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Facebook: The new partyline

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Before I was born, and probably for some time afterward, parts of the US that had phone service had to rely on a party-line setup where lots of people could listen in; there was no such thing as a private conversation. Forget about the fact that even with the best protection software you may still be tracked and someone can"listen in" on your phone and your computer.

Use the internet? They tell us to use a VPN (virtual private network) which many sites you use may not then permit you to enter (banks, credit card companies, etc.) because they don't recognize you. Of course, what the VPN is doing in addition to hiding your actual location, is that it may be encrypting your communication and they don't like that, either; they want to keep logging all your contacts.

Everyone logs you in. Have you noticed that, even if you have that "private caller" protection on your phone, when you call a company they know your number? Yes, they do because they have software that works around your software. It's an ongoing battle of computer programmers. Live with it.

Now, we have phones that don't depend on party lines and, seemingly, everyone has a cell phone. I've heard persons more technically sophisticated than I am say that cell phones are radios and people can listen in anytime they have the right software.

Some people don't seem able to walk around without constantly being on the phone talking or reading material or texts on their phones. If it were 1980, we'd say this was an indication of a psychological disorder; not being able to be by one's self. But this is 2017 and things have changed in our cultures and cultures around the world. Everyone is connected.

Cell towers and cell logs still "listen in" on everything we do and Big Brother has access whenever they want. You have no privacy. Don't be naive. All of your computer contacts have to go over a server somewhere and that can be anywhere in the world. The "cloud" is just another name for a server someone maintains. Its records can be obtained by court orders and your hard drive NEVER cleans its data unless you REFORMAT it, in effect, writing over all the existing data with 0 and 1.

What does a hard drive do when you think you've erased something? Simply a matter of exchanging the front end of the address on the drive to a few different digital address points. The rest is all left there as though you never touched it. So, everything is accessible with the right software tools.

Today's party line has been replaced by Facebook, where everybody posts for all, or a select few, to see. It's like going out the front door and yelling to everyone who can hear you, but it's reach is wider because it goes around the world. And it, too, is available to anyone with the right tools.

An example of how people now assume that Facebook is the appropriate bulletin board for informing anyone (friends, clients, family, etc.) about important and not-so-important events today became evident to me. Someone I knew died suddenly but I only found out via someone's FB account, after my emails had not been answered, and I would not have known of their death if not for FB. Rather than the phone or an email, FB was the source of this sad information that someone told me.

Everyone has FB? No, I don't because they're "verifying your photo." What that means I still don't know and it's been weeks. It's a photo a family member took of me and there's nothing needing "verification."

Computer expertise isn't absolutely necessary, but all of us need to

know a bit of it. Another example which came to my attention today related to a physician's office and someone's appointment. The telephone message was computer generated and gave incorrect information about the patient's prep for the appointment. When the patient called the physician's office to verify what, exactly, they were to do, the woman insisted the patient had heard incorrectly and was mistaken; they never made such a call.

Do you know that IT people have a job to facilitate permitting one program to talk to another and make corrections as need? One program is in the computer appointment book accessible to office staff and another kept offsite, obviously, is related to conveying precise information about what to bring or how to be clothed for the appointment.

The office woman insisted the patient was WRONG and that they never made such a call. Of course they never made such a call, but a computer program somewhere on their system had been set to make it. A suggestion that a software problem lay at the bottom of all of it didn't phase the woman as she continued to insist THEY DIDN'T MAKE THE CALL.

Now, I have two theories about this; they are biased against older adults OR she didn't want to be bothered because she didn't

understand the problem. I believe she never heard of an API (application programming interface) and didn't know that might be the source of the incorrect information, not the patient's memory or reality testing.

She was asked to relay the information to someone who was in charge of their office software, but I'm not too sanguine that will happen. I'll bet she chalked it up to another elderly person making a mistake and not taking responsibility for it.

How many patients will go through this before a change is made? No one knows, but a letter to the physician's attention might get the response and correction needed.

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