What did we learn new about Facebook?

I’m feeling a little stupid right now. Maybe a little history is in order.

So tell me again what’s so shocking about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica? What new thing did we learn?

Btw, if you want to keep your data on Facebook more private,5 there are steps you can take. Techlicious has a great walkthrough on Facebook’s privacy settings.


  1. I’ve been unable to determine if there is a link between Five Labs and Cambridge Analytica. Both Five Labs and Cambridge Analytica performed personality analysis using the Big 5 (OCEAN) personality traits. To my understanding, Five Labs did it first. 
  2. Actually, I still resist. That’s why I did my Facebook Experiment
  3. This was tongue in cheek when I wrote it. Haha! I still think Facebook has a way to go before it implements all of my “plans.” But the point remains—does anyone think that Facebook doesn’t survive and thrive by selling ads into target demographics? 
  4. This doesn’t bother me. When I go to Starbucks, or the mall (yeah, right…), or the airport, I don’t mind that they try to provide a comfortable place that makes me happy. If they have reading material around, I don’t assume that I’m getting a comprehensive view of everything I should know. I wouldn’t expect it from Facebook either. 
  5. If it’s on the internet, it’s not private. Regardless what settings you have, your information is no more secure than your least responsible Facebook friend on a bender early, early on a Sunday morning. 

My Facebook experiment, an update

More than two years ago, I started an experiment with Facebook: I hide the sources I don’t want to see anymore. I started with the Buzzfeed quizzes, then moved on to the radio stations and their silly news stories. I hid the parody sites, the viral meme sites, the sports teams’ sites.

But I kept some news sites. The Wall Street Journal. NPR. OPB. The Washington Post. The NY Times.1

These are reputable sources. I shouldn’t have to worry about them, right?

Wrong!

Facebook doesn’t see itself as a news media company.2 It fired its human editors and replaced them with an algorithm.

Facebook’s algorithm’s goal is not to keep us educated and informed, to show us a balanced cross-section of news. Instead, Facebook wants to keep us on Facebook. It does that by watching us closely and determining what our political views are.3 Then it feeds us news that agrees with our biases.

It doesn’t matter that I haven’t blocked a news source with a different political perspective. Facebook won’t show it to me. Facebook wants to keep me happy — and as a byproduct, ignorant.

I made a decision to expand my Facebook experiment: no news on Facebook, period.4

I’ll get my news elsewhere.5


  1. Turns out, I noted this in a footnote on the previous post. ‘Course, you probably already noticed that, being the type that reads footnotes and all… ;-) 
  2. It’s an ad serving company. It sells eyeballs to advertisers. 
  3. Thanks to those Facebook “like” buttons all across the web, Facebook knows what you read on the internet. 
  4. Yeah, I know. I’ll still see news from those sources I haven’t yet blocked. But only once. It has made a huge difference in my Facebook newsfeed. I see more baby pictures, more vacation pictures, more statuses. 
  5. For those that are interested, that elsewhere is currently Twitter. I intentionally follow people with whom I disagree. They are good at finding those sources I’ll have the most difficulties with. 

How to survive Thanksgiving

I’m studying these suggestions for surviving Thanksgiving from Sally Kohn so I can respond appropriately tomorrow. May you have a blessed, maybe apolitical, Thanksgiving!

Update. It’s good to have a buddy system. Friends don’t let friends feel attacked. Have an exit strategy. Forgive everyone you possibly can.

Update #2. 8 tips for talking to your family about Trump. A good list.

Continue reading “How to survive Thanksgiving”

It’s time to vote!

I'm with her
I’m With Her

It’s election day eve—most will vote tomorrow. Many of you have already voted. That’s great! I voted a few weeks ago.

If you have already know who you’re voting for, you can stop reading right now. I don’t have anything for you other than encouraging you to go vote.

If you’re still undecided after months and months of campaign coverage, I’m not sure I can help you. It’s not you, it’s me. I just don’t understand.

When I originally wrote this post, I tried making three main points:

  1. The presidency is not an entry-level position;
  2. Trump has done and said a laundry list of bad things; and
  3. Trump’s temperament is not right for someone leading the largest military on Earth.

But I deleted it.

My first point doesn’t seem convincing. Obama had little government experience when he ran eight years ago, yet he was elected. This time around, Trump, with no government experience was nominated by the Republicans. At least Obama went to Harvard Law School, became a law professor teaching Constitutional Law, was a three-term state senator in Illinois, and then a U.S. senator. And Hillary’s done a lot, too. Probably even more than Obama. But people don’t seem to think being president requires any prior government experience or legal training. So, hey!

The press and many other influential people have documented Trump’s egregious behavior and how he gives comfort to the worst in our society. I can’t imagine how any listicle I might write would tip the scale on my second point. So, ignore that, too. After all, you’ve been doing a good job of that so far. Maybe you believe the press is biased, even Fox News. Maybe you think it doesn’t matter—because emails. Whatever.

