Friday, September 25, 2015

The talk

Hey, Facebook? Hi. Soozcat here.

There isn't really any graceful way to put this, so -- this relationship just isn't working. It's time we put an end to it.

Are you sure you want to know why? You're not going to like it.

Well, to put it bluntly, you're a pimp.

It started out fun, so I didn't notice at first that you were selling me, in every way you could think of, to the highest bidder. Yes, you claim you're "free and always will be," but only under the most legalistic definition of "free" -- that is, not having to pay you to sign up. But there are so many things you've asked me for ever since -- the schools I've attended, the jobs I've held, my religious beliefs, the political parties I've belonged to -- all kinds of valuable information you can use to sell me to tailored advertisers. You've used the lure of family and friends to get me to spend long hours of my life with you, to engage with you when I should just be going about the business of living.

And in the last few years you've gotten weird. Jealous. Possessive. You're throttling back my access to family and friends, and demanding that I pay you if I want the access I used to have. (So much for "free and always will be," ne?) You're allowing researchers to mess with my emotions. You're reading my private messages on the sly. You're creepy and manipulative, and I can't trust you with sensitive information -- if indeed I ever could.

Last week you didn't ask -- you demanded that I give you my legal name. And I refused, because that was my particular line in the sand. I'm old-fashioned enough to need a certain amount of privacy and security, and that means I use a pseudonym online -- not to defraud or confuse anyone, but as a way of maintaining that privacy.

You demanded again. I refused again, citing my reasons.

And now you've locked me out, unless and until I provide you with multiple forms of identification proving my full legal name. As though you fancy yourself some kind of... bureaucrat. I can tell you right now that's not going to happen.

So, not only are you a pimp, you're devolving into an abusive pimp.

Believe me, I've already considered what will happen next. You're not the only game in town, but you're still the biggest game in town. I know that losing my account with you means effectively being cut off from the company of my family, my friends, my neighbors. I know you're counting on my love for them, my desire to stay in touch easily, to make me comply with your insane demands.

But you know what, Facebook? I've had about all I can take from you.

So if you won't let me use the name I've chosen, go ahead and purge my account. Wipe away any trace that I was ever there. I'll miss my friends, but I won't miss you or your continuing efforts to turn me into a valuable revenue stream.

You can choose to go on being a pimp, if that's what you want. But I refuse to be your whore.


MarieC said...

Oh, sad! I'll miss you on FB, but will be glad to keep up with you here.

Soozcat said...

Thank you, Marie. I've put up with a lot of changes at Facebook -- as has everyone who continues to use it -- but this last indignity just put me at the end of my tether.

Fenchurch said...

I've had a number of friends who had to change their names on FB recently, so they're really cracking down on it. I'm really hoping no one ever questions my name... I wouldn't want to use my real first name because, seriously, no one would know who it was. I haven't gone by the name since I was 14, so the only people who use it are folks I met before then (pretty much exclusively cousins, aunts and uncles). My *mom* doesn't even use my first name.

I did a quick vanity search to see, if someone were to try searching to see if I exist, whether it would look like I was a real person. We've had our phone listed with this name, so I show up on some pretty legit sites... but I found one big surprise. I don't know if you remember, but back in the Gamezilla days, there was a website that used to pirate our content. They'd scrape the site and post our reviews on their own site... complete with our formatting and branding. Well, they still have one of my reviews online. The one for "Sorry!" from HasbroInteractive from something like 1998. How random is that?

Soozcat said...

Ah, scrapers. The coprophages of the Internet circle of life. It's odd they would be displaying any of our content at this remove. We're getting close to 20 years done with GZ; by now any and all of the games we reviewed have gone to the Great Remainder Bin in the Clouds.

Apparently this whole real name policy at FB is cheesing off a whole lotta trans* people, some of whom never officially changed their names and who are now getting huge hassles. The same goes for Irish people who want to use the Gaelic versions of their names, Native Americans who have surnames that FB parses as phrases, etc. It's maddening because in at least some cases, pseudonyms on social media are what keep people safe -- from stalkers, toxic family members, etc. -- and the argument the Facebook name police are making that "real names keep people safe and accountable" is a steaming pile of bull feces. It's the easiest thing in the world to sign up with a real-sounding name and start creeping on your ex, for instance. It's not being done for safety or accountability, it's being done for profit -- at the cost of other people's security. And it's vile.

Douglas Cootey said...

Facebook is annoying. I can't believe they're giving you so much trouble over this. It feels like pettifoggery over nothing. If their algorithms for culling data from users are so impressive, why should they care what your real name is? They can profile you just fine. I imagine they'll come after me for having a fake birthdate soon. If their dislike button is as odious as I imagine it will be, I'll voluntarily leave the service.

Soozcat said...

I agree that this real name policy is needlessly troublesome. Facebook is probably counting on people who do not currently comply to roll over and accept it in order to continue using the service, and no doubt many will. I can't speak for them, but for me the policy was obnoxious, overreaching and potentially unsafe.

I doubt they'd see it this way, but to my mind this is a bully tactic. It will chase away a number of people like me who were using the service under a pseudonym, but in good faith, with no intent to defraud. It will do nothing to stop the kinds of people who use social media to stalk others. And for those who used a pseudonym to avoid stalkers and who now feel compelled by Facebook to reveal their legal names, it puts them in real danger.