Something to Consider While You Return Christmas Gifts
Okay, enough Candy Crush. Slate had an interesting/scary article that quietly slipped on by in the mad rush of Christmas. Facebook has been noting all those times when we start writing a status update or comment and then change our mind and delete before posting. In other words, every single keystroke is being logged by Facebook at all times. The ones you post. The ones you erase. And the ones you delete because you thought better of hitting publish.
The Slate article points out that this is true for lots of sites. Google, for instance. It keeps hitting save every few keystrokes so you don’t lose your work. Except there’s a point to it on Gmail. There’s a draft folder, and we’re relieved to learn that our words aren’t lost when there’s a computer glitch. But there doesn’t seem to be a point to saving our keystrokes on Facebook… except to benefit Facebook. There isn’t a draft folder for half-finished comments or status updates, for instance.
But more, those self-deleted, non-posted musings aren’t totally private. They write,
It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private. Facebook calls these unposted thoughts “self-censorship,” and insights into how it collects these nonposts can be found in a recent paper written by two Facebookers … It reveals a lot about how Facebook monitors our unshared thoughts and what it thinks about them.
And the post goes on to point out the true discomfort in all of this:
While it may be uncomfortable that the NSA has access to our private communications, the agency is are monitoring things we have actually put online. Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share … the FBI needs a warrant but Facebook can proceed without permission from anyone.
As someone who preaches circumspection, this news is a little disturbing. I like that people self-censor. I like it when people think before they post. I like it when they change their mind and don’t subject me to something that they have doubts about. Self-censoring is a wonderful human instinct that goes along with moderation and thoughtfulness. People should listen more often to that little niggling feeling in their stomach, the one that makes them wonder if posting is a good idea.
In a world that moves quickly, it’s difficult to always process things before speaking/posting, so I admire someone who catches themselves before they spill the contents of their brain on the Internet. I always ask the kids to pause before posting, asking themselves if the words could bite them in the ass at a later date, do they have the potential to be misunderstood, or are the words productive.
Turns out, if they type them on Facebook, that circumspection doesn’t matter the moment they touch fingertips to keyboard.
What do you think of the fact that Facebook monitors what we don’t post as well as what we post?