My third point was maybe best made by Hillary herself:

Hillary should know. She baited Trump with Khizr Khan and Alicia Machado. And he bit—hook, line, and sinker. Yet, people who should know better don’t seem to mind, including most of the Republican elites. And they’re experts at military stuff, so maybe the commander in chief’s temperament doesn’t matter. Besides, Trump claimed to have the best temperament. Maybe that confused them.

So, I give up.1 I can’t imagine what I might say that would finally help you make up your mind.

But still, you should vote. Vote for Hillary. Or The Donald. You can even throw your vote away to a third party candidate or a write in. Maybe that would be best. You could say you didn’t vote for either “evil” and feel good about yourself, yet not having made any real choice or difference in the election.

I believe our democracy is best served when people vote. So, at least do that. If you can… :-/


  1. There is one point that I haven’t heard much that means a lot to me. Trump operates in a win-lose world, not a win-win world. He doesn’t feel like he’s winning unless someone else is losing. That might work fine in the business world, when you can keep finding other, new customers, but it doesn’t work in the geopolitical world. America doesn’t win because Mexico or China loses. In fact, America might do better because Mexico or China do well. Maybe this resonates with you, too. I don’t know. It was worth a shot. 

My experience switching to Mac

Nearly a year ago, I started using a Mac for the first time. People ask how I like the Mac. I think it’s summed up in this:

Windows

  1. On Windows, to switch between windows using the keyboard, press Alt-Tab. Repeat until you’re at the window you want.

Mac

  1. On Mac, to switch between windows using the keyboard, press Command-Tab. Repeat until you’re at the window you want. Unless…
  2. To switch to a different instance of the same program (e.g., two Chrome browsers open at the same time), instead of Command-Tab, you’ll need to press Command-Backtick.
  3. To switch to a minimized window, press Command-Tab until you’re at the desired window. Then, before releasing the Command key, press the Option key, then release the Command key, then the Option key. If you didn’t notice that your desired window was minimized (which you can only tell if the dock doesn’t automatically disappear) and released the Command key without pressing the Option key, the window just stays minimized. At that point, the Command-Option key dance won’t restore the window. You need to press Command-Tab, then Command-Shift-Tab, then the Command-Option key dance before releasing the Command key.
  4. If the desired window is a minimized window that’s also a different instance of the active window, the Command-Backtick keypress won’t get you there, even with the Command-Option key dance. You’ll need to first go to a different window using Command-Tab. Then you can use Command-Tab and the Command-Option key dance to go to and restore the minimized window.

When I complain about this to my keyboard-loving, Mac-using friends, they respond, “Yeah, I never minimize windows.”

And don’t get me started on how the Finder displays folders and files together,1 the lack of a dedicated Delete (a real Delete key that deletes forward, not the mislabeled Backspace key on the Mac), Home, End, PageUp, and PageDown keys, how apps can have individual volume settings, but there is no way to control them, Shift-Command-4 to screen capture, Safari doesn’t display favicons in its tabs, no real ability to snap programs to the edges of Windows without purchasing BetterSnapTool… ;-) To be fair, I love, love love the Mac’s hardware. Maybe I should just run Parallels.2 :-D


  1. Update. This has been fixed!! :-) 
  2. And maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that an OS named Windows manages windows better. 

What I can do

Orlando. Baghdad. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Dallas. Nice.

The list is long. It’s overwhelming. I want to help, but what can I do?

I believe I can choose. Let me explain.

  • I can choose to greet everyone with a smile.
  • I can choose to say hello.
  • I can choose to listen.
  • I can choose to learn.
  • I can choose to seek out those that are different.1
  • I can choose to listen to understand, not planning my response or rebuttal.2
  • I can choose to seek that what unites us, not what divides us.
  • I can choose to be willing to change my opinions.
  • I can choose to apologize when I’ve hurt someone.
  • I can choose to look for the win-win, not the win-lose.3
  • I can choose to confront prejudice.4

In my desire to change the world, I must be willing to change myself first.5

What should I add to my list? What are you willing to do?


  1. Social media, especially Twitter, is perfect for this. With a little searching, I have found those with different politics, colors, orientations, and experiences, who are advocating for positive change. I try to be careful reading the response/comments. Anonymity gives many the license to be jerks or worse. I don’t accept abuse. The blockhammer works. 
  2. Karen Armstrong quotes Donald Davidson, “Whether we like it or not, if we want to understand others, we must regard them as right in most matters.” 
  3. And vote for candidates with the same view. 
  4. Many times, a simple, “I don’t get it” is the perfect response to a prejudiced joke. (And again, vote for candidates with the same view.) 
  5. Matthew 7:3-5