If someone built a tool that made Facebook less addictive -- a tool that allowed users to benefit from Facebook's positive features while limiting their exposure to its negative ones -- how would Facebook respond?
I know the answer, because I built the tool, and Facebook squashed it. This summer, Facebook sent me a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action. It permanently disabled my Facebook and Instagram accounts. And it demanded that I agree to never again create tools that interact with Facebook or its other services. [...]
I had the idea for Unfollow Everything a few years ago, when I realized you don't actually need to have a News Feed. If you unfollow everything -- all of your friends, groups, and pages -- your News Feed ends up empty.
This isn't the same as unfriending. If you unfollow your friends and groups, you're still connected to them, and you can look up their profiles if you want. But by unfollowing everything, you eliminate your News Feed. This leaves you free to use Facebook without the feed, or to more actively curate it by refollowing only those friends and groups whose posts you really want to see.
I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable. [...]
Then, a few months ago, Facebook sent me a cease-and-desist letter. The company demanded that I take down the tool. It also told me that it had permanently disabled my Facebook account -- an account that I'd had for more than 15 years, and that was my primary way of staying in touch with family and friends around the world. Pointing to a provision in its terms of service that purports to bind even former users of Facebook, Facebook also demanded that I never again create a tool that interacts with Facebook or its many other services in any way.
These demands seemed outrageous to me. They also seemed outrageous to lawyers I consulted from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and in the U.K. But my options were limited. I'm a U.K. resident, so a lawsuit against Facebook would probably have played out in a U.K. court, where I would have been personally on the hook for Facebook's litigation costs if I lost. Facebook is a trillion-dollar company. I couldn't afford that risk, so Unfollow Everything no longer exists. This is bad for its users, and also for the University of Neuchâtel, which will no longer be able to use it to study the News Feed.
Starting a few months ago, I now get this email from Apple about once a week:
Your website domain that uses Apple Pay has an SSL certificate that expires on Nov 6, 2021. After automatically trying to reverify your domain, we found that this SSL certificate has not been updated. Your domain is automatically checked 30 days, 15 days, and 7 days before this expiration date.
If you have an updated SSL certificate and the domain hasn't been successfully verified 7 days before expiration, please revalidate it manually by Nov 6, 2021 in Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles to ensure uninterrupted use of Apple Pay on your website.
And yet, when I follow the incomprehensible trail of breadcrumbs to:
- Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles
- Select "Identifiers"
- Select "Merchant IDs" from menu on the upper right
- Select "merchant.com.dnalounge.store"
Status: Verified [ Remove ] [ Verify ]
Verification Expires: Nov 6, 2021
The last time this happened, I emailed Apple support twice, was ignored, and when the expiration date passed, sure enough, Apple Pay stopped working. (And the expired whatever-it-is is not listed on the top-level-ish page that shows your expired things. It's in the basement, behind the sign saying "Beware of leopard"). At that point I had to re-add the domain, and download another big binary blob to replace the big binary blob that was already in "/.well-known/
I would like to live in a world where I don't have to hand-edit that file every god damned month. What is going on? Is this some new Let's Encrypt-related fuckery?
Customs and Border Protection officials in Chicago seized multiple shipments of fake vaccine cards en route from China to Texas on Monday, as anti-vaxxers continue to attempt to skirt vaccine mandates around the country. In addition to the fake vaccine cards, which were labeled in shipment logs as greeting cards, CBP officials also seized multiple packages from China and Mexico containing Ivermectin pills, a horse medicine that many anti-vaxxers have been taking as a way to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to a CBP announcement. [...] One of the seized Ivermectin packages falsely claimed to contain decorative beads in an apparent attempt to get past U.S. authorities. [...]
It's the latest development in an ongoing death spiral of anti-vaxxers who refuse to get the life-saving coronavirus vaccine but who are increasingly facing both requirements to show proof of vaccination as well as deadly infections they desperately want to fight without being vaccinated.
Attempting to prove vaccination without getting the jab itself could be as simple as printing out cards that look like the cards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analysts have noted. But criminals have stepped in with their own elaborate scams to send shipments to the United States, and some Americans in Texas appear to have bought it, according to the CBP. [...]
The price of a counterfeit CDC vaccine card sold on Telegram now costs approximately $250, a 150 percent increase from the prices of fake cards just before Biden made his announcement.