Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Facebook Emails Suck

Posted in Facebook,Security by Elliott Back on June 23rd, 2012.

Apparently Facebook has decided to route all your emails through their servers first, replacing your usual contact information with an @facebook email address. My usual gmail address has been replaced with, horror of horrors, this:

The fix? Edit your contact information, and select the “shown on timeline” for your real email address, and hide the Facebook proxy from ever being known.

Recruiting via Facebook Ads

Posted in Facebook,Jobs by Elliott Back on March 15th, 2011.

I was surprised today to see this Facebook Ad from a recent MBA graduate looking for a job. You can target very specific companies in Facebook advertising, so theoretically any candidate could bombard any one or more company’s employees with their pitch:

Hi. I am Shweta. I graduated with a MBA Degree . My dream is to work for Goldman Sachs. Can you help make that happen? Click 4 resume.

While an unconventional approach, the ad linked to a resume hosted on Adobe’s cloud. I won’t link to it here because it contains personal information, but it reminds me of the Google Please Hire Me websites that popped up a few years ago. These were mostly gimmicks which attracted some attention, and typically led to nothing.

On the other hand, Youtube Instant generated a spontaneous job application. Perhaps the better approach is to build something awesome and let the job offers pour in?

Michelle Phan’s Religion Debate on Facebook

Posted in Facebook,Religion by Elliott Back on November 15th, 2010.

Today power social medialite Michelle Phan ignited a debate on religion on Facebook after she posted a photo captioned “Simple Beauty Tip: Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit, then you will see a glow:”

Michelle, a video spokesperson for Lancome, is famous for her youtube makeup tutorials. At the time of writing her post garnered 2,400 likes and over 700 comments, already at a significantly higher volume than usual. Almost immediately, comments began to pour in regarding the religious tone of her post. Here is a small sample:

  • Michelle, you have thousands and thousands of fans, surely you don’t think they’re all Christian…?
  • I’m not religious, but this is still a pretty picture. The eye makeup is simple but it really glows.
  • r u serious?
  • What if you dont believe in god? then you can stay ugly for the rest of your life?
  • err no dont try and turn your fans into christians
  • omg, stop talking about god all the time, there’s a lot of your fans that don’t believe in god…
  • Eh, but what if you’re Atheist?
  • god doesn’t have to be “real” god all the time. god can just be you .. ask yourself to fill your heart AND your soul with the holy spirit
  • Whether or not any of her fans believe in God, she’s free to express her own beliefs and opinions. Incidentally, this makeup is so simple and gorgeous!
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not in what religion you believe..
  • Theres nothing wrong with promoting your beliefs on facebook. if you dont like her belief then dont go to her page. She dedicates her fame to the Lord. I like her even more for it! you go Michelle!!
  • ‎”for the fool hath sayeth in his heart there is no god” you guys are fools.
  • just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean other people can’t talk about him. geesh. If you don’t have something nice, don’t say anything at all. Thanks Michelle for the reminder ♥
  • I love the fact that you show your faith! Girls need someone faithful to look up to like you!

After this batch of relatively mild back-and-forth, Michelle replied:

It doesn’t have to be about God, for those of you who are not familiar with the Holy Spirit, it’s really just filling your heart with good spirits instead of negative spirits. I’ve been cleansing my body of negative energy. It can really affect your outer beauty. I’ve been praying and striving to become a better person. Beauty starts from within.

This didn’t placate her readers, who continued the tirade:

  • No offense Michelle, but not all of us are Christian, or even religious. I myself am agnostic, and I understand your opinion on the matter.. But I don’t think this beauty tip is relevant to everyone and I think it might even be offensive to some for you to include your own personal religious beliefs in your communications to fans. You look gorgeous however.
  • Wow talk about rude. If anybody truly understood what she meant then they wouldn’t be offended. I don’t follow religion but I know what she means cause my mom says it all the time. It ain’t about converting it is called she is extrememly happy about her faith and isn’t ashamed to say it. She ain’t trying to convert ya so stop cryin. And no it doesn’t mean that if you don’t follow god that you’ll stay ugly, it means that the glow she has can’t be done by makeup alone. Everyone is beautiful the question is if you think and allow yourself to be beautiful and not show your ugliness which is really the negative emotions you display. Michelle flawless as always. I understand what the statement was.
  • I also glow after I read the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey :] We all glow in our own special ways ♥
  • what god? christian one? muslim one? Jewish one? Buddhist? Hindu? Greek gods? Romans? I think its really bad to talk about religion as not everyone has the same.. and some have none ;]
  • It’s okay for Michelle to talk about her religious beliefs. Ever heard of freedom of speech? Obviously her religion is a big part of who she is and she wouldn’t be Michelle Phan without it. So just let her be who she is. Her displaying her religious beliefs doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it or change yourself.
  • Holy Spririt is THE Holy Spirit. You can’t say it’s just positive engery when you blatently mean something else.

