A Facebook position 

My Facebook Use

A Facebook position isn't easy. I have multiple positions on multiple different aspects of Facebook. I was in early adopter Facebook, I have been there from almost the beginning - I have a lot invested in my interactions via Facebook. I remember Facebook rolling out Facebook graph, the iOS phone app, messenger, the various redesigns, policy changes, and the announcement of the IPO. It has been an interesting journey through the development of the Facebook brand and product.

In short this post says: “Yes, I use Facebook, but please don't post photos of my kids, or of the inside of my house on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram.”

A Facebook position is important, it helps us think about when and where it might be appropriate to use Facebook - weather as an individual, a business, or a large corporation. A Facebook position is going to be unique to every individual. In this post I will discuss it in three aspects. I run a small business, I run a personal blog, and I have kids (well an 11 month old daughter). In general, Facebook's terms of service is of some help to Facebook users in understanding some of Facebook's positions on what it wants to do with the data metadata and relationships between data that it gathers from its users.
I'm a big believer in personal privacy. Part of personal privacy I think is controlling for the connections between data points (the relationships between associated data), and also controlling for metadata.

In contrast to personal privacy and self revelation of personal data, Social privacy is a lot more difficult to control for, because other people make revelations about you that you may or may not appreciate. These revelations may be new data points or they may be new relationships between existing data points. For instance, in the Facebook world, a new data point might be a photo and a new relationship might be tagging someone in that photo and making that tag connect to that person’s profile.
One of Facebook's goals is to make it conducive and easy for people to share information about the other people that they know. So Facebook is engineered and designed to help create accurate metadata and relationships between data points among users. 
Truth is though even though I am a big personal privacy advocate, I do like to share information with others, but I like to do so on my own terms. That is why when Facebook pushed out a new version of their iOS app which required users to let Facebook to have unlimited access to your phone's microphone, I deleted the app and disabled functionality from Facebook to my phone.
Because I am a long-time Facebook user I have a quite a network of personal and professional contacts from various time depths of my life on Facebook. It is to my advantage to leverage these contacts in the various personal and business dealings I have. That's why Becky and I use a business oriented Facebook page for updates about our work in Nigeria. I also connect Facebook with various blog post of mine from my independently run WordPress site. This allows me to connect with new and existing audiences via Facebook.

Facebook and kids

Facebook requires that one be 13 or older to have their own account. You can see the policy guidelines here: https://www.facebook.com/help/157793540954833/

As far as I can tell that is because there are certain US federal regulations about privacy for children that Facebook would have to comply with if it aloud younger people to create accounts. http://www.coppa.org

Some countries have a lower or higher age limit, Yet, other countries like Ireland have no specific age limit at all. There's an interesting discussion helping parents think through issues from an Irish national perspective here: http://www.webwise.ie/parents/a-guide-to-facebook-age-limits

Because others have lengthy and detailed discussions about age appropriateness and issues for young users of social to consider when using these complex platforms, I am not going to directly discuss those issues here.
For me is more important to understand the Facebook business model, and to ask: “How do I want to engage with that business model and how do I want to engage my children with that business model.”
For me I want to let my children choose to engage with the Facebook business model when they are old enough to independently think about the consequences. It does not mean that I won't discuss it with them or help them think it through, but I would rather them inter the marketplace of their own accord, rather than me inducing them in from birth.
This means for my children that I want to give them the option to put their personal information into the hands of another company's structured information set.
It doesn't mean that I don't believe in sharing photos of my kids (I do share photos through this blog and another website here: http://www.hughandbecky.org/photos/katja-paterson-2015/), it means that I don't believe the medium best suited for sharing those photos is Facebook. For me owning the distribution and connectivity platform means that if I want to remove the source image from the web I can. In contrast to Facebook if I want to remove content from Facebook I am not guaranteed that Facebook will actually remove that content. Facebook even acknowledges that my data and data about me may persist even after I delete my account. There are several good articles which give a rundown about Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS). One from the Huffington Post is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/facebook-terms-condition_n_5551965.html. (Because we all know that even reading the TOS of a platform we love can be confusing.)

