See updates below.
And why does Facebook not care?
While conservatives have been exercising their right to mock over the Obama campaign’s Attack Watch Twitter account, something more insidious and infinitely more creepy is going on over at Facebook.
For those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise to hear that I loathe Facebook. I use it, yes, to keep up with far-flung friends and family but the place is a hot mess and there are ongoing privacy concerns. Then today, I happened to see this post over on Google+ and went to check it out. As it turns out it’s true! The Facebook page operated by Obama for America’s 2012 campaign compiles Obama-related updates from all over Facebook to this page…even updates from private and secret groups!
If you scroll through the page (I’m not linking the page here because, even though it’s a public page, I feel like I would be invading people’s privacy by doing so), you can see that many if not most of the posts are, how shall I say this, not complimentary to the President. So while conservatives have been freaking out on Twitter over Attack Watch, OFA has been compiling a sweet little enemies list, unbeknownst to all. Or at least to me and quite a few others.
Update 1: As it turns out, I should have titled my post, Why Does Facebook Hate Your Privacy, but that wouldn’t have been news, now, would it?
This shocking breach of privacy isn’t a special privilege granted to the Obama campaign or some kind of clever hack on their part. No, it’s a Facebook “feature.” Although I’m admitting, it escapes me why Facebook’s developers would think people would want their content randomly distributed on pages they may or may not have “liked” or perhaps aren’t even aware of.
Even so, for the most part this is probably harmless, but when the page or pages in question are administered by elected officials, it does still have a Big Brother feel to it. So while it may not be intentional on the part of the Obama campaign (or any other elected official with a Facebook page), it’s still a neat way to “keep your enemies closer,” courtesy of Facebook.
FYI, as far as I can tell, the only way to ensure your content doesn’t pop up in random places around Facebook is to avoid mentioning anyone of consequence. Ever. Or close your Facebook account.
Update 2: Okay, okay…I think I have this straight now. When you go to a page such as Barack Obama and click the “Friend Activity” link, Facebook assembles a list of what your friends are saying about (in this case) Barack Obama on the fly so everyone sees something different. Even the page admin sees only what he would otherwise have access to via his friends, groups and pages. Or so it’s been explained to me. So I now have no qualms about invading people’s privacy when linking the page that started it all. I’m feeling pretty confident that everyone’s privacy is being protected…at least in this instance. Barack Obama may hate your privacy and Facebook may mock your feeble attempts at feeding your information only to those you want to have it, but this is not a case of either. It is, however, a perfect example of Facebook being counter-intuitive to the user and how applications that grow over time can become so awkward they out-live their own usefulness.