started it as
follows - and I split the continuous text of the beginning of his article into three parts, so as to put some
of my remarks in between, while I quote by indenting:
I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American
business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with
the people around you". But hang on. Why on God's earth would I need a
computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my
relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of
supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?
so, although "supergeeks" seems too much praise, and personally I am
not and never was a pub goer (as my footnote explains: I don't like
alcohol - not on principle: it just never agreed with me - and I don't
like drunks, and most conversations of most people bore me, and give me
no joy: a common hazard of being gifted, I fear).
But yes: When meeting people I like to meet the real thing - real
people, made of flesh and blood, palpably and visibly so, with names,
with spontaneity, with personal presence, and with free and open
conversation, and not some virtual impersonation of somebody quite
often utterly anonymous, who presents himself (or herself: I follow
traditional English grammar) by pieces of non-spontaneous contrived
text, quite possibly with photoshopped portraits, with some silly,
often vaguely grandiose avatar, and all in a sort of gallery - a freak
show - of like minded virtual entities made up from text, pixels, and
posturing, that you don't know, never met, don't know the abode of, that
is intentionally obscure about much that matters for real personal
relations, and whom I might not like at all if I met her or him in the
flesh, and who as virtual presence is more like an ad than like a human
Indeed, as far as I can see, if you really
believe these virtual entities "are" persons, rather than texts or
pixels, you have a very confused or basically lonely mind, who can't
keep pretend-reality and natural reality apart - or indeed who prefers
pretend-reality, and so probably has much to hide.
To continue with Mr Hodgkinson's opening paragraphs:
so: You might - assuming you're healthy, in body and mind - have been
in the park, scuba-diving, or been meeting real friends in a real house
And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it
rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such
as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am
merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in
cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me
that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking
at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook
actually isolates us at our workstations.
To continue with Mr
That's mostly it, except that I
am a bit more realistic: It enables posturing, lying, pretending,
photoshopping and lots of make-belief based on illusions, lack of
character, elastic spines, and the illusion - see below - one
can't be found out by one's "Facebook friends", and one can get away
with almost anything in the way of white lies and rudeness, "because
one is anonymous anyway, or those who object are elsewhere on the
Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and
self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself
with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial
representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. ("I like
Facebook," said another friend. "I got a shag out of it.")
Thus Mr Hodgkinson - who just got started on his article - and I agree,
as I also agree with this by him:
As I said, the article is about
three years old. If you consult Wikipedia, you find that currently
It seems, though, that I am very much alone in my
hostility. At the time of writing Facebook claims 59 million active
users, including 7 million in the UK, Facebook's third-biggest customer
after the US and Canada. That's 59 million suckers, all of whom have
volunteered their ID card information and consumer preferences to an
American business they know nothing about.
As of January 2011, Facebook has
more than 600 million active users.
brief, as a so called - really: virtual, make belief, let's pretend -
"social network" (as the phrase is, which is very misleading) it is an
What is it really, beyond 600 million who don't have the time, the
brains, the health or the personal individuality and character to set up their own sites? Mr
Hodgkinson's diagnosis is this:
Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out
of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries -
and then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It
makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were
I mostly agree, for while the pretense of Mr Suckerbug is that it is
all about "socializing", "making friends", "forming communities",
"sharing", it is a vast commercial enterprise of which the main
money-making tool is datamining: Finding out who you are, where you
live, how much you earn, what your preferences and tastes are, who your
friends and family are, and selling these items of information to
commercial firms, or indeed law firms, or what not: To whoever has the
money, and wants to spy on you, for some reason, to make better use of
you, and usually to get cash from you, somehow, e.g. by "personalized
advertising", which is translated into clear English as "lying for
Mr. Hodgkinson has rather a lot more, and while I think he probably is
mostly right in what he says, his article is from January 2008, and since then
Facebook grew ten times as big, and also has changed some, if not for the better.
