Stallman corroborates key problem(s)

Story: Social Networks and Privacy in the Eyes of Richard StallmanTotal Replies: 24
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Feb 09, 2012
12:13 PM EDT
RMS corroborates most -- if not all -- of the key problems with Google+ and especially with Facebook.

Quote from this piece:
Quoting:Richard Stallman. “Those two – mistreat their users by requiring people to give their real names. That’s a policy that puts some people in danger, so you shouldn’t use them”, says the pioneer of software freedom, referring to Google+ and Facebook.

And he reserves his sharpest words for Facebook: “But Facebook does many other bad things as well. Facebook does massive surveillance. If there’s a ‘Like’ button on a page, Facebook knows who visited that page, and can get the IP address of the computer visiting the page, even if the person is not a Facebook user. If you visit several pages that have ‘Like’ buttons, Facebook knows that you visited all of those pages, even if it doesn’t really know who you are.”

/--YouTube video--/

In another interview, Stallman says, “Facebook does a bunch of nasty things.....In fact, I’m trying to get a browser modified so that Facebook ‘Like’ buttons will not show up at all.......And Facebook uses its users’ faces in paid publicity for companies”.

This directly touches on the previous points mentioned within the recent story '3 Ways Facebook Plans to Exploit Users' linked to at LXer via

Perhaps in addition to "Facebook does many other bad things as well" shall be the revision "Facebook does other bad things VERY well" ??


Feb 09, 2012
1:49 PM EDT
While Stallman is usually right (more appropriately, "correct") about things, he's also an extremist. Everyone knows these services mine your data... or at least the should, unless they live under a rock. But, people use the anyway. So, they have to make a decision about whether they want to have privacy, or communicate. They chose to communicate. The only REAL debate is whether these services appropriately disclose the full level to which they use people's data...

I submit that even if they were one hundred and ten percent transparent about it, ninety-five perent of people wouldn't change their browsing habits.

Feb 09, 2012
2:05 PM EDT
Lot's of kids use these services and I'm pretty sure most of them don't have a clue about privacy and why they should care.

That's the rub here: these kids are being groomed to accept this as the norm for their future lives.


1) My daughter was signing up for an email address from a free provider, Yahoo I think. She asked me to confirm her full name and postal address and some other personal information. I asked her if she thought that it was reasonable for them to ask for this information. I don't think she had really considered it.

2) My son was signing up for a free XBOX Live account on his console. They wanted an email address and password. Well he had put in his email address, and just wanted to check the password was right with me. I asked him if he thought they were really asking his for a new password for the XBOX Live service, rather than his email account password . He said that he hadn't really thought about it, but he saw no problem with giving Microsoft the password for his email account. "It's Microsoft, I can trust them though, can't I?"

I have taught them to check with me about this stuff so that I can talk to them about it and make sure they don't fall down, and I'm glad that they still do. Many don't.

A large swathe of the population just aren't savvy about these things. They implicitly trust a lot of the web brands that they grew up with.

Feb 09, 2012
2:35 PM EDT
For Stallman's request for a browser that doesn't show Facebook "like" buttons, this seems like it should be a pretty easy extension to write for Firefox/Chrome, or perhaps even a simple added rule to AdBlock Plus.

Feb 09, 2012
2:50 PM EDT
firefox has a plugin called ghostery that finds these, shows you a list, and can be set to block them.

Chrome's resource blocking API is not as extensive so the chrome version does not have all the features the firefox one does (like adbloc). It will still help.


Feb 09, 2012
5:57 PM EDT
The easiest way to not have the "like" buttons pass your informstion to Facebook: don't click on the "like" button, it works for me.

Feb 09, 2012
6:01 PM EDT
But the image comes from Facebook, so then FB has the referrer from your browser.

Better not to fetch the image to begin with.

Feb 09, 2012
6:08 PM EDT
well I can block it quite easily with adblock plus

Feb 09, 2012
6:20 PM EDT
I have the following in my hosts file

# Eff Off Facebook!

Feb 09, 2012
7:51 PM EDT
@khamul thru @mrider,..

Don't you all worry (not that you WOULD worry anyway); it seems to me that Facebotch will eventually somehow someway manage to CIRCUMVENT the blocks any of you put up to keep their greasy hands from at least your click-clickety support. Dont care if its ghostery, adblock plus, hosts file entries, or something else. FB's coders and their code are much too hot to be blocked right now, cat-and-mouse-like, as I think JaseP and gus3 agree above!


Feb 09, 2012
7:54 PM EDT
I see one problem with putting stuff like that in the hosts file: isn't that going to fill up your Apache logs with a bunch of 404 errors?

Blocking the requests with ABP would be better because it can just ignore everything that links to the facebook domains.


Feb 09, 2012
7:57 PM EDT
@fluffer: except that you and they are wrong. Unless those FB coders take over Google's servers or something (which would quickly result in a criminal case; Google's engineers are no dummies), as long as they're confined to their own domain(s), it's easy to avoid sending them anything by simply blocking all POSTs and GETs to those domains, be it with ABP or with a firewall.

Feb 09, 2012
8:06 PM EDT
@khamul, Nah, I really doubt that the vast numbers of FB addicts will so easily set up blocks through ABP or a firewall. You should review skelband's comment above as to why this is so. And I wouldn't be surprised for even those end-users like you who KNOW how to use ABP or a firewall, that FB coders are aware of this "problem" (to them) and will eventually take steps to overcome this. Eventually.


