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Lighthearted Facebook Friends Could Make You Join NAMBLA Group 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the ground-floor dept.
mykos writes "The Facebook groups feature is causing bit of a stir with its users. TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington was allegedly added to a group about NAMBLA, and in turn, he added Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It's all in good (albeit tasteless) fun, except when a harmless joke goes awry and you find yourself being detained by customs when a friend decided to drag you into a mock terrorist group. Facebook representatives are aware of the matter, but are dismissive of it. A Facebook spokeswoman said, 'If you have a friend that is adding you to Groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend — and they will no longer EVER have the ability to add you to any Group.' In somewhat related news, guillotines ensure you won't have dandruff on your shoulders anymore."
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Lighthearted Facebook Friends Could Make You Join NAMBLA Group

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  • yet another reason (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    not to use facebook. This can have some SERIOUS consequences for people working in the defence industry where security is well known to have a humor level of 0.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Won't help. A perfect stranger could put up info, pictures, etc that could be just as damaging, even if you have nothing to do with them or facebook.

      • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Friday October 08, 2010 @11:06AM (#33836016) Homepage Journal

            You know, you're totally correct there.

            In one of my group of friends (real world, not just online), all but one had a Facebook account. They told him, "You'd better set one up." There was a legitimate reason for it, he just never got around to it. Since he didn't, they did. It had his name, picture, and they were posting comments for him. It was kind of humorous. And no, they didn't sign him up for anything illicit. :) It was enough encouragement for him to finally set up his own account, so they took the bogus one down.

            Now, what's the difference between friends doing it for a friend, and someone doing it for their own nefarious purposes? Well, just about nothing, except the nefarious purposes would likely get that person in trouble.

            We've all seen stories where someone got in legal trouble for pictures they posted. Like, a school teacher drinking beer, or a suspect in a case bragging about what they did. I found a profile not long ago of a rather attractive woman local to me. She was (or still is) a teacher at a local high school. By the posted comments, it was pretty apparent that it wasn't really the teacher. But if they were written a little better, some of the comments would have been damning. There were things about her liking sex with young boys, and frequent drug and alcohol abuse.

            I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time. So how do you tell? Well, you don't. If I wanted to put up a profile of a popular figure, and I filled it with things that were really happening to them, and photos gleaned from tabloid news sites and regular media, it would look perfectly legitimate.

            Hmmm.

            [JWSmythe goes off looking for photos of Bill Gates and the link to the NAMBLA group]

        • So create an account, lock it down tight, and never use it.

          • by Surt (22457)

            In what way does that help? It's not like there can be only one John Hasler account on facebook.
            In fact, right now there are 40.
            http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Hasler/746875314#!/srch.php?nm=john%20hasler [facebook.com]

            So what are you going to do, deny that this other John Hasler who posts that he likes young girls is you?

            • So what are you going to do, deny that this other John Hasler who posts that he likes young girls is you?

              Yes... and if there’s two John Hasler accounts it’s a lot more believable. Because everyone knows everybody has a facebook, and if there’s only one, it must be you.

              • by Surt (22457)

                With 500 million facebook accounts and counting, I doubt there is more than 1 in 1000 people with no doppelganger. So I guess this is something pretty much no one needs to worry about then.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          All you've demonstrated is that it doesn't matter if you create an account or not. Even if I had a facebook account, you could still create one on my behalf, stick my picture on it, friend people, post comments. The fact I'd have a 'real' account that I don't use much doesn't prevent you from doing any of this...

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            Yup, that's exactly what was demonstrated. Your online identity doesn't prove anything at all.

            As a matter of fact, if 10,000 other people decided to become Mr. JW Smythe sometime today, I would not be one of hundreds, I'd be one of thousands. :)

            I like my anonymity, and I like that I am identified as a lot of different people. Trying to figure out which is the real me, from the rest of the me's is a challenge.

            What's funnier is, my real name has tho

            • by vux984 (928602)

              What's funnier is, my real name has thousands of users (people using the name as their own). They were probably issued at birth, not as an attempt of identity theft. I'm very proud of my name, we are a diverse and well respected crowd.

