November 28th, 2014
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Facebook Hottie Has a Dark Side

by Rick Ackerman on June 1, 2010 12:01 am GMT · 13 comments

Quite the hottie, isn’t she?  That’s “Rita Wilson” pictured below, and we didn’t think twice about adding her as a Facebook friend when she sent us a request a while back. We figured we’d find out later who she was, but we were wrong. She doesn’t answer e-mail queries, and Googling the name brings up only the actress Rita Wilson who is married to Tom Hanks.  This Rita Wilson’s Facebook biography says she lives in San Francisco. Because we lived there ourselves for more than 20 years, we thought that maybe there was a connection through some mutual friend or acquaintance.  Alas, as far as we’ve been able to determine, Rita Wilson doesn’t exist in the flesh.  Rather, she appears to have been concocted by some PR firm tasked with hyping the shares of publicly traded companies.

A Hot Facebook friend no man can turn downThis wasn’t so obvious to us at first, since Rita’s long list of Facebook friends comprises actual people from all over the world – people with eclectic interests and quirky things to say.  There’s Claire Louise Hay, for one, who wonders why her fish have been going haywire:  “Why [do] my barb fish have such a life-defeating reaction to stress? When startled, they leap out of the water, usually hitting the lid, but sometimes hitting the kitchen surface or the floor. It’s a wonder they’re not extinct.”  This is not the kind of stuff you can make up, even if Rita Wilson is.

Rita’s Corporate ‘Likes’

As the weeks went by, however, the ever-expanding list of “Likes and Interests” linked from Rita’s Facebook page began to look more and more like the client list of a public relations firm. Many of the companies are based in China, mainly in energy and resource-related businesses, but there are also some American firms, including Dreamworks and a Los Angeles Chevy dealer. The list has been growing by the week, so one can only surmise that Rita has been producing results for her clients.  She even knows to flash a “Stop Your Tinnitus” ad at us when we visit her Facebook page. The condition has plagued us for years, but it’s a little creepy to think that Rita somehow knew about this.

Lately, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for trashing members’ privacy online. Amidst all of the controversy, the point appears to have been lost that Facebook exists solely to collect information on all of us that it can peddle to advertisers and retailers. With the emergence of Rita Wilson, however, and who-knows-how-many other cyberagents like her to siphon up consumer data, the insidiousness of Zuckerberg’s business model has been laid bare. It seems likely that he will be forced to retreat all the way on this issue. It should be interesting to see whether Facebook can survive if the company is unable to fulfill its primary mission of finding out all that can possibly be known about its members’ shopping habits.  (Update:  I awoke Monday morning to discover that I had been de-Friended by “Rita”.)

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{ 13 comments }

TahoeBilly May 31, 2010 at 6:12 am

Everything these days starts out as a “can’t lose” free benefit to man kind. Microsoft was that “ford pinto” software, not pretty but got you where you needed to go. Until, Bill Gates started getting cute and fancy and suddenly the Pinto couldn’t get you there, even though it was so price friendly! Microsofts refusal to be the “nuts and bolts” platform many thought it was going to be, caused millions countless hours of frustration wishing they had a “third rail” to touch, beyond the Microsoft train wreck and the Apple cute pricey, “graphics lovers dreams”.

Is it any shock Facebook has busty 25 year olds with Photoshopped boobs asking us to email them, and Zuckerberg is selling our personal info?

Not!

I’d still like to kick Bill Gate’s ass after I stepped on his glasses, get to Zuckerberg later…

Carol June 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Interesting that you would bring up Ford’s Pinto. It was, indeed, price friendly until the stories came out about it’s unfortunate placement for the gas tank which would explode if the car got rear-ended. Only years later did it come out that the executives at the time did a cost-benefit analysis over the issue of whether they should: a) redesign the placement so as to make the car safe; or b) leave the design alone and let people sue them for wrongful death. Naturally, as part of “The Big Three”, they decided to let the design issue go and let people sue ‘em. Just shows you the management style used as the template for the Wall St./D.C. (and any other gigundo multinational protected by campaign funds to politicians of all stripes) followed these days.

