Facebook Change Ensures Tracking by Preventing URL Stripping

You have every right to feel that way and live your life accordingly. Every invention and aspect of human interaction has been coopted by bad players in one way or another. We could eliminate transportation altogether to make all kinds of improvements to the planet. I bet if we go back to cave paintings we’d find some exaggeration in presentation or interpretation that led to unintentional consequences. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater (or use silly metaphors.)

This just isn’t the kind of commentary I was looking for when reading or visiting what I regard to be a useful, even-handed publication for Apple-related news and experience. When I saw your response in email I actually didn’t even remember what the original article was about which may be a teachable moment in the effect your end-of-article comment had on the usefulness of the article itself.

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With the good skeptical analysis and in-depth advice of many tech websites, of which tidbits.com was one, at the very dawn of “social media” being thrust upon us, I made the decision to not participate. I’ve never been a member of any social media or “sharing” site. No Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

And yet, I’m still personally and deeply connected with family and friends using a wondrous invention called “email”. And texting. And yes, telephone calls.

In this way, I’m able to share with all those people who are truly important to me without also sharing with the wide world. Or becoming brainwashed, depressed, suicidal, infuriated or delusional.

I’ve never regretted my decision.


I’m conflicted – on one hand, I find Facebook an easy and convenient way to stay in touch with a broad range of people around the world, and get peeks into their lives on a regular basis. It’s like being part of a big conversation that hums along all the time and can be quite lovely.

On the other hand, I’m aware of the toxic sides of it, and the general sense that if the product is free, then you’re not the customer.

Still, I’m planning on remaining on Facebook for the moment.


Exact same thing here. Never been on any of these social media networks. Never felt I wasn’t connected to the people dear to me. Definitely no regrets here. In fact, the more I read the more I realize just how much of a bullet I dodged.

Of course truthfully, I have to realize I can only isolate myself so much. I can prevent my personal information from being whored out by these companies, but I cannot escape the fact that thanks to their direct support (and then their complacency) my country recently almost suffered a coup by a completely unhinged mob of lunatics that were—I have zero doubt here—to large extent enabled by “social media”. Throughout history, there have always been idiots. But only recently, have these people been given a bullhorn to address every other person on the planet along with a reward if they do so in the most abrasive manner possible. And it shows.


In this way, I’m able to share with all those people who are truly important to me without also sharing with the wide world. Or becoming brainwashed, depressed, suicidal, infuriated or delusional.

I would also like to report that as an avid social media user I have managed to not become brainwashed, depressed, suicidal, infuriated or delusional either. (At least that’s what they want me to think…)


It was about Facebook’s latest move to block technologies that attempt to give people control over how much they’re tracked online. And with an encouragement to read the thoughtful Atlantic article discussing even more of the deleterious effects social media is having on society.

My opinion about Facebook and social media isn’t the focus of TidBITS, which is why it was limited to a few words at the end of an ExtraBIT pointing at another article. I seldom write full articles on the topic because the necessary research makes me both angry and depressed.

Regardless, TidBITS publishes what I find interesting or worth sharing, even when that goes beyond our traditional Apple-related topics. Always has, always will.


Good for you, Adam. And now you know the effect it’s had on a single reader.


That Atlantic grossly underestimates the level of stupid throughout American history.

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I’m not sure if the problems with social media are generally inherent to the medium but rather to the current implementations of it. The algorithms promote content designed to keep people engaged but have the side effect of creating a distorted view of the world.

When Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked about Kyrie “the world is flat” Irving, he noted that Irving said he was led to that belief by watching a flat-earth video on YouTube, which then led to the site promoting more of the same. I recall a similar story of a woman who looked into some topic (I can’t remember which) and the next thing she knew, FaceBook was pushing all sorts of anti-vax content at her.

So the algorithms are definitely a problem, but I think FaceBook gets a lot of deserved criticism because the company seems to make a lot of questionable decisions, like the one mentioned in the TidBITS article.


Facebook evolved from FaceSmash, a website Harvard college student Mark Zuckerberg developed so guys could rate the hotness and availability of female students on campus and in nearby colleges in Boston.

FaceSmash was developed after a girl Zuckerberg was dating that was not a Harvard student dumped him unceremoniously, and he wasn’t successful in attracting women. He was quite vicious in rating her. I highly recommend watching Aron Sorkin’s documentary film “The Social Network” for more details about this as well as others who were highly instrumental in working with Zuckerberg to found and develop the service and got screwed royally and financially by him. The book the movie was based on is excellent as well.

Zuckerberg even managed to alienate his most influential guru, Steve Jobs, because of privacy and security issues. This happened shortly after Steve had been vocally praising Facebook to the skies:

And Tim Cook has not been a fan of Facebook either:

“Apple CEO Tim Cook has doubled down on his call for regulation that would limit Facebook and others companies’ ability to use customer data:”

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Zuckerberg didn’t create that kind of content – there were printed versions of it long before the Internet. I know of at least one version at Cornell in the 1980s, which it turns out dates back to the 1950s.

