Facebook status update…

I enjoyed a status update that I spotted on Facebook this morning.

Here’s a sample line:

 I looked out of the window and saw the patio covered in kittens (which I have never seen before)

The rest of it was about dolphins, sharks and shooting stars.

No drugs were involved. Allegedly.

“This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature”

Something is wrong here. If someone believes, even fleetingly, that a feature on your platform is a bug, that’s a problem.

And I think that the bug feature that I read about this morning which has apparently been rearing its ugly head on Facebook recently is potentially going to be a big problem.

ZDNet reports that Facebook has been automatically publishing posts under people’s name and placing them at the top of the News Feed for their friends to see. Now, while that might seem annoying, it probably doesn’t really present any sort of problem – that is, unless the content that Facebook is publishing under your name is politically controversial:

One associate whose name was attached to a rabidly right-wing political post said she disagreed vehemently with the sentiment it expressed, and she couldn’t imagine why it appeared under her name.

Or just plain embarrassing [screenshot]:

A colleague of mine and a friend of mine had both “liked” drugstore.com somewhere along the way. No problem, right? Wrong.

Drugstore.com recently ran a somewhat racy promotion for the “Date Night Gift Pack from K-Y: Including $10 off 2 movie tickets, Yours & Mine Lubes, and K-Y Touch Warming Oil,” and the ad implied that my associates liked the K-Y products. To say that my colleague and my friend were mortified would be an understatement!

Now, that could be a little distressing on a personal level, but imagine that you were using your Facebook account in a professional purpose and your clients or colleagues get suggestions that you are recommending sexual lubricants. Ouch!

Facebook’s response to the ZDNet article confirms that this can happen to anyone who Likes a page – any Facebook page:

To help people find new Pages, events, and other interesting information, people may now see posts from a Page a friend likes. These posts will include the social context from your friends who like the Page and will respect all existing settings.

We’ve warned you before about who you share your social media account details with, but it’s a bit difficult not to share your Facebook account details with er… Facebook. Personally, I’m not a huge Facebook user, but I do see its value and its uses. However, I can only see that this bug feature will dissuade users from Liking pages, which is the primary way that Facebook now works. Own goal?

ZDNet continues:

Even worse, if you’re the recipient of these messages, there is no way to prevent them from appearing in your News feed. You can hide individual stories as they appear, but you can’t block the page from posting again, and again, and again. And even if you remove the friend completely from your news feed, the forcibly shared posts appear. The only way to stop it is to unfriend the person whose Facebook identity is being misused.

If you’re concerned that inappropriate content might appear in your friends’ News feed under your name, you should immediately go through the list of pages for which you’ve clicked Like, and Unlike any that you think pose the potential of embarrassing you.

I’ve pored through Facebook account settings and can find no way to disable this kind of sharing. There are settings that control whether your name is attached to ads, but these aren’t ads. If they were, the word “Sponsored” would appear alongside them. (And if they’re unlabeled ads, well, that opens another can of worms, doesn’t it?)

In the meantime, I’d go for that middle paragraph option above. [Profile -> Likes -> Go to individual FB page -> Hover over LIKED button -> Click Unlike from dropdown menu].

The trouble is, with sites as innocuous as drugstore.com (think of it as a Boots or a Clicks pharmacy) posting “dodgy” stuff as you, where do you draw the line?

For your peace of mind, I promise that 6000.co.za’s Facebook page will probably never post dodgy stuff on your behalf.

Eddie & Mike

Ah – another proud moment for South Africa as the world looks on.

Eddie Izzard’s attempt to run 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa has had to be postponed, “just” four days in:

I set out to run 27 marathons in 27 days as a tribute to Nelson Mandela and his 27 years spent in prison.

Having completed 4 marathons, unfortunately, I have had to put my attempt on hold due to unforeseen medical complications that have arisen due to a multitude of factors including severe terrain, humidity and altitude. But I wish to say that my attempt is not over and I will return to South Africa and run the 27 marathons and finish this story.

I owe that to Nelson Mandela who has inspired the world to struggle and succeed no matter what obstacles are thrown at us.

There are literally hundreds of supportive comments in response to the post.

And then there’s this one from Mike Finch:

This is awkward and embarrassing, at best. Is it meant to be funny? Is it meant to be a bit of a dig at the English?
Or maybe a dig at Eddie personally?

Even runners like you?

It’s not surprising you only lasted four marathons

Really?
This is the guy who did 43 marathons in 51 days a couple of years back. I’m no huge fan of Eddie Izzard, but that is a pretty huge achievement.

Now he is in SA supporting and honouring the South African hero. And yet you ridicule him?

And what on earth is:

This is Africa… where men never cry and women do… a lot

meant to mean?

All in all, it would be a pretty awful comment from anyone, really, but then it turns out that Mike is the editor of Runnersworld magazine.
He’s educated.
He allegedly “knows about running”.
He edits the most popular running magazine on the continent.

And yet he gives us that condescending, uninformed crap?

No wonder I’m not a subscriber. Are you?

UPDATE: Opinion seems divided over the Mike Finch post. The overwhelming majority are with me: the comment is rude, disrespectful, uninformed and crass. Mike does have some support though.
The division exists almost completely (although not absolutely) along the line of whether the individual knows Mike or not. Those friends of Mike are incredulous that I or anyone else could read anything but humour into his Facebook comment. And that, to me, probably shows that Mike’s comment was probably an attempt to be humorous. (I still don’t get the “women cry a lot bit”, though.)

However, what these unobservant birds fail to notice is that the vast majority of Eddie Izzard’s 445,000 fans on Facebook aren’t personal friends of Mike Finch. So on their reading, his comment will have come across as rude, disrespectful, uninformed and crass.

As someone charged with editing a popular magazine, and when commenting to 445,000 fans of Eddie Izzard, perhaps Mike should have thought about writing more for the masses and not for his mates.

Free Music

Regular readers may recall a post towards the end of last year celebrating the news of a new Apparatjik album to be released early in 2012.

The good news is that the latest versions (draft 6) of the album tracks are now available for listenage and downloading on Facebook. It’s still got that 80’s electronica feel, with a touch of house and a hint of Röyksopp. And yes – you can hear the influence of Guy from Coldplay and and Jonas from Mew. Less so Magne, but it’s still great listening.

If you only have time for one song, I’d recommend Aretïve (the piano remix of Sequential) for those who want to get a quick feel (ooer!) of the sound.

But – these “auditory documentings” aren’t going to be around forever – get there now, download and enjoy.

You’re welcome.