Online customer service agents are watching what you type


This lends itself to practical jokes if you can do a quick delete then send to get them to respond to something you haven’t asked about.


I always assumed this was how those crappy chat applications worked, why wouldn’t the company want it to work this way?
(Not that this board doesn’t, I can see that “anothernewbbaccount” is replying as I type this.)


(Here you go @phuzz - I know you’ve been peeved you could not see what I was typing.) :wink:
(Plus, you CAN see some of what I typed because I typically ‘live-edit’ - The side-by-side preview box is not sufficiently different for me to see my errors and it is not until I see it in full above that sometimes I see them. And many may not realise it but you can click and see anyone’s edits after they post. Is THAT acceptable? In this context yes, as people could edit posts to confound replies. I need to get better at composing and proofing in the reply box!) :wink:

That article is … well, I can hardly think of suitable adjectives.
I am not on Facebook and now I have one more reason never to be.
The arrogance of those shits is staggering,
This paragraph, in particular, stood out.

Why does Facebook care anyway? Das and Kramer argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, “[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation.” After all, Facebook shows you ads based on what you post. Furthermore, they argue that it’s not fair if someone decides not to post because he doesn’t want to spam his hundreds of friends—a few people could be interested in the message. “Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends—some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” they write.

This paternalistic view isn’t abstract.

Firstly, it is NOT self-censorship, any more than me not wandering through town screaming a stream of consciousness is self-censorship. If I am drafting text then it is much the same as thinking. Composing is not publishing. Do I self-censor when I say to my friend “Hi, how are you and that outft stinks”? NO. I might think it but I would most likely not say it (depends who, and how much it stinks). I’m merely being a civilised person in a social setting, lubricating (or not gumming up) the wheels of social relationships.

The term self-censorship should be reserved for situations where - typically politically - one’s true views if expressed would result in genuine harm. (Like blogging in Saudi Arabia that MBS is an unrestrained psychopathic spoilt brat who should be locked up for the rest of his miserable life after having several of his fingers removed by a chainsaw.)

Secondly, to claim loss of revenue because someone did not post something is like saying my local Rolex shop lost revenue because whilst I did indeed look in the window I have nowhere near the money (or ego) to want to buy such an ostentatious piece of bling and failed to go in and buy one. Utter nonsense.

Thirdly, to claim it’s “not fair” (boo hoo) that someone decides upon reflection that they prefer not to spam all their ‘friends’, just because one or two might appreciate it, makes as much sense as me saying I think Facebook is an existential evil and should be banned and it’s not fair that it still exists despite me and a couple of my mates thinking this. And it’s not fair that Fuckerberg does not have a camera pointed at him 24 hours day and broadcast live - how dare he indulge in such wilful self-censorship! And as to the comment that they believe self-censorship is withholding valuable information… No!! I decide what is valuable. That they think they can/should, speaks volumes.

The ‘lost revenue’ line is the real giveaway, though. There is absolutely nothing about Facebook that has ANY ethics. Even the most awful corporations make some pretence at ethics, somewhere. Facebook is always and only about farming its stock (the ‘dumb fucks’) for maximum return even if the stock’s longevity and value is diminished as a result. Its utter contempt for its users is akin to a real farmer feeding the animals less and less, while salami-slicing the rump for steaks while the cow is alive, and then one day wondering why the cow has its legs stuck up in the air. Trouble is there are still more free cows and until every one of them has its legs in the air, well, the contempt-based business model still works. The smell of rotting meat becomes ever more pervasive, meanwhile.

That one paragraph alone tells anyone as much as they need to know about why Facebook should be closed down, forever. “Paternalistic”? No. I’ve worked for paternalisitic corporations and I can tell the difference. The paternalism may have been sometimes oppressive but by and large it did make my and the employer’s interests broadly coincide (up to a point). This is not paternalistic, this is pure gouging exploitation with zero care and total contempt for the subject. Paternalism at least pretends to care, and sometimes actually does.

