Posts Tagged "friends"


A LinkedIn connection who was barely an acquaintance recently sent me a request to back his Kickstarter. When I saw what it was, I was horrified. I was then horrified that it already had over $8K. And then I was horrified that it was labelled as a “Kickstarter Staff Pick.” I wondered how something becomes that… friend? Paid? Someone didn’t read the whole page?

Your friends and acquaintances may not have awesome ideas.

I’m sorry but not everybody has an amazing idea or an idea that should get funded. I openly hope this Kickstarter project never happens because I think it might actually be dangerous. Let me tell you about it.

It’s a children’s book with a puppet. Sounds pretty good, right? You might donate right away thinking hey great! Someone I (kind of) know is writing a children’s book with a puppet! I’m not sure the world was lacking children’s books or puppets, but you might want to support your friend.

You might, until you read the plot of the book and why you have a puppet.

According to the Kickstarter page, the book opens with a Professor character warning (warning?) the reader that another character (a gender non-specific character given a female name) is looking for kids to kiss. Both the professor and the other character are strangers to your child. OK, maybe kids are going to learn something about strangers, safety, not letting random adults “kiss” them. This COULD be really good and match what parents are teaching their children about not just strangers but any adult that seems overly affectionate, touchy, etc…

The book soon reveals that the Professor is the genderless character in disguise. OK so we have an adult we’re supposed to trust (he’s a professor!) even though he’s a stranger. He’s warning us about another character, but it turns out he IS that character. So he’s been warning us about… himself???

I’ll let the Kickstarter explain what happens next.

“For the rest of the book, [character]—with the help of the accompanying hand puppet—delights in kissing the reader on the elbow, the back of the neck, the bottom of the feet, and more ticklish spots! Completely spent, [character] ends by thanking the reader for a wonderful “kiss fest” and remarks that she sure will sleep well tonight…”

The last time I had a “kiss-fest” with someone and felt completely spent and like I was going to sleep well that night… Wait, are we still talking about a children’s book?

Is this book recommended by any child psychologists?

I didn’t see any on the Kickstarter page. Just “testimonials” from parents saying this is great for “affection” play. I didn’t know parents were having trouble showing affection to children, and needed a book and a puppet for that.

I ran it by a friend of mine who is a school psychologist. He wasn’t for it.

I told the guy who contacted me that I thought his idea was actually a dangerous one, and I suggested that he run it by a pile of psychologists specialising in children and especially abused children to make sure this is the message we want to give toddlers. This book is aimed at toddlers. Teach them young. But teach them WHAT? Teach them to love kissy play time with a stranger? This just doesn’t seem right.

Last I checked, this book now had over $12K in backing. I can only assume that people don’t have thinking caps on. Or they see a staff pick and think this must rock. Or they’re pedophiles and child predators who are really excited that this book is going to teach children to let adults kiss you all over in an exhausting kiss fest.

“But my child is very, very smart and knows to not let a stranger touch him/her.”

Really. Your child, who thinks Mickey Mouse is real, who thinks monsters are under the bed or in the car. Your child, who pretends all kinds of things all the time and may not be sure what’s reality. Your child, who can barely eat, sleep, or poop without your involvement. This dude is going to know that a “kiss fest” with anybody other than you wearing a puppet is WRONG? How about if someone approaches the child and says he’s the Professor? How about a “bad” babysitter who finds the book in your house and “reads” it with the child? How about a child predator who has the puppet and approaches your child for kisses? Do you want your day care workers kissing your child “all over” with a puppet?

Are you absolutely sure that your little 1 year old, 2 year old, 3 year old, 4 year old is going to know this is the puppet that’s OK to kiss me and this it the adult that’s OK to kiss me and this is how much kissing is OK, and these are the bad versions of that so I should say no, run away, and tell someone? Are you SURE? What if you’re wrong about your child’s understanding of boundaries? Do you want to take the chance that your child now thinks that kiss fests with adults or puppets are something to agree to?

