lostcarpark: (Calvin)
I've been travelling, so I've been logging into sites like Facebook from unusual places, so it's reasonable that it might want to verify I am who I say I am.

Facebook have come up with a verification method that sounds like a good idea in principle, but in reality is rather ill-conceived.

It asks you to identify people in photographs. This would perhaps work if people always used the site the way they are supposed to, but people do silly things like posting up pictures of them as babies and (correctly) identifying as them, or posting their cat and (wrongly) tagging it as them. I've also seen quite a few people put up a christmassy image and tag all their friends somewhere in it. Another person I know because she had my font tattooed onto her, posted the tattoo and tagged it as me (flattering, but a little confusing).

To make matters worse, I went through a phase where random people would friend me and I'd friend them back. This was okay for a while, though when my friend list got over 300 people I realised it was time to be more selective.

Also, I have plenty of Facebook friends that I haven't seen in the flesh since we were at school together over twenty years ago. Some still look more or less the same, but some bear no resemblance, and the chance of me identifying from a recent photo is slim.

You don't have to get all the images right, but even allowing mistages, the chances of me identifying enough friends when you rule out baby photos, pet photos, people I don't really know, and photos that are just wrong, are at best hit and miss.

Anything wrong with trusting me to pick a secure password in the first place?

lostcarpark: (Default)

Originally published at James's GUFF Trip. Please leave any comments there.

In a week, I'll be on my way to New Zealand and Australia on my GUFF trip, so it's time for another update.

I've been busy setting up a website to blog the trip. It's at http://guff.lostcarpark.com, in case you're reading one of the cross-postings.

I've been trying to get it to automatically post to LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook. This seems to be working quite well for the first two, but Facebook doesn't make things quit so easy, so it requires some manual intervention.

The rest behind the cut... )
lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
One thing that bugs me is getting invites to Facebook applications that duplicate existing "default" Facebook applications or widely used ones. I don't need three different apps for keeping track of people's birthdays, or five different walls or a dozen different types of "poke". And I only need one application to keep track of my library, and while Visual Bookshelf isn't from Facebook, it does seem to be the most widely used.

I think Facebook ought to have a more effective policing system for new applications, and part of that policing should include a refusal to allow new applications if they duplicate the functionality of an existing one.

Of course, a second requirement should be to show how they will guarantee that user data will be safeguarded, but that's a topic for an entirely different pet peeve.
lostcarpark: (Lego T-Rex eating Jar-Jar)
I think the title says it all, but I'll try to explain how I feel about it.

From day one, I have been asking "what is it for?" and I'm still not sure what the answer is. It can be quite useful for finding old friends, then looking at their friends to find out who on their list I also know. There are a few people from school and college I've got back in touch with that way.

The various applications are supposed to make it useful, but I find most of them are just annoying. No I don't wantto be a zombie, a vampire, a warewolf, or whatever else someone thinks of. If I want to buy someone a pint, I'll do it down the pub where it's a lot more satisfying. And what's with all these wall things and other messengy things?

My problem is that I get a message saying someone has sent me a message, but in order to read this message, I have to install an application to let me read it. The first thing this application does (after insisting I share my personal information with it) is to spamall my friends and ask them to install the app too. Excuse me, but I respect my friends too much to ask them to install something I haven't even tried yet. Once I've got through all that, I find the message is a puppy dog and it wants me to see what happens if I forward it to all my friends. Thanks.

Could you imagine if we got emails telling us we had a message, but in order to read it we needed to download and install an application. We'd say, "no way, it's probably virus-infested spyware." However, when it's on a website it's supposed to be okay. The only difference is that it's our personal information rather than our PC that's at risk.

As I've hinted already, I have privacy concerns. Their privacy policy makes interesting reading...

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 (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.

Well, I'm sure they're only trying to be helpful, but this sort of thing makes me feel a little uneasy.

But even if we assume that Facebook themselves are completely trustworthy (which is a big assumption), what about all the third party writers of FaceBook applications? I expect the vast majority are honest and above board, but it only takes one bad lemon to write a "useful" app, then leave it sitting harvesting data for a couple of months, then they have a nice little stockpile of information to do as they see fit with. They probably can't access email addresses directly, but there's plenty of personal information they can access directly through Facebook, and more they can collect through the application. Believe me, there will be a big story about a rogue Facebook application developer in 2008.

Of course, Facebook will be collecting this post to provide me with a more personalised experience.

January 2016

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