Monthly Archives: December 2009

why I’m leaving Facebook

Starting today, I’m going to remove all my personal information from Facebook and “unfriend” everyone. I’m responding to a pair of status messages that appeared on my profile over the last few weeks, though I didn’t put them there. (John calls them “phantom status messages.”)


According to the site itself, the messages were both submitted “via Text Message”, which is odd because I haven’t authorized the Facebook Texts service. I submitted a bug report to Facebook Support, but so far they’ve done nothing aside from ask me to resubmit my request if I’m “still experiencing security issues.”

Facebook screenshot 2

Just to be clear:

  • My account hasn’t been “hacked”. I changed my password as soon as the first phantom status appeared, and that didn’t stop the second message two weeks later. Since the phantom messages came from the Facebook Texts service, they didn’t require my authentication anyway.
  • My computer doesn’t have a virus. (If you know me at all, you’re chuckling at the idea.) Even if by some magical circumstance it did, the virus would have to send Facebook a text message somehow, and they’d still have to accept it.

That leaves two possibilities that I can see:

  1. It’s a bug. Some bit of Facebook code is misrouting another user’s text messages to my profile by accident.
  2. It’s a security exploit. A malicious user is exploiting some crack in Facebook’s text-message-handling code to drop messages in other users’ accounts. This is less likely, but not impossible; it would probably start with innocuous messages to test the exploit.

Facebook Texts

Either way, I no longer trust my Facebook account. The phantom messages have been benign so far, but all it would take is one generic hurtful statement to become a real nightmare. (Not to mention what this implies about Facebook’s security in general.)

I still plan to keep the account itself open, because I need it for work (to develop Facebook apps) and for space advocacy (as a page admin). I just won’t be posting to it, and it won’t be “friends” with anyone. I’ll miss the easy keeping-in-touch it provides, but that’s not worth the potential hassle.

SpaceUp, scary but awesome

support SpaceUp on KickStarterStarting today*, you’re going to be hearing me talk about SpaceUp a lot. You can go over to the SpaceUp site to see what it’s all about, but here, among friends, I wanted to talk about me. Erm, I mean, what it means to me.

It started as one of those “why isn’t anyone doing this?” questions, which should be a red flag right there. As soon as I asked it, the answer was twisted into, “Yeah, Chris, why don’t you do that?” So I did what I usually do in that situtation: “Why don’t we do it, you and you and you and… don’t run away now! You.” I roped in people from both the BarCamp side and the SD Space side, so we have more than enough experience to actually make SpaceUp happen.

Oh, but it means calling people! And putting myself out there! And asking people for money! And other scary things! So adrenaline is stomping on my nervous system and SpaceUp thoughts are constantly running through my brain just in case I’m Doing It Wrong.

And it might fail.

…but I’m not going to think about that right now. There’s plenty to do, and action is the best way I have to keep stray thoughts at bay. Oh, and you can pledge a few bucks to support an event with the potential to be awesome, and get a patch or a t-shirt to remember it by.

* Okay, I started blathering about SpaceUp to some of you a while ago. Today I stop holding back!