Please, before you back a Kickstarter, even if it’s your friend or family member, read it through. Think about it critically. Do you really want to see this product come to life? Is it really a good idea?

Please. Because poorly-thought-out stuff like this is out there and might be read to your child when your child visits a friend’s house.

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Facebook Needs Better Blocking


Posted By on Sep 3, 2013

Let’s say person X is a random enemy, and I find out he’s been going to my Facebook page to read public posts. And let’s say we hate each other.

I want to block him on Facebook. If he blocks me first, I can’t see him on Facebook. Can’t search him, can’t find him. It’s like he’s not there. That’s how Facebook works.

If he gets curious about me again and unblocks me, he can go read my public posts and see my public images again. He wouldn’t be able to do that if I block him (and he stays blocked).

And herein lies the problem. Once he blocks me, I can’t find him to block him. I may not have the same curiosity. I may want to make sure he doesn’t see or interact with my public Facebook stuff ever.

The solution would be for Facebook to list for me everybody who has blocked me, and give me the option to block (or unblock) them. That way, if Mr Enemy gets curious about me and unblocks me, he still can’t see my stuff because I’ve blocked him.

You might say hey, showing people who is blocking them can only lead to bad blood and awkwardness. Maybe. I can kinda tell who is already blocking me. When I try to find someone who I think is modern and tech savvy, and they seem to have no Facebook page, they’ve probably blocked me. The cat’s out of the bag.

I’d like to be able to more granularly control this blocking, please.

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Most of us already know that when your Facebook friend accepts a friend request from someone he/she doesn’t know, that person is often some sort of scammer, spammer, or creeper.

I have one friend who seems to add everybody who sends her a request even though these are obviously fake accounts. She told me she figured these were people to whom she could promote her business. She doesn’t seem to realise that fake accounts have no interest in her business.

I have another friend who says yes to not everybody but most of his friend requests.

These “friends of friends” now have extra access to me, my profile, and postings. Things I thought were “Friends Only” might end up seen by these people based on some of Facebook’s slippery principles.

Creepers Like My Boobs

Sorry for that strong language, but right now, I am living in a world where every day, a different guy I don’t know sends me messages on Facebook. They mostly go through to me (rather than be stuck in “Other Messages”) because Facebook sees they are from a friend of a friend.

Some guys were finding profile pics of me (which were public) and commenting on my body. The weirdest one said, “Yum those boobs.” Who says that to anybody for any reason? And what woman hears that and is like WHOA I need to meet this guy!

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The message I got yesterday wins for a new level of creepiness.

“you have the best tits for a [a nickname I have online] and your age your body perfect for having a baby [heart icon]”

So a guy who has more access to my info than I’d like because he’s a “friend of a friend” messaged me basically that he wants to have sex with me and I should have his baby. That’s BEYOND creepy. That’s unsettling.

And I know I’m not the only one getting this. By the time I went to report him as spam, his account was suspended and he was gone. It made me wonder if a message like that can legally be considered a threat to rape. I have no idea if he’d actually try to rape me, but I don’t want to find out. Someone needs to talk to these people.

I don’t blame my friends for what these creepers choose to do. But I definitely have a strong preference as to whether or not people should Facebook friend complete strangers for any reason.

And my friends need to stop adding Facebook friends they don’t really know

New policy: If I find out you are adding Facebook friends and they are people you don’t know, I don’t care who you are. I will remove you as a friend. Remember that when I get these stupid messages and I click on these profiles, Facebook tells me what friends we have in common. I know which of my real friends are delivering crazy creepers to me.

I will have to remove you as a friend for my own safety and sanity. I shouldn’t have to deal with this.

If you like my boobs, keep that to yourself. Don’t post it to Facebook. Don’t send it to me as a message. I don’t want to have a baby with anybody. And I don’t want to have any sexual or intimate contact with anybody other than my long-term, live-in boyfriend. Hopefully that’s clear!