              Lol, of course. But your missing my point I think. Its not so much that there are other people on fb that have your name, its that someone could impersonate you on fb whether you had an account or not. It would not be particularly difficult for someone that knew you to create

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Precisely. Just about everyone in my family does facebook. And they all try to get me to do it too. I just see too many problems with it. Among them are some pretty obvious ones such as external entities attempting to [mis]use information acquired there, but it's also something of a chore. I already frequent a good number of sites. Adding more would be more of a hassle. And really -- there is no deep meaning there -- it's almost as if such sites encourage shallow, thoughtless personalities. I have v

  • by Etcetera (14711) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:18AM (#33835484) Homepage

    If your "friends" refuse to respect your request, then they're not really your friends. If they're not really a friend, why are they a "friend"?

    Facebook to users: We give you tools with which to communicate with people you trust. If you don't trust them, don't allow them to use those tools with you.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:25AM (#33835556)

      Sometimes the only way to get ahead with your farm is to say that you are a 13 year old boy who likes older men.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by severoon (536737)

        Yea, to 1st post, why should anyone be able to control the groups they're associated with? You're right, it should work just like real life where your most casual friends sign you up for all sorts of things that you have no control over, and you're just an idiot unless you simply accept your fate and go along with it, or terminate all your friendships just in case.

        It's obvious to me there's no other solutions, you just have to pick one of those two extreme, unpalatable options. THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE AL

    • by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:30AM (#33835610) Homepage

      Well, no. I'm FB friends with my younger brothers. The youngest is in high school, and has the sense of humor one expects to find in bright, 16 year old boys... rather juvenile. I'm not going to de-friend my brother. I work at helping to teach him what's appropriate and what's inappropriate, but of course that's not always successful. If he were to add me to some group because of some childish whim of his, that doesn't mean he's not my friend... just that he's exercised some bad judgment.

      Do you immediately ditch all your friends the instant they do something against your wishes? If so, I doubt you have many left. Most of us have at least a few friends who on occasion act a bit like an asshole, but are our friends nevertheless.

      The REAL problem here is Facebook failing to let its users have control over what other users do to an aspect of our account. I can un-tag myself from pictures. I can turn off the ability of others to tag me in photos. Why can't I turn off the ability of other users to tag me in (i.e., make me a "member" of) groups? I should have complete control over all aspects of where my FB identity is linked in FB.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by qoncept (599709)
        Amazing, isn't it? Your friends and family can affect your real life! And the only choice you have is to either deal with it or cut off all ties to them. Ever seen Black Sheep?

        The summary sure is rich. Removing someone from your Facebook friends is akin to cutting off your head. Brilliant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by StikyPad (445176)

          Removing someone from your Facebook friends is akin to cutting off your head. Brilliant.

          Uh, no.. remember those "A is to B" as "X is to Y" questions? Comparing A to X is irrelevant without factoring in B and Y. "2 is to 3" as "100 is to 150". Nobody's saying 2 is like 100.

          That said, I agree that removing someone from FB friends is not quite as disproportionate a response as the author seems to believe.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @12:02PM (#33836924)

        The REAL problem here is Facebook failing to let its users have control over what other users do to an aspect of our account.

        Funny, and my thought was that the problem is that you can be arrested or detained based on information gathered from a social network.

      • by ukemike (956477)

        Do you immediately ditch all your friends the instant they do something against your wishes?

        No one would sign up a real friend as a member of an organization of pedophiles. That's way beyond "against you wishes" it's a malicious attack plain and simple. If I found out someone did that to me, I would be shocked. After getting out of the group, I would denounce them harshly on their wall and on mine, to warn others and to protect myself. Then I absolutely would "defriend" them. I'd also consider a defamation of character suit. There is only one label in our society that is more damaging and m

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:31AM (#33835618) Homepage Journal

      Right. But lots of famous people will allow almost anyone to be their 'friend' so that they can hawk their latest book, CD, movie, coffee cup or whatever.

      So, for example, you could friend, say Barack Obama [facebook.com], and then start a group called, say 'Friends of Osama Bin Laden' or 'the Al Qaeda United Terror Front' or whatever and hilarity then ensures.

      Not that I'm suggesting anyone should do that.

      • The link you have provided is to a fan page for Obama, not a personal profile. Fan pages cannot be members of groups, and fan pages are the way people "hawk their latest book, CD, movie" etc -- not with personal profiles. (If you use your personal profile for this, you are doing it wrong.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Of course, relationships change. You can have a friend, and then he learns something about you which makes him hate you (doesn't matter if it's true or not, as long as he believes it's true). You cannot know this before he makes it known to you. And if he decides to make it known to you by doing revenge, you cannot prevent it, because you cannot expect it.