Question: how come nobody else noticed when MS decided to pay its first dividend that computing was losing ground to the Interwebs and maybe, just maybe the Board and execs decided to draw out more money for themselves? Interesting that Apple, whose growth is all in iPods and iPads, etc., has overtaken MS. Another question: how come no one assumed that the big investment houses went public not too long before the market tanked and that shoulda been the signal to get out of the market altogether? Looking at you, Goldman, and you, Blackstone. Also looking at you, “Oracle of Omaha” with your recent 50-for-1 split of BRK/B. Third question: how come no one questions that kind of ethic these days?

Benjamin May 31, 2010 at 8:44 am

What a capitalist know-it-all would say to this…

a) We’ve always had advertising
b) Without advertising, all life in the universe would cease to exist
c) If all life in the universe ceases to exist, then the communists will have won
d) Sex appeal has always been used to defeat communism
e) Junkmail, telemarketing, and other sex appeal has always been sent to you via your personal info
f) Television and internet use have always been used to discover target audiences
g) So this is not any different, you stupid guinea pi… I mean, uh… valued customers!
h) Besides, the whole internet is already acrawl with spyware and other ‘bots. We’re just competing with the hackers. That’s how business works, guinea pigs! Competition! And without competitive identity theft, the whole friggin’ economy would fall to the communists!
i) Okay, okay… it might be a bit unethical, but all of you are ugly and stupid!

But the shenanigans of the likes of SpaceFace are nothing compared to the soon-to-arrive future. The Geek Industry plans to put cellphones in peoples’ brains. The best part with that is, aside from having the latest technology planted deep inside your most personal space and important organ so that you feel cool and hip, is that once installed they will beam adverts into your dreams and other idle neurological moments you might have throughout the day! (as well as try to delete “undesirable” traits of your persona, and replace them via downloaded virtuous ones, but we needn’t worry about stuff like that. It’s all for the betterment of humanity, to better serve us)

melvill May 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

In a few days we’ve gone from a near-naked Kim Jong-il to Meadowlark Lemon to Rita Wilson. Your taste is gradually improving. By the time we get to June 15th the “pin-up” should be really worth tuning in for.

DG June 1, 2010 at 1:59 am

I never could pencil the ultimate value of social networking. I get the model, I just don’t see how it is going to work (make money). I think it may even be a net economic drain, considering the dent it puts in productivity and the dumbing down 24/7 gossip does.

If social networking is such new fangled sliced bread, then where are the IPO’s? Maybe they can’t fit the model into a prospectus. Just not enough lipstick. From 1991-2000 there were 4500 IPO’s. In the last ten years there have been about 900. Pull out china companies and old tech energy companies and it gets really skinny.
The VC’s killed themselves over social networking. I talked to a buddy at a huge VC shortly after W first rolled into Iraq and he said, “energy? No, oil will be back to 10-20 bucks in weeks. We are focusing on our core competence – you know – internet, social networking…”
okay. I didn’t realize he meant a over a few hundred weeks.

We need energy technology to drive the new, new thing. That hole at 5000 feet below the gulf should drive that idea home. And solar panels paid for by broken european (and American) government subsidies won’t get you too far…truly capitAl punishment. Maybe Spain wishes they had some of that solar capital back, now….

Rich June 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm

FBI Associate Director Deep Throat said, Follow the money.
When I lived and worked in Palo Alto, used to go to a lot of high tech industry association meetings looking for the next big thing. Startling to see many budding entrepreneur’s had little respect for civil rights like privacy, wanting to put cameras everywhere like Big Brother in Britain. Google reportedly keeps a record of all electronic traffic, from content of cloud computing to emails to searches and transactions. Database companies keep credit, lifestyle and medical files on every American they can find, often with inaccurate information they will not provide to the affected party or correct, and the Electronic Frontier Assn basically accomplishes nada but fundraising. While ultimately all immorality self-destructs, for many in the interim this is hardly a quantum of solace.
Meanwhile, GS PNF 166 above 46.86 lows and GOOG PnF 544 above 247.44 lows, so we’re still following the money….

Benjamin June 1, 2010 at 9:25 pm

“Startling to see many budding entrepreneur’s had little respect for civil rights like privacy, wanting to put cameras everywhere like Big Brother in Britain.”