Facebook could fix this with one feature: block me from (a certain) friend’s friends

I’d love a setting where I could pick one, some, or all Facebook friends. Their friends (who are not my friends) would then have NO special access to anything I am posting. They wouldn’t see “friends of friends” things. They’d only see my public things. Messages from them go into Other, not into the main Messages area.

That’s also a good solution when you have a friend you like but you know they are NOT being picky about who they add on Facebook. And you know who you are.

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We’re a little late for spring cleaning. Summer cleaning, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

I recently had an ugly run-in with someone I didn’t know. This was through Facebook. I ended up having to block her. I was surprised to find that 7 of my friends were friends with her.

And then I wondered, “Are they REALLY friends with her? Do they know her in person? Like her? Do they enjoy her posts and following her online world?”

Go Through Your Facebook Friends Today

One of my Facebook friends has a policy of unfriending or not adding anybody to whom you wouldn’t wish a happy birthday. I’m going to go a few steps farther, and suggest these steps. It’s like “you might be a redneck if…”

You should unfriend (or never friend in the first place) someone if:

  • You have hidden him or her entirely from your news feed. That’s not your friend. Remove.
  • You have never visited his or her individual Facebook page to see what he or she is up to. Sounds like you don’t care too much!
  • You have ever had to remove something this person said from your wall or in comments under a post. Probably not your friend.
  • You accepted their friend request because you thought you had to or were afraid of repercussions if you didn’t. You’re an adult. This is Facebook. Face the music and remove anybody who isn’t really your friend.
  • You watched someone do something bat shit crazy that made you see them in a whole new way. Normally for me, this is when someone who I think is my friend comes out with some public declaration like, “The Mexicans are responsible for all Tucson crime,” or “I hate every Muslim on the planet.” I strongly disagree with those, and know those people won’t make good friends for me. Remove.
  • You didn’t mark this person as a Close Friend in Facebook.
  • Do they have your back? If something serious or bad went down in your life, would they care? Would you want them to know about it? Would they visit you in a hospital if they lived nearby? Would you invite them to your wedding? Would they come to your funeral?
  • You don’t know them in real life and/or you don’t really trust them. Think about how much stuff Facebook friends get to know about you. If they were fake accounts or scammers or criminals or just jerks, they probably know where you live, what you look like, what your family looks like, when you’re home, when you’re not home, etc… Remember that thanks to Facebook’s “graph,” your Facebook friends (who are strangers to me and possibly to you) see things about me through OUR connection. Please don’t be careless with your personal details OR with mine!
  • Bonus: You don’t know them in real life, the picture is a young hot woman, and you have no mutual friends. Totally remove. Hot chicks might look good, but that’s a scam account.

It can seem scary but it’s really good to give your Facebook account a total enema. Time to clean out the people who really shouldn’t be there. And you don’t have to give them an explanation. A few years ago, I cut 200 people who fit the above criteria. I gave them no explanation or message. Only one asked to come back, and I said OK.

I treat my Facebook as my “nearly inner circle,” and I talk about personal things. I then have my really inner circle, which is a secret Facebook group of about 20 people who hear the whole story. My friends are spread out around the world, so I’ve found this to be the easiest way to keep up with people, especially the really inner circle when something super good or super bad happens.

Everybody else can follow my public posts like it’s Twitter. I don’t want or need to open up my life to people I don’t know or trust. I especially don’t need to open up my info or my friends’ info to people I’ve never even heard of.

There are no prizes for most Facebook friends. Some people I know said they added strangers that sent friend requests in the hopes of having just another person to promote their business to. Well guess what. That stranger doesn’t care. He or she is mostly there to mine your info and then my info through the graph. So while you assumed a stranger adding you on Facebook was a potential customer for you, you just opened both of us to more scams and spams.

