Tagged: Facebook

Square Cash, You’ve Changed

Square Cash, the peer-to-peer payment service by Square, has undergone some changes over the years, and some of them I do not like. However, the final straw came when they required me to verify my account by connecting to Facebook to add funds to my Square Cash balance. To echo the sentiment that John Gruber holds towards Facebook, I’d like to tell Square Cash… we can’t be friends!

I was a fan of Square Cash for years, and I even defended it against my friend’s protestations. In fact, I preferred using it to other peer-to-peer services such as Paypal or Venmo, which are incidentally owned by the same company but do slightly different things. Venmo, for example, has emoji.

Square Cash was better than either of these peer-to-peer services because:

  1. You could send money via email. This was so simple. You emailed your friend and cc’ed cash@square.com and put the amount in the subject line. After a quick setup, the money was transferred between user’s bank accounts.
  2. Square Cash used debit cards to process transactions, instead of ABA routing and account numbers. This made signing up a lot faster and, also, most banks offers some fraud protection with debit card purchases. I don’t believe they offer such protection with these ABA transfers. How secure can an ABA transfer be, considering that it was developed in 1910?
  3. Most payments were free and instantaneous. When you sent money, it would charge your debit card as a purchase and then withdraw the funds from your checking account. When you would receive funds, it would add the funds to your checking account, as if you had returned a purchase.

But over the years, many of these advantages have gone away.

  1. Most transfers over email fail so you have to use the mobile app or login to your account on a browser to send someone money.
  2. New users reports that they must provide an ABA routing and account numbers when sending money over a certain amount.
  3. Transfers from one bank account to another are no longer instant. Now, you must “cash out” to transfer the money to your bank account. Also, instant transfers to your bank account are no longer free. You can opt for an instant transfer, but Square will deduct 1% of the amount as a fee. Next business day transfers, however, remain free.

I don’t mind that last one because as I wrote years ago, they need to make money somehow, which is why they made a virtual debit card that you can add to your Apple Wallet and pay anywhere Apple Pay is accepted. The card withdraws from your Square Cash balance. I liked this feature because it allows Square to make money from the merchant via the interchange fee, and it doesn’t directly cost me anything.

When AT&T revamped their unlimited wireless plans earlier this year, they offered a $10 discount to customers who signed up for auto-pay with a debit card or a bank account. (Credit cards are excluded presumably because it costs AT&T more to process these payments.) When I changed to the new unlimited wireless plan, I added my Square Cash virtual card as the payment method for my AT&T Wireless account. This made sense because two other people pay me for their share of the wireless bill through Square Cash, and it was more convenient for AT&T to just bill against my Square Cash balance instead of transferring that balance to a bank account and then paying AT&T there.

Billing against that Square Cash virtual card, however, has been painful.

For the first month, I didn’t have enough funds in my Square Cash balance to cover the transaction so it failed due to insufficient funds. This seemed counter intuitive. If I initiate a peer-to-peer payment and don’t have enough funds, Square Cash will charge my debit card to cover the transaction. This was not expected behavior.

To get around this, I had to add funds from my checking account. Since my bill is about $200, I tried to add $100, but when I did, I was surprised to see a request to connect my Square Cash account with Facebook.

No, Square Cash! We can’t be friends.

Dammit, Square! I don’t have a Facebook account! Well, I do have an account, but I deactivated it almost three years ago after Sarah and I split up. While I have long ago recovered from that break up, I really enjoy not having a Facebook account, and I don’t see adding $100 to my Square Cash account as the reason to reactivate it.

There’s no way around this. There are only two options: selecting “Continue,” which takes me to a Facebook login page, or tapping on an “x,” which only returns me to the previous screen. If I tap on that “x,” I’m back trying to add $100 to my Square Cash balance, thus requiring me to connect a Facebook account. I’m caught in a loop.

I asked Square on Twitter about this. However, I forgot to include a screenshot, although I did link to Gruber’s post about Facebook.


To their credit, they did reply.

But I am not starting out. I’ve been using Square Cash for several years and have transacted thousands of dollars in that time.

The ironic part of all this is that I am encountering this problem because I am trying to let Square Cash make money. Assuming a 1.5% debit card processing fee, Square stands to make about $3 from my nearly $200 monthly wireless bill.

I did find a workaround. Like a criminal, I have to “structure” my transfers, adding small amounts, around $50, each day to build up enough of a balance to cover my wireless bill. That avoids the requirement to connect my Facebook account to my Square Cash account.

But I’m not doing this again. I am switching my payment method over to my bank’s debit card. I’m certainly not reactivating my Facebook account just to make Square a few bucks.

