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Michael Gracie

Blocking Facebook, Completely

A long while back I deleted my Facebook account. Yes it was a large pain in the ass, but not nearly as bothersome as the potential risk of having such a thoroughly untrustworthy group – downright devious if you consider they change their privacy terms seemingly by the hour – holding a constantly updated dossier of oneself. I have avoided the site like the plague since. If I accidentally passed by I would immediately clear browsing history and caches.

Nevertheless, a few months back I observed browser cookies showing up from Facebook, so I added a Little Snitch rule to block all processes for facebook.com.

fb-ls-rule

Soon after I noticed that Instagram photos embedded in sites no longer displayed in my browser. Bonus! I was henceforth free from drunken selfies, cat gonads, and $30 spinach salads laden with moldy cheese and anchovies.

But the question lingered: How many other points of entry might not be blocked here? After all it’s a huge ‘organization’, and they’ve probably conjured a myriad of stealthy domains for the purpose of pinging, tracking, recording, and otherwise intruding. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one asking.

Enter one Jonathan Dugan, technology consultant and entrepreneur from the Bay area. He offers a blocklist for Facebook, via Github, and from the looks of it is an extremely thorough one indeed. Over 880 distinct domains, one heck of a long list.

dugan-github

It is constructed for use on Windows, Mac and Linux; all you need capability-wise is editing your computer’s host file. You can find this dream come true right here.

process-blocked-lsThank you sir.

Meanwhile, I’ve downloaded and edited this blocklist, removing the loopback IP addresses so it can be utilized easily within Little Snitch. You can find that here (plain text 26kb, which will not be updated past today). 100% credit goes to the previously mentioned originator, and copy/paste works like a charm.

MG signing off (safe from prying eyes)

How to make your cat popular on Facebook

I have neither a cat nor a Facebook account, but I’m sure at least one regular visitor out of the seven total does …

MG signing off (certain the Federal Trade Commission will not be investigating this anytime soon)

How to get “liked” on Facebook without even having an account

Step 1: Catch a rainbow trout on the Kanektok River.

Step 2: Agree to hold said fish while Tosh Brown snaps some photos.

Step 3: Allow the subject to squirm out of your hands…

Fumbled Fish Photo Content

MG signing off (because Big Brother is always watching)

Engagement, or lack thereof

Via Ad Contrarian

We know that ads on Facebook are alarmingly invisible, with click through rates somewhere around 5 in 10,000. But we’ve been told that the real value in Facebook is not in display ads but in engagement on brand pages.

From what I can tell, these things are just as ineffectual as display ads.

The rest of the “startling news” is here.

MG signing off (to re-engage, or disengage, depending on the 5 Hour Energy supply on hand)

50 billion US company busy creating value

They have a market capitalization of nearly fifty billion dollars, and yet are less than a decade old. A veritable wunderkind of US industrial prowess you say?

They are now deploying capital to clear “fake likes” out of their system. Much as it might stretch beyond the intellectual capacity of the average person, people are working feverishly to eliminate these “fake likes”, a inarguable necessity for mankind itself. The media has even taken their cues from the PR department of this enterprise, in lockstep calling this latest, far reaching move of strategic business brilliance a “crackdown”.

A “like” is what again?

MG signing off (safe in the knowledge that someone else’s investment dollars are hard at work)

The inanity that is “social”

Summed up nicely…

  

MG signing off (to run out and join Facebook again)

Facebook deactivation doublespeak

For the last four weeks I’ve had no time for Facebook, although during that period I’ve received numerous wall post and invitation notifications, all of which led to spam links. Actually, I’ve gotten more of this spam than ever before, but I’m not sure whether to attribute it to my inactivity or the continued growth of the service. Nevertheless, it’s become an aggravating distraction, and as a result I’ve been debating [temporarily] deactivating the account. Then I found a strange twist.

In their Help Center, the service explains what happens when you deactivate an account:

facebook deactivation

But when you actually go to deactivate your account, you receive this little note:

facebook deactivation

If you effectively disappear from the Facebook service, how to you suppose your friends can still invite you to events, tag you in photos, or ask you to join groups?

Via osmosis?

MG signing off (to look up the definition of “mutually exclusive” again)

Why “social” applications are no longer present on my phone

Yesterday morning I deleted Twitter for Blackberry from my phone. This follows elimination of the Facebook application a few weeks back. I do not have nitpicks against either software – both worked just fine for their intended purpose. I won’t denounce others’ use of this software, or any like it, either. This is a personal choice, based on trial and error, and reason.

When I’m away from my desk I’m usually doing one of the following: fly-fishing, driving, walking the dog, reading, sleeping, eating, or any number of other things that are either escapes from the daily grind or require my utmost concentration (i.e. the fishing). These activities are not particular conducive to mobile phone use in general, let alone receiving and sending updates from social networks.

Further, I originally tested these apps based on recommendation of a friend – one who uses an iPhone. This person’s original premise was it was great to have these social applications available when out. This was particularly the case if and when you were carousing about town and wanted an easy way to let your friends know where you were so they could join you. I hold this person in high regard, but they’ve since moved to a homestead in the middle of nowhere to, uh, be alone. So much for that theory.

Finally, I thank everyone who’s followed or friend-ed me on Twitter and Facebook. I appreciate the fact that you’re interested in what I’m up to, but I don’t think you want (or need) to know what I’m doing every moment of the day.

I’m much more interested in what you are doing – and what you have to say – anyway. It’s just that I can’t really listen when I’m behind the wheel.

MG signing off (to shut up and pay attention, except when casting)

Facebook groups were not hacked and no one is at risk

Steve Ragan cuts through the FUD with a cleaver:

Control Your Info (CYI), a group that exists to “draw attention to questions concerning online privacy awareness,” performed a few Google searches and discovered several Facebook groups without administrators. Thanks to the nature of the Facebook group system itself, if there is no administrator present, anyone can join and make themselves an administrator. This is what CYI did. They used the Google search, and with the results, managed to make themselves administrators on 289 open groups.

This is not hacking, and the people who do it are not hackers in the criminal sense, or the ethical sense for that matter.

Thank you Mr. Ragan.

The work necessary to protect your online privacy is up to you.

Practice diligence to avoid fear of the web

Eduardo Porter of the New York Times:

A few months ago, I nervously created my first Facebook page with the minimum necessary information to view pictures posted by old friends.

I returned to the page a few days later to discover that somehow it had found out both the name of my college and my graduation class, displaying them under my name. I have not returned since. In the back of my mind, I fear a 28-year-old hacker and a couple of Russians have gathered two more facts about me that I would rather they didn’t have. And it’s way too late to take my life offline.

There is no doubt that Facebook knows a lot about you. Me too, and I’ve only been on it a few weeks.

I’ve spent my time configuring my profile with an eye to keep my friends protected – plenty of lists with different access rights, for business and pleasure, and I’ve taken to ignoring most apps (with particular emphasis on polls and the like). While it is but simple diligence, I’m pretty sure it will do the trick just fine for “marketing threats.” But only time will tell. If you are still running around the web like a chicken with its head cut off, you might also want to bookmark this free educational resource from Verisign on how to stay safe on the web. There’s a hefty section on social networks within.

As for Facebook itself having all that data at its disposal, well that is the price you pay. But you never know when someone might cook up a solution for that too.