Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

PSA: The Internet Is CREEPY

Facebook is back at it again, suggesting that I be friends with some members of the opposite sex with whom I went on a single date. And, in one case, someone who I dated for a few weeks. Four people in total over the past two days. So far.

So what?

Besides the fact that Facebook did this over a year ago and I explicitly said I didn’t want to be “friends” with them, let’s think about how Facebook would know I have any link to these people in the first place. By the way, you no longer have the option to tell Facebook when they suggest someone YOU DO NOT IN A MILLION YEARS want to be Facebook friends with.

The culprit has got to be via Gmail, right? Facebook knows my Gmail address. Obviously. That’s how I sign in. Years ago, I let Facebook search my Gmail contacts to find people who I might know on Facebook. But I disabled that a long time ago. And it’s worth noting that I don’t even see how to turn that feature on or off anymore. On top of that, long ago I deleted all messages to and from these people and removed them from my contacts. So as far as Google is concerned, I don’t know these people. I’ve never had any contact with them at all. So, (1) Gmail doesn’t know I know these people, and (2) I’m not even allowing Facebook to use my Gmail history to find “friends” to begin with.

But let’s look at this from the other angle. Maybe these people have left traces of me in their Gmail accounts and Facebook and Google are working their black magic that way. “Hey, Erik, you know this person because they have emails in their account from you. You’re welcome!”


But I won’t get bent out of shape because I don’t know if that’s what’s going on at all. But it’s possible, right? I mean, most people don’t clean up their email history, so they probably still have messages to and from yours truly floating around in there. Except for the one who I dated for a few weeks. Pretty sure she hates me and deleted all traces of me from her Gmail. And Facebook or Google don’t give a shit about your privacy. So this could be what’s going on.

The only other source of these links that I can think of is the way I met all of these people in the first place:

Oh yeah. I love That’s how I met my awesome girlfriend wife. rules. Please don’t let it be that has somehow got its fingers deep in my Facebook business. That would probably be the creepiest option. After all, is all about protecting the identity of its members. I expect Google and Facebook to be creepy like this. You sort of assume companies that make all of their money by selling ads on the internet are going to be a little Big Brother-ish. But makes money by selling a legitimate service to subscribers. Could they really be selling their members out to Facebook, letting them know which people have been linked to one another? Of course it’s possible.

Look. I don’t know who is to blame for this creepy breach. The point isn’t to know who to point the finger at. The point of my sharing this is to remind you that the internet never forgets. What’s that line from “The Social Network”? “The internet is written in ink”? That may have been the most factually accurate part of the entire film. The internet certainly is written in ink. Indelible, pigment based, archival ink. And the powers that be can find out things about you that you think you deleted years ago. Because neither Google nor Facebook actually deletes anything about you. Be aware of that. Don’t forget it. Hopefully mildly disturbing reminders of that fact are as bad as it’ll get.