Most people use social media because being able to say happy birthday to your needy aunt without having to talk to her is worth all the hassle. (Hassles may include: your photo being used to promote products without your permission, companies storing ridiculous amounts of personal information, and having psychiatric experiments performed on you without your knowledge.)
However, we all knew that the time would come when the creepiness of these sites would outweigh the benefits. That time is now. Here are some ways social media is going from "a bit creepy" to "smiling clown face pressed up against your bedroom window at 2 a.m. creepy."
#5. Social Media Apps That Replicate Your (Annoying) Friends After They Die
We all have that super annoying friend who has to Instagram every single meal they eat, as well as tweet all the random thoughts that go through their head in real time. Did you ever wonder what that friend might theoretically be eating six months after they died? No? Tough shit, because there's a new breed of programs that will allow any sufficiently self-obsessed acquaintance or relative of yours to continue clogging your feed -- and even have conversations with you -- from beyond the grave.
"Remember when you slept with my wife after I died, Mike? I saw you. I saw you, Mike."
For instance, DeadSocial allows you to schedule messages, images, and videos that can be released any time in the next 999 years. Here's a tip: If you're spending time planning the perfect status for your distant relatives in the next millennium, you are wasting this life.
If you don't have time to plan a thousand years' worth of updates, try LivesOn. This Twitter program will learn your likes and habits while you're alive and then continue tweeting "for you" after you die. What type of nuggets of wisdom can you expect your friends' cyber-ghosts to share from the digital afterlife? The official LivesOn Twitter account retweets the stuff their users have generated through the program, so let's see:
"He died like he lived: trying to fuck pandas."
We swear to whoever the appropriate deity might be that those are completely real (albeit tweeted by pre-dead beta testers, apparently).
But Eterni.me takes this idea the furthest. It also collects and tries to "understand" information about you, but with the end goal that it could one day have actual online conversations with your friends and loved ones, standing in for the dead you. Theoretically, your grandchildren might be able to ask a computer avatar of yourself what kind of stuff you were into, and you just have to hope it didn't keep track of the number of times you watched that My Little Pony furry porn.
#4. An App That Scans the License Plates of Cars to Text the Driver
If you live in China, congratulations. General Motors has developed an app that allows random strangers to text you just by entering your license plate into the car's "infotainment" center. We're not sure which is more concerning: the fact that this is a social network made specifically for people to use while driving, or that our spellcheck accepts "infotainment" as a word.
So what possible uses could someone give to this app? Well, if you're a huge fucking creep, you can use it to harass the stranger in front of you and ask her or him out on a date. We're not kidding. That's actually what the demonstration video shows -- and of course she accepts:
"Great! Do you mind if I stop at the hardware store for a shovel and some rope?"
Of course, the inventor of the app insists that it will be used for good: For example, if your car is boxed in in a parking lot, you can text the owner of the other car and ask him to come move it, and we guess the Chinese could also use this app to pass the time in 12-day traffic jams. But these examples belie the unbelievably disturbing creativity of people using new technology. Best case scenario, this becomes our new preferred method to insult people while driving (evolution would get rid of our middle fingers within 10 years if this happens). Worst case scenario, murders. Just, like, so many murders.
Moderate case scenario: drive-by movie/TV spoilers.
And in case you were wondering why this app is going to be available in China and not the USA, speculation is that it's because Americans love freedom and the Chinese are so used to "repression" that they won't even notice another invasion into their private lives. Yeah, we're not sure if Americans would give a crap about that, considering the next one ...
#3. Facebook Is Already Using Your Phone to Listen to You
Yes, if you recently updated your cellphone's Facebook app, you probably gave them permission to listen in while you type a status message.
George Orwell didn't even have the vocabulary to predict that shit.
The purpose of this feature is not to store even more personal information about you until they have what they need to blackmail you for the rest of your life -- your "private" messages were probably enough for that. Nope, Facebook is just trying to figure out if you are listening to a certain song or watching a certain show while taking 15 minutes to compose that "OMG so bored right now" message. That way, they can add that essential information to your status update. Who the flying fuck cares what show you're half-watching on TV while procrastinating online? Facebook's advertisers, for one.
This is disturbing on many levels, but two big reasons stand out: Facebook says they aren't listening to your private conversations/loud pooping noises, but that data does exist in their servers, and data is there to be hacked by assholes and leaked. Second, this means we won't be able to marathon City of Angels all day again and pretend we're at a monster truck rally.
We don't want the world to see us, 'cause we don't think that they'd understand.