ASK FATHER: Should I “poison” by Facebook account?

From a reader…


Will I be guilty of causing scandal if I “poison” my Facebook data in order to protect myself from them?

I just read an article how it is better to run a script to make your
account unusable by liking random posts (posting things I may not agree with) before deleting your account. I worry about the
implementation of a “social score” in the USA like the Chinese have started.

Wow.  I haven’t heard about this “poisoning” of Facebook data before.

Frankly, I dislike Facebook, always have.  I use it sparingly and question why others use it so much.  I feel my IQ drop several points a minute while it is open on my screen.

Facebook, it seems, is getting dangerous, in a wide way, and intrusive, it seems.  Their powers-that-be are political and they are engaging in social engineering, and not in a good way.  It is serious player now.  Not good.

How does one fight back?

You can stop using it.

However, once you are really into it, what do do?

The sort of tactic you bring up looks like a misdirection similar to “disinformation”.

I ask myself what I might do were I under the heel of the Soviet Bloc.

I also remind myself that Augustine said that lying for any reason was wrong.

This seems to be a good topic for discussion for several reasons.  Perhaps you readers have some thoughts about Facebook and the potential of the “social scoring” that is already underway in China and, if the Dems take over, will soon be in these USA as well.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Hidden One says:

    I don’t imagine that (for entities that care) it’s terribly hard to get a behavioural analysis program to recognize when a person’s behaviour suddenly changes radically and to recognize that the new behaviour is algorithmic rather than natural.

  2. Josephus Corvus says:

    I’ve not heard about the technique that writer refers to, so I’m going to have to make some assumptions. Assumption 1: The person wanting to poison their account has been a longtime user of Facebook before coming to this realization. Assumption 2: The person is planning on deleting the account in the near future (as opposed to a year or more down the line). With those two assumptions, it seems like it would be a waste of time. I am sure that FB will easily be able to filter out the bad data. “Look at that. This person liked Cardinal Burke’s for the last five years. He as now deleted those comments / likes and now likes Fr. Martin, SJ for two weeks before deleting his account.” What do you think the data experts in Facebookland are going to make of that?

  3. ArthurH says:

    There’s a great final line froma cputer in the old movie “War Games.” The computer, designed to send destructive missals at stragtegic targets depending on all sortas of variables is primed by being taight– by a geek-kid, of course– to play tic tac toe. It then translates that to the war efforts it is organizing and the screen goes crazy for a time.

    The computer finally stops it and says: The only way to win is not to play.

    My wife and I are on NO social media. And we shall stay so “isolated.” The closest thing we have to one is a local thing where you ask help finding contractors of one kind or another or posting about lost cats , dogs and about coyote sightings and burglaries (a lot these days). That’s more than enough social-media for us… who, BTW, watch NO televison, not tor a dozen years or more now.

  4. Bev says:

    If you want to unplug from social media but still get a stream of your favorite websites, I think the best bet is using a RSS service. I am sure to see all my favorite Fr. Z. posts because I include him in my RSS feed. No social media. No liking or disliking or sharing. Just click, read, and move on.

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    “Frankly, I dislike Facebook, always have. I use it sparingly and question why others use it so much. I feel my IQ drop several points a minute while it is open on my screen.”

    It was an easy way to communicate with friends and family in a more open way than email or phone calls, share things you are doing, catch up on what others are doing, including those you might not keep in touch with much.

    It’s transformed radically over the years, however. There were many little annoyances, like when they started posting ads that looked like they were a link an acquaintance was sharing. Then came the long progression of average user behavior from casual social interaction to inane soapbox.

    I think the biggest frustration I had was when I started recognizing that almost every time they updated the privacy controls, they were by default resetting controls to open up personal information that users had previously restricted. Of course, then it came out that they were tweaking their filters to promote content that fit their politics.

    Once the Cambridge Analytica news broke, I was already barely using it anymore. I wasn’t surprised by that news, but it forced Facebook to acknowledge that they were doing things that upset users, so it was a time they were likely to pay attention to how their decisions affect their business. I stopped using it at that time.

    Regarding altering an online profile – you should assume they have prior revisions, and it won’t accomplish anything. It may be a scandal to other users who know you and don’t recognize why their feed shows you liking potentially questionable content.

    I’m not sure if I would classify attempting to insert randomized data as lying. The content is presented as if it comes from you, but the action is in some ways similar to overwriting a hard drive with random 1’s and 0’s.

