Warrior Tang (tangaroa) wrote,
Warrior Tang

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The Facebook Panopticon, Part 3

Facebook's latest scary "you should friend this person" suggestion is an organization, a community arts center in Chicago with a name that sounded familiar. I remember: They spammed me a couple of times last year. I had found the arts center to seem a legitimate place and emailed someone there to tell them I had nothing to do with them and did not even live near Chicago, and I stopped getting their spam. I still have the response in my e-mail archives:

We've recently changed our list management service. If you'd unsubscribed at some point and were mistakenly added by into our database, we apologize. [...] We'll miss having you as part of our community and hope we'll still see you at our upcoming events.

Enough people were having the same problem that they had a form letter for the case.

My first thought on the Facebook connection is that Facebook somehow got ahold of an old version of the community center's mailing list. Finding that I still had a copy of the spam, there is a more direct connection: the spam was sent via Facebook Mail. This was several months before I had a Facebook account, but I created my account with the same address that had been spammed by the organization. Facebook could easily find a relationship between my account and this other user who had once sent something to my email address.

One more minor detail: The spam had been sent by the Facebook account of a member of the organization and not the organization's account that Facebook recommended to me today, but this is an easy connection for Facebook's computers to make since the member is a friend of the organization.

So this one is marked down from scary to curious. If it were not for the original Facebook connection, I would be more alarmed.

See also: earlier and earlier.


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