When Your Social Media Company Tattles

Tactless online networks do a terrible job of filtering the information they share about members

It's like, you put your entire life on the internet and then nobody respects your privacy (Flickr)
It’s like, you put your entire life on the internet and then nobody respects your privacy (Flickr)

This morning I received a LinkedIn prompt to “Congratulate Jennifer” on a professional milestone.

My friend has been looking for work for some time since losing her old media job, so I was excited to see where she might have landed. Clicking through, the email said “Jennifer is having a work anniversary.”

“1 year this April at Freelance.”


Net neutrality may be a wonderful idea at the FCC level, where big players are in a position to bully service providers into fast-tracking their content to consumers. But at the social media level, I’m all for putting up a few more gates.

Jennifer—all of whose professional contacts were just reminded by LinkedIn that she was fired a year ago this month—would probably agree.

Lately, I have also noticed the software on my phone and TV displaying a remarkable lack of tact.

On Monday, I downloaded a bunch of apps for a new iPhone including Gmail and YouTube, the accounts of which are linked by virtue of being owned by Google.

I would really have preferred that the YouTube app didn’t come front-loaded with recommendations based on all the questionable content choices I make on that platform, which includes various cheesy Europop stars and viral videos of interest to the gay community. (I do not need that twerking swim team to pop up as the first thing on the screen, thank you very much.)

It’s even worse at home. My Netflix algorithm is so embarrassing that I almost have to keep a blanket draped over the TV, like “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

The gays are incapable of marketing a film without putting shirtless dudes on the cover. So you watch a Christopher Isherwood biopic and then maybe a somber documentary, like “Bridegroom,” and all of a sudden your suggestions feed looks like the magazine rack of a Hell’s Kitchen bodega.

I’ve learned the best way to class up your Netflix algorithm is to put on highbrow content and run it while you’re out, like a dishwasher.

Constantly being harvested for data is just the reality of being a modern consumer. Some things, like Jennifer’s year-long search for work, you would prefer not to share with your friends. Other things, like the implications of your own terrible taste in culture, you don’t even want to be reminded of yourself.

In the meantime, I would like my email to stop speaking to my online video account, please. And if I ever did log in to Candy Crush, that is probably something I would prefer to take to my grave, rather than invite all my friends to join.

Stay tuned for the moment Seamless links your food ordering history to your Match.com profile, without asking.

Oh, and look. Another email from LinkedIn.

“Congrats, you got 1 profile view last week‏.”

Seriously. This company has got to work out a way to message its members that doesn’t make them want to kill themselves. When Your Social Media Company Tattles