FastMail

Deleted Facebook

Yesterday was my last day on Facebook. Today I deleted my account.

I may write more later, but fundamentally I don’t trust Facebook with my data or their motives.

I have similar concerns with Google as well and I don’t use GMail (I use FastMail), I don’t use Google Search (I use DuckDuckGo), and I don’t use an Android device (I use an iPhone).

Facebook (similar to Google) has repeatedly demonstrated they want to ingest all possible information they can about me, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my acquaintances…damn the consequences.

They do this in overt and obvious ways, such as on the Facebook site itself when I provide them information, as well as offsite via the use of embedded “Like” buttons across the web. I used Firefox’s ‘Facebook Container’ and EFF’s ‘Privacy Badger’ plugins in an attempt to segregate Facebook from the rest of my online digital presence.

Facebook also does this in more covert ways, such as creating social graphs to see how people are related and interact with each other, scanning photos to identify people (even people who aren’t users of Facebook)[1], and even creating ‘shadow profiles’ for people who don’t have accounts [2].

Facebook desires to be at the intersection of every kind of interaction they can be — social groups, personal communication, advertisement, sales, currency, etc — and to profit off it…to profit off of me.

This is a dangerous desire, in my opinion, and one I do not want to be involved in or exploited to achieve.

I also don’t like what Facebook does to my brain in terms of the intermittent reinforcement (similar to what happens at casinos) with new posts and updates from friends as well as the comparing (and glamorizing) of idealized existences.

I also hate the polarization that occurs with Facebook, and is in part driven by Facebook. Through their algorithms, Facebook encourages echo chambers and the spread of (dis)information thereof.

This is incredibly scary in our current socialgeopolitical climate…we seem to have lost the ability to have rational debate…something that is very urgently needed.

But know that I’d still love to keep in touch, so please call, text, email, or visit the blogs: andrewferguson.net (more tech and politics) and andrewandrachel.com (more life events and pictures…you’ll need to create a login because it’s private, you can also get email updates if you want too!)

[1] https://chicago.suntimes.com/metro-state/2020/1/29/21114569/facebook-could-pay-550-million-to-illinois-users-in-privacy-settlement

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/11/17225482/facebook-shadow-profiles-zuckerberg-congress-data-privacy

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Calendar Invitation Email Gone Awry

Here’s some more details on calendar email issue I noted late Monday.

Just after 10pm on Monday, I attempted to migrate my calendar from Google Calendar to Fastmail Calendar1.

I did this by exporting my existing calendar from Google (per https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/37111?hl=en) and then re-importing it back into Fastmail using Apple’s Calendar App. During this re-importing process, it appears that the Fastmail system regenerated the event requests and emailed all the participants of the events; although I initially suspected Apple’s Calendar app.

My wife, who was sitting next to me, was the first to let me know something was awry when she received over 400 emails from me.

After aborting last nights attempt, I tried again to import the data again Tuesday morning by using FastMail’s “Subscribe to a public calendar” feature (https://www.fastmail.fm/help/calendar/publiccalendar.html), which should not have resulted in emails being sent but still did.

In total, 109 people were affected by this issue and up to 2904 emails were sent (1452 from each incident).

Graph of Emails Sent

The good news (if there is such a thing) is that 45% of those affected only received a single email (well, two emails), and 78% of those affected received less than 10 emails (20 emails across both incidents).

Unfortunately, emails were also sent to people even when I was not the original organizer of the event. This accounted for over half the emails that were sent.

I have opened a ticket with Fastmail (Calendar import emailing participants (Ticket Id: 479473)). Fastmail has been prompt and the issue is, in theory, resolved. However, in the future I plan on scrubbing the calendar file of email address to prevent this issue from occurring again.

For those curious, here’s how I extracted2 the number of those affected from the ICS file:

grep -Eiorh 'mailto:([[:alnum:]_.-]+@[[:alnum:]_.-]+?\.[[:alpha:].]{2,6})' "$@" basic.ics | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Mea Culpa.

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  1. there’s a larger story about why, but that’s not important at the moment 

  2. based on mosg’s answer on http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2898463/using-grep-to-find-all-emails/2898907#2898907 

The Day We Fight Back

I-do-not-consent-stickerBSix months ago, primarily in light of the issues concerning the NSA’s use of what I believe to be unconstitutional searches I started the process of moving my email system (which is also the email system my family and extended family uses) away from Google Apps.

Last week, I completed the technical transition to the new mail system provided by FastMail.

Today, the fight continues. I called both my Senators, as well as my Representative…yes, I called them. On the phone.

I talked to a live human being and I told them what I thought:

I’d like my Senator / Representative to support and co-sponsor H.R. 3361 / S. 1599, the USA Freedom Act. I would also like my Senator / Representative to oppose S. 1631, the so-called FISA Improvements Act. Moreover, I’d like like my Senator / Representative to work to prevent the NSA from undermining encryption standards.

If you visit AFDN today, you will see a small large banner that will help you contact your Senators and Representative to do the same.

“I Do Not Consent to the Search of this Device / EFF.org” image used under Creative Commons License from EFF

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