Feb 09, 2012
8:27 PM EDT
A different domain name would get around the blocks

Feb 09, 2012
8:34 PM EDT
It will probably work out like coupons, "loyalty"/"club" cards, half-price days, etc -- it will just be another tool in market segmentation, and another way to help identify high-value targets or a particular marketing niche.


Do you collect Air Miles? If you do, you're probably wasting your time worrying about your surfing habits and FaceBook. If you use Air Miles, you are essentially bartering away your concrete, "real world" information -- cheap.

Feb 09, 2012
9:32 PM EDT
@fluffer: I thought this was about NON-Facebook users setting up blocks to make sure FB couldn't get any info on them. Why would willing FB users and addicts set up blocks? It seems pretty obvious to me that mrider above is not a facebook user at all.

@tracyanne: A company the size of FB isn't going to be changing their domain names every day. Ad companies like doubleclick and others don't change their domain names just to get around AdBlockPlus; why would FB?

Feb 10, 2012
12:25 AM EDT
@Khamul, I know ;)

Feb 10, 2012
5:31 PM EDT
@khamul, Now that I think more about it, you are only partially correct; it seems to me that there are actually _FOUR_ types of users in relation to FaceBotch.

The first is the NON-Facebotch user it is obvious to you that mrider is. That type of user will NEVER join FB or very begrudgingly join FB (ready to quit at any time) even if very strongly urged to do so by his or her techie peers. I think that these types of users (in relation to FB) are the MOST likely to set up blocks to make sure FB cannot get any info on them whatsoever, even from adclicking on FB-related sites.

The second type of user has ALREADY joined FB and will probably REMAIN with FB no matter what . I also include here those whose FB accounts are mostly inactive. I have zero doubts that FaceBotch is CONSTANTLY reaching out to these people and majorly marketing their info as vairveenr writes on top! This, I think, is EXACTLY the type of FB addict of which skelband and I write about.

The third type of user is the type of non-addicted Facebotch user that is super privacy-conscious. This user sets up as many security measures (e.g., server blocks) as are possible and he/she only provides a limited amount of private information on their FB Info and Wall pages. I think that this particular FB user is going to regularly go over their FB privacy settings MOST carefully, without just always accepting the default settings. Maybe that is what you and tracyanne are? I don't know....

The fourth type of user has not _currently_ joined FB, but probably could join them (or re-join them as the case may be) with a bit of techie-urging, social-pressure, or whatever else FB and others might do. THIS is the type of user FaceBotch is REALLY going after with the various gimmicks I see BernardSwiss mentioning, also including FB's public statements and privacy-"enhancement" shenanigans. Since Facebotch has the incentive to market and track THESE PARTICULAR users before and after they should join-up, I think FB's coders have the CLEAR incentive to go after these users hands-on using whatever means are necessary, including circumventing any blocks put up to keep their greasy hands tracking these users.


Feb 10, 2012
11:24 PM EDT
@JaseP perhaps your type are the extremist? Then again it's probably best to tone down the rhetoric.. It's sad that people who are not interested in being tracked and monitored are considered thee extremist.

@mrider Thank you for the hosts file mention, these are the types of things that would be nice for distribution leaders to include or even someone can write up small scripts to block goog, facebook and the likes to make it easier for the end user, who by the way needs to be informed in a nice way of why they should block--like duckduckgo did with their 'don't bubble or track you' campaign.

Feb 11, 2012
2:03 AM EDT
BernardSwiss: which extra information does collecting air miles give them? they already have my passport details and can draw a complete picture of my air travels...

greetings, eMBee.

Feb 11, 2012
5:30 AM EDT
Quoting:Maybe that is what you and tracyanne are? I don't know....

It's what I are, because two people very important to me are the second type, and won't use any other means of internet communication. So I very reluctantly have an account. Nothing gets posted in it, and it's set to super private. And, of course, I never visit FB without at least Adblock plus. I'm pretty sure they have zero information to sell, unless it's the linux stuff I post on one or the other of those two persons walls.

Feb 11, 2012
12:35 PM EDT

Yup and amen. Pretty sad when ordinary good sense is extreme.

Reminds me of some reactions I saw to Dr. Dean Ornish a few years ago, and his approach (based, btw, on properly performed medical research the Good Doctor had performed, written up, and published in peer-reviewed journals) to dealing with advanced coronary disease in some patients. It was labeled radical by many in the profession.

What was it? An extreme low fat diet, exercise and stress control for the most part. The "non-extreme" alternative for these patients was to have their legs cut open, veins ripped out, chest sternum broken and chest cut open, heart removed from it's happy place, and those leg veins sewn on.

It's a funny world.

Feb 11, 2012
3:10 PM EDT
@mrider: Don't you want to take the "http:// " part off of those host names?

Feb 11, 2012
4:18 PM EDT
@tracyanne: Let me guess, teenagers?

What's going to happen in 10 years when these kids get into the work world? Are companies going to start using Facebook for all their internal communications? I can't wait to see the total demise of American companies as their employees gleefully post all the companies' confidential information on FB and their foreign competitors are able to read it there. Or what about when our military starts using FB for private communications between officers and agencies, and any enemies they may have can read it all?

Feb 11, 2012
7:06 PM EDT
@telanoc, it's the fault of the CGI here.

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