Facebook Thinks Your Life is Boring

You see this tuna? This tuna is boring. Stop having a boring tuna, stop having a boring life.
– Offer “Vince” Shlomi (Commercial for Slap Chop)

Have you ever watched the Sham Wow, Slap Chop or Schticky commercials on TV? I always crack up when Vince, the consummate salesman, says “You’re gonna love my nuts” – as he is using the Slap Chop to dice up the items that will make your food preparation (and your life) more exciting.

Vince makes the prospect of ‘being fleeced’ fun. He knows he is an old time snake oil salesman, and he doesn’t try to hide it.

Less fun – okay downright annoying – is the advertising on Facebook. Facebook used to be just a social network – the place where I tell all my friends  how The Car Guy is recovering from his Motorcycle Accident and my friends say they are glad to hear the news. Or the son-in-law posts a photo of us on New Years Eve, and we respond by saying “Surely our cheeks and noses weren’t that red!”

AdvertisementsFacebook’s prime purpose isn’t social networking any more. It has morphed into a sophisticated and annoying vehicle for selling product. Advertising is displayed on my Home Page in a column down the right side. Today it is for Plus Size Separates, Party Photography, Criminal Pardons, Rachael Ray’s Hollywood Diet and an Investment that looks like a pyramid scheme.

That is fairly easy to ignore, but advertisements are also sprinkled in with all the posts from my friends. They are called ‘Suggested Pages’.  Should I be offended that one of these pages was an advertisement for Botox? Well yes! I can’t imagine a more offensive product (to me, anyhow) than botox.

Trending articlesThat isn’t all, though. Facebook also inserts ‘Trending Articles‘ to spice up my obviously boring life.  Most of my Facebook friends have decided that the day to day stories about their lives are really not worth sharing either, so they have pretty much quite posting anything personal.  The bulk of my Home Page contains links to things they read, causes they support, videos they’ve watched, businesses they like, places they shop, games they play, posts they ‘Liked’ (mostly from people I don’t know) etc, etc, etc.

It is all pretty slick – Facebook is now a personalized digital newspaper, complete with advertisements, and the content is supplied by my friends and family! Each link they post, each item they ‘like’, each item I ‘like’ – all of it becomes part of a huge user database that helps Facebook target them, and me, with more content and advertising.

Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.
– Richard Stallman –

I don’t take kindly to being targeted, so every now and then I go to my Facebook  Timeline and Activity Log and delete everything I find. If I’m going to use Facebook, I’m going to be as anonymous as I can. I’d shut it down completely if it wasn’t the sole way some of my friends and family communicate with me and if I wasn’t using it to advertise my own blog posts! Two can play the advertising game…

PS – If you are a Facebook User, go to your Privacy Settings and set them all to Friends – not Friends of Friends and not Public. Why? Well, lets say you have 50 trusted friends, and let’s say your 50 friends each have 50 friends – who you may or may not trust. If you use the Friends setting, the things you say on Facebook go out to only 50 people. If you use the Friends of Friends setting, those words or photos clutter up the home page of 2450 Facebook Users who may use that content in ways you hadn’t intended.

Update 2016 – Is Facebook a good place to discuss your political beliefs? The 2015 Canadian Federal Election, and the 2016 American Presidential Election were hot topics with my friends!  I didn’t enjoy the never ending barrage of links to sometimes blatant media bias, but it was fascinating to see what people were willing to believe.