Why I Can’t See The Facebook Attachment You Shared

Sometimes I find such annoying messages in my Facebook feed:

This Attachment may have been removed, or the person who shared it  may not have  permission to share it with you.

When this happens, I usually send a direct message to the person who posted it, because I assume that if they shared it with me, they actually want me to see it– whatever “it” might be. Maybe it’s just another cute cat picture, but you never know if it might be the cure for cancer.

Sometimes when I go to re-share something someone else shared, I get a message warning me some of my readers might not see it… because the person who posted its privacy settings might exclude my Facebook friends or group mates. Maybe their privacy settings only allows their friends — amd not friends of friends — to see what they post. Or maybe it was initially posted to a closed group. Whatever the reason might be, I just don’t share it. Having such non=posts in a timeline does neither of us any good.

If the post originated with you, probably your privacy settings exclude me from seeing your attachment.

After I tell the person who posted it, if neither of us can see it, it probably means somebody complained about it… (maybe it was a breastfeeding image) and FB agreed your post violated community standards AND censored it, or someone made a copyright claim and DMCAed it.

Possibly the most annoying thing is that Facebook drops these messages we can’t see in our timelines. When you realize FB only shares some of what our FB friends post in our timelines, it seems ridiculous that these locked down messages always appear. But there is good reason for that: Facebook wants us to complain to our friends so they will make their privacy settings more open.

Oddly enough, I agree with FB that we should have wide open privacy settings on Facebook, because when we do, it’s easier to remember that nothing posted on Facebook is private.

That’s Facebook for you.

You Need A Web Presence…

… if you are in business for yourself or if you are an organization with a public face.

If you are starting your own business, if you do free-lance work (or want to), if you are an independent musician, actor, artist, writer, cartoonist, or self-publisher, you need to have your own website, so when anyone searches for your name in a web browser (sometimes referred to as “googling”) they will find you. That way, they can find you and contract for your services (and you can continue to pay the rent and feed the kids)

If you have a Public Service Organization, or a Charity, Fan Club, Guild or any other public organization, you need to a website so people will can find your organization online so they can join up or donate so your group can keep the lights on.

Libreleft books: My Business Blog

The First thing you need is your very own Domain Name

Domain names are unique. There can only be one Libreleft.com and I own that — so long as I pay my annual fee, no one else on the Internet can have that Domain Name.

In the beginning, Domain Name Registration was free, but now it will cost you something, and what it costs varies.

Don’t Use:

A lot of people choose one called GoDaddy because its cheap, but I heave heard such a variety of horror stories, I can’t possibly suggest that — in fact, I will always strongly advise against it. If you can find pages of horror stories about any service, it is probably a good idea to walk on by.


I am extremely happy with my Domain Registrar, Register For Less because they have proven very trustworthy from a privacy standpoint (at least until Edward Snowden tells me different — but I don’t think he will.) R4L has always offered Whois Privacy without charge.

Of course, I have no experience with any other Domain Name Registrar, so don’t take my word for it, do research :)

The second thing you need is a Web Host

If you are tech savvy enough to host your own website, you won’t need this article (although you probably know someone who does). If you don’t, you will need to contract with a commercial website Hosting service.on a local service, OR do so through a web platform.

Should you Hire a Pro?

It is certainly easier to pay someone to do it all for you, but there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you do.

Even if you don’t know what HTML is, the first thing you must insist on is that you have access and control over the website you are paying for. The thing you don’t want to happen is that after you pay for your website but the web designer actually owns your Domain Name and has total control of your site. That can effectively force you to do business with that Web Designer forever and the biggest risk is that you build your brand but lose control of it.

Horror story: I know one non-profit organization that had a volunteer design its site and register the domain name… and when there was a falling out, the guy with the domain locked the organization out and the organization lost all access to its own online content and had to start over from scratch. They could have won in court, but most non-profits don’t want to or can’t afford to go that route.

I am not suggesting web designers are evil, but even the nicest web designer might not always be around. If your web designer controls the only “keys to” your site, and you lose contact with your web designer, you lose control of your site — and your brand. This can have the unhappy side effect of costing you work if your contact information changes.