  6. jaykay says:

    ArthurH: “The computer, designed to send destructive missals at stragtegic targets…”

    Now there’s a thought. A pre-emptive strike of the tried and trusted Mark 1962. Yuuuge mushroom clouds of (blessed) incense… The targets would be very easy to select.

    Sorry … :)

  7. Jonathan Marshall says:

    Simple. Don’t use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the rest of the so-called “social media”. We all got along perfectly well before these things were invented and we can do without them now.
    Just say NO!

    [We “got along” with clay tablets and a stylus, too. We got along without indoor plumbing or antibiotics. Be careful.]

  8. jaykay says:

    Jonathan Marshall: I wouldn’t have thought that WhatsApp was in the same league as the others (which I personally avoid anyway)? But yes, no point in supporting them. I’ve avoided buying the dead-tree effuvlium of the MSM Cerberus for quite a while now, and rarely watch TV. At going-on-60, I find that I just don’t need that stuff anymore. Although over here, on the other side of the big ditch, we have to buy an annual license to have a TV, which feeds the beast.

    Yeah, I know.

  9. Transportsjoie says:

    When I deleted my FB account 3 yrs ago, it felt strange at first to not be instantly observed or available to “friends” or whomever worldwide, but then, life seemed simpler and more reminiscent of an earlier way of life when social contacts were almost exclusively in the home community. It is refreshing and a relief that not everyone knows your business.

  10. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I havent signed into Facebook in almost a decade.

    I miss nothing.

    I should probably formally close the acct.

  11. The Cobbler says:

    Going to concur with those who say that messing with your account is, unless you put waaaaay too much effort into it over waaaay too much time, simply not going to fool anyone except the innocent it could hurt.

    That said, if you want to understand why Facebook evolved the way it did, read Dietrich von Hildebrand’s “My Battle Against Hitler” – or at any rate the discussion of collective mobs vs. community in the essays in the back. The only bit it’s missing is that Facebook is built around temporal, thus temporary, content: new pushes the old into the past where you can’t easily see it, and… as Archbishop Chaput once said, if you don’t remember, then other people can tell you who you are.

  12. G1j says:

    Just say “NO” to social media. Read the blogs and comment when you have useful insights. If you need to contact someone, make a call, send an email, or visit them. It’s wonderful how well that works. It just takes a little getting used to. Retraining I guess. The simple side of life is very appealing to my wife and I. It also affords us the time to see God working in our lives and enjoy the gifts we have been given. I pulled the FB plug 7 or 8 years ago and never looked back.

  13. JonPatrick says:

    I mostly use Facebook as a member of various groups based on common interests including model trains, ham radio, and traditional Catholicism and find these posts useful. If I was concerned about the collection of my personal information I guess I would also have to stop using a web browser or shopping at Amazon since they all seem to collect information also. The way I see it, if things continue to progress the way they are going then at some point it will be against the law to practice the Catholic faith and just going to church will be a subversive act. Then we will have to get very creative on how we communicate with each other.

  14. GregB says:

    I’ve never been a member of Facebook, and only rarely go there. Their ever shape-shifting privacy policies gives me the creeps. From what I’ve read employers will often take into consideration a prospective employee’s social media postings as part of their hiring process. So it would appear that “social scoring” is already here.

  15. Glennonite says:

    “In war, there are no lies…only stratagems.”–Hannibal Smith (the A-Team), quoting U.S. Grant

  16. SanSan says: is an eye opener……background check on anyone and everyone–everything from social media that you have ever been apart of is there for all to see. You even get a “rating”. I feel naked now.

    This is probably just one of many search engines that can pull info from FB, Twitter, google, etc etc etc. Big Brother is watching.

  17. FN says:

    I use FB professionally, and do not have the option of quitting at the moment. I purposely attempt to scramble their data on me with random behavior outside the scope of my actual professional activity. I do not consider this to be lying. One has to consider the definition of lying. Is it not telling a falsehood to another person or people? FB is not a person or people. The other party is an algorithm with no soul or moral capacity. Hence, it’s the same, morally speaking, as telling a lie to a rock. I don’t think that counts as a sin, although I could be wrong!

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    Glennonite: Nothin’ like a good A-Team quote to get the day going. (after Morning Prayers of course.)

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