Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Yes, I'm still on Facebook despite the kerfuffle in the news about the role Facebook data may have played in Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ's efforts to sway elections.

I'm having a hard time believing anything I said or did affected Brexit, Trump's election, or even Trudeau's election.

I'm just not able to get upset that fb shared what I said and/or did or their site Perhaps my dispassion is because I, too, use Facebook for 'nefarious' reasons--like selling my books. The more my posts and name gets shared around the world, the happier I am. The more my friends become your friends and your friends, mine--the more we get together the happier I am. Free advertising and all that jazz.

Yeah, Facebook! A platform that reaches billions and doesn't cost me a penny.

I'm clever enough to realize the best things in life are not free, and that facebook makes money from my presence. It has to make money or it wouldn't exist for long unless it was funded by government or philanthropists. It doesn't bother me, it's the price I'm quite willing to pay in order to have a platform that reaches billions and doesn't cost me a penny.

As long as Facebook's profit doesn't involve stealing, killing, sharing or reselling my copyrighted materials--which there's no indication it has done--I'll play their game.

I've always understood the nature of this beast with which I've joined forces and followed these rules:

  • I have never posted anything that I wouldn't mind sharing with the world.
  • I've never relied on Facebook as my news source.
  • I've never liked things on Facebook when I didn't know their source.
  • I've never posted, liked or shared anything promoting intolerance or hatred.
  • Anything I want to say but would hesitate to say in person in public gets put in phone calls or offline messages.
  • I'm not myself on Facebook, I'm an author with seven published novels looking to sell them.
That's not to say I don't chat on Facebook, connect with family and friends, offer opinions and encouragement and sometimes rebuke.  I'm honest online, I'm not hiding behind a pseudonym or caricature. But my online personae is only the public side of me, the side of me that might conceivably help me sell books, the side of me that isn't going to affect a U.S. election or a U.K. plebiscite.

The downside of all this, though, that I must consider is that my Facebook friends may not have bought into my scenario, yet they apparently are at risk of world-wide exposure and malicious manipulation simply because they're my friends.

I advise my friends and all other Facebook users and social media users in general:

  • beware of fake news, ads, and manipulations
  • don't share private things online
  • respect others' privacy
  • use the power of social media to make the world not only a more interesting place, but a safer and kinder one.
#DeleteFacebook has been brought to you by Dispassionate Lies --in the near future, the World Wide Web collapses.

Monday, March 19, 2018

DNA and Privacy

When my kids gifted my husband and I DNA testing kits, we both got a tad nervous.  Not so much because we feared what might be revealed about our past (what’s done, is done and it all got us to a good spot in life), but more we feared what that DNA might all be used for.

Could it ever be used against us in a court of law? To identify us, when we’d rather not be known? To hike the cost of life or medical insurance, should genetic weakness show up?

Could it foreseeably connect us to relatives we’d rather not connect with? Could it connect us with Crime? With lawsuits? With parental issues?

The kit did come with a questionnaire where you can choose to approve their request to use your DNA for further research (we declined and asked our sample be destroyed after testing). You can also choose how much of your information will get shared on their website, and with whom. Part of their service is to connect you, via your DNA results, with other Ancestry members who have been DNA tested. I declined sharing any of my results, although I did allow them to list for me others whom I'm potentially related to.

You can also choose to download the raw data from their lab, but unless one is a genetic scientist, it would be hard to decipher what the data means. Also, once you request that download, no longer vouches for the security and privacy of your results—because, presumably, they can’t monitor who you decide to share the information with and how securely you go about sharing it.

If this all sounds a bit paranoid, it perhaps is. Because where ever one goes, one leaves behind one’s DNA. Just swab my fork after I dine at Tony Roma’s and my DNA profile is yours.

It’s that fact, that led me to give in to my curiosity, spit in the vial, and ship it off the lab in Ireland.

Let’s face it—there are no secrets anymore.

DNA and Privacy has been brought to you by Schrodinger’s Cat—Trapped in two universes, two simultaneous lives. In one, her child is dying.

Eileen Schuh, Author 
Schrödinger's Cat
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