Digital Estate Planning

At some point last night, someone tried to change the password on my Facebook account. My account has been deactivated since last August, but I learned about this intrusion attempt because I received a notification alerting me to that fact. By the way, it’s well-know that the easiest way to get into someone’s account—Facebook, email, and any other account—is to request a new password, provided you can access your target’s email or know the answer to a challenge question.

As far as I can tell, no one accessed my email or my Facebook account. Nonetheless, I went into my Facebook account to make sure no one did anything fishy. While going over my security settings, I saw that I can assign a trusted Facebook friend to take care of my account after I die, known as a legacy contact. For this bit of digital estate planning, I appointed my brother to act as an executor.

Facebook has a whole process in place to deal with someone’s death, including memorializing the account or permanently deleting it.

Come to think of it, dying might be the only way to ever fully delete your Facebook account. Logging in to my account was really easy, and everything was there just like I remembered it. Having a deactivated account for sixteen months didn’t erase any bit of my presence there.

Like a Punch in the Gut

Have you heard of Timehop?

I have. I even used it for a few years. It was a neat app that sniffs through your social accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare (now Swarm), to present you with a list of things you posted on this day one, two, three, or even more years ago.

Timehop requires a Facebook account to work. You can’t use another identity system, such as Twitter, Google+, or a username and a password. If you don’t have an active Facebook account, you can’t use it. And because I quit Facebook, I also quit Timehop.

I deactivated my Facebook account a few days after Sarah and I broke up. At one time, leaving Facebook was an unthinkable choice, something that disillusioned young teens and millennials did once their parents took to the social networking site. I wouldn’t say that quitting Facebook was a difficult choice as much as it was a necessary one. Almost everything about my life was about to change with that breakup, and I wanted to remove myself from this toxic digital garden that tethered me to that past. I didn’t want to deal with seemingly empty, well-meaning words of support from my friends, which would likely stop after a few days or weeks. I didn’t want to post some self-affirming quip and to have friends “like” it as if that would repair my shattered self-esteem. I also didn’t want to see my list of friends dwindle one-by-one as our almost one-hundred mutual friends took her side over mine. And, because of how my friends use Facebook, I couldn’t bear to read everyone’s endless stream good news and happy talk. I needed to quit Facebook, not to move on, but to forget and to disappear.

Nearly four months later, a lot of that despair is more or less behind me. Quitting Facebook likely helped because it forced me to reset almost everything and to reassess the meaningful relationships in my life.1 I no longer wonder what someone close to me is doing because I can reach them directly and ask them. And if I want to post something, I can do that on this website and share it with the entire open web.

A day or two ago, I met with my friend Joe, who is going through a divorce, and thus, we are confronting a lot of similar issues and challenges. As we shared our sad experiences, both crushing defeats and small victories, he formulated some advice for anyone going through a breakup:

Delete Timehop.

I asked him why.

He said that each day, each little reminder about what you did “on this day” some years ago is not a gentle tap from the past. Each one, he said, is like a punch in the gut.

My decision to leave Facebook, and consequently Timehop, seems like an especially wise one.2

  1. Curiously, I have kept my Instagram account going but mostly because the posts there are less about everyone’s good news or random thoughts or complaints. Also, the number of people I follow is significantly smaller. 
  2. Also, without a Facebook account, I am also barred from joining Tinder. 

Trending on Facebook


Here’s what’s trending on Facebook today:

  1. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead at his home at age 46.
  2. Woody Allen was publicly accused of sexual abuse twenty-one years ago by Dylan Farrow.
  3. The Super Bowl, between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, is today in New York New Jersey.

Who would have thought that two events from the film world would be bigger trending topics than the Super Bowl? And it isn’t Punxsutawney Phil.

Large Format Ads on Facebook

Why do I see an ad on Facebook.com when I log out?:

When you log out of Facebook you may see an ad that looks like a Page timeline on the homepage. This allows advertisers to show larger format ads on Facebook without interrupting your experience when you’re logged in and connecting with your friends. Advertising keeps Facebook free for everyone.

I certainly don’t have any data on this, but I imagine that very few people actually log out of Facebook instead of just closing or quitting their browser window. And if they do, it’s probably about once a day.

Does this seem like a good use of advertising dollars? I also like the closing line as it implies that users better like the big ad or pay for Facebook.

Don’t Let Facebook Rat You Out

Maybe it’s because I just did a class on contemporary privacy in the media industries, and used Facebook as a case study, but it looks like the amount of information available to anyone on Facebook was enough to find the guy who found the iPhone prototype.

On Thursday, Wired has a story on the guy who found the iPhone and then reportedly sold it to Gawker’s Gizmodo website. In the story, we learn that “Wired.com identified Hogan as the finder of the prototype by following clues on social network sites, and then confirmed his identity with a source involved in the iPhone find.”

If that doesn’t put a little bit of caution before you post any shenanigans on Facebook, consider this timeline of Facebook’s privacy policies over the years.