It is important to have access to your own site after you’ve paid for it, even if you contract with your designer to maintain it, things change. If you suffer financial reverses, you might not be able to continue to pay to have this done for you. And you should always be able to switch to another professional should circumstances warrant it, or maybe you just want access so your grandkid can make regular updates for you.

Or should you Do It Yourself?

There are many different ways to do a website; some want lots of bells and whistles, so if you’re new at this, there will be a pretty steep learning curve.

When you have a domain name and a web host, you need to have something to put there. The most basic function of any website is to serve as a calling card that explains who you are and what you or your organization does and provide a way that your friends, clients and fans can contact you.

A Static Web Page

A basic website is built with a programming language, the current version of which is HTML5. It isn’t particularly difficult, but it isn’t easy either. I learned HTML from a startlingly easy to use set of online tutorials on an awesome website called HTMLdog. (I bought the printed manual to support the author, because it was worth it. And I plug it wherever I can because it was just that good. When I learned it was XHTML, but the whole site has been updated to the new HTML5 standard).

HTML is the primary language of the Internet… as far as I know email and blogs are written in HTML or a variant. So if you have the time to learn how to do it, you can build your own web page in HTML5. This is great for things that rarely change, like your mission statement or FAQ, sample work, list of credits or résumé.

Pretty nearly any website you have to log into in order to use gives the user the option of a profile page. Always fill these in, and include your contact information. If you want to be contacted, the more places people can find you, the better.

There are also web platforms specifically designed to serve as an online business card. Here’s my about.me page and my artist sister Liana Russwurm’s see.me page.

A Blog Web Page

Blog software has changed the Internet, because it makes it much easier to add new content to keep your website fresh.

There are lots of great blog platforms — WordPress, Tumblr, BlogSpot, LiveJournal — as well as some I’ve only just heard of, like Weebly and Overblog — so you can set up a free blog on a variety of web services. This is my historian-writer brother Lani Russwurm’s visual history blog Past Tense on Tumblr, and it’s previous incarnation on WordPress and it’s original incarnation on blogspot.

Increasingly non-blogging websites like Flickr and GoodReads are allowing users to blog as well.

A blog can be used to discuss and share some of your work with your fans, as cartoonist Nina Paley does, or it can be entirely new content with a view to finding an audience, as my humorist (and/or science fiction) writer brother Larry Russwurm does

I like Tumblr for my visual blogs; I like the archive features (users can look at thumbnails of your entire blog, and I also like the ability to password protect content and allow people to see it without having to register or log in (sometimes called a “registration wall” because users must register (which entails giving out personal information) as well as using a password to access protected content). You can also use it like a regular blog, alothough if you want to have comments, you need to use Disqus to do it. If you decide to use Tumblr, 10 Tips For Problogging On Tumblr has some excellent advice.

My other favorite is WordPress, which can be used in different ways:

  • You can set up an entirely free blog ~ my first blog is still at WordPress.com. When your free blog starts getting traffic, WordPress will start posting ads there, so you needn’t feel guilty about getting a “free lunch”.
  • If you decide to go ad-free, you can subscribe to a commercial package from WordPress, which gives you the ability to post your own video (you can only embed from YouTube in the free version) and you can even get your domain name from there
  • You can download the WordPress software (free as in gratis and free as in freedom) from WordPress.org and create a website to host yourself.
  • Even if you choose to blog on WordPress.com as a trial, and decide later you want to self host, you candownload the whole thing and reconstitute it as a self hosted blog if you wish.
This is my Gravatar on my Author blog, but I also use it anywhere anywhere I need an avatar image.

This is my Gravatar on my Author blog, but I also use it anywhere anywhere I need an avatar image.

An avatar — that little photo of you that appears on Facebook, or Twitter or wherever — is the visual manifestation of your “brand.”  It should be your logo if you’re an organization or a business; if you’re an independent contractor or creator, it should be you. Either way, it should be consistent, because like any brand, people will see in a blink that it’s you. Whether or not you use WordPress, you should sign up for a Gravatar; that way when you make comments in many places, your chosen image will accompany what you write.


