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In the short time that Social Roulette was active, 393 people pulled the trigger. Given the 1 in 6 odds, approximately 65 people should have had their accounts deleted.

In fact, all 393 people survived.

One side of Social Roulette is about discomfort with social networks, or ambivalence about digital identity. This manifested in the tweets and posts from people bashing Facebook or daring each other to play. But now we can reveal the other side: there was never any real danger, because on Facebook your identity is not really yours to play games with.

 

The Backstory

A few weeks ago, on April 20th, I saw Friend Fracker, a piece from Harper Reed and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer developed during Rhizome’s 7 on 7 conference. Friend Fracker randomly deleted a set of 1 to 10 friends. The element of chance was really refreshing, it made me wonder: is it really our data, our identity, our relationships, unless we can play games with them?

In 2009 the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine and Seuppukoo gave you the chance to delete all your social network activity and your account. That same year Whopper Sacrifice asked users to delete 5 friends to get a free Whopper. Whopper Sacrifice also posted to your timeline that you made the trade, parading your anti-social behavior in front of your remaining friends.

Deleting an account is one thing, but playing games with it is another. I wanted to combine the element of chance from Friend Fracker with the viral anti-social quality of Whopper Sacrifice, and up the stakes. That’s when Social Roulette was born.

I started researching the process of Facebook profile deletion, but was dismayed to discover how difficult the process was. While you can “deactivate” your account, it doesn’t mean anything even vaguely similar to “deletion” as we usually mean it. If you really dig into the Facebook support site, there’s an obscure form that will let you permanently delete your account after a mandatory waiting period.

This made me feel like my information was hardly mine to delete by hand, much less in an automated way. Sure enough, anyone suggesting otherwise, including The Suicide Machine, Seppukoo, Whopper Sacrifice, and Friend Fracker were all shut down shortly after launch.

 

The Trick

Still, there was something irresistible about the idea of playing russian roulette with your Facebook profile. I kept sharing the idea with friends, until finally on May 9th I mentioned it during a F.A.T. Lab panel at CLICK Festival. After the panel, Jonas Lund had an essential insight: the site didn’t actually have to “work”. From that moment, it was clear that the most important theme wasn’t frustration with social networks, but our inability to own our data.

Over the next four hours we developed Social Roulette, with Jonas Jongejan joining and creating an animation for the spinning chamber. The experience was carefully crafted.

The visual aesthetic of the site is driven by the startuppy Web 2.0 look of Bootstrap, stolen directly from Kapeli Dash.

The palette was stolen from Facebook (#3b5998, #8b9dc3, #f7f7f7, #dfe3ee) and the Facebook logo was used in the original Social Roulette logo. Facebook has strict branding usage guidelines and has been known to take legal action against sites using the word Facebook. We were hoping the logo and palette would be enough to invite attention without the legal action associated with using the word “Facebook”.

In keeping with the spirit of the game itself, the quote, testimonials, and screenshot were all fabricated. One avatar chosen for the screenshot was recognizable enough to get a few people questioning the user’s involvement. Similarly, we faked the like button (which we quickly removed when the real like count surpassed the fake one).

We asked for as many permissions as possible to create the impression of genuine danger.

 

permissions-1

 

We started the @roulettenet Twitter as a backup, hinting at the hoax by tweeting a quote from Dirty Harry just before it’s revealed there are no bullets in the chamber.

Facebook’s Response

We launched the next day at 11 AM EDT, and had our Facebook API key revoked in less than four hours by an automated system that flagged our app for “creating a negative user experience”.

 

restricted

 

A few hours later Facebook wrote us an email outlining three reasons we were shut down:

  1. We auto-posted on behalf of users (even with the warning of the possible post, Facebook doesn’t support this behavior).
  2. We misused the Facebook branding.
  3. We used a fake developer account named John Smith (because none of us were willing to risk our own accounts for real).

We talked over possible directions to head next, everything from making it into a real service that bypasses the Facebook API to just giving up. We decided that we would try to abide by Facebook’s standards, seeing as we weren’t doing anything wrong, and see if the app would be allowed anyway.

It wasn’t.

After relaunching a few days later, solving all three issues above, we had our new key revoked in less than three hours. This time, we used my account as the app developer, so I was greeted with an ominous warning that my “account might not be real” when I tried logging in. Facebook never followed up with a description of the conditions we had violated. It turns out even the suggestion of being able to play games with your profile is off-limits.

The Aftermath

Almost no one picked up on the fact that the entire premise of the site was impossible. The exception being a few people on Hacker News. But otherwise the news media was happy to report what we told them. They asked “Does it really delete your account?” and we responded by saying “If the Facebook logo lands on that 1 in 6 spot, you will no longer have access to your account.”

Here is the content of our random number function roulette.php:

 

<?php
  function roulette() {
    return 1;
  }
?>

(The bullet always lands just to the right of the barrel.)

When they asked “How does it work exactly?” we said “While we’ve posted almost all our code to GitHub, we’ve decided to keep the exact implementation details of the deleteFacebookAccount() private.”

