Being an Insensitive Jerk Doesn’t Make You a Criminal

And I am so very thankful for that.

Via AL.com – Blount County man jailed after Facebook post saying he was so irritated he could “shoot up an elementary school“.

Sometimes the knee-jerk reactions of Americans (yes, and others), grasp of their own constitution, language and the law is fucking shocking.

If being an insensitive jerk equated to a terrorist threat or marked me as a criminal then I would probably be locked away for at least ten offenses every morning. That’s before I have my coffee BTW, then I really get started, and doesn’t even touch on the reckless abandon with which I slaughter song lyrics.

I posted this on my Facebook when sharing the article:

I’m sorry but you do NOT have a right not to be offended. This guy may have been a jerk. May have been a royal asshole, but he did NOT make a terrorist threat. “I could” does not equal “I will”.

I’m so hungry I could eat a horse right now…

Reference the twitter joke trial in the U.K. for more info as to why this is BS. Yes the guy is a dick, nobody is debating that, but, he has a right to be one.

Perhaps it wasn’t the most succinct of explanations, but I’m sure you understand the point I was making.

Now, go and have a read of the comments section of the linked AL.com article for a good chuckle at all the people willing to throw away their right to free speech in exchange for not having their sensibilities offended.

The guy was being a complete wanker but that’s his right, and I hate to inform you, but you do not have a right “not to be offended” or not feel hurt by what others say or their opinions. You have a right to disagree.You have a right to point out how stupid they may be, how insensitive, how it may hurt your feelings and those of others, but that does not make them criminal. If it did, Ann Coulter would have been given the chair years ago.

Think about this:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

C.S. Lewis

Watch this: Penn & Teller – The Right Not to be Offended

And this: (wait at least until you get to the 14 minute mark where he talks about Social Media): Tony Gilland -The Right to Offend

Facebook Adds Trending Videos To Top Of Stream

UpdateApparently this has been in testing for a while.

FYI: This was only available to me on 1 page load. The second I refreshed, it vanished and did not return.

Okay Facebook, I know you’re experimenting with different formats and trying to find ways to justify that ridiculous IPO valuation, but everything you’re doing lately is detracting from the user experience.

It’s bad enough that almost (and I say almost because it’s inconsistent) every time I log in I have to sort the feed to “most recent” instead of “top stories” because it doesn’t stick, but now you’re going to stick a “Trending Videos” box at the top of the feed as well.

I don’t know if it’s occurred to anyone at Facebook, but the reason I (and I assume a most people) use Facebook is to see what my friends,family, and the sites I follow, are up to and sharing. I’m not interested in what anyone or anything else does.

The more you try to implement features to “engage” me and keep me on Facebook to up the number of advertising views, the more you push me away and make me not want to log in.

Facebook Trending Videos

Today I Learned Why Facebook Is Ultimately Doomed

I’ve been reading a lot lately about why the Facebook boat is destined to sink.

Opinions and reasons are as plentiful and varied as the cosplayers at Comic-con (read Matt Silverman (Mashable) and Eric Jackson (Forbes) for two differing yet equally valid opinions), yet for me there can be no greater reason than diminishing user trust.

I’m not going to rehash all the usual arguments about difficult and misleading privacy settings, user interest decreasing over time, or that the service is simply trying to be too big and the off-putting complexity that presents to users. No, instead I’m going to post this picture…

TIL Why Facebook Is DoomedThe advert, as you can see is plainly for something on the naughtier side of the internet, and even though people have a right to do what they want online (within legal reason), what got me was that the name and face attached  to the advert were those of someone who I know. I’m not going to say who, for obvious reasons, but I will say that he’s got a wife and kids and I’m sure she wouldn’t (and probably not he) wouldn’t be happy knowing that his one-armed surfing preferences are being displayed to everyone on his Facebook contact list.

How can Facebook ever expect to maintain users and community when they can’t (either through ineptitude or unwillingness) keep our private habits from our friends, let alone advertisers?

Yes, the guy in question is partly to blame, but the flip side is that he, like the majority of Facebook users is not tech savvy in the way which the people reading this post are. He, like the rest of the unwashed masses simply don’t care about Facebook privacy.

