Sunday, September 25, 2011

Facebook scare

So I was pretty excited last week (the week of 22nd September, 2011) when facebook held their f8 conference, the annual facebook developer conference.  Since 2007, facebook reveals new features, APIs etc. in this mega event.

2007 had the first f8 held in San Fransisco.  It saw the advent of the Social graph.  It was widely cherished by the developer community.  2008's f8 was a biggie and brought in the New facebook profile and tons of privacy features, along with the famous Facebook Connect, to which all major websites sucked on like a leech.  There was a sort of hue and cry from those who were concerned about privacy; but heck, Zuck gives a shit!

2009 saw the event ommitted, to the utter disbelief of developers.  Then there was 2010, perhaps the biggest one since its inception; the now omnipresent 'Like' button was released accompanying the Graph API and the Open Graph protocol.  And it was a hit!!  The same year, facebook crossed half a billion members.  That was some statistic.

Then there was 22nd September 2011.  I watched the entire f8.  Right from when Sandberg impersonated Zuck, till the end.  Zuck was as usual nervous and lacked the confidence of an adroit presenter.  The video of the presentation is here.  There were three major announcements:
1.  Timeline
2.  Open Graph API
3.  facebook's partnership with more than a dozen music and video streaming services like Spotify, Netflix, Hulu etc.

I was impressed with the Timeline.  It's a wonderful concept, you get to see all your posts, videos and pics in a chronological order.  You can insert it at any period in time.  Facebook claimed to give the user total control of the timeline.  Then Zuck talked about Open Graph API.  It looked awesome at the time he announced it.  But soon it became apparent that facebook is increasingly trying to take control off the users and handing it over to the corporations.  Take this for instance.  Spotify asks you only once, and after than whatever you listen on it will be added to your Timeline automatically, without your permission.  Same goes with Netflix and other services.  WTF facebook?  What makes you think you can sell us?  I, for instance am going to stay away from Open Graph.

Another issue, check this post out.  The guy was literally forced by facebook out of business.  Always remember, "If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product".  And no one does that better than facebook.  They have been, in past, accused of selling user data to businesses.

Did you know that facebook tracks the websites you visit in browser?  It has all your data.  You should remember to remove facebook cookies at least once every two days.  If you are a chrome user, make sure you install the Facebook Disconnect plugin.

Finally, simply remember that facebook is a great place to get in touch with friends, but never ever commit the mistake of entrusting facebook with your personal data, no phone numbers, no credit card info, nothing.  Their architecture is scalable, but in now way secure.  Just be careful while dealing with facebook, for I know it has become such an integral part of peoples' lives that it's probably easier getting rid of a kidney than  facebook.  Be safe.

Edit - A new chrome  plugin for disabling facebook cookie tracking.  Here.