Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big Brother Married Nurse Ratchet

Uh, oh.  Mark Zuckerberg is at it again!   

First we caught him sneaking his face-recognition software into Facebook without letting us know.  Now he’s following us around the web, even when we’re not logged in to Facebook. 

Oh my goodness, Mark, Mark, Mark!  You megalomaniac, you! 

Of course we lost control of our Older Male Sibling long ago.  Back when we put our Social Security numbers on job applications we surrendered ourselves to being watched and dogged by what has become a voracious, titanic mogul in the sky. 

Until recently, I didn’t feel watched or dogged.  In fact, I had a hard time imagining that any one person up there in the cloud could be bothered with the mundane routines of my comings and goings.  Ho hum.  

But of course it’s not my comings and goings that interest the industrious Zuckerberg clan.  Their interest lies in my willingness to spend my money on their stuff.  

Case in point:  My experience with Spanx.  It’s underwear, OK?  Specialized body slimming underwear – the latest thing in the 100 Years War of the Waistline.  If you want to know more about Spanx, you’ll just have to look it up.  But do so at your own risk. 

I confess I went onto the Spanx website and shopped around.  I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t buy their pitch.  OK, I kind of do accept their squeeze-it smooth-it pretend-it’s-not-there premise, but their stuff is ‘way too expensive for me.  Still, I noodled around with the detached interest of a shopper who hopes to find a comparable product at a reasonable price at Kohl’s. 

Let’s say that was Monday.  WEDNESDAY, I got a catalog, from Spanx, with my name on it, in the US mail!   

Did Mark Zuckerberg just send me a Spanx catalog?  Now that’s weird. 

And he’s meeting with all kinds of powerful people – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan - the President!  What’s that all about?! 

I’m starting to feel a kinship with all those conspiracy theorists who believe “they” are reading our mail and tapping our phones.  Pass the aluminum foil. 

You know, my crazy Aunt June thought her sister-in-law (my crazy Aunt Daisy) was reading her mail, opening her electric bills, and examining her cable viewing habits.  Turns out, she was!  Caught her red-handed steaming envelopes!  Not so crazy after all.

Now Zuckerberg unveils some of the most drastic changes ever made to Facebook's service.  The fear among users relates to what some say portends a worrisome privacy situation on the social network, led by Mr. Z’s new feature, “Timeline,” and changes to “Open Graph.”  Zuckerberg said he believes these “improvements” will help users share every single facet of their lives on the social network.

Timeline provides users with a way to view "the story of your life," including a collection of all the “stories” users have shared on Facebook over the years, as well as the pictures they've posted, and the applications they've used.  Oh yes, it’s all in Mr. Z’s sky-vault.

Facebook's updated Open Graph enables users, thanks to Timeline and a new addition, Ticker, to see what a “friend” is doing in real time, for example if he’s watching a movie on Netflix or listening to a song on Spotify (whatever that is!).  Then the viewer can engage in that same activity from within the social network.  Imaginary friends have become virtual friends.  

If that’s not enough to make you twitch, over the other shoulder comes OnStar following us around town even if we cancel their GPS service or never activate it in the first place.   

Not only does OnStar store data on your vehicle diagnostics like oil changes, tire pressure, the gas type you use; information about crashes such as whether you’re wearing a seat belt or whether an airbag deployed; and the car’s GPS/location information – including the speed of the vehicle, when the vehicle moves, and the precise location of the vehicle moment-to-moment.  All the more ominous when we’re reminded that GM offers a “free” trial of OnStar with each new vehicle it sells.  

I haven’t had that kind of monitoring since I was a teenager trying to elude my dad. 

Of course, OnStar reserves the right to sell aggregate data to third parties likely to be advertising, insurance, and analytics companies eager to gather as much information about us as they can for their own prying, greed-based reasons. 

And you thought you were alone.