I suspect he’ll start caring about it now if his wife sees the same advert in her sidebar, but like most people privacy doesn’t matter until it’s taken away and there’s a damaging consequence.

It’s issues like this, regardless of who caused them, be it Facebook, the user or a third-party that will cause the community to lose trust and without the community Facebook is worth absolutely nothing.

If Facebook wishes to survive long-term, it needs to learn to protect users and their data, not only from rogue advertisers and spammers, but also from themselves as unfortunately the masses are either unwilling, incapable (which I doubt) or simply don’t care enough to worry… until it’s too late.

Killing Off My Public Facebook Page

Currently there’s about 130 of you guys following the Facebook page “PaulOFlahertyOnline” and many of you who are following that page are also friends with me on my personal Facebook profile.

The advent of the “subscribe” button on Facebook has made the public page obsolete and frankly just a pain to update, as everything that ends up there is already being posted publicly on my personal page (so if you’re subscribed you can see it), and… let’s be honest, I don’t update that page a lot but I do pump a lot of good shares through my personal Facebook.

So, here’s the deal, in a week or so I’m going to kill off the PaulOFlahertyOnline page and simply stop posting to it, but, in order to stay up to date and still get all of the content I find around the web, you can just pop along to my personal profile and hit the subscribe button.

I’ll even add a button here (this may not show up in an RSS reader so you’ll have to click through to the post) so you can subscribe easily.

Facebook fb_xd_fragment Problem – .htaccess Solution

FacebookSara was trawling through Google Analytics for our sites and noted that a number of posts showed their URL’s with an appended “?fb_xd_fragment=” like this:

http://sitename.com/postname/index.php?fb_xd_fragment=
http://sitename.com/postname/?fb_xd_fragment=

This is a known Facebook bug with the “Like button” and one that Facebook probably won’t resolve as it has been ongoing for quite a while now. It hasn’t been a huge problem for us and happens a negligible amout of times, for instance according to Google Analytics it happened on only 631 out of nearly 1.84 million pageviews on Geek Is Awesome in the past 30 days.

Still, that’s 631 times that users were confronted with a blank white screen and had to refresh, and 631 times that AdSense and other advertisers ads were shown but couldn’t be seen by the reader. 631 times too many in my book.

Eric Enge posted a solution over on Search Engine Land back in June, but I think this solution may be simpler and have just finished adding it to a number of our sites. Eric’s solution may be more complete in that it may work better on things like WordPress Network (multi-site) installs but this simple .htaccess solution should work for everyone else by doing a 301 redirect back to the post URL if the bug occurs.

Eric also noted that some of their posts were showing up in the search engine results with the “?fb_xd_fragment=” attached, which is of course a potential content duplication problem. We’ve not seen any results for our sites in the SERP’s with the fragment attached but this solution (found on the Webmaster World AdSense forum) should solve that too as it provides a 301 redirect for the fragment.

Anyhow, enough rambling, here’s the bit of code to drop in your .htaccess file.

#Redirect For Added FB Fragment
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^fb_xd_fragment=.*$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourdomain.com/$1? [R=301,L]

Hope this helps and remember that if you’re using something like WP Super Cache in WordPress don’t forget to hit the “update mod rewrite” rule button after adding the code so that it doesn’t throw that message at you telling you that a difference has been detected.

As always – you’re mileage may vary and any comments, questions and / or improvements are encouraged.

Explicit ‘href’ Problem With Facebook Comments

On all of our sites which are using Facebook comments we’re currently getting the following warning:

Warning: this comments plugin is operating in compatibility mode, but has no posts yet. Consider specifying an explicit ‘href’ as suggested in the comments plugin documentation to take advantage of all plugin features.