Here is part of what he says that still seems quite correct to me:
There is something like "
a philosophy" behind it namely by
one René Girard of Stanford University, proponent of a theory of human
behaviour called mimetic desire. Girard reckons that people are
essentially sheep-like and will copy one another without much
the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human
beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the
enormous popularity of Facebook.
hence datamining, and enormous profits for Mr Suckerbug and his
cronies and investors, who according to Mr. Hodgkinson originate in the
US libertarian right of venture capitalists who are willing to do just about
anything for money (if they think they can get away with it), of course in the name of "freedom", "free choice" and "free
markets": "There's a sucker born every minute", as P.T. Barnum is supposed
to have said, and the slightly more clever, ruthless or dishonest than average can
live very nicely by deluding, misleading and abusing the human average.
it's not just business and datamining wrapped up as "friendship" and
"sharing" for the brainless, the lazy, the spineless, or - for the most
part - the naive, the easily deluded, and the brainwashed, many of whom
in this day and age have read more advertisement texts than any other
US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes
spying easier. "We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries,"
defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. "We need to make the
leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our
course! If there is "A Facebook Revolution" at all, then that revolution is
bound to be that the secret service of almost any country can track your preferences,
friends, family, associates, and opinions on "social network sites"
while knowing where you are every second from your mobile phone. Praise Facebook!
Or as Mr
Hodgkinson put it:
The creators of the site need do very little bar fiddle with
the programme. In the main, they simply sit back and watch as millions
of Facebook addicts voluntarily upload their ID details, photographs
and lists of their favourite consumer objects. Once in receipt of this
vast database of human beings, Facebook then simply has to sell the
information back to advertisers, or, as Zuckerberg puts it in a recent
blog post, "to try to help people share information with their friends
about things they do on the web". And indeed, this is precisely what's
"Share" is Facebookspeak for "advertise". Sign up to Facebook and you
become a free walking, talking advert for Blockbuster or Coke,
extolling the virtues of these brands to your friends. We are seeing
the commodification of human relationships, the extraction of
capitalistic value from friendships.
This you may
doubt - You, and 600 million others can't be as naive as that, can
you? Besides, you know all there is to know about scams, computers,
datamining, and man's inhumanity to man, if man can get away with it,
don't you? And you respect everyone, and that nice Mr Zuckerberg more than
most, don't it? - but I for my part quite agree with Mr Hodgkinson:
For my own part, I am going to
retreat from the whole thing, remain as unplugged as possible, and
spend the time I save by not going on Facebook doing something useful,
such as reading books. Why would I want to waste my time on Facebook
when I still haven't read Keats' Endymion? And when there are seeds to
be sown in my own back yard? I don't want to retreat from nature, I
want to reconnect with it. Damn air-conditioning! And if I want to
connect with the people around me, I will revert to an old piece of
technology. It's free, it's easy and it delivers a uniquely individual
experience in sharing information: it's called talking.
so, except that I don't "retreat", since I never took part, knowing
well people lie to make money and disliking very much to mix up real
contacts with real people with playing make belief games on a virtual
"social network" that exists to facilitate datamining aka spying of persons to abuse them profitably.
2. Big brother is watching you
I quote from Mr Hodgkinson's fine article, who quotes himself Facebook's
not fine at all "heads I win, tails you loose" rules:
Just for fun, try substituting the words 'Big Brother'
whenever you read the word 'Facebook'
1 We will advertise at you
"When you use Facebook, you may set up your personal
profile, form relationships, send messages, perform searches and
queries, form groups, set up events, add applications, and transmit
information through various channels. We collect this information so
that we can provide you the service and offer personalised features."
2 You can't delete anything
"When you update information, we usually keep a backup
copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable
reversion to the prior version of that information."
3 Anyone can glance at your intimate confessions
"... we cannot and do not guarantee that user content you
post on the site will not be viewed by unauthorised persons. We are not
responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security
measures contained on the site. You understand and acknowledge that,
even after removal, copies of user content may remain viewable in
cached and archived pages or if other users have copied or stored your
4 Our marketing profile of you will be unbeatable
"Facebook may also collect information about you from
other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services,
and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the
service (eg, photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful
information and a more personalised experience."
5 Opting out doesn't mean opting out
"Facebook reserves the right to send you notices about
your account even if you opt out of all voluntary email notifications."
6 The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel
"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your
personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We
may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful
requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with
applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good
faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private
litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share
account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply
with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or
other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or
using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may
include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or
In brief - and the quotations are legalese propaganda rather
than honest English - the Facebook exploiters declare themselves free
to spy on you in whatever way that fits their interests or the
interests of those who pay them, and declare themselves
responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security
measures contained on the site. You understand and acknowledge that,
even after removal, copies of user content may remain viewable in
cached and archived pages ...
3. Scams and censorship next to
Here is a piece from the above linked article on Suckerbug's
Successful "Social" Scam from the Free Software Foundation:
Zuckerberg is able to
collect information about people who aren't even users of his site.
These are precedents which hurt our ability to freely connect
with each other. He has created a network that is first and
foremost a gold mine for government surveillance and advertisers.
