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Facebook Wants to Know Your Real Name and What You Do Offline – Tech Tuesday

Facebook has managed to get in the news three times in a row this week. They may have accidentally made some user’s private messages public, they are also asking users to snitch on their friends, if their friends are using an alias on Facebook, and teamed with a consumer data collection company to link your Facebook profile with your spending habits in the stores. So first up is how Facebook is now asking users to snitch on their friends if they use a fake name on social networking site. The fact you can’t use a fake name for your account has been in their acceptable use policy since the beginning, but it was hard for them to know you were using a fake name. So why are they so suddenly gun-ho about this policy all of a sudden? Well it could be because they want to match your account with data from a consumer data collection company and match it all up to have a profile of how you spend online as well as offline.

A sampling of the loyalty cards in mine and my fiance's wallet.
Photo BIG Rich Lawrence/TSM

How could they possibly know what you are buying offline? Look in your wallet or purse, or even on your key chain. Those loyalty cards you have that give you discounts at all kinds of stores. When you purchase something with those cards, that data is collected and saved in a database so the companies know what ads to send you so you spend more. Facebook seems to want to merge those separate types of data so they can have a profile of you.

Now you may be asking, “So what? They already know what I buy in the stores.” True, but those consumer data collectors don’t have a name to match with those spending profiles. The companies that share that data with the data collection groups doesn’t release your name. Now add Facebook that requires your real name and they can merge all that data together and have a nice neat profile of you. So now Facebook has all the cards, so to speak, and puts them at an advantage for online ads and also makes them keeper of all that precious data.

And here is just one more thing to think about while you process all this: Remember the story about the Father who discovered his teen daughter was pregnant because of Target’s data collection on spending habits? That’s how good some of these consumer data collection places are. They can find things about you that you thought were private, and you may not really want to share.

Which brings us to the accusation that private messages of some users were made public, on their timelines no less for all to see. Facebook has said, no we didn’t and users are saying yes you did. I’m saying Facebook is turning into a hot mess and their stock is not exactly doing as well as they hoped and the lock for their employees to be able to buy or sell more stock is coming soon and investors are watching close to see what will happen. And what happens to all that data should Facebook shutdown in the future? Who gets it? Where does it get saved? Feeling paranoid yet?

I’m not trying to scare you, but get you to think about this stuff. How it affects you and what you do and what you want to share, and not share with the world. If we could see that data, I’m betting we would all be pretty shocked by what they can tell us.

$>chmod -r myprofile

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