Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

What this is all about

So. To recap the last few entries: as you can see in the screencaps, the comment crossposting privacy issues aren't terrible on Twitter, but they are Not of the Good on Facebook. Turning on Facebook Connect posted my full name on my user info page without any warning. Pingbacks have been behaving erratically, but I have personally gotten links to locked entries I wasn't supposed to know about and huge excerpts quoted back at me. People have tried to turn off pingbacks; sometimes it's worked and sometimes it hasn't. Nothing seems to work the same way for any two people. LJ has updated their news entry to say that they're doing... something. I would not expect to hear any news on this front until Monday (which is a holiday in the U.S.) or Tuesday. (ETA: The news entry is now magically down for maintenance.) (ETA: It seems to be back now.)

Today, short version: I'm staying here, but I'm also mirroring my entries on Dreamwidth for people who choose to leave.

Long version:

All right. This is going to be a lot of information to throw at you, but I have tried to write it out as clearly and logically as I can. I started poking around the umpteen trillion comments on the LJ news entry, starting from the end and working about six pages backwards, to see the most recent things that people had figured out and were telling each other. (Funny enough, it occurred to me to do this because a pingback told me that someone had found my screencap entry through a link in those comments.) I found out a few things.


MySpace has finally made a concession of sorts: that rival Facebook has grown so dominant that not syncing up to its web of social connections would be a mistake. The News Corp.-owned social network, as was rumored late last year, has "synced" its service with Facebook (and Twitter) so that members can cross-post their status updates as well as shared content.


salpal: Oh my God. Skynet.

And now Livejournal's doing it too. The real reason this is a problem--besides any general concerns you might have about the centralization of everything on the internet ever--is that Facebook is a massive collection of dicks.

HUGE: Facebook Testing New “Subscribe To” User Feature; Facebook Testing Subscriptions to Other People; This Will Change How We Use Facebook. You read this and you say, "So how is this really different from tracking entries or comments here on LJ?" Which I do a good deal myself. Mostly that's so I don't miss entries from particular people, or if there's been a really interesting discussion on an entry, the comments will come to my email so I don't miss any of them. Using my journal as an example--you could set the m15m community to email you on the rare occasion I post a new parody; if you only wanted to keep up with my Secret Life of Dolls entries, for example, you could also track the "secret life of dolls" tag. Pretty convenient.

On Facebook, you would be subscribing (tracking) any updates from a certain person. Any change to their status; any activities. Photos, links, videos, comments, notes, likes. Activities on various applications. Groups they join. Changes to their relationship status. "A is now friends with X, Y and Z." Things they say to other people? Looks like it. Comments made to them? Not sure.

Are you starting to see how this is a bit different?

How about I put this in context for you:

1) Facebook's New 'Stalk This Friend' Button, Currently in Beta.

2) "I will find ur girls": Facebook won't shut down stalker. 

3) And I know for a fact they won't, because an e-quaintance was talking the other day about how a male musician friend of hers was being stalked, and fans of his were creating fake profiles for his girlfriend and her son, joining groups in their name, and using the accounts to steal private photos. When she and the musician friend tried to report this people, they were asked for their home addresses and phone numbers, and given the following disclaimer: "Please be aware that we routinely provide your contact information to the user that posted the content you are reporting." And then Facebook wouldn't do anything about it anyway. They'll give the stalkers your phone number, but they won't do anything to help you.

Facebook is giving people the tools to follow others very, very closely. If people use those tools to actually, literally stalk someone, they will not stop them. 

That's the context.

This is the site that Livejournal is now fully integrated with.

It gets worse.

After Facebook and Livejournal, Russia buys Twitter (May 2010). That's a misleading headline--"Russia" didn't "buy" Facebook, although it is true, an investment fund bought ICQ, and a Russian company called SUP bought Livejournal (as you may recall), and the Russian fund definitely owns stock in LJ.

[Header:] After swallowing ICQ and a minority interest in Facebook, this fund part-owned by one of the world’s richest men, Alisher Usmanov, is planning to buy more and ready to set aside another $1 billion for the purpose. Among the most likely candidates for purchase is the micro-blog service Twitter.

The Russian investment fund Digital Sky Technologies (DST) is continuing to surprise the world Internet market. The fund’s acting director, Yuri Milner, recently told a reporter from Britain’s Sunday Telegraph about DST’s plans for the future. DST has earmarked $1 billion for its next stage of investments.

DST is now looking into several dozen companies as potential investment projects. Milner would not give the names of the companies, but did say that the geography of DST’s interests is very broad, including Australia and Asia. And he did not rule out the purchase of stock in Twitter.

Note: Twitter does not know how to make money. They're only now really starting to try. Even the article says they're "testing possible models for the site’s monetization." Oh, look, here is a billion-dollar investment fund. I wonder, should we let them give us money? I mean, that means we'll have to let them tell us what to do, but...

But also:

DST has already made a number of sensational deals. In 2007 it acquired 2% of the social networking site Facebook for $200 million. Since then DST has bought up stock belonging to minority shareholders so that now its share of the Russian Facebook has grown to 10%. In April 2010 DST bought ICQ, the instant communication service that has become popular in Russia.

DST takes pride in the fact that 70% of the visits to pages in the Russian Internet are thanks to Digital Sky Technologies, whose potential audience is estimated at 300 million people.

I'm not telling you to panic and run around screaming (my icon aside). I'm not even telling you to flee Livejournal. I'm telling you that, in order to understand what someone will do next, and to decide what you want to do in response, you need to know what their goals are. So. Okay. Bearing in mind the kind of money that is being thrown around in efforts to centralize all these social media sites under the umbrella of DST:


I just realised. You were expecting this reaction. This whole mess was anticipated wasn't it? And the (so far) 10,000 users that have jumped ship because of this. Yeah fuck it, let them leave, the people that don't care for privacy will stay and advertise our shit all over the biggest social web site in the world and we will get twice maybe 3 times as many people joining because of that.

I can think of no other reason for this shit. I reckon you did your homework regarding the twitter and fb numbers and sold the fuck out.

There was, in fact, a screencap (I can't find it now, but I saw it myself) of Dreamwidth's new-accounts log, showing that they usually have about 100-200 signups a day, and on the day all of this blew open, they did, in fact, get 9300. Today, I found out that Dreamwidth got 12,000 more signups the next day. At the same time, LJ itself apparently got 10,000 new members of its own, presumably from the Facebook userbase. So yeah. Dreamwidth gained 21,000 new users--not all of whom actually set their accounts on fire and left Livejournal--but Livejournal also gained users. Exactly as predicted.

So yeah. That probably is how it was planned. Except that "you sold out" isn't quite the way to put it--Six Apart sold the Livejournal we knew out to SUP a long time ago. What we're left with is a company that is forcing the American LJ staff to do things I am pretty sure they know we'll hate, that they themselves probably hate, and if they don't see the hate coming, there's not much they can do about it when they do see it. ("Social media overlord! The users hate our new plan to integrate with the juggernaut that is devouring the internet! You know, the one you partially own that destroys everyone's privacy and makes tons of money doing so!" "...And?") So keep that in mind when you see something like this:

coffeechica: "We can't say much about any of this yet as we want to wait till the plan is certain, but I can say: message received, we understand, and we've been working something out over the past day and a half that we hope will help alleviate a lot of the concern out there."

I think the staff is trying. It's just that the goals of the owners are such that the staff won't be allowed to fix all the things we want changed back.

Speaking of goals, mine are different from a lot of LJ users'. My journal is "personal" in the sense that there's a lot of myself in it, but no, it's not a "personal journal," with the desire for privacy that the phrase suggests. It's a public journal; it's a blog. I started it as one. In 2003--pretty much a month shy of seven years ago--I said to myself, I'm a writer; if I ever manage to publish my novels and get any readers, I'm going to want to have a place for them to go. Let's start something now so it'll already be interesting by the time they find it. Ironically, the "something interesting" was how I got the readers in the first place, but there you are. 

So what's upset me the most about all of this is the idea of people getting pissed off and leaving Livejournal. I mean, they should, if LJ is going to screw around like this, and I'm going to keep telling you everything I find out; I'm upset about people having to leave. can get pissed off and storm off to Dreamwidth, but if no one's there, that doesn't help me in terms of what this journal is for in the first place. But if I stay here and a significant number of people leave, that's no good either. I've been fretting about this for months--every time LJ does some new stupid thing--but I'm finally just to the point where the best answer seems to stay here and establish a mirror site on Dreamwidth. Because it's clear to me now that I'm going to have to set up camp on Dreamwidth--there are a lot of people who are not going to be able to ignore this. On the other hand: "we will get twice maybe 3 times as many people joining because of that." That settled it for me. I have to stay here for that. Meaning, "fandom" as fandom knows itself may leave Livejournal, but Livejournal is not going to turn into a ghost town, which is what I was most afraid of. If you're going to stay, I'm still going to be here. If you're going to leave, I'm also going to be over there. Maybe this makes me a terrible person for not flying the colors and Taking a Stand, but I had to give follower counts and page hit numbers in a publisher query the other week. These numbers actually mean something for me. It is not in my best interest to pick either Livejournal or Dreamwidth; it is in my best interest to stay on both of them. Kind of like taking a second job to back up a really crappy one, I guess.

(GODDAMMIT, LJ! I love this journal. Every silly purple pixel of it. Forget SUP--I've had it since before Brad Fitzpatrick sold LJ to Six Apart. GAHHHHHHHHHH.)

So. That's all I know. I'll be on both sites. And I'm going to keep finding out whatever I can, because the only way to get LJ to cut out various acts of fuckwittery is to put enough pressure on them that the Social Media Overlords let the staff make some changes back.

One last note: go bitch about "the Russians" somewhere else. You have some very nice, longtime Russian co-commenters here. Even if you mean it as shorthand for SUP or DST, let it go while you're here out of respect for them.

ETA: If you've got Dreamwidth codes and want to share them, feel free to do so in the comments.

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Tags: facebook, livejournal, nancy drew, onoz, senior wtf correspondent, shenanigans, this is going to end well, twitter, why we can't have nice things

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