Opinion: I still can't explain Kate Spade New York

Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

I had forgotten Margot I’m not sure who some of my ‘friends’ are. I have no idea how I would have ended up on a list for the Menasha Corp. or Marcury Ballroom or Kate Spade New York.

But it’s all there, and much, much, MUCH more.

It’s my Facebook history.

Employment experts, college admissions counselors and mothers say to be careful about what you post on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or other social media sites.

“Someone is going to go back and check that one of these days,” is the oft-used advice.

I started thinking about that a couple of weeks ago when I found a 20-year-old’s Facebook page filled with crude language, borderline obscene photos, and other materials. Based on what I saw there, I never would hire her for a job. I wouldn’t even consider her. That may be judgmental and over-reacting but in today’s world, it is a fact of life.

Her page is a good example of everything a job or college counselor would say not to do.

Then with Facebook’s various troubles in the last two weeks, especially revelations about the data firm Cambridge Analytica mining information from 50 million Facebook users without their permission or knowledge, I got curious about what Facebook has on me.

Turns out you can look for yourself. And Facebook announced Wednesday it’s actually going to make that process easier.

But suffice it to say, Facebook has a lot of info on you, me and anyone else who has ventured into its world. I am not a big Facebook user and never have been. But based on the info I downloaded, that didn’t seem to really matter.

Facebook has phone numbers of people — “Friends” — that I don’t have. I am going to print out the list. It even has one for one of my relatives who I am pretty sure never, ever was on Facebook.

It had a record of my first “Friend,” a former girlfriend named Margot about whom I had forgotten and unfriended years ago after we parted ways. That didn’t matter, our conversations still are there, as “unfriendly” as they might have been at the end in 2005.

Every other conversation I’ve ever had on Facebook also is there. Every “Messenger” message, every picture, every “Like,” every everything. Even every time I’d been “poked” and by whom was there. I had forgotten about “pokes” and my record shows I apparently didn’t care very much because I never “poked” anyone.

I was just as surprised at the names of some of the groups and advertisers who’d tapped into my Facebook life and had me on their list. I’ve never shopped online at Target, but that company has me. I didn’t really mind that.

Kate Spade New York? That’s not really me.

The Menasha Corp. is a box maker in Wisconsin. No clue how or why I got on its list. Same for Valley Power Systems. Never heard of the band Avenged Sevenfold, but it’s been watching me. Something called UKENsprint 2017 was there, too. Again, no clue.

Sally Beauty was a bit of surprise. Alabama Crimson Tide wasn’t, but ‘hydrology’ I can’t explain.

It hammered home the fact that Facebook is watching the things we buy, the things we like and don’t like, even things we type and then erase.

To its credit, Facebook is making it easier for users to manage and control their information. And while it was relatively easy for me since I am not a huge user, some of my friends who are Facebook and social media addicts will need some time, maybe a lot of time.

But it’s not just Facebook taking part in what Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism.”

Google is one of the kings of it, tracking and analyzing and selling our every search, purchase, map choice, and just about everything else. Hundreds off other companies do it as well.

My friends think I’m crazy because I won’t Ley Google or any other app tap into my location or my phone. I don’t want them tracking me.

I get enough telemarketing calls and spam e-mails as it is. I don’t need more salesmen after me on the phone or my computer.

Even our phones, those things we cherish so dearly and can’t live without, are part of the network. Trust me, my phone knows when I get up everyday by both my alarm and when I check it. It’s passing that information on to someone.

All that said, it still was that 20-year-old woman’s Facebook page that reminded me our Facebook lives don’t go away.