Developer Kevin Ludlow experiments with Bayesian Flooding, a technique used to confuse Facebook profiling and recommendation algorithms.
Over the past several months I have entered a myriad of life-events to my Facebook profile… Some of those life-events are true, and some of them are not. In my fictitious life I’ve explored a dozen different religions, had countless injuries and broken bones, suffered twice through cancer, been married, divorced, fathered children all around the world, and have even fought for numerous foreign militaries.
My intent was to coin the term [Bayesian Flooding] within the same sphere as Bayesian Filtering, a common method of filtering junk email by word analysis. Of course both terms pay homage to Thomas Bayes, a mathematician best known for Bayes’ Theorem… a commonly applied mathematical formula used for calculating the conditional probability of some event given that some additional event has occurred, or that some additional knowledge has been gained.
In the picture she looked quite stoked with her choice. I laughed again. She was indeed ready for some romance. I have no idea about their future, obviously. It could be a travel romance that doesn’t last much past her return home, or it could be a beautiful love story’s first chapter, all I know is it looked like a very special moment. Part of me wanted to tell her I was stoked for her. And part of me wanted to fling my phone into the waves and cuss about how the guy looked like a boring pretty boy. And I wish I were the guy who could be supremely cool with it all. I’m not there yet. I’m the guy who works hard to overcome pride, stubbornness, and arrogance. This time I didn’t make it. I couldn’t. I couldn’t “like” the picture. That just felt masochistic.
The moment melted away. I slid my thumb to pull up other pictures. Wouldn’t you know it- she also posted a picture of her at the beach, posed on a rock like the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Damnit! She totally knows how much I love the ocean and mermaids. I’d be a liar if I didn’t “like” that picture. My silence would send a message. It was like a friendship test. I wondered how anyone can be emotionally honest in our modern social nets. I laughed at my fate as I hit “like” on the picture of her posing like the Little Mermaid.
These moments of digital deliberation are now part of how we externalize our emotions. What were once messages secreted back and forth by carrier pigeons, letters conveyed in the saddlebags of the pony express, cables from the telegraph, and eventually long distance phone calls, text messages, emails, it’s all been boiled down to a “like” button. You can send a rather detailed message to someone you care about with just a social media “like.”
So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home. Facebook will be able to pinpoint on a map where your home is, whether you share your personal address with the site or not. It can start to build a bigger and better profile of you on its servers. It can start to correlate all of your relationships, all of the places you shop, all of the restaurants you dine in and other such data. The data from accelerometer inside your phone could tell it if you are walking, running or driving. As Zuckerberg said — unlike the iPhone and iOS, Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.
This future is going to happen – and it is too late to debate. However, the problem is that Facebook is going to use all this data — not to improve our lives — but to target better marketing and advertising messages at us. Zuckerberg made no bones about the fact that Facebook will be pushing ads on Home.
And it’s Facebook who is walking up and down the halls of this prison, keys jangling from their belt, a swing in their step, whistling a happy tune. Facebook guards a prison which contains inmates that don’t even know they’ve been incarcerated. Inmates that want to be there. A voluntarily lock-up.
A browser add-on that removes all quantifiable information in your Facebook page, taking away any social currency or values from sight.
Developed by Ben Grosser, he got in contact to tell me what it’s all about:
Under its influence, Facebook no longer foregrounds how many friends you have, or how much people like your status. Instead these numbers are stripped away, inviting you to try the system without these things, to enable a network society that isn’t dependent on quantification.
More at his website:
The Facebook interface is filled with numbers. These numbers, or metrics, measure and present our social value and activity, enumerating friends, likes, comments, and more. Facebook Demetricator is a web browser addon that hides these metrics. No longer is the focus on how many friends you have or on how much they like your status, but on who they are and what they said. Friend counts disappear. ’16 people like this’ becomes ‘people like this’. Through changes like these, Demetricator invites Facebook’s users to try the system without the numbers, to see how their experience is changed by their absence. With this work I aim to disrupt the prescribed sociality these metrics produce, enabling a network society that isn’t dependent on quantification.
You can find out more and get the add-on at Ben’s site here
My ex’s live-tweeted marriage reminded me of this. So did my most recent breakup with a man whom I remain connected to via three social media platforms. But then there came yet another reminder this week — a study with a finding that will surprise no one: “Facebook stalking” an ex “may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship.” You can no longer pretend that hitting “refresh” on your ex’s profile is helping you “process.”