Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In your Facebook

One of my Facebook friends, a children's writer whom I've never actually met and who has several hundred FB friends herself, seems to be being stalked at the moment by (at least) two different crazies. She is responding to them a great deal more sweetly and kindly than I would in her place.

I don't know whether these people are known to her outside of Facebook or not, but it doesn't really make any difference; the way they are using her Facebook page as a place to express their own various rages and delusions, and to attack her personally, is extraordinarily disturbing on a number of fronts. I've been thinking for a while now of writing a long piece about Facebook, but my view of it gets less and less positive all the time, so I keep changing the lines of argument in my head.

It's bad enough when some troll turns up at one's blog and begins to hurl personal abuse, and I've had that happen to me a few times over the last five years, but I think on Facebook it's a lot worse, because it seems so much more of a direct personal attack; one's Facebook page is a version of one's self.

Personally I'm already fairly ruthless about accepting anyone as an FB friend whom I don't already know pretty well either in non-virtual life, through friends, by reputation, or two or more of the above, and will be more ruthless again from now on.

16 comments:

M-H said...

I rarely post anything in facebook, but I got an email today that someone had messaged me there so I logged in, to see that you were suggested as a possible friend for me. You'll be glad to know I ignored it, as I ignore all friend requests. You won't have the terrible embarrassment of ignoring my request. :)

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

But M-H (and I know what those letters stand for!), should you change your mind I would gladly accept such a request. Because I 'know' you well from several different places and you are clearly not, you know, bonkers. Au contraire.

I don't know how that friend-suggesting algorithm works, but given some of the people it's suggested to me, it's at least as scary as the word-verifications/capchas that are so appropriate that they seem to have 'read' the comments thread.

shawjonathan said...

I think I followed the same grace-vs-vile-truculence thread. The trollee insists, to quote her directly, 'None of this is Mark Zuckerbergs's fault.'

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Jonathan, no, of course it isn't. That's exactly the same argument I have been running (to no avail, thus far) to anti-Facebook friends.

What I do think is Mark Zuckerberg's fault is the fact that we can't get our data back, but given that we can't, it's our own responsibility to be careful about throwing at around.

cristy said...

There's something about Facebook that disturbs me. I can't properly identify it, but it convinced me to close my account nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

This tipped me over the edge after feeling uneasy and like I wanted to quit for a while. I googled how to delete my account permanently & followed the instructions. Also removed Facebook cookies from my browser.
I too feel like the person who says she was 'disturbed' by Facebook. No blame, just another distraction I can probably do without. So thanks for the push.
BHF

Sabbath said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yo Sabbath, very very sorry to have removed your comment there, but it's Because of Reasons. Very good reasons. And if you are being stalked, you will have some idea of what they are.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Actually, let me put the innocuous half back. *ahem* Sabbath said:

Well. I just got myself a stalker on Facebook who knows who I am on the blogs. See, how it works? Tracking one person on facebook, make an educated guess and you arrive at someone's real name. Well not really, I only have my first and middle name on display these days. So now after having blocked the little freak, and having thought about it - I need to change my uniquely insane and well established pseudonym too. Hence I will be forthwith known as Sabbath. What a shame to have to re establish yourself all over again.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Of course, prose style, world view and personality are giveaways as well, Sabbath, and I think I already know who you are. And they say there's no such thing as essence. Pffft.

Sabbath said...

Oh I am very sorry about that Pav.

Sometimes, when under stress I do dumb things. Like not think or something. My apologies.

Sabbath said...

"What a shame to have to re establish yourself all over again."

Of course with grammatical beauty right there, you'd know in an instant wouldn't you?

:)

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Heh heh heh.

Of course, if you are now establishing yourself for the third time, and you may well be, then 're-establish yourself all over again' is corekt.

Chris Grealy said...

Can't you simply unfriend them, end of story? Am I missing something here?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yes of course; that was the point of saying that one is ruthless about accepting Friend requests in the first place. But this sort of thing (both on blogs and on Facebook) usually starts out as a minor niggle from someone you don't really 'know' and escalates before it gets to rupture point, and by that time damage has been done. I don't know if you've ever been attacked online but it's actually very traumatic. And the discussion here has segued into similar problems blogging, where you can't 'unfriend' people and if someone turns up at your site dropping steaming little piles in the comments box, you have to moderate or block everyone in order to stop it.

Snowpea78 said...

Hmmmm. So many issues here! Names. Pseudonyms. Identity. I'm thinking of Grog's Gamut... for example. I do value the idea of altering your facebook name somehow? I was mostly haunted by old school 'chums' I never wanted to see again. Also not putting your correct birthdate helps somewhat. Minimising details such as schools etc... make yourself less searchable. Profile pics that are not obviously you? It sounds silly to be so covert maybe... but we are the ones with the control here.

I kinda like this statement... I think it goes some way to identifying the value and the difference between facebook and other forums such as twitter...

Facebook is for listening to people you know. Twitter is for listening to people you want to know.

Thanks for the post. It kinda reinforces the idea for me to keep facebook small methinks!