Many of my blog articles (like this one) are something I’ve written because I know someone who needs the information. A lot of people use FaceBook as their calling card, but do you really want to mix your business and personal contacts? If you are using facebook as your business presence, it is necessary to use a Facebook Page, because what you post on your personal page can not be seen outside Facebook.

One of the things I dislike most about Facebook is that all posts you make there are not seen by everyone in your friends list, and Facebook is forever twiddling with the Timeline order in which your posts appear.  And of course, posts can easily get lost. It can be virtually impossible to try and find something you posted on Facebook a while back. Things don’t just disappear off a real website or a blog under your own control.

Even if you’re a big Facebook fan, it’s possible to set WordPress or Tumblr blogs to post to Facebook.

If all you want right now is a basic online “calling card” my own recommendation would be to choose the blog software you like best and use that to make a static web page. Later on, if you want to expand it into a blog, you’ll be halfway there.

Privacy: Facebook Lockout

When I was in another city today, I tried to log in to Facebook with my netbook.

But I couldn’t. Not because I don’t know the password or user name or email address. According to Facebook,

Facebook: Your account is temporarily locked.  We don't recognize the device you are using.  Please answer a few questions to keep your account safe."

Q: How can it not recognize this device? I’ve been using this computer a lot lately. I even logged into Facebook from it earlier today.

A: Facebook isn’t being strictly truthful here, because it isn’t really looking at the device (computer) I’m using. What it is actually doing is looking at the IP address my computer is using to log in. It isn’t my regular IP address.

Even so, I have logged into Facebook from this IP address, within the last month, in fact, but not often.

But what the hey, I wanted to check something, so I clicked “continue.”

But Facebook didn’t actually ask me to answer any security questions. There was a captcha which I answered correctly. But that wasn’t all. I was given two options:

  1. I could log in from my usual device. Well, as I said, I was using my usual device. But my usual IP address was in a different city, so that wasn’t an option at all.
  2. Or I could tag people. Facebook showed me several screens of photos, a few of people I know on Facebook, but most that I didn’t recognize. Some included minor children.

I declined to tag people, because that is something I never do. Well, almost never. I’ll tag someone who is promoting something I support.

When I got back today, Facebook allowed me to log in on this computer, because I am again connected via the usual IP address.

Q: Why does Facebook want us to tag people?

A: Before the Internet, marketing companies used to hire people to be focus groups, and to take surveys. Today they buy information about our socio-economic status, preferences, who we know, and what we do from websites like Facebook.

Our personal information is valuable, and not just to marketing departments who want to sell us things, but insurance companies, who might decide we are high risk, or potential schools or employers.

And we know, too, that this information is made available to government agencies, very often without even a search warrant.

Some people don’t think having the government looking over our shoulders is a problem. After all, we’ve done nothing wrong, we’ve nothing to hide, right?

Well. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know just how insidious NSA is. Funny thing, it isn’t just the emergence of Big Brother that is worrisome. Computer error is far more probable, and possibly even more devastating.

When the NSA sucks up everything on the Internet, it is far too much data for human beings to analyze. What happens is that automated processes will use face recognition software to identify bad guys, but instead of mug books, they use photos on the Internet. Photos on Facebook, for instance. And it is doubtful their robots are as clever as my bot friends @X11R5 and @question. Mistakes will be made.

Any science fiction fan can tell you just how insane it is to give machines dominion over human beings. The idea that machines get to decide whose door Homeland Security or GCHQ or CSIS decide to break down is pretty scary.

And if Facebook is going to lock me out because I won’t tag people, so be it. As a self publishing author, I give up lots of personal information online, but it is my choice, and my information. If I tag people I don’t know, or know only peripherally, it is their privacy I’m jeopardizing.

I don’t give out any more personal information than I absolutely have to. If this was really a security thing, my not tagging people should have proven my identity. I think what Facebook really wanted to find out was whether I knew the friends and families of my Facebook friends.

