Facebook Timeline shenanigans

Recently Facebook decided to expand their Timeline feature. Timeline was introduced to replace a user\’\s wall. It is meant to be a history of a user\’\s time on Facebook. So they started putting posts from earlier on the Timeline. Now when you go onto someone\’\s Timeline and go back a few years you will see posts by them and to them from back then.

This freaked people out. They thought private messages were being made public. This simply isn't the case. No-one is yet to provide categorical evidence that it is. Instead people are finding that these 'private' conversations were actually public.

I think what we are seeing is evidence of a shift in our interaction with social media. Back in 2008 it was really just students on Facebook and we were much more relaxed with how we conducted ourselves and what information was visible and what information was hidden. As Facebook has gotten bigger, and as of June 2012 Facebook has 955 million active users, people have become more careful about the information they share.

Then they are presented with how they acted back in 2008 with this new Timeline feature, and they can't believe they could have been so careless with regards to privacy.

Privacy is going to continue to be one of the key issues. As we enter the Information Age it's going to be more important that we can control what information is shared an what isn't. I don't think this bodes well for Facebook. They don't answer to the users, they answer to advertisers. I draw hope from more open services, like Diaspora or App.net.

Wolfram's Facebook report and Facebook's future

Go to the Wolfram website and allow it access to your Facebook data and you will be bestowed with a whole wealth of information. (Be warned! It will ask you to create a Wolfram ID.) It analyses not just your data, but information about your friends.

So, for example, I now know my average post length is 7.66 words. Though there are some longer posts in there as well.[^graphs] With Facebook and awesome being some of the more frequent words in my posts. One thing I found perhaps slightly depressing is that of the 2,058 photos I've uploaded, the most commented on photo has received a measly twelve comments, and it's from four years ago.

Not surprisingly most of my friends are male, 71.2% of them to be exact. There's also a pretty even split between how many are single, and how many aren't. I imagine that will change as we all get older. I also have an impressive geographic distribution of where my friends are from. How cosmopolitan we are these days.

This is all data Facebook has. Every status you've ever made. Every photo you've uploaded. Every page you've liked. Every friend you've made. Facebook has all this information themselves. You can be damn sure they know a lot more than they reveal publicly. That girl's photo albums you like to perv through? Yeah, Facebook know as well. And what will they use all this information for? Advertisements. As the saying goes, if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.

Many times Facebook has redesigned its site or added new features which are seemingly not in the users interests. Or how about the Facebook privacy policy or terms of service. Whilst these have been getting better over time due to external pressure, they are weighted heavily in Facebook\’\s favour. Pictures you upload are essentially Facebook\’\s to use as they will, from their terms of service page:

you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

They can do as they please with the picture. Literally, they could \“\sell\”\ it to the New York Times to be used as a cover story picture and you wouldn't receive a cent.

This then becomes interesting when one considers recent Facebook activity especially with regards to the much talked-about IPO and subsequent stock price shenanigans. Business Insider have written a very good article about the matter. What's interesting is a letter written by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder, to shareholders. Quoting the articles summary here's what Zuck thinks:

  • Facebook\’\s social mission is more important to Mark Zuckerberg than Facebook\’\s business.
  • Facebook\’\s business exists to support Facebook's product development, not the other way around.
  • Facebook\’\s CEO is an extremely patient man who does not flinch under criticism.
  • Facebook will never care as much about clients and shareholders as it does about its service and users.
  • Facebook cares about the long term, not the short term (read: decades, not months).

This contrasts with what was discussed above. First we have this idea that Facebook doesn't care about users, but about advertisers and making money, then we have that actually what Facebook cares about, or more particularly what Zuckerberg cares about, is the users of Facebook. So which is it? Maybe in the long term these two ideas will converge. Facebook ultimately needs its users in order to make money. After all, Facebook is simply a website and could conceivably be killed by The Next Big Thing™.

[^graphs]: This kind of information is displayed in graph form. I can't work out how to embed those graphs here, at least without joining Wolfram Pro.

*[IPO]: Initial Public Offering

What's going on with Assange?

Some people seem to support Assange so much they hate Sweden. So what is really going on? There's lots of misinformation being spread. The New Statesman has a good summary of misconcetions.

Essentially, Swedish authorities want to arrest Assange to question him about a suspected case of rape. People think Assange, having been extradited to Sweden would then be extradited to the U.S. Just ask Manning how the U.S. treats people they don't like.

However, as the article makes clear, there really is no reason Assange shouldn't face the charges brought against him by the Swedish authorities. Due process has been followed.

The Euro is Not in Trouble; the People Are

Succinctly put:

The Euro and its system of governance are working beautifully for those who have the major voice within the Eurozone today. The ECB is instructing the governments of its monetary zone to dismantle Social Europe and they are doing it.

Though I do wonder who these people with "major voices" are?

Auschwitz era ends

From the article:

A spokesperson says last surviving member that escaped in 1942 has died

How sad, though it just highlights the mortality of humans. The title is a little confusing though, there are still people who were libertaed that are still alive.

