back to article Creepy Facebook urges users to pester friends about their SEX LIVES

Facebook users are now encouraged to ask fellow Facebookers to reveal details about their relationships if they haven't already dished the dirt on their love lives. In other words, by clearing the way for stalker types to ask acquaintances creepy questions, Facebook's data mining just got lazier. Yes, please do ask me about …


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  1. Frankee Llonnygog

    Multiple choice question

    Choose the correct answer to this multiple choice question: Are you on Facebook?

    (a) Goodbye

    (b) See (a)

  2. ForthIsNotDead


    So glad to *not* be one of those 1.25 billion people.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Ha!

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but unless everyone you know, or ever knew is also not on Facebook, it doesn't really matter. Facebook can work out a hell of a lot about the people who aren't on Facebook, simply by cross-referencing their friends who *do* use Facebook.

      If some marketer somewhere discovers that "people who are not on Facebook" is a population worth targeting, then Zuck and the boys can probably deliver a list of 99.9% of their names and email addresses, thoughtfully harvested from your friends Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc accounts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ha!

        Facebook may get my mail address, but not much else about me except that I'm in contact with such and such FB user. The danger here is not Facebook, but the parties that can buy information from many sources and cross reference it. Oh wait, Facebook can also buy that information and cross reference it...

      2. Captain Hogwash

        Re: Ha!

        Sure FB can find out a lot about people not on FB but I'm not sure they have any way of targetting us with ads. Mailing anything to those email addresses would likely be illegal under anti-spam laws. They can (and surely do) look but they can't touch.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ha!

        "Facebook can work out a hell of a lot about the people who aren't on Facebook, simply by cross-referencing their friends who *do* use Facebook."

        They'll likely end up with more chaff than they do wheat - theres more than enough people muddying the waters to make any conclusions pretty untrustworthy.

        I started a FB account when it was on the up, just out of curiosity. It was connected to nothing that really related to me beyond a few 'likes', and after 6 months I didn't touch it again. But the email I used to sign up is still well used, a junk yahoo account for casual or 'toxic' logins and arms length replies to customer services, feedback forms etc. So its well 'out there'. But the emails It still recieves from FB suggesting people I may know or things I may like are never within spitting distance of the right continent, let alone reality.

        I'd guess most non-business emails end up on some spammers list eventually, and by the times they've been used to pimp everything from penis pills to malware links they must be in half the free email boxes on the planet, purportedly sent from a hundred different people and servers over time as names are swapped. Even with up to date techniques to clean it up the resultant data on who knows who and who likes what has to be deeply suspect.

        From my own experience, genuine targetting for marketing or advertising purposes for the majority of the population is almost as elusive a pipe dream now as it was in the early 90s, when some so-called guru on Channel 4s Equinox claimed to have it cracked.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Ha!

          As you say, targeting of advertising is still really awful. I do have a FB profile, on an unused email address, with very little data, but linked to my real family and a few friends who're miles away and I no longer see much of.

          With that info Facebook manage to serve me completely useless ads. It's mostly dodgy looking dating sites, even more dodgy looking chances to score 'free' iPads and diet stuff. There's barely a non-obvious-scam advert in the lot. Seeing that, if I were a legitimate advertiser, I'd run a mile from Facebook - as it's scam by association. Maybe they do better with the people who're filling them up with data. I'll have to look at the ads on some friends' accounts and see.

          Google's targeted ads are no better. I suppose they don't care when they list ads on a search. As they're already getting paid. But many times you're searching for something specific - and yet some intermediary is paying for the top billing in order to place themselves between you and the thing you're actually searching for to get a commission. It's really hard to find a specific hotel you know now, as they get knocked further down the ranking by the crappy booking sites.

          I think they took away the ads in gmail a while ago. But they were always crap when they had them. They seemed to pick a random word in the email, and stick something based on that.

          Amazon deluged me with emails. It got so silly that I turned their email marketing off, when I once got 2 or 3 in a day. I'm happy to give companies I buy from a chance to send me one a week. I did click on the odd Amazon one, but mostly they seemed to advertise whatever the promotion was on their front page. They have virtually my whole CD buying history for 5 years, and about 70% of my book buying, plus the odd tech shiny - so it's amazing how rubbish they are.

          Even Sainsbury's suck at it. I've got a Nectar card, and do most of my shopping there. Most of their emails are general offers, like 20% of homeware this weekend. Well that's OK. Not targetted though. When they do offer specific products, it's always staples like fruit juice and butter - which I already buy! And they know this, as they have my whole purchase history. So they also know that I sometimes like a cake. But not every shop. So why not offers on those - or even just reminders, so I think of them before I start to shop?

