Friend Request Hoax

A legitimate message expressing concern about your impersonation account would:

  1. Ask if you created another account.
  2. Provide the address to the new account so you can go to the profile, click the three dots on the cover photo, select Report, and follow the instructions for impersonation.

Instead, the hot hoax right now says:

Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.

Let’s break this down.

First, we have the preying on a fear we all have about our Facebook accounts getting hacked. Worse, this “hacker” is now going after friends.

But, the recommendation makes no sense at all. “Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too…

Forwarding the message to others is how chainletters operate. You are being played by forwarding it. You are spreading fear. You are not helping.

Lying to Big Data

The reaction people have towards social media companies is to lie. This amuses me because self-reporting is well known as the worst data. The data scientists expect people to lie.[1] Which is why they ignore what you say about yourself and focus on your behavior.

So, you need to start having intentionally deceptive behavior. The problem is: if people like you all deceive in the same patterns, then the data points to the same place anyway. You have to deceive in novel ways others like you would never think of doing.

Good luck with that.

1. Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) is about how as a data scientist for OKCupid, a dating website, he cannot depend on the honesty of people. He has data on what they say and compares it to what they do.

Unsticky Likes

Like Stamp 1
Credit: Joy Powers

Of late, I have been featured in some posts that generate many comments on Facebook. Naturally, I like these comments.

So when a new one comes in and old ones I thought I previously liked no longer show them being liked, it was noticeable. Over the past few months, I have seen the behavior over and over.

My primary hunch is that I am just a bad person and did not actually like them as I thought. Human memory is fallible. It is easily feasible that I in seeing them not liked assumed that I would have taken action to like them. The memory of having done so could actually be the recollection of doing so with others conflated to this incident.

Hypothetically, it is possible that I like a post and the action never gets updated in the database without telling me it failed. If the UI is designed to show the like whether or not the database took it, then I could see it liked and when I return later to see it not liked. Maybe because these posts have such a large dataset collected into a single place I more easily notice when this happens. It would be disturbing if we go to all the trouble of responding and others are never getting that feedback.

Facebook Feature Request: Privacy and Tags

This is essentially the issue of the Friends of Friends post. In this case, I am not really interested in expanding the audience.

Say I publish a friends only post. Victor, my friend, makes a comment tagging Roberta, not my friend, and asks a question directed at her. She is not notified about the tag. Nor can she see the comment or post.

Therefore, in my mind, allowing the tag to be done is counterproductive. Facebook should warn Victor that Roberta cannot see it. Ideally it would be ahead of time and prevent it. Less acceptable, but I would be happier is after the fact having a “Roberta cannot see this” notice. (The “Who can see this?” thing is vague and not generally very helpful clarifying exactly who can see it.)

Troll Facebook Button

Sometimes I want to leave a comment but not actually enter the Facebook conversation. For that, I want a “Facebook Troll” comment browser extension.

The idea is that it could allow me to post the comment and automatically turn off notifications for that post.

Pretty sure replies would still notify me.

Ironically enough, the same feature would be useful for engagements, death announcements, marriages, and other posts where I just want to leave a comment but not have to deal with notifications about anyone else leaving a comment. So 90% of use cases could be a “Congrats!” button or a “Sorry for your loss.” button.

Buffer Feature Requests

Dual Window

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have significantly different character number restrictions than Twitter. Naturally, Twitter limits posts to their notorious 140 characters. LinkedIn allows 700, and Google+ / Facebook allow about five thousand.

I like to post things with a quote from the articles I share that captures what I found most interesting about it. Generally, they fall between 200 to 200 characters. Too long for Twitter, which means I editorialize it to make it fit.

Something amazing about the Pocket tool to share to Buffer is it provides two different textareas. One for Facebook and one for everything else. Brilliant! So much so, that I am tempted to completely change my workflow to push anything I want to share to Pocket just so I can share it with Buffer in a way that makes sense. On Facebook the preview URL appears to Pocket rather than the actual destination which slightly bothers me because I’d prefer the source to get attribution.

Tumblr

It would be nice to be able to share to Tumblr through Buffer. It seems odd that Buffer would support App.net who has been dying for years and will finally be gone in 6 weeks yet not one of the larger social networks?

Facebook Comment Chat Box Pop-ups

Well, it came true for me. Facebook pushed to me the new feature of comment threads appearing in a chat box.

I hate the chat box on Facebook. I keep an open tab for messages for ongoing conversations specifically because that seems to suppress the chat box. I do not mind the notifications at the top right, but ruining screen real estate by blocking what I am reading that makes me have to close the box in order to finish? No thanks. That is an unnecessary interruption to what I was doing. It makes me more likely to ignore the message because I am determined to finish what I was doing.

The comments chat box keeps a count of how many unread have come through it. So, basically, in the top right I get a notification AND a second notification at the bottom for the. Same. Exact. Thing. Fortunately, it does appear if I check the chat box comments, then they simultaneously disappear from the top. But, if I make the mistake of checking new comments via the top in a new tab as is my normal operation, then I still have to read them in the chat box. Closing the chat box does not clear the unread.

Even when I have closed all the conversations, if I navigate to another page, then it returns and I have to close the open one just to be able to read the page. Again, my normal method of reading is to open notifications in new tabs. Then close the tab when I have consumed the new content. That basically opens a bunch of these chat boxes I have to close. Essentially, Facebook only wants us reading comments in these chat boxes and not by opening new tabs.

