Meet Nick Bergus. He’s a pretty cool guy who once linked to an odd product on Facebook as a bit of a joke — a 55-gallon barrel of lube from Amazon.com. Ha ha, funny, right? But the joke was on him, as Facebook’s algorithms started featuring his smiling face in personalized ads featuring the giant barrel of lube. From there, his story spread — first to his personal blog, then to Gawker, with an amazing headline. Now, Bergus’ somewhat embarrassing (but admittedly kind of awesome) tale is on the front page of the New York Times. All because he once linked to a giant barrel of lube. (photo by Stephen Mally/NYT)
Wait. What? Facebook can profit from my image without my consent? Or is that a clause in the ToS? Did everyone just hand over their rights by using Facebook? As if there aren’t enough reasons to hate these jokers already, yeesh.
Open Graph is a development tool that lets third-party apps and sites report your activities back to Facebook. It’s meant to extend or replace the Like button. It’s a way for sites and services to jack directly into Facebook from anywhere. If companies use Open Graph, they can publish to your Ticker and Timeline, too, effectively sending tattle-tale updates on anything you do to everyone you know, in real time. And then Facebook gets to keep that data forever. It is the ultimate collection tool, a way for Facebook to monitor you, wherever you go.
Facebook’s facial recognition software might not be so harmless. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon finds that the technology can help researchers locate people’s social security numbers, just from the information on their Facebook profiles and their photo. When first released, Facebookers noted the inherent creepiness of facial recognition, but now that the tool can double as personal identification software, the technology is looking even more iffy. With this increased ability to ID its users, Facebook is slowly morphing from a social network to a possible identification service.