And that is none of Facebook’s business.

Post Script:
I’ve been asked to explain “tagging” for people who don’t use Facebook.

Tagging in Facebook is the act of identifying and naming the people in a photograph posted on Facebook. When tagging, you hover the cursor over a part of the photo, and then type in the name of the person. You used to be able to type any name, but they have changed it so that it has to be a name on a Facebook account. However, you can tag a photo with a wrong name.

When you tag a photo, the person whose name you use receives a notification. Because of this, a lot of people tag photos with the names of the people who they want to see the photo. If you’re an environmentalist, you might tag a photo of the Tar Sands with the name of your environmentalist Facebook friends. Or you might tag a photo of a rock star with the name of your friend who is a big fan. If you mis-identify someone, they know about it, and presumably can complain.

There are so many ways this information can be misinterpreted or abused.

Know Where The Links Go

The Internet exists to make sharing easy, and very often that is a good thing. But before you share, you should be aware of where you are sending your family and friends. If there are links to click on the thing you are sharing, you should click them first, so you know where they go.

A friend of mine just shared a security video montage showing all kinds of nice things that were accidentally caught on security camera footage.

Does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

surveilance camera (cc by laurelrusswurm)

Not me.

Me, well, it makes me feel very uncomfortable. A little bit creepy. Knowing that the world is filled with security cameras recording our every move.  Big brother is watching you. (Now would be a very good time to read or re-read George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eight Four“)

Security cameras are deliberately placed as inconspicuously as possible.  The law requires signs posted telling us they are there, but they are usually pretty inconspicuous too.   The idea, of course, is to catch crooks in the act as they rob the store or paint the graffiti or break the window.  If the crook knows its there, they would very likely put the camera out of commission. And, naturally, security cameras only catch stupid crooks.

But security cameras also show ordinary people going about our ordinary lives.

Before a professional photographer can publish photos of models, or even ordinary people walking down the street they need to get permission from the people they are photographing. The model must sign a release form. Even newspapers get permission from their subjects. Without it they can face legal challenges. Because people are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

If I rob your store, it’s a different situation. I’ve broken the law, and my reasonable expectation of privacy doesn’t extend to the store’s security video. So the video can be used by law enforcement to identify me and bring me to justice.

But if my boyfriend kisses me on a park bench, what right does some guy with a security video have to put that moment of casual intimacy into a film?

Do you think any of the people in the video gave permission?

Do you know what a video camera looks like? There are many different kinds.

ceiling mounted survellance camera

Are you aware of the cameras pointed at you in so many places? Anonymous cameras we often don’t even see.  Cameras that secretly record us at work or play.  Walking down the street, buying gas, paying a untility bill.

And who is behind these cameras?

Who is recording you as you walk your toddler past the camera?  Who knows? I don’t.

If we don’t know who they are, how can we know what they do with the video? Who is watching the watchers? After the video is made, do they get rid of it if nothing untoward happened? Or is the footage being used in different ways… as the film in this video so clearly was. People had to pore over an awful lot of security video to discover the bits that have been edited together to make this film.

So is it okay if they make a nice “feel good” short film that shows all the nice things unsuspecting people were caught doing on “security video”?

The only credit at the end of the video is for a website called Love Everybody. So I looked there, and although it has a page of videos, this one is not displayed. Very probably because it was made without the permission of the subjects, and maybe even because using the song for the soundtrack is copyright infringement, which would result in a DMCA copyright takedown notice.

Why is this particular video floating around on Facebook?

Well, if you click one of the links, it takes you to the person who posted it, the person who is using this video. This person doesn’t have any problem with using a video made without the permission of the people in it. Or to copyright infringement. Because this person has no qualms at all about getting my friend to send her family and friends on Facebook to his real reason for posting the video. He is earning up to $237 Per Day because he’s getting her to work for him for free.

