We’d like to wish you a very happy birthday full of great friends and everything you like.
— The Facebook Team —
This is the message I got when I opened up my T.S. email account this morning.
It is strange, because not only do I have no recollection of signing up to Facebook under the name of Tom Stephenson (but maybe I did without thinking one drunken night) but also I make it a point never to give any correct dates for these sort of personal information requests. Usually what I do if asked is name a date one side or the other, so that I know where the information came from if I am contacted by a third party.
What Facebook are saying with this message is: 'We know who you are, we know where you are and we know how old you are. We know everything about you, and there is no escaping us', not just 'happy birthday. I hate the bastards.
Anyway, I am not going to go on a paranoid rant about Facebook or any other covert, information-gathering, social network group other than to give a warning to anyone who does not need to sign up, but is considering doing so. Once you sign up, they've got you, and they've got you for good.
Sometimes though, you just have to give up and give in. I never signed up to Google+ - they just signed me up without asking me.
After I was signed up to Google+ in my absence, Google bought Picassa - the photo editing software system - and then turned it into a photo sharing medium. I then kept getting pestered by Google with pop-ups telling me to update my Picassa preferences, which I ignored by clicking the red, 'go away' button. There was no button to press which said 'no thank you', only 'I will update this later'.
I had - some years ago - foolishly signed up to the innocent version of Picassa on the advice of an equally foolish friend, so I don't think I have any excuse for being targeted.
After the 5th or 6th time of ignoring the update notice - which was designed to look very similar to the Apple updates which I regularly receive - I found that my internal, Apple photo-editing program began to grind to a halt. Google were teaching me a lesson.
So the next time I got one of those pop-ups, I reluctantly clicked 'download', then reluctantly clicked the terms and agreements box, knowing that if I didn't, Google would automatically delete any photo which I had used for any application under their licences, including all the photos I have put up here, in over 1700 posts.
I know this because they told me that I was perfectly within my rights to unsubscribe to Picassa, but all files which had been stored when using it in the past would be irretrievably deleted. 'Did I really want this to happen?' they asked, as my finger hovered over the 'unsubscribe' button. No, of course I didn't.
As I write this, there is a line of text above this page which says:
There are two buttons attached that I can click. One says, 'Learn more', and the other says, 'Got it.'
At some point, I am going to have to click the 'Got it' button, because it is going to stay there until I do, quietly irritating me.
The 'Information Super-Highway' has a toll-booth every quarter of a mile.