They won’t be happy until they can sell me a cap to put on my head that will extract all my conscious and unconscious thoughts from my brain and trade them for advertising bucks. Fuck them. Fuck Zuckerberg and Sandberg and Clegg and the rest of those arseholes.

#BANFACEBOOK (whatever that means - I have never used twatter either - they would also dearly like the automated thought-extracting brain cap)


(Sorry, have I been ranting?) :wink:


That was how a lot of old-school mainframe-based “chat” apps worked back in the day. The hamster powering the VAX/VMS can’t keep checking back to see if you’ve hit return yet! It sends whatever you’ve typed, every 256 processing cycles.

There was a story from my college about a chat between a guy and his crush where he typed “hey, wanna come over and fuck ^H^H^H^Hstudy?” and the hilarity that ensued that I choose to believe is true.


I believe that (i.e., the ability for anyone to see anyone else’s edits) is turned off on this site? (You should be able to see your own edits, but no one else’s, as I understand it.) Other sites that use Discourse may keep it turned on, I don’t know. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)


Type in a separate text editor window - cut and paste your messages into the chat window.

Thats what I usually do so I can prep a long explanation while waiting for them to reply, but not have to delete it send another simple response first.


Oddly enough, i’ve usually avoided online chats with reps and the one i did a few months ago went by without anything unusual but at one point i had a random thought pop into my head of “What if this rep is watching me type right now”. It wasn’t based off anything in the exchange but this article does show its not only possible but there’s a good chance it was true.


I already knew this. I use it to be passive aggressive when they’re being shits.


I used to work as a LiveChat™ operator, ask me anything!


From the article:

you can also expect to be surveilled as part of your online exchange

Yes, if you are on a website that has a LiveChat window you can be almost certain that your every interaction with that site is monitored, every click via Google Analytics and usually also your travels across other sites even, via cross-site tracking ads. With that in mind I really don’t mind those customer service reps having a slight technological advantage over me.

I do agree that it’s a bit sleazy that it isn’t mentioned clearly.

Since the default setting for the operator side of this app is to chat with 4 customers at the same time, and it can go up to at least (I tried when we had a outage) 12 simultaneous customers. Whenever I encounter a chat window I’m giving those operators the biggest amount of slack I can cut them.


It has gotten so bad that up here in Canada, Telus(phone/ISP) is unreachable by phone to the point where if you have a issue with the online payment system you can’t actually pay them. All calls are routed to central support oblivion and they don’t have a callback service. This is ostensibly the phone company. I had to resolve the issue by getting a manager at one of their retail stores to get another manager a few layers above to call me. I learned that they have a limited callback service, but it can’t handle the volume. Perhaps a phone company could help?

Canada post, even pre-strike, has very long hold times and a broken VOIP system so if you do reach somebody through the support number you can’t have a conversation.

It seems that companies that are in an oligopoly or underfunded have just decided to not actually have reachable support agents. I’m sure someone got a nice bonus for the cost saving.


Ah - maybe I can only see my own edits (goes looking for someone else’s post that has been edited…)
…yep - you’re right. Thanks.

I’ll go and edit my post containing that inaccuracy! :wink:

#33 is an offender

Also, I seem to recall seeing some offenders hiding the unsent chat data inside an HTTP request for an image.


Best to assume that they have turned on the camera as well.


hasn’t boingboing used luckyorange or hotjar analytics in the past? they are two of a number of website analytic packages that allow for realtime viewing of every website visitors every activity, even the capture and replay of every session for archiving, that means all the mouse movements, characters entered, everything in the window.

this is old tech and been around awhile. seems creepy to me, but not even remotely new news. you are on a public website you are being watched just as if you were in a store somewhere.


Make a browser plug-in that gives you a separate edit window, while typing and erasing word salad messages in their edit box.


Better yet have the plug in slowly type out random passages from any of the Twilight books, or other romance novels. When you’re done typing in your separate window it then deletes what it randomly typed and posts your actual chat response.


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