      Moreover, someone who was never really a friend can play a friend exactly to get your trust, and thus to enable him to do more serious damage to you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      A Facebook spokeswoman said, 'If you have a friend that is adding you to Groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend -- and they will no longer EVER have the ability to add you to any Group.' In somewhat related news, guillotines ensure you won't have dandruff on your shoulders anymore.

      Yeah, I'm a bit puzzled by the submitter's reaction, too. It may be the norm among high school jocks, college frat boys, and, after graduation, stalkers, to use abusive behavior as a form of affection, but mature, self-respecting people don't put up with it. Blocking someone on Facebook is what, two or three clicks? Anyone who thinks that's like the guillotine really needs to develop some perspective.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Of course if you don't realize you joined a terrorist group on face book because your friends signed you up for it, and then have trouble getting on a plane. Sorting out who, what, where, and when your friends helped you out can be difficult.

        you don't know when to unfriend some one until it is almost to late.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheCarp (96830)

          Of course... are we not laying the blame in the wrong place?

          Why are you being denied access to the plane? Why again? Is it because someone posted something on facebook? No... its because there are morons out there who think that they are somehow making the world safer by pulling names out of their ass and adding them to lists.

          Its the very fact that a "no fly list" even exists that is the REAL problem here. Ditto on employers trolling facebook for dirt. Its stupid.

          -Steve

    • you are offering the absurd choice: trust your friends with everything or have no friends

      no, i want friends, and i want to decide how much i trust each one. am i asking too much?

      your understanding of what friendship means is crude and useless

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)
        Bingo! Give that man a ceegar! Only YOU should have the power to join a group PERIOD. This sounds like the guys at FB simply refusing to admit a feature is a "Bad Idea" and ignoring their users. I personally hope with all the asshattery FB has been pulling they will go the way of MySpace and another will come along that actually listens to their users. Sadly there are simply too many out there that use FB as an accurate source of info, even though it makes wikipedia look like encyclopedia britannica.
      • Strangely enough, whether someone is my friend or not does not hinge on the status of a web site.

        • by samkass (174571)

          Good for you. Next time you're denied a job because they looked you up and found some questionable group affiliations... well, you're not even going to know about it because they won't tell you why.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bytestorm (1296659)
      The tool should allow me to disable tagging of me by others in groups, pictures, notes, thus becoming more versatile, allowing me to also communicate with acquaintances and the general public with tiered levels of access.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If your "friends" refuse to respect your request, then they're not really your friends. If they're not really a friend, why are they a "friend"?

      Facebook to users: We give you tools with which to communicate with people you trust. If you don't trust them, don't allow them to use those tools with you.

      Do you trust your friends to:
      1) always be sober?
      2) share your sense of humour?
      3) use a secure unique password for their facebook account?
      4) be immune to phishing attempts?
      5) only have friends in their friends list that meet requirements 1-4?

      If all 5 points aren't met, the person should not be in your facebook friends list.

      Hmm... suddenly, nobody has any friends.

      Honestly, opt-out implicit trust of *accounts* is a BAD idea. Your friend and your friend's account are not one and the same.
      The concept would work

  • Wait.. WHAT? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:19AM (#33835492)

    If you have a friend that is adding you to Groups you do not want to belong to

    That's how it works?
    So, instead of inviting someone to join the group, you can just add them?

    Dumb fucks.

    • Re:Wait.. WHAT? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:30AM (#33835608)
      It's almost as if Facebook is a gigantic sociological test lab. The idea is to make the whole thing incrementally more ridiculous and obnoxious, and then measure how far you can push people before they quit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And the only way to win is not to play. And as someone who has never had any social networking accounts of any kind, I'm feeling schadenfreude-nly victorious right about now. Also, a bit lonesome--but the alternative seems to be getting worse every day.

