Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Attack on Privacy

A terrible thing recently happened to a friend of mine that called attention to an issue with Facebook, and I thought it prudent to blog about it.

As many of my regular readers know, I have many an issue with Facebook, my most recent complaint being their change in their saturation algorithm which makes having a professional page useless unless you pay them to "boost" your posts - but there's something else which bugs me.

I have two Facebook "accounts." One is my now useless professional page which I maintain for the people who think having a FB page makes me look legit, and the other is my personal FB page which I keep to people I know in real life, with a few minor exceptions (writerly types I've met and conversed with extensively through other FB pages or Twitter).

If I change my cover photo on my personal FB page, it automatically becomes a public post. This means I can NEVER use a picture of my kids, my house, or anything snarky and sarcastic (like memes or scenes from movies) because it automatically goes to everyone in the entire universe who looks me up on FB, and I don't want to be sued for copyright infringement.

All my regular posts are secured to show on my 'Friends Only' setting, but it's always bugged me about my cover photo - but whatever, right?
No big deal.

But apparently, it's trickier than that.

Frank Piccioli is a union leader for the City of Phoenix medics, 911 operators and various other public workers, and posted a news article to his PERSONAL page calling a member of the city council an asshole.

Now, I don't personally know if this council member is an asshole. But I know Frank very well, and I trust his judgement thoroughly. So if Frank called him an asshole, he probably is.

That being said the article somehow became public and the lovely vice mayor of Phoenix, Jim Somebody I Won't Even Dignify With His Real Last Name, printed Frank's comments (including Frank's personal FB picture which featured him and his fiance's daughter) and then passed out copies at a city council meeting.

Of course, the press then got a hold of Frank's comments, and then the press started Tweeting, writing, blogging, and posting articles of their own, all featuring pictures of Frank's Facebook post and comment.

Now, in case you missed it above, remember Frank's profile pic?
The one with him and his fiance's daughter?

Now, I don't know about you - but I have daughters. Two, to be precise.
Given that I have a public on-line persona, I try my very best to keep pictures of my kids off the internet.
If they ARE on the internet, I don't want them tagged with my, or their names.
They don't have FB accounts. They don't have Instagram, Twitter - nothing.
I'm a little crazy with the over-protecting thing, but I've also had friends LOSE their teenage daughters after meeting some dude on Facebook - and that's not even an exaggeration, a friend's daughter RAN AWAY with a guy she met on Facebook and they NEVER SAW HER AGAIN.
She's gone.
She's either trafficked, or dead, or who knows what, and it's a horrible horrible nightmare no parent should endure - so I am not light when I say you should not allow your minor children to interact with strangers on-line, and a part of that, is not allowing their photos to be spread all across the internet, or the press.

I am personally FLABBERGASTED that a public official like the Vice Mayor of Phoenix would willfully endanger the safety of a minor child by passing around her photo to a pack of reporters who are then OF COURSE going to spread it all over the internet, all in the interest of punishing Frank and his union for calling another council member an asshole.

This, my friends, is why I HATE 99.9% of politicians.
They simply don't give a fuck who they hurt if it serves their purpose.

Also, add this to another reason why Facebook is becoming more and more dangerous.
Your private opinions are not private.
Your photos are not private.
Your political rants are not private.

It is open season, folks.
Anything you say WILL be used against you in the court of public opinion.

Be careful.

UPDATE: 5/3/14

The press did a surprisingly nice move the other day and upon finding out that the profile pic contained the face of a minor, they blurred out her face.

I am not a fan of most "news" organizations, but I am impressed that integrity still exists amongst the press.
Well done.


Apparently the asshole politician? You know the one I wasn't sure if he was actually an asshole? He took the flyer with the Facebook post and the profile pic, and posted it on HIS Facebook page - so, now he's distributed the SAME pic of a minor - AGAIN. Apparently, he IS an asshole. 

His name is Sal DiCiccio. My hatred of politicians remains intact.

UPDATE: 5/6/14

First I want to thank all of you who continue to keep apprised of this situation. As you can guess, it has been quite traumatic for my friends, and I wish them some semblance of peace.

Sadly, however, this circumstance will not end to their satisfaction. And if you have a soul at all, you will understand how very unjust this ordeal really is, and the pain it has inflicted.

My friends had a meeting with the Vice Mayor in regards to his taking the picture down and/or issuing a public apology. He FLAT OUT refused, but he was kind enough [sarcasm] to give my friends a speech about the proper use of Facebook.

In other words, he couldn't care less if he endangered the life of a minor by publicly facilitating the publication of the photo of a minor child, not his own. He really doesn't give a fuck.

This, of course, makes me desperate to find a photo of him sunbathing nude, or bending over to pick a penny off the pavement, or some such embarrassing thing, but then I would be as soulless as that asshat and frankly, he isn't worth the effort.

He's also not worth the air he breathes, but, you know…sticks and stones.

All I can say is that if you feel the weight of injustice and wish to do something about it, I encourage you to contact Jim Waring's office, and be sure to tell them how you feel about this situation.

I also encourage anyone who lives in the Phoenix area to remember this come election time.

On a more positive note, the office of Sal DiCiccio retracted the photo on Facebook, and issued the mother a written apology - so I guess he's not as much of an asshole as Waring is.
Good on ya, Sal.
Don't do it again.

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