Tech Talk #89 – Oct. 27, 2018

“Ghosting” Facebook

Breaking off a relationship suddenly without telling the other person and then ignoring all communications from that person is called “ghosting.”


If you can’t quite delete your Facebook account yet (maybe because you’d miss out on photos from traveling friends or kids and grandkids) you can try ghosting Facebook instead.


But why would you want to ghost Facebook?


Reason #1 Facebook would like you to use something called Two Factor Authentication (TFA) to help secure your Facebook account. To set it up, you usually enter your mobile phone number. Facebook can then text you when someone accesses your account from a device you haven’t used before. You can also get alerts if someone accesses your account from a device Facebook doesn’t recognize.


TFA sounds like a good thing, right? Except, Facebook harvested those mobile numbers and used them to target ads to people. You can go in and turn off TFA and remove your phone number, but that cat’s already out of the bag and Facebook has your number, literally


Reason #2 In early October, Facebook reported that a huge data breach affected as many as 50 million accounts.


Reason #3 In mid-October (just two weeks later,) Facebook reported another data breach, or maybe it was just more details on the first data breach, it’s unclear. What is clear, is that for around 400,000 accounts, personal information like posts on timelines, lists of friends, Group membership, and recent Messenger conversations was compromised. Another 14 million users had information about their gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, devices used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches, plus basic contact info like phone numbers and email addresses stolen.


For any of the reasons above, or for reasons of your own, you’ve decided to ghost Facebook. But how?


Facebook is all about selling your data, so just remove it. Delete your favorite movies, TV shows, pets, the city where you were born, where you went to school, where you work now and where you used to work, family, relationships, pages and people you’ve liked etc., all of it.


Facebook doesn’t want you to do this, of course, so it’s not easy. Just keep deleting information until your Facebook profile is the barest of bare bones. You can probably leave your current city so people can find the right you. If you still want people to find the right you.


Facebook won’t let you delete your birthday or your gender. But pretty much everything else is up for grabs.


Of course, Facebook won’t “forget” the things you’ve deleted, but it should make things harder when, not if, when, the next Facebook data breach makes the news.




Did you know that the largest companies in the world today didn’t even exist 25 years ago? Maybe you didn’t, but I’ll bet you do know that almost all of those companies are tech companies. The tech companies of today are so large that they should probably be thought of as techopolies.


I’m not sure where I first read that word, techopoly, but it fits.


Technology has moved so fast that our legal system hasn’t come close to keeping up with the changes. Nor have our elected officials. Remember when Mark Zuckerberg was testifying before Congress? It sure sounded like the people asking questions had no clue how the internet worked or, possibly, who Mark Zuckerberg was.


Since all of the techopolies are publicly-held companies (i.e., listed on stock exchanges,) they answer not just to the United States, but also to their global shareholders. Techopolies increasingly look like companies without countries. They might say “This thing we’re doing might go against the values of the US, but over here (wherever “here” is) it’s the right thing to do.” And increasingly, by “the right thing to do,” they mean “make more money.”


Nearly all of the techopoly companies make money mostly through advertising; whether that’s by selling advertising to you, or selling your info to other advertisers. Do you know who else makes money through advertising.? Companies that own newspapers, TV networks, and magazines. Maybe we should start calling most tech companies, media companies?


In our headlong rush to adopt new technologies, we often don’t, or we just can’t, look beyond the shiny stuff to see if there’s a dark side. Currently we struggle with internet bullying, smartphone addiction, social network overuse causing mental health problems, shortened attention spans, easy broadcasting of misinformation, and more.


I think the root word of techopoly is monopoly. So, as monopolies, what do our current techopolies fear? Not too much, actually. Not direct competition, since they simply buy out companies that might be a threat. How about government regulation? Probably not, since most of our lawmakers don’t seem to understand how these companies work or even what they do.


The biggest companies in the world 25 years from now probably haven’t even been started yet. Let’s hope 25 years is long enough for our legal, societal, and regulatory systems to process the changes those companies will bring.



Ah, good times

Texting wasn’t always easy. Back in the day you had to work for it. You had to want it. Do you want a lower-case s? Fine, but you better click that 7 button four times.


Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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