  • by Draconi (38078) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:20AM (#33835498)

    I swear this is the standard response of any designer confronted, suddenly, with gaps in their thinking. "It can't be a serious problem, there is a workaround!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Asic Eng (193332)
      Well it definitely isn't their problem. If the TSA would actually be retarded enough to detain a person merely because they have been added to a facebook group (and I'm not saying that's unlikely) - well that would be the TSAs fault. It would also be the fault of the politicians which allow to operate the TSA as it does. And of course that means it would b the fault of the citizens of the US who are willing to put up with that shit.
  • NAMBLA (Score:5, Funny)

    by niteice (793961) <icefragment@gmail.com> on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:21AM (#33835514) Journal
    What's wrong with the National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes?
  • Why is this an issue? Non-friends can't add you to groups at all, you can withdraw from any group ad libitum, and you can block obnoxious misbehaving friends who don't stop doing dumb shit to you.

    • Re:Non-issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:33AM (#33835642)
      Because in the meantime if you haven't mastered Facebook's privacy settings a stranger might think you actually belong to those groups. Which isn't a problem until said stranger is in the position of offering or not offering you a job. Or deciding whether to do a more thorough investigation prior to a lawsuit or charges being filed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nyder (754090)

        Because in the meantime if you haven't mastered Facebook's privacy settings a stranger might think you actually belong to those groups. Which isn't a problem until said stranger is in the position of offering or not offering you a job. Or deciding whether to do a more thorough investigation prior to a lawsuit or charges being filed.

        Guess next time you shouldn't sign up on facebook.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by clone53421 (1310749)

          Great idea, until someone else registers a profile using your name and an old photo of you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sinclair44 (728189)

        Which isn't a problem until said stranger is in the position of offering or not offering you a job.

        We all do dumb shit, including that recruiter. It's only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up to realizing that just because you post status updates about being drunk from time to time does not mean that everyone else don't get drunk (and make some bad decisions while drunk) occasionally too.

        • does not mean that everyone else don't get drunk (and make some bad decisions while drunk) occasionally too.

          When you say bad decisions, you mean like Karen F. Owens [deadspin.com] and her PowerPoint presentation?

          If I were in charge of making hiring decisions, she would get the circular file. Not because she slept with a bunch of guys, not because she wrote about it, but because she was stupid and lacked common sense in thinking that said list wouldn't be all over the Net shortly after giving the list to some fr
        • by Kjella (173770)

          Well it does show you have a low threshold for what you're sharing. You might have had a shitty day at work, but companies prefer that you don't broadcast it on facebook. Particularly if it's not just whining but actual flaws in products or services or insults or well... there's not really many ways to win. I don't know how your office is, but mine is not past saying "Man, I got so wasted on saturday this hangover is killing me" when we meet Monday morning but only talking, it's not recorded anywhere for po

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why worry about why? When you say it's a non issue, you're factually entirely wrong. It's an issue to them and their request is a relatively simple one ... allow a preference to disallow friends to make you join groups.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'd have a different request. Remove the "feature" that lets friends automatically put you in groups and replace it with the standard invite scheme. If they really want they can add a preference (defaulting to off) to automatically accept these invites.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, no need to fix the lock; you can totally call the cops on any burglar who gets into your home. Every time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wooky_linuxer (685371)
      I do have an account af Facebook but I really don't use it much. But if is is like anything round here, there may be lots of people who have lots of friends that they don't really know - I for sure know I have an awful lot of friends requests from people I've never seen. It is quite hard if you have a thousand of friends to track them all. So you go to sleep one night and the next morning you wake up to find out you've been added to a hate-speech, or a pro-taleban group, a neo-nazi group (which is actually
    • by falsified (638041)
      It's an issue because most people don't watch their Facebook accounts like a hawk. I don't have any idea what this new feature even is beyond this summary, nor how to find it. Someone could do this to me and I wouldn't know for a week or more. More plainly, this feature sounds absolutely useless and I can't understand why they would change it from the previous Facebook Groups system. Why would having OTHER PEOPLE tell the world what affiliations I have be useful? You may as well make my Facebook info page
  • Great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jaktar (975138) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:22AM (#33835526)
    I used to only have one friend, my mother. To prevent being added to a bad group I had to unfriend her. Now she's yelling at me to come up out of the basement and explain myself...
  • Facebook Groups subscribe you!

    • by Surt (22457)

      In Capitalist America too, as it turns out. For once, there is no reflection!