I’m never sure how much social media creates problems versus amplifying existing ones.

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It was the first digital and first interactive/social media version, and it was super easy to use. The girl who dumped Zuckerberg was humiliated and became a laughing stock among schools, and many, many other women suffered because content was not regulated. But Zuckerberg did meet on FaceSmash the very accomplished woman he married.

It also expanded rapidly to include different colleges and universities. The rest is history, and it did create and amplify problems. January 6 is one very recent example.

I tend to agree that there’s very little that’s new under the sun, but amplification is a very big deal. One of the easy changes that social media companies could make that would address many of the concerns would be to eliminate the Like and Share options, both of which encourage amplification over communication. But I seriously doubt any will ever do this because amplification encourages engagement, which results in more overall usage and higher ad impressions.


Yes, the exponential amplification of harmful/false narratives is definitely one of the major unsolved problems inherent in the incarnations of social media extant to date, especially when it becomes well siloed.

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That’s a valid point.

Up to now, I had failed to understand why the commons itself was being held responsible for the opinions expressed therein. Historically, anyone could express any opinion they wanted to in the public square. The person expressing it was right there in front of you. You knew with certainty who they were. If what they said was slanderous, you could sue them. If what they said amounted to insurrection or fomenting a riot, they could be arrested and held accountable.

But now it is indeed different. The electronic “commons” both amplifies and anonymizes. I am deeply uncomfortable with people of a given ideology being handed the ruler by which speech is measured for conformity with truth, or being given the power to suppress the free expression of opinions that many people–even the majority of people–find objectionable. Yet, a natural check of the historical commons was its parochial nature; the electronic commons is potentially world-wide and instant. I honestly don’t know what the answer is.


That’s not really true. Post-printing press invention, there’s a thriving tradition of anonymous pamphlets that attacked people without them knowing who it was. American society of the 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed lots of vicious attacks in anonymous pamphlets & newspaper articles. Alexander Hamilton was pretty good at it, for that matter.

It’s notable that a lot of periods immediately after the creation of a technology that allowed mass amplification of ideas (the printing press in the 15th & 16th centuries; substantially cheaper printing tech in the 1880s & 1890s) also witnessed similar political polarization and unrest (the religious chaos of the 16th century, the jingoism of the late 19th, early 20th centuries).

The technology is new. The effect isn’t.


As a historian, I think you make a good point about the introduction of new communication technologies destabilizing some aspects of the existing social order. There was a thriving clandestine publication market in early modern Europe—not only anonymous publications, but falsified publishers and places of publication, and networks to smuggle printed works into places where they were prohibited (or might be).

Nonetheless, the cost of entry was higher—much higher—and the potential reach much more limited. And while it was possible for something to have a kind of “virality” through reprinting and piracy, the time frame was much longer and the impact smaller. I do think that the cost of entry is so low in modern social media, compared to the past, that the impact can be a lot greater. The philosopher Neil Levy just published an interesting book (available open access in PDF) titled Bad Beliefs that argues, among other things, that we live in an epistemically polluted environment. I think social media, as well as “traditional” broadcast media, bears a lot of responsibility for the ease of pollution.


I think historically literacy rates were much lower than now, which limits the effects of such publications.

It seems to me that we have achieved a high degree of nominal literacy (at least in developed countries), but still ways to go as far as functional literacy and critical thinking are concerned.

Bad Beliefs is available at:


Yes, I’ve long had this image of a prehistoric mob outside a cave where there’s a hearth fire, chanting in whatever primitive proto-language they use something meaning, “The only good fire is a dead fire!”, warning of the disasters that will follow intentional building of fires. And they’ll be right about the disasters.- were it not for domestication of fire, there would be none of the tools of mass destruction that exist today, not to mention no smelting of ores that leads to forging metals which leads after centuries to building computers which leads to disinformation spread by Facebook (and Twitter and cable news and email groups and Zoom meetups and YouTube and the general ability to view only information that confirms one’s biases).

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Many people above have stated that they do or do not use FB to keep in touch with friends and relatives. I do not use FB much for that, just a few remote friends. However, I have found groups in FB that are a wonderful source of information, often very technical and not available elsewhere without a lot of googling. In particular, they contain info on people’s personal experiences which is invaluable and not available elsewhere on the Internet.

Just as an example, I have a mild thyroid condition. A group focuses on thyroid and has collected many resources on thyroid function, the pros and cons of various treatment approaches and the personal experiences of people using these approaches. This includes research papers on technical aspects which seem unknown to the general medical community.

I have learned a lot and and can talk to the doctor from the situation of understanding what is happening. I sometimes even find myself educating the doctor on the underlying processes behind the condition.

So FB can be regarded as more than a way to keep in touch, but also as a way to learn - recognising ofc that there is a lot of rubbish out there too and that recognition of what is reliable or not is part of the process. Caution is always warranted.

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