There is a “Hide this tab” option which asks if I want to also disable notifications for that post. I was initially confused and hit disable which means I no longer get anything about that conversation. I now hit keep. That does get me back to where I want to be with only having the single notification for comments. But, only for posts I have already handled. I will have to go through this process again for every single conversation on Facebook which is ridiculous. I may have to just not comment on anything new or post anything else until I have a permanent fix. OK, that is hyperbolic, but I will limit engagements with others until it is solved.

I tried to disable this new feature in the user interface, but naturally Facebook is on to us and did not provide a way to do so. They want us to have to become used to it before we are given the ability to restore our now bad habits. People turned off chat back when they introduced it. The help page on it is full of people complaining about this new feature.

F.B.Purity has not yet caught up to this feature. The “Hide Chat Box” gets rid of the Messenger box not the comment one.

Crowdsourcing Bias Identification

Zittrain’s set of tweets was interesting reading.

Lots more on it: best1, 2, 3.

There is an interesting plug-in called Media Bias/Fact Check which will help show how a news site skews. Before you rush off to use it, you should like I did review their methodology to ensure you can reasonably trust it.

My one issue with it is a crowdsourcing component where each site they review has a PollDaddy widget. PollDaddy like any other similar thing tries to prevent multiple voting, but that security relies on cookies, so if I wanted to skew the poll and say make Snopes appear extreme right, it is not all that difficult to vote, delete the cookie, vote, delete, etc. A possible example is MBFC marks Palmer Report as “left center” while the poll shows Extreme Left=76, Left=36, Left Center=44, Least Biased=26, Extreme Right=2. There appears to be some disagreement between those polled and the reviewers. The polls are not pulled into the plug-in database and instead used by humans to review whether they should revisit a prior determination. So MBFC cannot be directly manipulated through the polls.

Back around 2003 spam was really, really bad. Work had not yet devised an anti-spam solution, so I turned to an interesting client plug-in where users marked messages as spam. If enough users marked a message as spam, then the sender was blacklisted and anything from them sent to a junk folder. The dark side to this model? Some people interpreted “spam” as any email they did not want to receive. Several email lists or legitimate advertisers with easy and functional unsubscribe tools were blacklisted. It was easier for people to hit spam than do the right thing.

The wisdom of crowds has very narrow applications.

But a look at recent cases and new research suggests that open-innovation models succeed only when carefully designed for a particular task and when the incentives are tailored to attract the most effective collaborators.

So I appreciate that MBFC has a firewall between the crowdsourcing and their reviews. But, that also means their method is very, very labor intensive. Sites will be very slow to be added.

Facebook is talking about removing fake news. Some are calling for them to so something like MBFC and help users understand what they are reading. Back in May they removed their editors who were in charge of doing essentially the MBFC of thing of reviewing and ensuring what ended up in Trending was good material and writing summaries. These editors were accused of bias. When Facebook replaced them, fake news immediately started showing up in Trending. Removing fake news could help, but how they go about it could be interesting. Their editor debacle could push them in the algorithm route, but their algorithm debacle could push them back toward editors. Maybe some mix of the two?

Friends of Friends

Occasionally friends will see something they like and tag another friend in a comment. In general, I have a privacy level of Friends on my posts. Non-mutual friends are not able to see these tags. I knew about and disliked these options:

  1. Leave it alone. The friend’s friend has no idea the post exists unless someone says something off Facebook.
  2. Tell my friend. Maybe if the friend is technical they get it right away. Otherwise, I may have to spend lots of time explaining privacy.
  3. Make the privacy level Public. Then anyone can see it. I have considered this acceptable a few times because I would not mind it being public so I did change the privacy level. My use of Friends is a safe, conservative default. There are probably things set to Friends that I would not mind being Public, but I have not bothered to make it so.
  4. Friend the tagged person. That seems creepy and weird as a solution to allowing someoto view a post.

I just realized there might be another option. Setting these posts with non-mutual friends tagged in a comment  could be the compromise I need. Changing the privacy level to FoF which would allow their friend to see it while also not making the post public. Given my number of friends, this probably is a giant number of people, but not as bad as public.

A better idea of how many and who are in my Friends of Friends might be nice. The easy way to look at them is a search for “People who I may know.” Getting a count from this is tougher.

I have seen others use a Friends of Friends permission but not often. It is not in the main list of permissions which are Public, Friends, and Only Me. Going into More Options there is Friends Except Acquaintances, Custom, and the giant number of lists I once created when I was more serious about ensuring my posts were targeted to my various friends.1 It turned out Friends of Friends can be used by going into More Options > Custom > and typing in “Share with: These people or lists” the name “Friends of Friends.”

Of course, it also leads to Facebook worrying that I know what I am doing:

Ezra, it looks like someone who isn’t your friend recently liked one of your posts. We want to make sure you know who can see the things you post. To learn more, check out Privacy Basics.

1. The so many lists were difficult to maintain as I would have to seriously consider who should be in which lists and make sure that people were placed in the correct ones. That was hard enough when it was about 300 friends and a couple dozen lists. With almost 900 friends and about 50 groups, it is too complicated to maintain. I’d need to consolidate the lists to make it viable, but I have not been so willing.