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moeluv (1785142) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:24AM (#33835548)
    Why the hell would an option to do something like this even be added. I can see an invite system offering the ability to accept or deny an invite but being able to add someone automatically? Damn it was bad enough when my friends and I used to have junk mail wars and see who could get who on the worst mailing lists. This only ended when someone sent baby product catalogs to the wife of friend who was having trouble getting pregnant. I'm kind of surprised that guy survived. Perfect example of why this is a bad idea....someone always goes too far. Let's face it NAMBLA is pretty damn offensive.
  • by jbarr (2233) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:26AM (#33835560) Homepage

    So "friends" can automatically add you to a group? That sounds like a HUGE security and privacy hole. I could certainly see friends "suggesting" groups to you to join, but to give them default ability to add you to a group is just WAY beyond belief.

    • I can see how it would be irritating, but how is it a privacy or security problem? Doesn't it just mean that your account gets sent a lot of crap you don't care about?

  • Or remove yourself from Facebook. That'll work too, and relieve you of many other irritations.

    In somewhat related news, guillotines ensure you won't have dandruff on your shoulders anymore.

    I think a better analogy is snipping an unsightly hair out of your nose.

    • Remember kids, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.

      Unless they have a Facebook account, that is...

    • I think a better analogy is snipping an unsightly hair out of your nose.

      With a lawn mower?

  • by Zed Pobre (160035) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:34AM (#33835660)

    The oddity to this is that they already have an approval mechanism -- it's evident when they say that if you leave a group that someone has added you to, you cannot be re-added without authorization. That makes it pretty clear to me that it would be trivial to make that setting a default, but they don't want to.

    Anyone care to start making a bot that automatically joins and then leaves groups as they are detected?

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:36AM (#33835674) Homepage Journal

    While I think facebook has a callous disregard for privacy in general, their suggestion that you simply un-friend someone who plops you into a group is spot-on.

    Membership in a group really just means that your name will appear in their roster. No one will have additional access to your personal information. If you find it annoying that you have to remove yourself from a group you don't want to be in, just remove the friend who put you there along with it.

    Facebook has long needed better "friend" vs. "acquaintance" handling; i.e. you can share more with your inner circle than with the person you met once and say Hi to about every 6 months. Maybe this ruffle will be the push they need to get cracking on that feature.

    • by TexVex (669445)

      While I think facebook has a callous disregard for privacy in general

      Facebook advocating privacy would be like the Pork Council advocating vegetarianism.

  • with ip tracking or have a new admin with ip log powers ie the feds.
    If noted, you could face phone taps, sneak and peek searches, strange double bookings of a very on time tradesperson ect.
    "Random" laptop cloning, extra searches and job applications just not getting to any of the stages they used to.
  • I decided to be uncool and stay out of Facebook. I feel better and better about that decision every week from the articles I see. Now, why on earth would Facebook allow other people to subscribe YOU to a group?

  • Woohoo! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JSBiff (87824) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:49AM (#33835822) Journal

    . . . I knew not having any friends would pay off in the long run! Suckers!

  • This has to change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:50AM (#33835832)

    Facebook can't be this stupid.

    A friend should be able to SUGGEST that you join a group-- TO YOU so you make the decision.

    I wasn't aware this was even a feature of facebook. So there is no way to disable this short of unfriending the person? (and then it's still on my record as being part of that group anyway!)

    • by swordgeek (112599)

      "Facebook can't be this stupid."

      Yes they can. And they are - dumb like a fox.

      This is another subtle erosion of privacy and control of your own information. They'll possibly scale it back, but then down the road, re-implement it.

      All in the name of making a buck.

  • who enjoyed reading that Mark Zuckerberg got caught up in one of his own snares.

    He and his people just don't want to accept the need to inform people before making decisions with their information.

  • The nearly obsolete google usenet reader has the same flaw: any group can sign you up for it. Spammers and religious fanatics are abusing this feature.
  • "The people you add to the Group are automatically members--they don't have to accept."

    Given some of the bad apps that are on Facebook, this capability is rife for abuse. A shady application could presumably add all of your friends to some scammy group--and then all of your friends would have to remove themselves. What was so wrong with the old system where the invitee had to approve group invites?

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:50PM (#33840634) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully Facebook will fix this. In the meantime, or if they don't, I suggest someone start a group for, "Obnoxious Friends that Add Their Friends to Controversial Groups," group. Then, every time someone adds you to a stupid group, you add them to that group. Recursion and drama ensues. Nobody can take Facebook groups seriously ever again...Of course, the fact that they did in the first place is just too bad.

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