Of course - and
don't you believe the law will protect you: On the internet virtually
anything is possible in terms of spying that the laws in civilized
countries have forbidden for generations as regards paper post or
spying on others or indeed flimflamming and fraudulence. There just are
no laws against it, and whatever laws might apply can hardly be applied
to an entity that may be anywhere or everywhere, and can afford the best lawyers, and anyway is a corporate body without morals, except for profits and pretenses.
This much is evident from Facebook's outward
behavior — but things
could actually be much worse than we know. Facebook's users are not
connecting directly with each other. They are speaking to Mr.
Zuckerberg, who first writes down and files away everything said, and
then maybe relays it to the intended destination, if it suits him. In
some cases he does not — witness the recent reports of Facebook's
messaging service blocking messages based on the words and links in
them, because those links point to services which Facebook would
prefer we not discuss.
As to scams and fraudulence: Here are the writers of the FSF on being
misrepresented on Facebook:
So... it may be
the same for me, and although I have said so before, last year, I'll
say it again:
Note: You may find some pages
about the FSF or GNU on Facebook, since anyone can create pages there.
Know that these pages are unofficial and not maintained by FSF staff or
the GNU Project, nor did we ask for them to be created.
am not on Facebook; I never had an account on Facebook; I don't want an
account on Facebook; and anybody who puts any of my material on
Facebook is a thief: I forbid it.
Also, I'd like to know about it if it happens: I'm rather unknown and
unread than figure on a site like Facebook.
always are excuses...
What I think, do and say, and do not do, think nor
say, is my own responsibility, and you are free to disagree, and free
to get your own Facebook account (without my material).
Indeed, if you're ill or your boss thinks Facebook is just the thing
for his employees, or your mom or girlfriend wants you to be there, or
you are very lonely, quite unattractive, in need of illusions of
"social contact", or indeed the proud and happy possessor of an average or sub-average
intelligence, outlook and a nicely conformist set of values, I can't stop you,
and it's your life, and you are playing with your privacy - and that of
your friends, colleagues and family, for profit of faceless folks far more clever and ruthless than you are.
Indeed - there even may be quite respectable reasons to be on Facebook, especially if
you are ill or an advocate for ill people.
But it's not for me, and I don't want it:
Clicking the image leads to the source
(Free Software Foundation)
And if you do find me there,
it's fraudulent or it's theft.
(*) I much like Jens Bjørneboe,
a Norwegian author who lived from 1920-1976, and probably is best
known through the three volumes that make up "The history of
bestiality", which is concerned with man's inhumanity to man. I
of him when I lived in Norway, and I only read his books in Norwegian,
though most seem to have been translated into English and German, and
some even into Dutch.
I probably do share
little of his philosophy (he was an anthroposophist, which I consider
nonsense, and loved drinking, whereas I never got drunk in my life and
don't like drunks) but he was a very humane man, with strong moral
values, personal courage, and the character to think and feel for
himself, and that's all much appreciated by me, for one thing because
it is quite rare (and much rarer than people love to pretend). Besides,
he wrote well, not only about human bestiality, but also about
education - Jonas is an
impressive book, about his experiences as a teacher - and quite a lot
more. He also was a painter.
The song I quote is
based on lyrics he wrote, which I can't agree with for a good part -
such as "We are all guilty of the evil men do": No thank you very much:
we are all responsible for our own
failings, ignorance, dishonesties,
poses, pretensions and ill deeds. I do agree with most of what I quote,
though, and it is quite appropriate in the present context - and much
of the evil men do is done for what are presented as the best of
reasons, or from social conformism.
Here is a quote from him
from something I wrote about him in Dutch in 2006 (Bjørneboe en de menselijke
beestachtigheid) being rather heretical my self, as
Thousands and thousands have given their lives
for freedom of human thought, for freedom of conscience, and for the
freedom of future generations—this freedom which we treat so badly
The bloodbaths aren't the main thing; the main
thing is the heretic.
What is it that gives a person such strength?
Greater than the problem of evil is the problem
As to the problems of good and evil see - for
example - my
P.S. Corrections, if any are
necessary, have to be made later.
-- May 17, 2001: Sorted out some spelling errors.
as I am quite mellow today, let me also give a compliment to Phoenix Rising:
It's good it's not on Facebook. Especially in
England, the US and Holland, as a patient with ME/CFS you are considerably more safe on a
private site owned by a person than on a Facebook site. See 2. Big brother is watching you
an aside a remark
on my html-editor: I am very
pleased to say
this text was written in KompoZer
08.b3 and not in MS