Every time this video is shared, it sends the unsuspecting to his ads: “FREE VIDEO! Discover How I Earn Up to $237 Per Day from Home Using Just My Facebook Account…”

facebook logoWhenever you share anything on the Internet, even on Facebook, you should consider whether you have been fooled into selling your friends eyeballs.

Update: I decided to check YouTube for “security video” and found the film there. Turns out that this is actually a Coke commercial (although the facebook user who is using it to drive customers into his lair seems to have done away with the advertising logos).

Presumably Coke did in fact shoot this video to make it appear to be security video. If they didn’t, and you happen to be the guy dancing in the aisle but have never signed a release, you can probably sue the company. If you’re Coke you can certainly squash the guy who is using your film to drive business his way on Facebook.

There are, alas, an awful lot of security videos making it to YouTube.

Coca-Cola Security Cameras

emotional blackmail on facebook

Not a week goes by without one of these messages appearing in my Facebook timeline.

Amelia's Facebook Avatar

“Posting for those who have to deal with health issues everyday: I’m posting this because recently I have been mocked and laughed at for things beyond my control. I CARE…I have one of these illnesses as does others in my family…. Not one of my Facebook friends will copy and paste (but I am counting on a true family member or friend to do it). If you would be there for me no matter what then copy and paste this. I’m doing this to prove a friend wrong that someone is always listening. I care. Hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It’s a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (Crohn’s, PTSD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Bipolar, Depression, Diabetes, Lupus, fibromyalgia, MS, AS, ME, , Epilepsy, Autism, M.D.,D.D.D., CFS, Histiocytosis, RSD, PBC, SOD etc.) Never judge what you don’t understand!

Even though the message is often some cause or sentiment I would support otherwise, the fact that it’s couched in terms of emotional blackmail.  That just makes me angry.  So I never repost the status message, although sometimes I tell the person posting it why.”

“Not one of my Facebook friends will copy and paste (but I am counting on a true family member or friend to do it”

This type of implied social coercion makes these messages into the digital equivalent of a chain letter. Yes, it will often browbeat someone into doing what you ask, but I’m sure it leaves a sour taste in their mouth. The resentment that this subtle form of bullying causes is probably far worse for the cause the poster is trying to rally support for.

So where do these messages actually come from?

Because users are asked to cut and paste them, there’s no way of tracing them back to the point of origin.  So we can’t ever know for sure.  But I’m guessing that this is actually a campaign begun by Facebook.  After all, the people we can emotionally blackmail are those closest to us in our social strata.

And that data is worth money to Facebook.

Image Credit
I created the phony avatar above for my character Amelia’s character page on the “Inconstant Moon” serialization site.

Facebook Permissions

Yes I am on Facebook. One of these days I’ll explain why. Meantime, I’ll share advice as needed :)

Facebook Apps ask for your permission to post in your name to your friends.

You may not realize this, but the app/games proceed to annoy your friends with requests to play the game.

As far as those being annoyed can tell, it is *you* sending them these annoying messages. Sometimes friends will complain, sometimes they just unfriend.

Just sayin’.


It occurs to me I should have mentioned how to block annoying Apps, especially since Facebook doesn’t make it easy to figure out how to do this, presumably because the corporation receives buckets of cash from the App companies.

When you are at “home” in Facebook, look to the left hand sidebar where you’ll see a heading called APPS, and under it you’ll see “APPs and Games”

Click it and the first heading will be “Invites from friends”

It lists all the “invites” you have received here, beside the avatar of the person who supposedly sent it to you.

Hover your mouse over it and a blue background will appear behind the entree as well as a small blue “x” in the top right hand corner. You don’t actually see the “x” unless you hover, and you don’t know what it gives you unless you click it. Sneaky, eh?

Click on that little blue “x” and you will be given the options to:

  • Hide the request
  • Block the person responsible for the invitation
  • Block the APP — this is the one that will block all future requests from *anyone* playing/using this app.
  • Ignore all requests from the person

TechDITZ Glossary Entry: APPS

— This is simply an abreviation of the word “Applications”which means software programs. Facebook and others make the distiction between “games” and “Apps” because the assumption is that apps are actually useful.