neil doesn’t get it

A couple of days ago I received an email from an old friend (let’s call him “Geoff”) which said:

Following last Friday night discussion I have created a facebook page as a shared repository of our photos etc. I have kickstarted with most of mine. You can either make yourself a friend of this page if you have a facebook account, or just login to it if you do not.

The login is deleted-email address password: deleted-password


That email went to some two dozen or so people (most, but not all, of whom I know reasonably well). Obviously “Geoff” and some others on the list had been discussing setting up a “club” page in order to advertise the antics of members. I was not present at that meeting, nor party to the discussion.

As you would expect, I was less than happy with this email and having checked the facebook page in question and found some prominent pictures of myself I told Geoff (and cc addressees) as much in response. I said:

Thank you.

But please delete any and all photos containing my image. And please will anyone else thinking of adding any photograph of me NOT DO SO. I do not wish to have any image identifying me on Facebook (or any other “social networking site” of any kind). I have not approved the use of my image, and I do not do so. Images on such sites become the property of the site owner. Facebook is a large US based corporation whose security and privacy policy I most decidedly do NOT approve. And whilst I should not have to say this, I think it an appalling lapse of good sense to a) firstly create the site and populate it with images of persons who have not previously approved that, and b) then send the login credentials in clear by email to a large number of people. That site is now completely compromised.

At this point, one of the copy addressees (let’s call him “Neil”) responded:

FFS. They are no pix of you on it.

Geoff, to his credit, deleted the most obvious photographs and responded:

No worries Mick. … BTW you have the login stuff so you can engage with the great Satan and delete anything you don’t like.

I then went through the site and deleted a few Geoff had missed and replied:


And since Neil clearly doesn’t get why I should care, he, and others, should think carefully about the implications of a public system which allows the posting of images of others over which the subject has no control. Worse, those images can be tagged by third parties. Worse still, those images are automatically the property of the social networking site under the terms of its user policy. So, despite /my/ careful control of any and all images of me, some other person can happily post an image tagged say, “Harry Roberts with his wife Mary and dog Jehosophat on holiday with their friends in Corfu”. That image could contain exif data giving dates and geo-locations. Linkages from those images go to “their friends in Corfu”. Unless Harry has posted that himself, or given very specific permission for it to be posted, then that is a gross abuse of privilege.

FFS indeed.

At this point, Neil appeared to lose some control. He responded:

Mick. Get a life. Get a fucking life. You are already documented, certified, attested, and if the fucking black helicopters wanted to machine-gun or abduct you, they’d have done so already. And, right now, with my fucking blessing. Mick, this and you are tedious. You’ve degenerated into a bad-tempered, fulminating, sclerotic old bastard. Shame.

Now I’ve known Neil for over 25 years. I recall him once being witty and enjoyable company. Unfortunately, he now appears to be somewhat short tempered, irrational and, let’s face it, just plain rude. Shame.

So, why do I dislike Facebook (and of course other similar systems) so much? Well, even a cursory read of trivia would probably answer that, but for now, I’ll let others do the talking for me. So here, in no particular order, are some comments from others who share my concern:

Of course, any simple search for “Facebook + Privacy” will get you thousands more such articles. I leave further research to the reader.

Oh, and I considered adding a photograph of “Neil” to this post.

But that would just be wrong.

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