My opinions about use of Facebook with my kids and property apply to WhatsApp, Instagram (link to TOS), and Facebook, which are all owned by Facebook.

Photos of Kids

I may be off my rocker, but I really think that parents have a responsibility to protect their kids. Part of that may be from the encroachment of social media companies (data collectors) into the personal lives of our kids (not to mention other powerful marketing forces that parents need to protect their kids from). I would also like to think that parents should have the privilege of approving the use of photos of their kids in all cases, although I realize that in public places, permission to photograph children in the United States might be considered a first amendment right (this often includes school sports games). A short bit of googling shows that there is different jurisdictions with different laws (discussion for the UK context), and there are also different protocols for different types of photos (see discussion 1, and discussion 2 ), such as the intended use of the photo, like commercial marketing. The complexity with respect to social media (beyond the persistence of personal data) is that The social media platform may apply a license to the photos allowing for commercial use. For a general overview of the topic consider looking at the wikipedia article for Photography and the law.

The Power of Interns

Today I was reading about how an intern at FaceBook created their new Mobile ad interface. For those of you who watch the business news, FaceBook being able to monetize their mobile market has been a big concern for their investors. I think this really speaks to several things in the corporate culture at Facebook:

  1. They are willing to listen to the ideas of young, fresh people.
  2. They are willing to work with temporary staff.
  3. They are willing to mentor.
  4. They are willing trust (things like project goals and budding technologies).

Each of these things listed above are social issues. They are social issues within the context of the corporate environment. Additionally, the company has to be contentious of them to the point that they implement HR processes to allow these sorts of things to happen. In this respect these four things have to be something that is fought for (in order to maintain them as part of the corporate culture). I currently look at the NGO I work for and wonder, What it would take to have harness the power of Interns? We don’t currently have the corporate culture to facilitate interns, but why is that? Is our walled garden so well constructed with bricks from the baby-boomer generation that we forget the power which comes when we can run with young people? For businesses, even for NGOs, if we don’t fight for relevance within the social networks of the up-coming generation then we will marginalize our significance.

Importing Facebook Status

I have a thing for wanting to know what I have said all in one place… But I would like to be able to see it by location of the comment. So I have thought about bringing my FaceBook comments into my WordPress install. The problem has been that if I bring them in as a post I have to not send them back to FaceBook (Like I do with all my other posts). So I now import them as a custom post type. But my current theme does not support custom post types out of the box. Too bad for K2 (It seems that as a theme K2 is not keeping up with WordPress.). To do this I looked FeedWordPress as recommended here.

Smart Lists and UI

Working in an archive, I deal with a lot of metadata. Some of this metadata is from controlled vocabularies. Sometimes they show up in lists. Some times these controlled vocabularies can be very large, like for the names of language where there are a limited amount of languages but the amount is just over 7,000. I like to keep an eye out for how websites optimized the options for users. FaceBook, has a pretty cool feature for narrowing down the list of possible family relationships someone has to you. i.e. a sibling could be a brother/sister, step-brother/step-sister, or a half-brother/half-sister. But if the sibling is male, it can only be a brother, step-brother, or a half-brother.

FaceBook narrows the logical selection down based on atributes of the person mentioned in the relationship.

meun with all the relationship options

All the relationship options.

That is if I select Becky, my wife, as an person to be in a relationship with me then FaceBook determines that based on her gender atribute that she can only be referenced by the female relationships.

Menu showing just some relationships

Menu showing just some relationships based on an atribute of the person referenced.

Pulling Interactions back to WordPress

Interactions on FaceBook vs. WordPress

For a while I have been importing my blog posts to FaceBook as Notes. FaceBook as a method of doing this via RSS. I was encountering more interaction on my posts inside of FaceBook than I was outside of FaceBook. (In addition to leaving large quantities of text, as notes, in my FaceBook profile.) This is not the kind of interaction I wanted. While I do not mind having interactions or discussions inside of FaceBook I want the discussion to be portable and to move with the content. That is, If I move my blog I want the content and the discussion both to be carried to the new hosting URL or location.

