It’s not all cute kitties and phone-snaps of people’s dinners, though you do have to tune those things out – posted by some intelligent people too.In fact, though I undoubtedly spend (waste) too much time on it, Facebook has been good to me. How good it is depends, I suppose, on the quality of your friends.
Mine have introduced me to some worthwhile ideas, good writing and good music, and invited me to events I might not have known about. Through it I’ve met up again with old friends from years ago – some of them in the real world too.
Facebook is, like life, what you make of it. And, to an uncontrollable and often unknown degree, what other people make of it for you.
I knew, of course, that those irritating little ads that pop up down the side of your page were cleverly (or not so cleverly) targeted. What I didn’t know was that the targetting is based not just on your own details and online behaviour, but also on that of your friends.
I assumed it was just my age and gender that led to the nature of “personal” ads I received.
The claims that “Suzy” just “liked” my page. No, she didn’t. And if she did, she doesn’t look like that.
The promise that there are “lots of over-50 women” just dying to meet me. Or alternatively that “my area” is full of young lovelies desperate to get their hands on an older guy.
Now I’m wondering which of my friends opened the virtual door that let this stuff in to my page.
Whoever it was may merely have succumbed to a moment’s idle curiosity. As I did myself the other day – or shall I say it was done in the spirit of journalistic research?
Either way, I clicked. Just one click on a tiny picture of an alluring smile.
Had I ever really fancied, or believed, that stuff about “girls in your area”, I’d have been disappointed to discover that my area, in this case, seemed to be somewhere in the Far East.
Which makes the tantalising statement (or, rather, “warning”) that follows particularly hard to believe. “This site” (it says) “contains explicit pictures of someone you know.” Yeah, right.
Brief chuckle, close down browser window and that’s that. Except it isn’t.
Now, to my surprise – I thought Facebook had a bit more class – the ads have changed. The women in the little pictures appear to have lost their clothes.
Quite how these ads get past Facebook’s much-trumpeted anti-nudity algorithms, I’m not sure.
Where my home page used to be brightened by cheerful, pretty faces it is now sullied with body parts of the kind most people prefer to keep private. Much less appealing somehow, even if more honest about what they’re selling.
Well, they’re not selling it to me. A little later, after a trawl through my settings, I have found how to specify my preferences more clearly.
Sadly there seems to be no setting that eliminates advertising altogether. But I have passed up my “chance to Chat w/ Sexxy”.
Now I just have to find a way to get rid of ads for pension calculators, life insurance, disability aids and old people’s holidays. Just because I don’t want a life of unmitigated sexual adventure doesn’t mean I’m ready for incontinence pads or a stair-lift. Not just yet.
The twitterati of America appears to have broken into a froth of semi-informed wrath over an article that appeared in the New York Times. An article which, for legal reasons, could not have appeared in a British paper.The piece in question was an accusation by Dylan Farrow, stepdaughter of the film director Woody Allen, that he sexually abused her when she was seven.
After 20 years there is no way of proving or disproving the allegation. It’s her word against his. Which makes it very strange to see people leaping to take sides.
Either he’s a liar and a pervert, or she’s a liar and a vindictive fantasist – or so most of the outraged seem to assume. There is a third possibility – that she is not lying, but mistaken.
There are various reasons why she might be. Such as, for example, the theory advanced by Allen’s lawyer, that for most of her life she has been “poisoned” against Allen by her mother, Mia Farrow.
For what it’s worth, this third possibility is the one I’m most inclined to believe. But what it’s worth isn’t very much. Because – just like all those people rushing eagerly and angrily either to condemn Allen or defend him – I simply don’t have enough evidence to base an opinion on.
Do you believe him, because he’s famous (and a man)? Or her, because you’re predisposed in favour of self-proclaimed victims (and she’s a woman)?
About the only sensible comment I’ve seen on the matter was that of the actor Alec Baldwin.
Responding on Twitter to one of the many side-takers, he said: “So you know who’s guilty? Who’s lying? You, personally, know that? You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family’s issue.”
Let’s leave it there.