Facebook’s Stalker Service

Even though Facebook says it’s not using their Nearby Friends feature to target ads where you are, there is a nearbyfriendsfacebookvery strong chance that ads will start appearing to the point of you walking over them in your neighborhood.

Worse yet, just when you thought it was safe to take a walk down a quiet forest preserve path, you are encountered by a bicyclist from behind yelling your name.

“Hey! I knew you were here!”


Man, I just wanted to take a nice nature walk with my dogs. Now, this guy tracks me down with his Friends Nearby application (no thanks to Facebook), and I have to chat it up with him without being rude.

Wait a minute. What am I thinking? I possess super-powers to be rude.

“Get the fuck out of my way–I’m walking my dogs, asshole.”

Next episode:  I find myself meandering through my hometown; stopping by a nearby Starbucks for a caffeine fix. Checking my news feed as the Barista makes my drink, an ad pops up. Stop by Mariano’s today and get 1/2 price smoothies!

Really? I’ve already paid for my caffeine! Can I get energized and detoxed at the same time? (Don’t answer that, vegetarians).

This whole Nearby Friends capability is annoying me. Matter of fact, it’s supremely annoying me. I like my friends on Facebook, but Facebook on my computer screen, any type of screen for that matter, is better than having a Facebook friend show up behind you unannounced. It’s the equivalent of not wearing any makeup when you go to Target and you bump into an old flame who dumped you. Who wants to be surprised like that? Especially for people who don’t like surprises–they may have a weak heart for Christ Sake–and you jump out from behind the bushes of someone’s yard:


hidingbehindbushesIf they’re holding a bunch of balloons and a cake that would be kind of fun. This would, of course be after the initial shock and potentially wetting your pants.

But, if they’re holding a knife and a roll of duct tape…

There are a few ways to deal with your feelings on this topic:

1. If you run into someone you regularly converse with on Facebook, it should give you happiness to unexpectedly run into them–or have them jump out from behind some bushes with balloons and a cake.

2. If you run into someone you don’t converse with on Facebook on a regular basis, but they at least have a profile picture and posted something within the last month, you can still feel somewhat happy and slightly cautious that they jump out from behind some bushes bearing a smile on their face without balloons and a cake.

3. If you run into someone you don’t converse with on Facebook on a regular basis and they have no profile picture, haven’t posted anything for over a year, and they use a name that really isn’t theirs on their profile, you can probably feel the hair stand on the back of your neck while they jump out from behind some bushes. Maybe they aren’t holding a knife and duct tape; but by the looks of them, they should be.

To summarize, you are either happy, slightly cautious, or so scared you shit your pants when your Facebook friend happens to jump out from behind some bushes to unexpectedly say hello.

I would probably fall into the second category. My Italian mother was always overly cautious. She trusted no one. Therefore, she taught me her own self defense class:

My Mom: “Now, listen. Always hold your purse close to your body, like this.” (demonstrating her white knuckle purse strap holding technique). “Always look around the parking lot when you walk to your car. When you get to your car, look UNDER your car AND in the back seat. There are crazy, perverted assholes out there. UNDERSTAND ME???!”

Me: “Mom, you are making me paranoid to even walk out of the house.”

My Mom: “Oh, and one more thing. When you’re in the parking lot, hold your keys like this (putting each keysbetweenfingersindividual key in between her fingers like she can claw someone’s eyes out). If someone comes up to you, just start swinging away!”

Me: “Seriously?”

My Mom: “Damnit, Nancy! This can save your life! Don’t forget to look UNDER your car.”

All of a sudden I have flashbacks to when I was a little kid and was afraid there was a monster under my bed. Now I’m thinking I should buy one of those mirror things with a stick on it like they use at airports and sporting events. Not only will I be able to detect a rabid, Facebook stalker, but I can also discover if there is a bomb planted under my car. This now leads me to think that perhaps I should learn how to dismantle a bomb.

My mom never taught me that. What kind of mother is she, anyway??

And, for the love of God, how can anyone attack you from underneath your car? They can grab your ankles, but that’s about where it ends.

The description below the Location History setting in Nearby Friends reads, “When Location History is on, Facebook builds a history of your precise location, even when you’re not using the app. See or delete this information in the Activity Log on your profile.” Notice the careful use of ‘builds a history’ instead of the scarier word ‘tracks’, or ‘stalks’.

Behind the Learn More link, Facebook explains that you can turn this tracking off but, “Location History must be turned on for some location features to work on Facebook, including Nearby Friends.” It also notes that “Facebook may still receive your most recent precise location so that you can, for example, post content that’s tagged with your location or find nearby places.” So even if you turn it off, Facebook will still collect location data when necessary before Nearby Friends debuted.

Nice, huh? So even though you turn it off, you’re on; as in on the radar. Maybe they should just tag all of us or give us a microchip. That can’t be a far-fetched idea. I bet we all get microchips–like pets do–so if we get lost, kidnapped, or killed, people can find our bodies.  Take note of that remark, Facebook stalkers.




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