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Happy birthday, Internet! Here are your lamest lifetime moments

Susie Ochs, Mark Sullivan | Oct. 30, 2013
Yes, the Internet has brought us closer together, but sometimes it's felt like surfing in a sea of dumb.

Facebook: Everything is public
On December 2009, Facebook began rolling out a new set of changes to its "notoriously complex" (EFF's words) privacy settings, a move that struck a powerful blow against any remaining expectation of privacy that Web consumers still clung to. In typical fashion, Facebook spun the changes as a wonderful gift for users ("they give you more control of your information," said Facebook), but the actual point opf the changes was to make far more user data available to "everyone" (read: advertisers) by default. The data involved included the users' list of friends, name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and pages they had "liked."

The EFF had a different assessment. "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before," said EFF attorney Kevin Bankston in a blog post. "Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."

Silly Netflix, Qwikster's for...nobody
Netflix is on top of the world right now, with more subscribers than HBO and its original programming drawing critical acclaim and Emmy nominations galore. But a couple years ago, the company's ill-fated plan to spin off the DVD-mailing portion of its business as Qwikster (with a separate website, separate queue, and two sets of ratings and recommendations) went over with the public like a lead balloon. It didn't help that CEO Reed Hastings's blog post announcing Qwikster began, "I messed up"—not the best way to announce a change you're supposedly excited about.

To make matters worse, Netflix hadn't locked down the Qwikster brand on social media in advance, and the Qwikster account on Twitter was helmed by a spelling-challenged teenager with a profile photo of Elmo smoking a doobie. He got all excited at the prospect of "making bank" by selling his gold mine of a Twitter handle—but then Netflix reversed its decision, keeping DVDs and streaming unified under the Netflix banner, and Qwikster became nothing more than a weird footnote in Netflix history.

Of 'twerks' and tweets
When 20-year-old Miley Cyrus performed with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, Americans responded with a wide range of emotions. Some felt outrage and revulsion, while others felt sickened and violated. And a record number of people found the outlet for their reactions on Twitter. Ms. Cyrus's demonstration of "twerking" (the rapid movement of one's buttocks back and forth over another person, furniture, walls, pets, or nothing at all) was the subject of a firehose full of tweets after the performance—306,100 per minute to be exact, a Twitter record for a U.S. event.

 

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