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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: On Monday, March 26, 2018, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it’s investigating the social media giant’s privacy practices. Legislators in the U.S. and the U.K. have demanded answers and called for inquiries.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press

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It’s private (sort of)

How many times have you looked something up, then days later been bombarded with ads for similar products? I wanted to buy a Ford Escort and you wouldn’t believe the kind of ads I was slammed with.

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Some of the people who are upset over privacy issues will turn around and actually pay someone to take the most personal information anyone has, their DNA, and analyse it. Send it in and you get a nice little chart. The question is, what do these companies do with the information after that?

It’s like giving away the Coke recipe or finding out what’s in the 11 herbs and spices. Some things are meant to be secret, like your personal building blocks. If you don’t want to play with the Facebook genie … don’t rub the bottle.

Bryan Cox, Saskatoon

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It seems that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has changed his tune on describing his social media platform as a “utility.” Back in 2010, he likened his company to an electric utility but rejected the idea that it needed to be regulated. Now, he muses “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated” (Zuckerberg Apologizes for ‘Major Breach of Trust’ – March 22).

With market domination dwarfing most large monopoly utilities, a move to regulate his huge company seems inevitable … and necessary.

The good news: regulated utilities tend to have profits capped with a mandated rate of return (good for the Facebook “ratepayer”). The bad news: lower profitability rates and a further hammering to the company’s share price (bad for the shareholder). Welcome to the regulated utility business model, Mr. Zuckerberg.

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Chris Gates, Quinte West, Ont.

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Re Facebook Is The Real Threat To Democracy (March 24): Facebook isn’t the real threat to democracy: democracy is. Because the onus is on the end user to be informed, skeptical, questioning, and too many of us are unworthy of the freedom and responsibility – and yes, work – democracy requires.

I get my information on the internet, too. But I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. I use the internet to read The Globe and Mail, New Yorker, Atlantic and Nautilus. I correspond by e-mail. I listen to reasoned podcasts.

I am reminded of Walt Kelly’s famous quote, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Brian P.H. Green, Thunder Bay, Ont.

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Silence is an enabler

Re Regaining My Voice (Opinion Section, March 24): Mikaela Davies’s article reminded me of how important it is to speak up about bullying, harassing and abusive behavior in the workplace.

A non-disclosure agreement protects the abuser and the company where the abuse occurred, not the victim. The victim may agree, just to get out of a difficult situation and obtain compensation. The employer may not address and improve the context in which the abuse occurred, and may not even recognize their role in what occurred.

I was in a situation where I signed a non-disclosure of the financial agreement, but there was nothing pertaining to remaining silent about the situation. Yet I was never asked about the circumstances by others who were aware of the situation.

It’s as though there’s a code not to speak of bad behavior. It’s analogous to family and domestic abuse. Unfortunately, silence allows people to carry on with wrong or abusive behavior.

Laura Vilness, Tompkins, Sask.

A ‘good death’

Re Living – And Dying – With Dignity (Opinion Section, March 24): Ing Wong-Ward’s sobering, beautifully written article conveys a number of important points.

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She’s right to assert that the phrase “dying with dignity” and assisted dying are not one in the same. What constitutes a “good death” is deeply personal and will differ from one individual to the next. That’s why Dying With Dignity Canada advocates for better palliative care in addition to being the leading organization defending Canadians’ right to assisted dying. In our view, palliative care and assisted dying are two essential options on a spectrum of care for individuals who are exploring their legal end-of-life choices.

In our submissions to government, we’ve called for improved access to palliative care, which we now refer to as a human right.

Cory Ruf, Dying With Dignity Canada

Tattoo removal, lasers

Re I Can’t Rewrite My Past, But I Can Get Rid Of My Unwanted Ink (First Person, March 22): All lasers capable of treating tattoos are Class 1V lasers and these lasers, by definition, can cause eye injury (blindness), skin damage, release potentially dangerous airborne particles and ignite a fire.

And yet there are no regulations as to who can fire them!

There are standards put out by the Canadian Standards Association that relate to safety and training, but in my experience almost no one firing lasers knows they exist. But there is no legislation enshrining these standards. This means that legally a young child could fire these lasers.

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Being reassured because a technician is married to a doctor (“I trust her because her husband is a doctor”) is like saying that I feel confident flying in a plane because the person at the controls is married to a pilot. Furthermore, the vast majority of doctors know nothing about laser medicine.

All lasers put out radiant energy of a single wavelength, which is absorbed by the target (tattoo ink in this case). This is converted to heat, but the pulse duration of tattoo lasers is so brief that it also causes the pigment to “explode.”

This process is indeed very painful, but if done by a physician, local anesthesia would minimize any discomfort, and at the very least some topical anesthetics would blunt the pain.

Howard Bargman, Director of Laser, Dermatology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Handshakes. And curses

Handshakes. And curses

Re Leave Baseball Alone. It’s A Pretty Great Sports As It Is (Sports, March 24): The theme I would offer up for change in major league baseball is exhibiting sportsmanship.

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Specifically, at the end of a deciding series/one-off game (i.e. wild card, division, league, World Series) that the players of each team line up and proceed to congratulate each other with a handshake. What a role model that would be for young baseball players. Major league baseball needs to step up to the plate and join other sports with adopting this simple, but so meaningful expression of well done!

David Glen, Victoria

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Re Where Hockey Is Religion, The Faithful Are Tested (Opinion Section, March 24): Two years on, the 2016 trade of P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators has the makings of a curse.

The outrage of Habs fans has not diminished as they continue to heap scorn on the team’s general manager, Marc Bergevin.

It’s early, but for sports aficionados this year’s version of the beloved Montreal Canadiens must evoke the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Paul Gerroir, Oakville, Ont.

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