Facebook has (again) changed the code for displaying Facebook comments and wants it to look like this:

After the <body> tag:

<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script>(function(d, s, id) {
  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1&appId=OURAPID";
  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Where you want your comments to appear HTML5 OR XFBML:

HTML5:

<div data-href="http://geekisawesome.com/2309/super-mario-earrings/"
data-num-posts="20" data-width="610"></div>

XFBML:

<fb:comments href="http://geekisawesome.com/2309/super-mario-earrings/"
num_posts="20" width="610"></fb:comments>

This is what we are currently using where the comments appear (XFBML):

url="http://geekisawesome.com/2309/super-mario-earrings/" numposts="60"
width="610" publish_feed="true" migrated="1">

If we move to the newer code it becomes:

<fb:comments href="http://geekisawesome.com/2309/super-mario-earrings/"
num_posts="20" width="610"></fb:comments>

It’s fairly obvious that FB is moving away from having the XID as the post identifier in favor of “href” but if we move to the new code then all of our comments disappear.

I’ve tried replacing the “url” with “href” in the old code, and passing “href” alongside “url” in the old code to no avail. It did result in the warning disappearing but at the expense of all the comments disappearing as well.

I’ve also tried passing the XID to the new code, XID with the post ID, adding the XID with “migrate=’1′” and numerous variations there of.

It appears to me that the only way to make the warning disappear is to switch over to the newer code which uses “href” instead of “url” and lose our comments in the process.

Obviously we don’t want to the lose the thousands of comments we’ve built up since switching to FB comments and we don’t want to move away from FB comments as they’ve provided a massive increase in interactivity on our sites, but this is an annoying problem.

Has anybody else come across or developed a solution for this yet? Am I missing something glaringly obvious?

The Google+ Badge Is Horrendous

It’s well known that I’ve already surrendered to my Google overlords and fervently chase each new product they offer with the enthusiasm of a horny teenage boy trying to catch his first glimpse of a real pair of boobs, so when I choose to put fingers to keyboard to complain about something, you’d better believe that I’ve got a serious gripe to get off my chest.

About two weeks ago we set up Google+ pages for all of the Scrw Media sites but have yet to actually start posting content to them for two reasons:

  1. There’s no workable means to automate the posting process. We’re a small operation and unless I plan on staying up 24 hours a day and am committed to posting to Google+ every hour on the hour, I don’t yet see a reasonable way to get all the content from all of our sites on to the network in a timely manner.
  2. The badge which allows people to add your site/page to their circle is horrible. Not horrible – horrendous. It’s a mega f-ugly.

Google-Plus-Badge
Seriously Google, what were you thinking when you can up with this ugly ass badge? It’s inflexible – you can’t change the height, you can’t change the width. You can’t change anything.

You have a choice of 5 terrible badges (6 if you count the text link), 3 of which are just icons and the standard badge and the small badge are the same damn width. 300 inflexible pixels that many a website won’t be able to easily incorporate into their design.

* Conspiracy Theory Warning * Unless of course that’s what Google wants, as many of the sites using G+ will also run Adsense and this will force them to increase the width of their sidebar and as such they’ll probably upgrade to the more lucrative 300 pixel wide ads – *End of conspiracy theory*

It’s obvious that Google does not want to be considered a Facebook knock-off, but when it comes to the Facebook “like buttons”, “like boxes” and other site add-ons, Google could do a lot for themselves by “borrowing” a little bit of inspiration.  Yes there are lots of issues with Facebook’s implementations but aren’t we supposed to be learning from and improving upon the competition?

Moot: Facebook and Google Do Identity Wrong

In a passionate speech at the Web 2.0 summit, 4chan founder Christopher “moot” Poole says that Google and Facebook “do identity wrong,” and that people should not be tied to just one identity on the web. He doesn’t really propose solutions, but he brings a lot of valuable food for thought to the table.

Hat-tip: Mashable.

Facebook’s Pattern Matching On Comment Moderation Sucks Ass

We’re using Facebook comments on some of our sites and it’s working great, commenting on those sites has increase immensely but I must say that the pattern matching for blacklisted words sucks royal ass.

We’re using the “standard Facebook restrictions” to keep things relatively clean but I have to wonder about that when I need to moderate comments that get caught by the filter because they contain words like (real examples): glasses, mass, pass and classic.

The problem? Each one of those common words contains the term “ass” somewhere inside the word. Surely Facebook could code a fix for this for this?