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What is it About Facebook that Draws Such Idiocy?

8/21/12

By Ken Magill

Boy, Facebook sure brings on the stupid.

And, no, I’m not talking about the people who use it, though there is more than enough stupidity to be found there. [Previous link possibly not safe for work]

No, I’m talking about the seemingly never-ending parade of fools telling Facebook how to run its business.

First up, we have a judge in San Francisco rejecting a Facebook privacy settlement over its “Sponsored Stories” advertising program.

According to Wired, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco was concerned that the deal, which provides a $10 million payout to attorneys suing Facebook and $10 million to charity “was merely plucked from thin air.”

Seeborg reportedly asked at a previous hearing why the payout to charity shouldn’t be $100 million.

Yeah sure. And while we’re pulling numbers straight from our asses, why not $500 bofreakin’gagillion?

Under the sponsored stories ad model, when a Facebook user “likes” a product or service, their face may appear in ads for that product or service that appear on friends pages.

Oh, the carnage.

In his ruling, Seeborg apparently expressed concern that in reaching their settlement, the lawyers “may have bargained away something of value to the class.”

Apparently, the American class-action lawsuit system—where the lawyers get millions and members of the class generally get squat and maybe a coupon for 50-percent-off squat—is foreign to Seeborg.

So rather than considering the actual harm done and dismissing the case for the resource-sucking nuisance it is, he sends the parties back at it to waste more of Facebook’s time and money.

Our next piece of Facebook idiocy comes courtesy of Slate magazine, in which communications professor Philip Howard demonstrated that academia is still the place where parents spend tens of thousands of dollars to have their kids exposed to bat-shit craziness.

In his piece, Howard called for the nationalization of Facebook.

Yep. According to Howard, a Facebook run like a Department of Motor Vehicles with access to reams of people’s online behavior and zero financial barriers on how to use it would be a good thing.

“There are three very good reasons for this drastic step,” wrote Howard. “It could fix the company’s woeful privacy practices, allow the social network to fulfill its true potential for providing social good, and force it to put its valuable data to work on significant social problems.”

Totalitarian much?

Maybe we should force Howard to fulfill his potential for providing social good by forcing him into the countryside to work the land with peasants.

Among the jaw droppers in Howard’s piece:

“Currently, Facebook employees are tasked with discovering marketable trends, selling advertising, and doing data mining in the service of profit. Nationalizing Facebook would allow more resources to go into data mining for public health and social research.

...

“A publicly accessible, central way of sharing data would allow better access for social and public health researchers. Or even better, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health could help manage a clearinghouse for data so that we can all be sure it is properly anonymized and research effort is not wasted.”

Yeah. A government-run data clearing house aimed at improving our health. What could possibly go wrong?

Why do I suddenly envision agents from The Obesity Prevention Department kicking down my door and carting off my beer?

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