What are you waiting for. Go unfriend!

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We’ve all probably received Facebook friend requests from total strangers. We don’t know them at all. They’re not friends of friends.

If you are on a quest to have a pile of Facebook friends no matter who they are, then you will add these people. I only add people I really like in real life. So no matter what they message me, I don’t add them.

Lately, Facebook has been suggesting that I add some friends of friends. Facebook thinks I might know these people! So far, all of them are women around 21 years old (based on the birthday written on their personal Facebook page). They have no other profile information on Facebook. They have one profile photo that while a picture of their face is really a picture of their… shall we say… breasts. In some sort of skimpy top. Some of these women pose alone. Others pose with another stereotypical hot and underdressed chick.

All of them have about 15 Facebook friends, and when I poke around, I find that these friends seem to have nothing in common. They’re not in the same location. Not the same age. But they are almost always all MEN. I’m assuming men saw boobs in their Facebook requests, and said, “yes, please.”

ScreenHunter_05 May. 08 14.34

Sure, people like cleavage, but this might be one of many serious scams.

It might seem harmless to friend on Facebook some boobs you don’t personally know in real life, but it can actually lead to a lot of really undesirable outcomes.

They now have access to your personal information.

Based on what you put on Facebook, these strangers might know where you live. Where you tend to go (Foursquare check-ins). When you’re not home (Foursquare check-ins). Who you’re married to, dating, who your family are. Where you work. Maybe even when you work. They could know a lot about you.

Did you put contact information into Facebook? They might have your phone number, cell phone, and email address. With enough revealed about yourself on Facebook, this could potentially lead to identity theft.

They now have access to MY personal information.

But Facebook likes to extend things out to “friends of friends.” That means some of the things I post can be seen by the person behind the Boobs account. If you commented on something I posted, that fake friend sees it. And if I’m not careful, that info might be where I live. Where I work. Who’s in my family. Places I go. When I’m not home. My phone number and email address. Et cetera.

Which they can now use for more realistic spamming.

Let’s say a friend of mine named Jim is friends with one of these Boobs, and is also Facebook friends with me. Based on information these fake accounts can scrape, they could easily email Jim at his email address and make it look like it’s from Debbie Levitt. Jim might be more likely to believe any wacky thing the email says since he thinks it’s from someone he knows and trusts. Compare that to getting a spam email from Dr. Waldorf Tecumseh Flywheel. You might ignore that outlandish name as someone you don’t know or trust.

But now, it looks like I’m emailing you. And I’m in trouble! Or I need you to click on something. Lord only knows what Fake Me needs you to click on and what information you put in when you get there. 🙁

Only make real friends your Facebook friends.

Please be more careful about who you friend, especially if you’re my friend. I don’t want you to get scammed. I don’t want information you thought was for friends only to be in the hands of people with bad intentions. And I don’t want my information in their hands either.

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It’s like I’m psychic! I was JUST posting about how the biggest problem with Facebook privacy isn’t their terms (yet). It’s your own friends. I wrote a blog post about it.

Around Xmas, people thought that Mark Zuckerberg’s sister must not have understood Facebook’s privacy and UI because a family picture she posted ended up getting reposted to Twitter. How DID that happen? Did it happen because evil Facebook took her picture and put it out there while she flailed and yelled for help? Not exactly.

One of her Facebook friends assumed her picture was public because she saw it in her News Feed, and she reposted it to Twitter. Never repost, broadcast, publish, share, print on a t-shirt, or do ANYTHING with someone else’s stuff without getting written permission with them. Not only is that good manners, but depending on what you want to do (like print it on a shirt), you may be subject to copyright laws. Just because you saw it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free or isn’t owned by someone who may want to enforce who can do what with it!

Randi was sure that she knew how to use Facebook privacy settings, so this isn’t about Facebook privacy.