May their memory live on.

News this week (12w26)

Half way through the year!

Brazilian prisoners can now have their sentences shortened by reading books and writing essays on them. I hope they follow this up with research on the recidivism rates of the participants. Other studies seem to suggest that education can be more useful than enforcement. Well here's a real test of the idea.

A German court has ruled religious circumcision of infants a crime. This was ruled in a regional court in Cologne. I'm not sure how the legal system in Germany works, but it appears that this isn't an absolute ban across all of Germany. Still, it brings up an interesting debate of religious freedoms. Any infant that has been circumcised clearly didn't have the ability to consent to their body being modified. Should this be allowed?

In Tahrir Square, Cairo, a British journalist was sexually assaulted. This unfortunately doesn't seem to be a one-off incident. There was a journalist for France 3 that was 'brutally molested' a year ago. There was also the case of Lara Logan, who was also sexually assaulted. Now that Egypt has supposed democracy let's see if they can protect their women such degrading behaviour. No-one deserves to be violated against their will in such a horrible manner. No-one.

A U.N. report has come out which names Cannabis as the most used recreational drug. Clearly are laws aren't working and we should clamp down even harder! Well, no, it's about time we got rid of the stigma associated with discussing drug law reform. Why don't we take all the money we spend locking up drug addicts and spend it on rehabilitation?

News this week (12w25)

Egypt had an election recently, with the results coming out now. The new president of Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi. He was the main candidate running that wasn't associated with the previous Mubarak regime. We'll see how things go for Egypt now.

Julian Assange is seeking asylum in Ecuador after his appeal against extradition to Sweden was rejected. Sweden want to question him, with a view to bringing charges later. It's interesting why he wouldn't want to go to Sweden, here's a great comment on reddit.com about the issue:

I have said this in a couple of places already, but since there seems to be a lot of confusion about the possibility of an extradition from Sweden to the US, I hope this can be seen by more people.

First, under Swedish law, a person cannot be extradited to a country where he/she risks death penalty or any physical harm. The extradition to Egypt was a major fuck-up, sure, but given the publicity of the Assange case it's not gonna happen again. There's also a difference since in the Egypt case, they were applying for political asylum and got denied, difference from someone that Sweden has requested to come here.

Secondly, Sweden cannot extradite people for political crimes, which, most likely, would be what Assange would be charged with in the US. Even if the US would label it as "terrorism" it would still be up to Swedish courts to independantly decide if it would be political or not.

Thirdly, an extradition from Sweden to another country has to be approved by the UK, since they have agreed to an extradition to Sweden, not any other country.

Assange is being extradited to Sweden for questioning in the case, not a trial. So far he has not been charged with any crimes. I've read parts of the custody memo which was filed to the court when the prosecutor requested Assange to be put in custody in absentia, and it's pretty much a "he said, she said" case without much evidence. I'd be surprised if it would even go to trial and if it did, I'd be even more surprised if Assange was convicted from the way things look now.

I'm a Swedish lawyer, if anyone has any questions about the Swedish legal system I'd be happy to answer to the best of my abilities. Going to bed pretty soon but I'll carry on tomorrow if there's need.

ACTA has been rejected by another EU committee. We now have to see how the European Parliament will vote on the treaty in July. Whilst there are good things, it does too much damage to basic human freedoms. Until they address this issue in an ACTAv2 or something, I will continue to oppose it.

News this week (12w24)

NeverSeconds blogger, who was initially banned blogging about her school lunches, has seen the ban lifted. She was taking pictures of, and critiquing, her school lunches. The school initially seemed supportive of the 9-year old girl. The local council didn't seem to like the publicity and banned her from taking her camera into school. After a little internet outrage the ban has rightly been overturned. If you want to live in a free country then people are going to do and say things you might not like. Argyll and Bute Council are finding this out.

We have escaped the solar system, one of the greatest achievements of mankind! Voyager 1 has now reached the end of the solar sytem. I like the idea that this isn't the end for the space probe, it'll just keep floating through space for years to come. Long after I'm dead it might even reach the attention of another intelligent lifeform. What a lovely thought.

In the ongoing Leveson inquiry former PM John Major has testified that Rupert Murdoch wanted a change in government policy regarding Europe. Murdoch even threatened that his papers would oppose Major at the 1997 elections if there was no change in policy. Let's take a step back here. A media mogul tried to coerce a democratically elected politician. And we now have that fact that Murdoch's testimony contradicts Major's. Someone's committing perjury.

Japan are claiming that N. Korea's missile launchers are being supplied by China. Which could well be in violation of U.N. sanctions. Things like this make a bit of a joke of international law. China are on the U.N. security council, precisely nothing will be done about this. Apart from maybe some angry sounding letter, that the Chinese will just ignore.

A Norwegian party wants to ban ritual circumcision. I agree, if a person who is of reason wishes to have their own body modified in some way then that is their choice. A baby however, does not have a choice in the matter and shouldn't be forced to have such treatment.

