"Welcome back to Facebook! Let your friends know what you've been up to."

Facebook emailed me again. They’ve been sending little notes once a week for months now. They’re worried that they haven’t heard from me in awhile…isn’t that sweet? And while it’s nice that they’re concerned about my lack of participation, and maybe a just little exasperated too (“You haven’t been back to Facebook recently. You have received notifications while you were gone.”), it’s because Facebook noticed I was gone that keeps me from going back there- the privacy issue.

Back when the first story broke, I decided I’d stay off for awhile until they got things sorted out. Not a problem, I figured, Facebook’s got some serious geeks working on this and soon all will be as it was. I didn’t realize then that data mining us all was the way it was. I know, I know, there’s just oodles of information (right along with my head) out there in the cloud, but for some reason I was pissed at Facebook in particular. I mean, Facebook was the place where you went, like a friendly corner bar, to hang with friends, meet new people your friend’s knew and once in a while a stranger would swing by your digital table and introduce themselves.

But like any bar, you had to be prudent. You didn’t give out too much information on your first meetings, but Facebook had privacy settings (or so we all thought) that helped you avoid that. Of course, if you got a little drunk and stupid and blurted something out or posted a picture of your tits there was nothing they could do, but that was your own fault anyway. I never blamed Facebook for people’s stupidity.

What I didn’t expect was the bartender saying to a complete stranger, “See that guy over there? The one with the bad haircut? Well, the things I can tell you about him! Oh, and by the way, here’s his wallet with all his personal information too.” First of all, my haircut isn’t that bad- yes, I cut it myself, but I think it just makes me look…rugged. And second, I really liked that bartender and felt more than a little betrayed; I mean Jesus, the tips I gave that guy.

So I got all huffy and stayed away a little longer. Then the buzz around the Zuckerberg film started and by all indications, he’s an arrogant, vindictive motherfucker. So I stayed off a longer still. It became a reverse habit. The less I went there the less I thought about going (God, if it only worked that way with cigarettes).

Then a friend of mine- I’ll call him Jed, since that’s his name- told me a story. Jed recently got married and he and his new wife (isn’t this just too cute?) combined their Facebook pages. Anyway, one night Jed was screwing around on their page and hit a button. It was like, four in the morning (Jed stays up way too late sometimes), and doesn’t remember exactly how he did it but suddenly he was staring at about a hundred phone numbers of his wife’s friends.

It kinda threw him, suddenly having access to all these stranger’s phone numbers. I can’t remember if Facebook even had a spot on it’s profile page for phone numbers; it’s been a long time since I updated my page and I don’t care enough to go check. But it just shows what information Facebook has and apparently regularly gives away.

I know every time I hit a site, be it the New York Times (who not so long ago got it in the neck when a data mining site piggy-backed onto the company that they used to put up ads) or Zappos or Naked Liberal College Chicks (…uh, that’s a joke. I swear don’t go there and if I did it’d only be for the pictures) that a ‘cookie’- in my case oatmeal raisin- leeches on to my computer and tracks me (Ugh, now I’ll never look at oatmeal raisin cookies the same way again.) wherever I go. I just didn’t expect Facebook to actively help these leeching raisins out.

So I delete cookies after every session and do a full sweep daily, just in case. Not that I’m too worried about identity theft. I got hit once and when the Ukrainian guy who got me saw the state my finances were in, he felt so bad he wired me fifty bucks. Which is why I tell my editors, “Pay Me.” They don’t, but they have such a novel excuse that I can’t find a way to argue with it- it turns out that they sell all their writer’s information to that Ukrainian scammer and as a way of helping us avoid getting ripped off, they don’t give us any money to steal. How can you argue with altruism like that?

So. When Facebook finally stops monitoring my usage, or lack thereof, I’ll go back on Facebook. And to all my Facebook Friends, Hi. I’m fine. How are you? And have you seen the latest pictures on Naked Liberal College Chicks? Wow.