The UK’s newly elected government is supposed to do away with all that, including the national ID. Supposedly. We’ll see how all that pans out.

Anyway, of late I’ve been reading a publican called ‘The Daily Bell’, and one of their ongoing topics of discussion is that of the impact the internet has had on the world, namely that of wrecking the plans of the powers-that-be…

http://thedailybell.com/762/Internet.html

Interesting to consider is that maybe from time to time things like this FaceSpace incident occurr solely to get under peoples’ skin, and hopefully boost support for more restrictions, “net neutrality”, etc. Perhaps even “brainphones” (among other things) is just such a promotion for restriction?

Not that there isn’t a real threat to privacy. Just something to wonder about. In the meantime, I just say if people don’t want to fall victim, then don’t give the info away to begin with. But if you must, say something when the rules are broken. As noted by Mr. Ackerman, the cyber-persona known as “Rita Wilson” is no longer his friend (awww…lol). Similar things have happened with Google. When ‘Climategate’ first broke, a number of people noticed some strange things on Google that lead them to suspect Google was hiding results on search querries. People complained, published the email correspondences… and Google all of a sudden worked it like it should, without bias.

mikeck June 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Being one who generally knows when I need/want something, I’ve never seen the advantage to me of joining any of the social networking groups. I do not consider it in my best interest to give someone else my private info so they can profit from cluttering up my life or maybe being forced to give said date to others who are always looking for ways to feed the tax monster.

Yes, I’m sure there is something in the above that someone will be willing to pay for so they can harass me…that is why I have a well worn delete button and have learned to avoid distractions. Well, maybe not green eyed distractions. :-)

Mike
“No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine.” -William Blum

DonF June 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm

No hotties here, with the following exception:
My daughter. I’ve explained the facebook and google privacy issues to her, as if she didn’t know everything already. She actually networks and gathers influential contacts from facebook, besides giving away her private info!

Meanwhile, back to inflation: Went to W-mart yesterday to restock my beef jerky stash. Price went from $6.19/6.2oz to $7.98/6.2oz. Only 29% increase in one shot! That’s not as bad as doubling! They must be preparing for a 5% rollback that they can brag about!

I figure I’d better buy much canned wild salmon and tuna before they get too oily and extinct. Fresh shrimp are already moving up in price. (Note to self: go to beach SOON before it gets too oily) (I’m in Florida)

Of course all us big time investors don’t buy many car parts, but I priced an alternator that would have been $89 two years ago that is $189 now! I opted for the u-pull-it slightly used version at $30. Lucky I found one that fits.

Before I forget, Jim Willie’s latest is a must read. Evidently, he thinks like I do. He’s not afraid to use the “F” word. He actually calls fascism, “fascism”. You know, some of the articles I’ve read call this rampant fascism we are experiencing “socialism”. Yeh, it’s all because of those scum workers and their unions. When they realize their paycheck won’t cover their bills and the boss has a new Mercedes and is a heavy campaign contributor they actually want a raise! What nerve! Ha ha! Call the National Guard! We’ll give them lead instead! Ha ha!

Oh, the link: http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/willie/2010/0526.html

warren June 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Okay I get it. Thanks and have a good one.

Jim K June 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

FB will will survive without selling it’s list to retailers – it likely has a steady customer, which is our own domestic spying operation known as Homeland Security. Being able to track ’social networks’ is essential to fighting evil-doers, and FB is just too valuable to allow it to go under. So that’s my prediction – it will mysteriously continue to linger, even without clients, so that we can all continue to party – under the microscope. Maybe they change the name to ‘FB Eye’ or FBi for the mac version.

mario cavolo June 2, 2010 at 5:08 am

Don hits the point about the insidious inflation slowly but surely showing itself,..already beyond obvious and as expected here in China, but it will be worldwide ultimately as the end result of the elitist mess…

I want to say more intelligent things today but all I keep thinking about is her collarbones :)

Cheers, Mario

Dan June 2, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Rick , you’re facebook hottie ,” Rita Wilson ” , is actress Olga Kurylenko. She played along side Timothy Olyphant in the movie Hitman.

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