But This Is About Facebook’s UX and UI

Play this out with me for a moment. A photo comes down your Facebook News Feed. How aware are you if that image is Friends Only or Public? Can you tell which friends got to see it? Maybe the person who posted the photo used Facebook lists or other features that allowed only 5 people on the planet to see that photo, and everybody else was blocked. As a recipient or viewer of content on Facebook, you really DON’T know the intentions of the person who posted. You don’t know how semi-private he or she meant to be.

If you’re really good with Facebook, then you recognise the little grey “world” icon here, and you know this was completely public. Facebook gives you a “share” button reminding you to re-broadcast it to your peeps!

ScreenHunter_29 Jan. 02 07.34

But what would you know about an image if it had this under it:

ScreenHunter_29 Jan. 02 07.38

If you notice small, grey icons, then you know this was just to his friends. You don’t know which friends. Using Facebook lists, your pal could have posted it to just 2 people. Or maybe it was to all his friends. You could stop there and think hey, my friend didn’t post this publicly… he might not want me to re-share it publicly. Yet there’s Facebook, giving you the “share” link and inspiring you to re-broadcast it. How can you possibly truly understand that people might feel “privately” about something when Facebook automatically tells people to re-publish it (which takes it out of someone else’s control)?

You don’t know from the above markings that your friend would HATE it if you re-shared the image, even just on Facebook. You don’t know that. I can only assume Facebook will have to start building that option into posts… like “turn off the share link” as an option so that people who kinda just want to share things with friends can kinda just try doing that… and hope for the best!

So while I’m not thrilled that some random woman took Randi’s photo and posted it publicly to Twitter, I can see HOW it would happen. It seems at first like a breach of the friend code, and it kinda is. But it’s ALSO a good reason to focus on the Facebook UI and realise that ideas of privacy or “can I share this” are not really clear to most people, especially when there is a “Share” link there making it seem like that’s a good idea.

Another Example

Just at the end here, I wanted to throw in another example. My boyfriend feels strict about Facebook and online privacy. So much so that he doesn’t use Facebook, and he doesn’t want me posting pictures of him or us. Weird in 2012/2013, but OK, I can do that. I also decided that on public posts, I will refer to him as “boyfriend,” and not use his name. He’s very happy about that.

So public posts (grey world icon), he’s “boyfriend.” Friends-only posts (grey people icon), he has a real first name.

I recently noticed that my friends had no idea I was doing that. And how could they. I could write that 100 times in my Facebook feed, and I can’t be guaranteed that every friend would see my request. How did I realise this? I did a public post where I said boyfriend, and one of my friends responded and used his first name.

World didn’t end. Not for me, boyfriend, or Randi. But I think these are starting to highlight how people on Facebook don’t really understand HOW public or private people feel things are. “Share” links certainly don’t help that!

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Oh, that meme is going around again. The one where people think that if they post to their Facebook wall that everything is theirs and they own the copyright and let’s name a few laws that that OVERRIDES Facebook’s terms and conditions. It doesn’t. Just like standing up and yelling that your high speed internet will now cost $2/month because you want it to does NOT make your internet cost $2/month. Comcast will keep billing you the regular rate.

One thing seems to be lost on most people, and that is that the biggest risk to your privacy relating to Facebook is YOU. We can break this into three simple factors.

Factor 1: What You Post

Facebook’s privacy didn’t make you post that drunk-at-work picture that got you fired. Or that high-at-work status. Or the thing that made everybody figure out that you were cheating. Or the picture of your new racist tattoo. Facebook’s privacy didn’t make you post those things. You posted them. You chose to share them with a public or semi-public group. You don’t get to blame Facebook for that.

Factor 2: How You Post It

Well, how DID you post the status that made it clear that you were having someone else’s baby? Public? Friends only? To certain people? To a closed Facebook group? This IS in your control. Learn how to use it, and use it wisely.