          My conclusion is that this is just too hard. It would need an individual person to look at what I buy - and then extrapolate what I might like at the moment. And that's obviously ludicrously impractical. Maybe some magic with AI will solve the problem, but so far the application of lots of computer doesn't seem to be helping.

    2. Phil 17

      Re: Ha!

      I have a friend who is gay. He is well into his 70's. When he was a lad being gay was illegal. Even now he has a PAYG mobile, never uses a debit or credit unless he has to - very much aware of "counter surveillance" because in his youth people went to gaol for being gay. At a party he was vehement, no Facebook etc. Open laptop, 30 seconds later we had a photo of him at a Christmas party - a friend who does use Facebook. He was not pleased when I explained facial recognition.

      1. Hollerith 1

        Re: Ha!

        To be invisible these days, you can have no friends, never go out, be praeternaturally aware when people are taking photos in your vicinity, etc. Your friend has to be as vigilant now as he was then, if he wants to maintain the habits that protected him.

        1. John Tserkezis

          Re: Ha!

          "To be invisible these days, you can have no friends......"

          That doesn't mean you should concede defeat and become a member of facebook.

          You don't need to be entirely invisible to remain entirely functional. Your *first* step however, is getting rid of that Facebook profile...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ha!

            "You don't need to be entirely invisible to remain entirely functional."

            Having lots of friends who share your disdain for FB etc helps - probably a lot easier the older you get, and I'm glad I won't see the sort of pressure my neice, at 13, is about to be in for. I suppose eventually social groups as a whole will end up being partly shaped by the strength of peoples desire for a degree of anonymity - the idea of a social landscape being rejigged for something as worthless as advertising revenue is about as tawdry as it gets.

      2. Gannon (J.) Dick

        Re: Ha!

        "I have a friend who is gay."

        Used to have a friend ...

        I hope it wasn't the only one.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    Zuck ... wants to "connect the world" not for altruistic reasons, but ... to please Wall Street.

    Um, why can't it be both?

    Also it doesn't actually mention sex lives at all....

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Zuck ... wants to "connect the world" not for altruistic reasons, but ... to please Wall Street.

      Because selling personal information about people is not an altruistic act. I don't remember any major religious inspiration (fill in your saint, divinity, guru here) having a deep, searching chat with someone, only to swap that info for hard cash from a business mogul. When it is face to face, one phrase we use for that is 'stool pigeon'.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: Stool pigeon

        "If you wanna squeal, said the F.B.I.

        We can make a deal, make it worth your while"

        -Kid Creole

        I never thought I'd be quoting that!

        1. tony2heads
          Big Brother

          @ captain hogwash

          "Betray your family and friends, fabulous prizes to be won." - to quote Red Dwarf

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Zuck ... wants to "connect the world" not for altruistic reasons, but ... to please Wall Street.

        You totally fail to get it. I see absolutely no contradiction. Zuck can genuinely believe that FB is doing good, just as Tony Blair and George W Bush believed they were acting for good.

        Also, you're either trolling or an idiot because nowhere did anyone suggest "selling personal information about people is an altruistic act". That is FB's business model, not the service they provide to consumers.

        You might as well say that if I invent a cancer drug and sell it, I can't be acting for good because I'm making money from sickness. You can make money from something that is of benefit, the world is not black & white no matter what borderline-autistic nerds say.

  4. mhoulden
    Big Brother

    As Vincent Hanna said on Blackadder:

    'And now for the result of our exclusive exit poll, which produced a 100% result for... "Mind your own business, you nosy bastard."'

  5. Jim 59

    Off topic but I always decline web site offers to "log in with Facebook", "log in with Google+", "log in with Twitter" etc. etc. Is an obvious attempt to catch you in twin searchlight beams.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    They can do what the fuck they like

    but I will *never* enter genuine, real, marketable information into idiot book..

    Not now, not ever....

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: They can do what the fuck they like

      You don't need to. Your friends will do it for you.

      1. VinceH

        Re: They can do what the fuck they like

        I 'deleted' my FaceBook account a little over a year ago. However, I am currently considering starting a new one. I won't go into the why etc, but if I decide to do so it'll be interesting to see just how much of my old data really was deleted, and how much is still there. (And if I do I'll put even less on there than I did last time. Although I'll probably backfill my timeline with utter nonsense again.)

        1. John Tserkezis

          Re: They can do what the fuck they like

          "I 'deleted' my FaceBook account a little over a year ago."

          I used to have lots of friends. Then I got a Facebook account, and they all realised I was actually a dick. Now I have no friends.