Michelle replied again:

Also, religion is a way of life. It’s my way of life. If I can’t talk about my faith and my love for God, that’s like asking me to hide the love I have for my mother. I am who I am because of my faith, and I cannot repress that.

The discussion continues:

  • I completely agree. And just to clarify something, Christianity is a…relationship not so much a religion. Yea we have worship…”customs” but those are all done to glorify God. But mostly, christianity is about having a personal relationship with God. :] I can totally see the glow, btw.
  • Thank you for your boldness. Guys its not about religion its about Christ following. Theres a HUGE difference and Michelle doesnt have to cater to everyones beliefs . Im thankful that in this country we are not persecuted for being Christians
  • Absolutely gorgeous but it sounds like christian propaganda…
  • I suppose one should respect religious outerings and all, but at times it gets a tad annoying, I guess, especially for viewers who don’t believe in God. But you are undenieably beautiful, inside and out, and If you feel your religion has caused that, you should be able to say that, I suppose.
  • Nah, I think honestly a good foundation will do that trick. But hey, I wouldn’t say it’s Christian propaganda. Just merely a fact: Some hearts glow brighter with God. Others, as I said, just need a good foundation and some of that Aloe water. :3 I myself will take the latter.
  • I read a few peoples words and I think that the issue is the beauty tip… but if you ain’t liking it then you are no better than the people who critize her. She is a US citizen and has every right to express her love for her faith. Why the hell are you guys nitpicking? Some fans….
  • You can proclaim your faith, but you don’t have to use your fame to try to recruit people. It’s offensive. I don’t agree with a lot of Christian beliefs, one of them being that they (Christians) think everyone should be Christian.
  • Man, you people always bug her when she says something about her religion or about God. If she talks about her love for spirituality or whatever else, the others start complaining ’cause she’s offensive. If she would start one day posting about her love for Satan you would all be offended. If she would say: Fuck Buddhists, others would feel offended, then again. This is her Facebook, you all know Michelle for her artistic talent. So what if she’s religious? In a world where people are afraid to speak about their beliefs and opinions, I admire her for saying it the way she feels.
  • Michelle you are a brilliant make up artist and every time you post a picture thats all I can think. I have no religion, I could care less about what you believe. My only thing is… I might believe you were glowing from positive energy if you weren’t wearing the make up :] All I can see is you wearing make up and I think “bloody hell, she’s done another fantastic job, she’s a very skilled make up artist” So huzzah to you and your skills!
  • It’s so amazing to see someone highly respected that isn’t afraid to say they believe in the living God. It isn’t exactly something that makes you popular and most are ridiculed for their faith. This is why you will always be number one Michelle! You stay true to your beliefs!
  • Just curious, is this a joke in bad taste? There is no basis for the claim that you make.

I’m not offended by the Christian sentiments in Michelle Phan’s caption. The real problem with the statement is that it’s nonsensical. First, the language is church-speak. Rather than explaining her thoughts in simple English, Michelle is resorting to the abstract and meaningless cliches of faith, filling your heart, and the holy spirit. The use of “Christianese” is effective spiritual illiteracy, and poorly communicates the intended message.

Second, the idea that you can improve your physical beauty by improving your relationship with the Christian god is bollocks. The statement is either unprovable or not worth demonstrating scientifically. You can take a look at these studies on prayer to cement your notions that faith will not have a physical effect on your well-being. If accepting the holy spirit could make you radiant/beautiful, it would be easy to demonstrate, and everyone would immediately take it up. After all, according to Christians, it’s quite easy to do, and costs you nothing.

Finally, Michelle Phan is a commercial entity, a fashion brand in herself. Much like the legal separation of church and state we enjoy in the United States, commercial entities which are orthogonal to religion should avoid making religious statements. Regardless of your faith, you should not be comfortable with Coca Cola or Lancome running Christian-themed advertising or partnering with synagogues to sell their products, for example.

A mature response from Michelle Phan would be an apology for the caption, explaining that it was inappropriate to her professional role, or nonsensical in its logic and application of modern Christianity.

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