Beating the spook called Facebook

facebook-logoFacebook is very kind to remind me that I registered and joined the social network on 31st May 2008. That means I have been facebooking for the past 6 years!

In the initial days, It was just odd pictures and odd posts, jokes and little things to reconnect with my past and my very few friends. Then I discovered Facebook chat and there began my battle with the most intrusive and addictive component in Facebook.

Compared with twitter, the 140 character social media for the brief souls, no one can send you a direct message if you are not following each other. Facebook messaging is an all-comers affairs.

 What is however spooky about the chat is that no matter when someone sends you a message, there before you, is the history of all messages you ever exchanged.  Just imagine someone illegally gaining access to your Facebook account, sending an hello to a contact of yours, and suddenly, reading all your past exchanges. Simply Spooky!

By default, Facebook keeps you exposed. It is your responsibility to hunt down all the various privacy holes and plug them. For example, Your posts are public unless you limit them to a group. You can easily be found in searches unless you restrict your being found, or change your name to some funny names like “Coconut Candy”.

Facebook can be stubborn! There is a like button, but no dislike button. The net effect is that someone could make a post about losing a dear one on Facebook, and a couple of friends will “like” it immediately. Crazy!

Recently, words began circulating on the Internet that Facebook experimented with its users, in a study that found that people’s moods were influenced by their friends’ mood. You can read more about the research here http://www.cnet.com/news/facebooks-mood-study-how-you-became-the-guinea-pig/ Now, that made me issue a yellow card to Facebook!

About two weeks ago, Facebook decided that its users will no longer be able to use Facebook chat on mobile devices. You just must install the Facebook messaging app to be able to chat.

Now, Facebook chat wants a lot of permissions. It wants permission to use the following things on your phone: access to your contacts, location, text messages, camera and microphone and more. When you install it, its first request is to sync with the contacts on your phone. Spooky!!

Just yesterday, a friend of mine capitulated and installed the messenger app on android. I simply told him … Never, and I mean Never. Not with the serial privacy breech from Facebook.

Until Facebook gives me a convincing reason to trust it, I will not install the messenger app. At least until google allows me drop some of the permissions being sought by facebook.

Well, if you are technologically clued, you will have found out that Facebook chat actually runs the jabber or XMPP protocol. So … Any jabber client can send and receive Facebook messages!

Want to beat Mr Spook? You have two options. Either install a jabber client such as Xabber, which I installed from google play, or simply use the browser on your phone to login to m.facebook.com the Facebook mobile site. There, you can chat to your heart’s content.

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