When the gods dance...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Facebook: the most congenitally dishonest company in America

Facebook: the most congenitally dishonest company in America

Posted on June 26, 2012 by  

If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

Did you know you have a Facebook email address? Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t. But if you have a Facebook account you have a Facebook email. And that email is now your default email on FB.

WTF? You didn’t do that. NOBODY would do that. As Kashmir Hill writes at Forbes, it’s a lame attempt by our friends at Facebook to force their service on you. Gervais Markham is even more pointed:

In other words, Facebook silently inserted themselves into the path of formerly-direct unencrypted communications from people who want to email me. In other contexts, this is known as a Man In The Middle (MITM) attack. What on earth do they think they are playing at?

It’s not like Facebook trying to sneak something past us is new. It happens every three or four days, seems like. They redesign, they roll out new features, and in each case they pretend they’ve “made things easier” for us by hiding their latest attempt to invade our privacy, sell our data or hijack our preferred way of using the Internet. They always get caught and there are always articles being posted on how to change it back or protect yourself. And there’s always a bullshit statement from the company explaining how they announced a couple months back that they were going to be making changes to improve your experience blah blah blah and that this is therefore 100% on the up and up.

Who do they think they’re fooling? You know, aside from the nearly a billion users who keep putting up with it and the elected officials who keep not doing anything about it, I mean.

Companies are always trying to make their customers happy. They add features, release new products and services, etc., and when they do they trumpet the news to the high heavens. New ways of improving your world (or your perception thereof) simply DO NOT sneak up on you.

This latest, though, this isn’t a feature. (Many Facebook “features” aren’t.) Instead, it’s yet another example of a fundamentally dishonest company, a company with no integrity, playing whack-a-mole with their users. They don’t change things every few days because it’s better for us. Notice how every time they update things they move where settings used to be? It’s not user-friendly, it’s user-hostile and it violates every core fundamental of user interface design, which is all about making a site or an application easier and better for the user.

Facebook does this intentionally to mask their real intent. Which is to package and sell the user, to deceive users into behaving in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise. The message is ugly, but simple: We’re not good enough to entice you to want our services, so we’re going to make you to take it. If we get busted, we’ll issue a statement and try again the next time we think you aren’t looking.

Write this down: when companies roll out changes under cover of the dark, when they “improve” things without making a huge deal of it, when they continually behave in ways that require them to remind you that you knew about this and that you like it even when you’re pretty sure you don’t, you’re being lied to.

How would you react if a store in your neighborhood tried to shortchange you every time you went in? What if you ordered top-shelf vodka and caught the bartender slipping you the well stuff that’s made in New Jersey? Would you buy a used car from a dealer who had a reputation for rolling back the mileage on the odometer?

That’s who Mark Zuckerberg is. That’s who his people are. That’s what his company is. They’re America’s most prominent corporate weasels – yes, this is saying something – and the day a viable competitor arrives to put them out of business can’t get here fast enough.

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