Factor 3: Who You Friend

Do you have the sort of friends who would send your post to your boss? Your ex? A Cheezburger website? Do you have the sort of friends who will take an original artwork you create and posted to Facebook, steal it, and sell t-shirts with that on there? Then congratulations, the big security breach is in your own house. It’s not Facebook or their privacy or some laws you don’t understand but want to quote.

It’s your own CIRCLE of people.

Step one is clean house. If you are not real life friends with someone, unfriend them on Facebook. If they write to you acting all mad, block them. This is a STRANGER to you. Who cares if their feelings are hurt. Protect yourself. You are exposing what might be personal things to strangers, and why? So you can say you have X number of Facebook friends as if there is a contest? Start removing people you don’t really know, don’t really like, or don’t really trust.

Step two is to learn how to use Facebook lists. These are privacy groups that you can control. Maybe you have a “former and current co-workers” list who is blocked from seeing that drunk pic of you from Friday night. Maybe you have a “clients” list who is blocked from seeing personal info about your divorce. Maybe you have a “family” list who can be blocked from political rantings that don’t match their views.

Facebook does let you say which lists can’t see something, which means you can post a picture or status, and block multiple groups from seeing it.

Protect yourself. It’s a brave new world of knowing a lot about people rather easily. You get to decide what’s out there and who your friends are. Real friends wouldn’t post things with or about you that could hurt your work or personal life. Choose deliberately!

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Some people seem to think that it’s OK to advertise products (over and over) to your Facebook friends. NOT dropping promotional messages on a business page, where people might expect them. For all we know, this was between a cat picture and a post about politics. This was on a personal page. I’ll post the screen shot and then explain what you’re looking at.

A woman named Lisa tagged a bunch of people in a photo of a sneaker. Someone I’m friends with (blurred) was tagged. Clearly, he’s not in that photo. Lisa evidently tagged lots of other people! She then commented on her own photo once again giving people the URL for where she sells these things.

Her friends had a few things to say about that. They called her a spammer. One said he would unfriend her. Good, I hope he does.

This is a reminder that people on Facebook don’t want to be advertised to by their own friends. That’s because Facebook is a night out at a bar. It’s the water cooler. It’s the hangout. It’s not where people want to be pushed to buy something. That’s not the mood they’re typically in or the usage path they’re often on.

Solution: Well, for now, separate biz and personal. Make sure you are only pushing products and promos to a group who opted in to get that. Anybody who is your Facebook friend has opted into a personal relationship with you. Don’t take advantage of that by spamming.

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I’m One Of Facebook’s 5%


Posted By on Oct 7, 2010

Facebook announced yesterday the coming of “Groups.” The idea jumps off of their “Friends List” feature. Facebook said only 5% of people are using Friends Lists; they want to create something everybody will use because they find it so easy to use.

I use Friends Lists. For those who don’t know, you can create lists of friends. You can adjust what those lists can and can’t see. For example, I could have a list of business associates, and mark them as not being able to see my photos or videos. Remember the padlock next to where you post? You can click on that and decide which group(s) can see your post. In theory, you could write something on your Facebook wall that only a subset of your Facebook friends would see.

I’m using that. I think that’s a great idea. But it’s cumbersome to keep up right now. If I wanted only certain people to see one of my posts now, I have to click who sees it. That brings up a window asking who sees it, and the choices are quite general rather than being my custom friends lists:

To try to narrow down by groups, I have to click “custom.” I then get this window:

In the “hide” area, I can pick individual people, or start typing the name of the group. So I have to remember the name of my group; there is no pull down menu or check box. There is no place to say this post is JUST for my business colleagues group. I have to say it’s for friends EXCEPT these other groups, which assumes you’ve put all of your friends into groups. I may not have.

Hopefully, the new incarnation will be a no-brainer, and make that faster and easier. I had stopped accepting many people asking for Facebook friendship because they were business colleagues. My Facebook is very personal. But if I can have better control over who sees what, then this helps personal and business goals.

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