This means that I needed to make the comments which are in FaceBook integrate with the comments on my self-hosted WordPress site.

I also want to encourage more traffic to my website rather than just interacting with the content as it appears on Facebook. My first step was to stop importing my Blog posts via RSS and to find a WordPress Plugin to facilitate the integration.

A Plugin to do the Job

I found Add Link to FaceBook, a plugin which will post a link to my article to my FaceBook news feed and also sync comments and likes between my FaceBook feed and my post on WordPress. I installed this app followed the instructions and voila it works. I now have a “like” button on my pages and hopefully am increasing traffic to my blog or minimally recording a the comments made on FaceBook on my self-hosted web-site.

Privacy

Considering comments from a privacy perspective, some users inside of the FaceBook ecosystem could comment on content in my feed and think that only I had access to view that comment and this plugin would then pull that comment into a publicly accessible space. There is no way I currently know of to tell potential commenters inside of FaceBook that their comments will be made public. If it is so important that things should be kept private then perhaps making a comment on FaceBook was not the right medium to make the comment in, perhaps the commenter should have used an email. But this is not the pretense that FaceBook sets up its users to expect. (Though there are plenty of examples in the news about how FaceBook is not the most secure place to make remarks or comments which could have impact outside of FaceBook.)

The British Kerfuffle

I was rather shocked when I heard about the Riots in the UK. The UK‽ Really‽ That’s different. Kind of disturbing really.Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant was burnt. Why? This is perhaps the saddest news out of England in the last 48 hours. (Not that the BBC’s Photographs don’t make the situation look like a scene from V for Vendetta.)

BBC Map of UK Riots

UK Riots

I got to thinking about some of the implications of the reporting coming out of the BBC.

Officers believe some rioters have used BlackBerry Messenger – a service allowing users to send free real-time messages – to organise violence.I often see the words gang and masked youths used in reporting. One must keep in mind that gangs in the UK do not mean the Crips and Bloods, rather a more generic idea of swarm of people. Also keep in mind that the UK has more street video cameras and video surveillance than any other country, so wearing a mask is logical for this kind of activity.

And I was told that there was some use of social media platforms like FaceBook and Twitter. In particular, Facebook groups. Allegedly, locals on Facebook were reporting the groups as fast as they were being created. An interesting social dynamic as opposing social forces collide. I got to thinking about these alleged locals using social media and wondered: What if someone who was not in the UK was organizing or creating the Facebook groups. That would be something. It would be a way that sympathizers who were not local or in the UK could lend a hand to people on the ground. This lead me to think about how would law enforcement react to this sort of help to the rioters.

Law in the U.S.A. is different than in the U.K. But none the less if it were in the U.S. and people were to lend a hand then those lending a hand might be considered to be Terrorist. Using the definition preferred by the state department, terrorism is: “Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant* targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” [Quote taken from The definition of terrorism]It seems though that this definition agrees with what I read in the Patriot Act some years ago. It also agrees with Wikipedia and About.com. One thing that I see in the current news is that there is no political motivation. So some might say that this is not terrorism because it lacks motive.

But if it were terrorism, and the individuals were known through FaceBook, would the UK ask for their extradition to the UK? – to put them on trial as terrorists? Would UK law apply outside of the UK? If the person is creating a FaceBook group and is doing from outside of the UK and several blokes join a group does that make the creator of the group a terrorist? and also guilty of breaking UK law? Can someone break another country’s law without leaving their current country – even country of citizenship? What gives the UK legal rights prosecute?

The other thing which is disturbing in this social media business is the global social reaction to the difference between what is happening in the UK right now and what happened in Libya, Morocco, Egypt, and Syria earlier this year. Social media was part of that unrest as well, however, political motivation was definitely part of that. Yet the rioting was deemed to be for a “worthy” cause. Yet if the same actions were taken in the U.S. we would call it Terrorism. I think The Guardian really points out some of the idiosyncrasy of the U.S. definition and the application of the term Terrorism as it relates to crime.