News this week (12w22-23)

It's been the golden jubilee weekend, and I've been a little bury recently, so I'm doing two weeks in one.

The Dutch parliament has unanimously voted against ACTA, saying further that \"no similar agreement will ever be signed by the government\". This a great step in preserving our internet freedom. Europe is the last area to vote on ACTA and with the Dutch voting against it this may give the impetus to other governments to do the same thus essentially forcing the European parliament to do likewise.

Norway has voted to become a secular nation, removing the Lutheran Church as the state religion. As an atheist I applaud this move. Though there's another side to the story. I come from the U.K., and though the movement of political correctness, the Chruch of England has to be seen to be respectful and tolerant. Essentially stopping it from doing anything that could damage the nation. Whereas you look at America, where freedom of religion absolutely separates church and state, that's big business. Chuches over there are huge with their own tv channels and radio stations. It forces its way into the public conciousness.

Julian Assange has lost his extradition case. This isn't his sexual assault case. He's lost his appeal to the British Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden. He can still appeal the decision with the European Court of Human Rights. Though we now have a fourteen day wait whilst Dinah Rose QC decides to appeal directly to the British Supreme Court on the grounds that the main basis of the Court's decision wasn't argued. The basis being the Vienna Convention.

We recently had the Diamond Jubilee here in the U.K. celebrating 60 years of the Queen's reign. Big celebrations were had. A group of long-term unemployed people were bussed into London to work unpaid as stewards. They were told to sleep under London Bridge before working the river pageant. These people were part of a trial for unpaid work at the Olympics. Let's hope the Olympics aren't as callous in their treatment of staff, unpaid or otherwise.

Former Egyptian politician Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison. Whilst this may seem a good thing at first, and at face value it really is, there have been still been protests by the Egyptian people. The problem is Mubarak didn't act alone. He had help from people like Jamal & Alaa Mubarak are found innocent. Clearly this is making the Egyptians unhappy and brings in to question the idea of Egypt having a true democracy.

The Vatican is facing another scandal, oh what a surprise! A butler of the Pope has been arrested for having classified documents he shouldn't have had. The rhetoric coming out of the Vatican is quite amusing really, they keep claiming the butler betrayed them. One even comparing it the betrayal of Jesus 2,000 years ago! Never mind the documents point to crimes being committed by the Vatican themselves. So why is the butler the one in jail?

News this week (12w21)

Egypt has an elected leader for the first time. This is huge. If it is a true democracy, then one would hope the actions of the government reflect the feelings of the people. As Noam Chomsky states, the Egyptian people feel that the U.S.-Israel are a threat. This could escalate tensions out in the Middle East. If Egypt starts to face-off with Israel at the same time as Iran escalating its nuclear programme then who knows how the U.S.-Israel will react. They've already talked about attacking Iran before now. Let's just hope things don't get too much worse.

Monsanto maize has been banned in France, in order to \"protect the environment\". This is however a temporary ban. The article doesn't make that clear, nor does it do the science justice. It says It was modified genetically in order to insert a bacteria into its DNA structure. This is clearly bollocks. Some of the genetic code of a particular bacterium has been added to the genetic code of the maize. Even this is a gross over-simplification of the situation. The genes in question are to generate a toxin that will kill any insects or pests that would try to eat the maize. To me, as long as sufficient testing is done, this ethically acceptable behaviour. The business practices of Monsanto may be less ethical however.

New Zealand authorities, in collaboration with Interpol, have taken down a global child pornography ring. 55 people in 20 countries have been arrested, with 12 abused children being rescued. This is good old fashioned police work in action, with the investigation starting back in October 2010. There was no need to enact new restrictive internet policies in order to bring justice to these paedophiles.

A suicide blast in Yemen kills more than 100 troops. It has left at least 101 dead and 220 injured. Here's a relatively SFW video of the aftermath. As a result the Yemeni president has declared to resolve further his war on terror. Even the Middle East has these issues. It's reading stuff like this that I'm truly glad I live in a peaceful country (everything is relative).

Italy, amongst their debt crisis, are cracking down on Ferrari and Lamborghini drivers. Though only in so far as to make sure they are declaring their income and thus paying their due taxes. The reasoning being that only rich people will have access to such expensive cars. Sounds a bit like the story of the Porches in Greece, though that was a bit misleading, as Porche themselves sold a relatively small number of cars in Greece. So the others were second hand or black market cars. Italy further battled tax evasion recently by 'raiding' a popular ski resort and checking people were paying the taxes on their property. When the squeeze is on the government, that squeeze is transferred to the people it seems.

My name is Jonny Barnes, and jonnybarnes.uk is my site. I’m from Manchester, UK .

I am active to varying degrees on several silos:

My usual online nickname is normally jonnybarnes for other services. I also syndicate my content to the IndieWeb friendly site micro.blog. Here’s a profile pic. I also have a PGP key, with fingerprint. You can email me at jonny at my domain, or message me on XMPP.