One Does Not Simply Walk Into ToylandLast month Facebook Inc. finalized its updated (and ruthlessly exploitative) TOS, formally altering the way it collects, uses, and shares user data. An angry group of Facebook users (myself among them) has been complaining about these potential changes since they were first proposed last year, and industry privacy advocates and lawmakers aren’t too thrilled about this development either.

But it’s now official: if you post something on Facebook, it most definitely can (and probably will) end up being re-tasked by Facebook as an ad, shown to your friends and acquaintances— without your knowledge at all. Meaning even if the ad material gets scraped from your own pages and displayed to your friends and family members— advertising something you don’t necessarily support or endorse— you yourself probably won’t ever even know about it. Because you can’t see it on your account, because it’s invisible to you. Fun, huh?

Facebook also now asserts that parents implicitly consent to ads featuring their children’s pictures and posts when they allow those children to sign up to use the Facebook service.

Meanwhile, Facebook keeps using collection-engines and profile-prompting to nag its users into sharing more data (career information, cell phone number, etc) and then making that data easier for strangers to find. One of the most annoying advertising products sold by Facebook to outside advertisers is its “sponsored stories” tool, which rebroadcasts user posts praising a company or product to everyone on their friends list. So if someone hits the like button on the Facebook page of some business, the restaurant can pay to make sure that the “like” shows up prominently in the Facebook feeds of that user’s friends. Facebook also claims blanket permission to use a person’s name, photo, and post content in such ads. So, who knows? You may already be the star of goodness-knows-how-many online commercials, advertising things you barely even knew existed! Exciting times, these.

In closing I leave you with a quote from an excellent magazine story recently called to my attention by a friend. It’s just over a year old, but still completely relevant to what’s going on today in the American economy:

“America has been hollowed out by corporations that were indifferent to the working men and women who turned the nation into an empire of unrivaled power and unequaled prosperity. But “management” wanted more. Why pay $20 an hour when you can go to Bangladesh and pay twenty-five cents? Why settle for a few million in personal net worth when you can double or triple that? The empire was all ripped down. The work was shipped overseas. The factories were closed. The unions were broken. The social programs that permitted unskilled laborers to buy a house, send their children to college, and retire with an income—all of this was shredded. America, as doctors say of terminal patients, is circling the drain. If you doubt me, come to Scranton, or any other post-industrial American city, and see for yourself.”

—Read the entire story here: