How can we fight Facebook? Fool them

A New York Times report this week said internal Facebook documents indicate that Mark Zuckerberg’s Frankenstein monster, despite promises to keep our info private, in fact shared and traded it — including our private messages — with other Silicon Valley giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, along with media conglomerates and auto companies.

“You are the product,” the Times said.

When I read that, I was so ticked off, I wanted to quit Facebook for good.

But I haven’t — yet — because, dammit, Facebook is how I interact with readers … and also how I keep track of far-flung friends and family members.

Meaning: I want to quit it. But I can’t. You may be in the same situation.

So what are we to do? How do we fight back?

Well, I can’t speak for you, but, if I’m going to be a product that Zuckerberg sells to the world so the world can sell me stuff, I’m at least going to be an interesting product.

For example, I’ve been noticing that the ads I get on Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo tend to be for products for, you know, SOME guys my age, which is why I get a steady stream (no pun intended) of ads online for Depends, catheters, Viagra, burial insurance and hearing aids.

I used to think this was just a coincidence, but maybe it’s not. What’s likelier is that whatever I post or look at on Facebook is giving the advertising world the impression that I’m an 80-year-old man with world-class prostate and blood circulation problems who is close to kicking the bucket, when, in fact, I’m not NEARLY that old (For the record, I’m 57, near as I can remember, and have none of those problems. That I’ll ever tell you about).

So, what if I began seeding my Facebook with posts and messages depicting the Andy I’d rather be, instead of the Andy I actually am? Would that change things?

I’m going to try and find out. Therefore, if you are a Facebook friend of mine, you may start to notice some changes.

For starters, I’m going to replace my photo with one of Brad Pitt or maybe Howie Long (who my dearly departed brother, Dan, once remarked — out of the blue, while we were watching a football game — is “one good-looking man”).

That alone should get me off of Viagra’s stupid target list.

I’ll probably tweak the description of my profession a bit, too. In Facebook’s eyes, self-describing as a mildly sarcastic newspaper columnist is probably a one-way ticket to receiving fiber supplement ads.

But, if I were an adventure travel blogger who also dabbles in authoring long, pretentious think pieces about fine Scotch and outrageously expensive cigars, well, that’s bound to change Madison Avenue’s picture of me, right? Maybe I’ll get free samples, too.

I might also post some profoundly altered photos of me shirtless with six-pack abs. People who know me will laugh hysterically, knowing I don’t have a one-pack, much less six. But what Zuckerberg doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Finally, I think I’ll delete all references to and photos of the lovely-yet-formidable Marcia. I mean, I love her and all, and she remains the beautiful woman I married a long, long time ago.

But she’s in her mid-50s, too, and, to be honest, I can’t have her dragging down my age rating, or whatever metric Facebook, Yahoo and the others use to target me with age-appropriate ads.

No offense, sweetie. It’s a digital world, and a guy has to keep up.

Blame Zuckerberg, not me.


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