Coming face to face with some unpleasant realities

Coming face to face with some unpleasant realities

By Carol Mizrahi 

I've been unfriended!

Recently I got onto Facebook and found the following message from a company called Unfriendapp:

"SEE WHO UNFRIENDED YOU!"

My first reaction was: "Who are you?" and my second: "How would you know about my friends?"

I followed the link to unfriendapp's website and learned that I (and everyone else on Facebook) is being tracked. Every time we log in a scan is run on our friends' lists, which is then compared with our last log-in. Any downward changes are recorded, and we are quickly notified that we've been unfriended! From unfriendapp's hype, you'd think being unfriended was an uplifting event:

Really Works! 100% verified & real.

Over 100,000 users love UnfriendApp!

Unfrienders will be reported within 15 minutes!

The results will SHOCK you!

They're right about one thing — I am shocked, shocked they are tracking and broadcasting information thought to be private. I'm also shocked that possibly hurtful information is being released with such gusto. I'm shocked that Facebook allows unfriendapp to slither through its bowels collecting data, and most of all I'm shocked because I don't remember agreeing to release "unfriending" data. (Editor's note: unfriendapp may also be malware.)

There are many companies selling services aimed at tracking down traitorous unfrienders. You don't believe me? Just do a quick search on Google.

After my Facebook dumping notification, I wondered if Twitter also allowed companies to scan their data. The answer is yes: friendorfollow.com, justunfollow.com, useqwitter.com and unfollowers.me, to name just a few.

Without these electronic ambulance chasers, most "unfriending and unfollowing events" would become non-events, but non-events are, apparently, missed economic opportunities. When I was young, telling secrets (if discovered) resulted in such public tauntings as:

"Tattle tale, tattle tale, stick your head in a garbage pail."

This was not a label anyone wanted.

You were also taught that spying and preying (same as bullying) was unacceptable, and anyone who broke the code didn't advertise it! But the world's been turned upside down, and what was once considered private and respected as such has become public game, regardless of who gets hurt along the way. This new morality is explained by a deep thinker whose writings I found on http://www.makeuseof.com:

"It is probably true that people deserve the right to unfriend people in privacy, but turning it into such a secret makes the whole thing seem illegitimate. So what if I unfriended someone? People have the right to use Facebook as they see fit, and if someone is hurt because someone else unfriended him, well, that's tough ."

I got onto Facebook and Twitter because I'd written a novel ("Coming of Age AGAIN") and the marketing gurus said that social websites were the place to promote. The first stranger to invite me to be her friend on Facebook arrived dressed in nothing but a G-string. If only she'd been wearing reading glasses, I might have said yes.

And when strangers first followed me on Twitter, I became suspicious.

"Why are you following me?" I asked.

I never heard from them again.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not very good at this social media stuff.

Carol Mizrahi is the author of the blog "The Bottom Whine" (http://www.thebottomwhine.blogspot.com) and "Coming of Age ... AGAIN," a novel. She lives in Champaign.

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