Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Sheer Creepiness of Facebook

On a completely non-gaming-related tangent, I have come to find the degree to which Facebook weaves its tendrils into my life very disturbing.  Consider the following:

In 2010, I switched cell phone carriers and got a new number.  The number I now have was previously assigned to a retired Mormon gentleman named Jim (I won't give his last name out of respect for his privacy).  Since acquiring this number, I get calls, messages, texts, and even image-texts on at least a monthly basis for Mr. Jim from his friends and family (including, and I'm not making this up, his daughter).  Often, men will call for Jim asking questions about Mormon church activities, and once I even got a message from Jim's physician saying that the test results were back and Jim needed to come in to discuss them with the doctor (I made it a point of returning that call to let the doc's office know that they needed some other way to get ahold of him).

Last year, just before taking a vacation with my kids and ex-wife in Washington DC, I downloaded the FB app to my iPhone so that I could be posting pics while on the fly.  After being back from our trip, I deleted the FB app.  And then a funny thing happened. 

I started getting friend suggestions for Mr. Jim's friends and relatives, including his son.

Make no mistake.  Jim and I are not "friended" on FB.  But suddenly FB is bombarding me with friend suggestions for people at Brigham Young University, where Jim's son apparently went to college.  I have no other connection to these people, and where FB usually says "3 Mutual Friends" or something like that, there's nothing.

Again, this is coming after I uninstalled the FB app from my iPhone.  Still, I can see how the FB app would have looked into my contacts and phone number and whatnot and then data-mined its way to connect me with Jim and his friends and family.  Because, hey, that's how the app works, and while it was on my phone, I did get calls and messages from Team Jim.  But now it gets even creepier.

Meet Aaron.  This is the gentleman who had the misfortune to be in front of me a couple weeks ago when a small car in front of him slammed on her brakes and caused him to slam on his.  I was not fast enough on my brakes, and ended up plowing into the back of his truck.

Luckily, we're all okay, and because Aaron's truck was much larger than mine, he came out of it with a dented fender while I am now driving a rental care and waiting for my insurance company to decide whether to put a bullet in my Ford and bury it in a shallow grave.  Aaron was terrific about the whole thing, a real trouper and very cheerful and polite.

While we were exchanging insurance info, we each used our smartphones to take pictures of each others insurance cards and driver's licenses, as well as the damage.  Because this is the Twenty-Teens, and no self-respecting American would use a pen and notepad to jot down their info when they can just take pics and send texts.  Handwriting something is so 2005.

At this point, I have not had the FB app on my phone for nearly 15 months.  And yet, what to my wandering eye should appear, but a FB friend suggestion sitting right here!  Yes, somehow FB not only found out about the accident, it found out who was involved in the accident and then suggested that we be friends.

I'm not making this up.

I went and checked on Aaron's feed, and he has not posted an update since mid-2015.  Maybe he has FB on his phone;  I have no idea.  But somehow, FB gleaned this data from the two of us and used it to decide that we might be friends.  Even then, if neither of us actually updated our contacts or upload the pics we took... how did FB know?

What.  The.  Hell.

Facebook, you are creeping me out.  I dread the day you achieve sentience and we are relegated to serving you in the silicon mines.

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