Here is the content of deleteFacebook.php:

 

<?php 
  function deleteFacebookAccount($user) {
    return "deleted";
  }
?>

In spite of the hoax, it created some real trepidation, stress, and reflection for a few hundred people. One of my favorite responses came from a friend who played (and survived, of course). He wrote “My heart was thumping. But Now I feel I can delete my Facebook account any time.”

Social Roulette was a performance disguised as a game. Not only do we talk about deleting our digital identities, but we believe they’re ours to delete, or to play games with. In fact, even suggesting that we own our digital data will get you shut down.

Posted on May 22, 2013

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I am pleased to announced the winner of my F.A.T Nika Award 2013:  Computer Rooms by Goto80.!

fatnika2013

COMPUTER ROOMS  is a beautiful little book that focus on the context in which computer culture happens rather than in their machines:

“This is what computer culture really looks like. A collection of photos that show the messy reality behind the shiny online facade. Where we make our living and spend our free time. And try to be creative. Or even maybe worse.

Very few people get to see these spaces. It’s not the kind of place we take photos of, or show to visitors. Maybe we don’t even see it ourselves. It’s a sort of secluded area hidden in plain sight, full of secrets, now on this display in this book.

This kind of places lead to political actions, fantastic music, art, new friends, inventions, love and so much more. This is IRL!”

/Goto80, Bräkne-Hoby, April 2013.

computerrooms1

Goto80 (born Anders Carlsson, 1981) is a Swedish music artist and researcher. He has been described as one of the key players between glitch and chipmusic, as well as an active demoscener. At the turn of the millennium he was one of the first to bring chipmusic to a wider audience, and was also an early adoptor of live Game Boy music.[2] He has an extensive back catalogue of free music – often open source – with a wide span of musical influences.[3] He currently focuses on research and art, and maintains a number of blogs and labels such as Chipflip and the text-mode tumblr.  (source: Wikipedia)

computerrooms2

 

About F.A.T Nika:
The F.A.T Nika is the Fake Gucci  of the fame economy.  It is a freestyle replica of Ars Electronica’s Golden Nica. A 3D modelled object statuette, copied from Wikipedia images of the Greek Nike of Samothrace and Ars Electronica’s Golden Nica. The prestigious new media award knock-off can be easily reproduced infinite times -digitally or physically- and use it to recognize any creative expression you or your group of friends value, in any way, at any time, for any reason.

proliferation

The proliferation of the F.A.T NIKA started in 2012 but this fake gold version is the first copy awarded by myself.  Alas, the F.A.T NIKA must be reproduced, distributed and awarded as you please. Download and just copy it!

 

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Google Driverless Car Punks NYC on Vimeo and YouTube.


"The Internet is the largest experiment
 involving anarchy in history"
 ~Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google

 

"I'll be the sun shining on you.
 Hey Cinderella, step into your shoe.
 I'll be your non-stop lover, get it while you can,
 your non-stop miracle, I'm your man.
 Get outta my dreams --
 Get into my car..."
 ~ Sergey "Ocean" Brin

 

“In the beginning there was the word, and the word was… super hard to find. So, Google said, “let there be light… and a network of query-processing distributed supercomputers, and googlebots, and page rank and context-aware adverts, and knowledge graph, and a mobile OS, and maps, and a satellite, and Now, and dark fiber, and Glass…”, and on the seventh day, the people said, “OK Google! Enough already. Give it a rest!” But, by then it was too late and Google, had decided to re-design our basic, public infrastructure: the roads. “Hey Google, shouldn’t the people have a say in how we use the public goods?” “Quit acting like a little bitch,” thought Google, as it auto-piloted Eric and Sergey to their shareholder meeting in a white, lexus SUV to report their quarterly earnings.”

For FAT GOLD we decided that we needed to have a Google car on display. However, since the last time we made one, Google’s vehicular technology has improved quite a bit. It was immediately apparent that making another Streetview car was simply not going to cut it. We needed to evolve with the controversy technology.

We conferred with the FAT Lab R&D department and they succeeded in making some vinyl decals, and a plastic bucket that spins around. We feel that we have really outdone ourselves on this one. Our car is virtually indistinguishable from most other self-driving cars on the road.

If you want to make your own self-driving car, follow these easy instructions to 3D print your own LieDar. Beyond that, all you need is some PVC, a few vinyl decals and a beat-up, rental Fiat. There really is not much to it.

Posted on May 13, 2013

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Social Roulette

Social Roulette has a 1 in 6 chance of deleting your Facebook account.

Everyone thinks about deleting their account at some point, it’s a completely normal reaction to the overwhelming nature of digital culture. Is it time to consider a new development in your life? Are you looking for the opportunity to start fresh? Or are you just seeking cheap thrills at the expense of your social network? Maybe it’s time for you to play Social Roulette.

Social Roulette is a collaboration between Kyle McDonald, Jonas Lund and Jonas Jongejan. The source code is available on GitHub.


Posted on May 11, 2013

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