          Shortly after, I started getting new friends. New friends who were telling me how great their penis enlagement pills were.

          I liked my first friends better...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They can do what the fuck they like


        I have no friends.

        1. LaeMing

          Re: They can do what the fuck they like

          If your 'friends' will sell out your private data like that...

          ... you have a very loose definition of 'friend'.

          1. Vector

            Re: They can do what the fuck they like

            "If your 'friends' will sell out your private data like that...

            ... you have a very loose definition of 'friend'."

            You're assuming that those friends know enough about social network business models to realize they're selling anything out...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "it's possible that Facebook is finally getting into the dating game"

    I have heard from various people that Facebook has been in the cheating business for a long time. People create new profiles, explore around, create a random relationship. Once they get tired, they just stop using that profile and create a new one.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: "it's possible that Facebook is finally getting into the dating game"

      Somehow, I can live with that (wayhay!)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "it's possible that Facebook is finally getting into the dating game"

      Are you suggesting there are really less than 1.2 billion users? That it's just a tiny fraction of that and a load of fake accounts? ;)

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: "it's possible that Facebook is finally getting into the dating game"

        It's pretty blindingly obvious there are lots of fake accounts. It's also pretty blindingly obvious that there are still gajillions of real users.

  8. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    What is that Face Book everyone is talking about? Is there a Kindle edition?

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first


    ... may I introduce you to


  10. Steven Raith

    Two sides

    On one hand, if we take the most generous position possible, it's an icebreaker.

    On the other hand, it really does tempt me to make a profile called 'Dutch Progressive Media' and claim that I'm in a relationship with it, just for the fun of having that as a relationship status.

    I think I'm actually part of the problem.

    1. h3

      Re: Two sides

      I think I would rather have the other type of icebreaker put into my skull via the back than have any involvement with that.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Two sides

        Turn around darling, I have something which may not come as a complete surprise to you.....

        *channels Christian Bale*


        Steven R

  11. Mark 85

    Just wondering...

    With all the info that FB has on us (supposedly) because even though we don't have an account, our friends do, why haven't they created an account for us?

    Also musing about why doen't FB and NSA join forces. Taxpayers would save a bundle, FB would have more info to sell. It would be a win-win except from a PR standpoint.

  12. plrndl

    Elbow? Meet Arse.

    The irony here is that advertisers use of the data is counter productive to them in my experience. I have turned off targeted advertising from Google, not because its use of my data is intrusive, but because it keeps showing me endless ads for stuff I've aready decided not to buy.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Elbow? Meet Arse.

      Very much so. In my own experience, the 'targeting' makes the average StarWars Stormtrooper look like a crack-shot sniper.

      But, advertising people have to justify their billing somehow, I guess.

      1. Vector

        Re: Elbow? Meet Arse.

        They're also really good at trying to sell me things I've already bought.

        ...for months after I bought them!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Elbow? Meet Arse.

          There was a great quote from someone interviewed on that Alex Krotowski series on the BBC a few years ago. More or less:

          "Amazon is very good at telling people like me what people like me like."

  13. phil dude

    isn't this why...

    they sell those nice "V for Vendetta" masks in the newsagent....


  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    You think

    those targetted ads are bad enough when its 'play this war game' 'date hot people' and 'play this bollocks game'

    You wait until you get to 50+ when all the FB ads morph into pile cream, denture glue and earwax removal.....


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Person of Interest"

    Started watching the series above last year, I never realized it was going to become real...

    1. Vector

      Re: "Person of Interest"

      Naw. This is more Minority Report than POI.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enabling creepers

    I have a feeling 98% of such requests will be sent by men to women they barely know and who are uninterested in getting to know the guy any better.

    Good way to turn women off using Facebook, nice job Zuck!

  17. Oldfogey
    Big Brother

    Not exactly fake

    I have an FB account, in order to keep in touch with a very old friend who hardly ever communicates by any other method.

    It has my correct name on it, and all other information is false. Not only do they think I'm over 50 - they reckon I am way over 100.

    The photograph is not me.

    Thus if one of my FB Friends tags a photo as being of me, this will not match the one on my account, and will therefore cause date linking to fail.

    The more imaginative the lies you make up, the less sense they can make of you.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Not exactly fake

      "I have an FB account, in order to keep in touch with a very old friend who hardly ever communicates by any other method."

      Friends don't let friends drive facebook.

    2. The Wegie

      Re: Not exactly fake

      Ah, another sibling born on the 1st of January 1905. You're looking good for your age!

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Not exactly fake

      Mine's under the name of the pseudonym I sign my cartoons with.

