Community April 25, 2018

Nah, You Can’t Get Facebooked Again

Right? Wrong!

There is a website that warns us about the 10 most dangerous roads in the world. If we have websites that warn about dangerous roads, then there should be websites that warn about the most dangerous “roads” on social media.

We are not that website, but if we were, Ancestry.com, the DNA spit people, would be on the list. Here is why:

We now know that none of our personal and private information on the internet is secure.

Our credit information has been breached, sold, leveraged. The FBI has your finger prints on their intranets. Banks have your passwords and numbers. Google knows your shopping habits. Facebook knows your friends. Your confessor knows your heart. Your shrink knows your secrets. Your doctor knows stuff he or she is not telling you.

They say you said it was okay for them to do what they do, but what did you say was okay?

It’s called bait and switch, or bait and fool, or bait and sucker. They don’t hide behind their mothers’ apron strings anymore: they hide behind a gaggle of attorneys’ apron strings. The gagglers job is to make sure that the big print promises are taketh away by the small print on page 1000 or so of the disclosure agreement. It’s your fault you can’t read. The longer the agreement, the more can go wrong. That is why when you get married you just say two words: you work on the details later.

It’s a matter of trust. Like coastal fog, trust has vanished in The Valley of Silicon.

While Facebook is on the racks where they belong, what about Ancestry.com’s 10 million users? What are they up to? When will we ever learn?

Unlike Facebook, Ancestry is spending millions of dollars advertising the promise and making the connection with ancestry seductive. But as one user complained: they charge you to tell them what you already know and then do a sloppy job doing it. And they are in cahoots with Facebook. ‘Nough said.” Now you know, at least that part.

I always knew I was part Irish. The way I drank Guinness, I figured I was 100 percent, or well on my way. Recently someone gave me a “gift” to double check everything on Ancestry.com, one of several online spit-trackers who will tell you your heritage in exchange for your saliva. Turns out I am 34 percent Irish. Good enough.

It was a thoughtless move: they—whoever they are—now know more about me through my spit than Facebook, FBI, Federal Security Administration, doctors and confessors combined. My friend paid them for my spit. Now, Ancestry.com can do what they want, how they want, when they want with my saliva. They’ll deny it, of course.

Here are some warnings. Here is what spit is. The rest will be headlines in the near future. You read it here first.

Unlike Facebook, Ancestry.com and its competitors are not free. You pay a fee and then they try to get you hooked on a service that is free through public records, but they charge you for the convenience of having collected it ahead of time. See how public records work?!

No everyone is happy with the service. I for one am done with them. Folks over at a site called ConsumerAffairs.com have customer satisfaction rates on most everything. Their reviewers give Ancestry 1.5 rating on a 5-point scale.

The Better Business Bureau has 549 customer complaints about vagueness, sloppy follow-through and lack of organizations. The overall complaint is customer service. BBB says: “Consumers should be aware that Ancestry.com/MyFamily.com uses an auto-renewal process that automatically charges the consumer for another year membership if the member does not cancel prior to the anniversary date. BBB files also indicate this business has a pattern of complaints concerning shipping/handling override coupon codes not being accepted.

Finally, the folks at TrustPilot.com (clever name) have a larger data base of reviewers, almost 4000.

One reviewer there seems to summarize the complaints by saying said: The DNA service is great, it is their genealogy service that is awful. They have nonstop tech issues, website is unresponsive and so is their customer service. Constant tech issues, records unreachable, your information disappears and then reappears the next day.

To which we add: and then who knows who will buy the company, who will buy Ancestry.com, and what will happen to your spit? There is talk about splitting up Facebook like the government did with AT&T, but short of that, acquisitions are a growth strategy.

Update #1

It is happening. In this case the outcome is good: a bad guy was caught. But the means do not justify the ends. Oh, you say. Yes, we say. What about the use of this means if there is no outcome or the outcome is unfavorable?

This is a time to be vigilant.

 

Update #2

Add Uber and Lyft to the list of the suspected unsuspected. Both companies report a driver who live streams his passengers. Imagine that! I’m shocked, shocked, shocked. Another example of the hidden dark-side of tech-driven companies.

Uber, like Santa Claus working 24/7, knows if you have been naughty or nice. Knows where you go and how long you stay. If you went by yourself and came home with someone or sometwo.

They caught one driver: yippie!

When will the catch the companies?

Alex Rosenblat, quoted in the link above, is a researcher at Data and Society. She has a book coming out called Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work. She has studied Uber for four years. She says:

“I think it’s a larger question about privacy and technology for society, what we do when the norms around a particular technology are violated. You [the company or driver] may not have violated the law, but people certainly feel violated.”

Sounds like the Facebook Defense, except here real people are being hurt. Wow!

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