      Fake name, fake birthday, fake birthplace, fake residence, fake high school, fake college, no recognizeable face foto, no favorite films, music or books listed. Facebook thinks I'm a black woman born April 1, 1984 in Cairo and currently living in Tripoli. You should see the advertisements in my right column. It's friggin' comical.

      I'm on usually two hours a month, tops -- long enough to post a copy of my current cartoon, a link to the latest blog post, and then split.

  18. Mark Solaris

    If they only..

    If FB had the choice of "DTF" for a relationship status, then I'd be displaying one.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Facebook's data mining just got lazier."

    Since they're very short on genuinely usable ideas with a long term future beyond their one-trick, that would probably be their downfall in the end, except that sadly they've got enough cash to buy up (and taint by association) other companies with something worth offering.

    Which will eventually bequeath the world another cash-rich disaster area along the lines of Yahoo, or to a growing extent MS, that ends up crushing the life out of any innovation and acting as a giant roadblock to developing technologies and ideas.

  20. VulcanV5

    All is revealed . . .

    Good luck to Zuck the Buck in monetising Facebook's latest ideas for a harvest of crap because though there are morons out there who'll say everything to everyone about themselves, they're classed as EPs (Empty Pockets) by ad agencies rather than intelligent gainfully employed individuals worthy of being chased.

    Some time back, when Google decided it would like to park its tanks on Facebook's lawn, I was delighted to join Google square or plus or circles or something. It wanted everyone to know all about me (and especially, er, Google) so I duly wrote that my current employment is as a Twat in the proof-reading department at Twitter; that my former employment was as the sacked Facebook manager of the lost General Motors advertising account; that I was educated at Windsor Castle; that I went to school with Elvis Presley; and that I have been happily married to a tree for 27 years.

    Friends who alighted upon these revelations realised how dull were their own lives by comparison and so more and more of them have taken to revising their pasts and their presents. Upshot is that advertising agencies are having a hard time of it, trying to figure out how to profile a 72 year old mother of new-born quadruplets who went to school with Hitler and nowadays from her home in The Faeroe Islands runs a successful training centre for Missile Silo cleaners.

    I expect that over time, an ever-growing number of FB users will let Zuckerberg know that they, too, have equally plausible backgrounds, and equally credible love lives. It's not easy to withhold personal information in a world where bottom feeders like Zuckerberg and his ilk trawl ceaselessly for personal data. But there's no requirement ever to tell the truth.

    1. adnim

      Re: All is revealed . . .

      My first encounter with privacy invasion was in the mid 90's when a website requested my name and home address either to access some content or download drivers. (around 20 years ago I can't remember the details). I was outraged, my immediate and ever since reaction has been... "None of your fucking business". I have been lying ever since.

      I just dread the day when it is a criminal offence to provide false information in order to protect ones privacy. As far as I am aware it is only a criminal offence to provide false information for the purposes of fraud.

      As I pass more integrity, honesty and decency with one of my stools than the data aggregators amass in a lifetime I won't be loosing sleep any time soon. My only sense of guilt came from entering a false but existing address into web forms that check for a valid postcode. Until I had the bright idea of using... Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All is revealed . . .

        I've already been a Senior Marshmallow Consultant and a Sheep Tuner already today, and its not even lunchtime.

  21. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    1.25 billion people ?

    Certainly not.

    1.25 billion accounts, undoubtedly, but not people.

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    And in the Creepinness Stakes Zuck is ahead of Eric by a nose.

    Which is what the company is sticking in peoples business.

    And if you stick your nose in business and inhale you might not like what you smell.

  23. jonfr

    It is already considered suspicious if you are not on-line

    @ adnim, It is already considered suspicious if you are not on-line if you have been that in the past. A pregnant women found that out in the U.S some months ago. There was a news on this on BBC News few weeks ago. I don't know if it was covered here at The Register.

    The general assumption seems to be that everyone is on-line on the internet if they can. This applies mostly to the younger generation. There are some people who are not on-line due to economic or social factors (this is all calculated by the NSA and other spying organizations around the world). In the U.S at least there are around 35 to 50 million people that are not on the internet and never have been on the internet. The number is around the same (in counts of %) in the EU.

    As for Facebook, that platform is already dead. I have noticed a sharp drop in postings on it over the past few months. It is my best guess that this drop started around 20 or close to it months ago and has been continuing since. People don't delete there accounts right away, but I think Facebook has just gone the MySpace way and nobody noticed it yet (at least, not many people anyway at this point).

    I am sure as going to drop Facebook soon as I can, in the same manner as I did when I dropped MySpace when it died few years ago. MySpace still exists, it just doesn't have so many users today as it did on its peak.

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