“If you’re not the customer, you’re the product,” as the saying goes. I am tired of being the product.*
I have a new facebook account; the old one is deactivated.
I’ve long said I hate facebook, but use it because I must – for RealCrozetVA community, and for the Crozet Cycling Club pages, and I’ve long said that if I could do those pages without having FB, I would. I finally have; I deactivated my profile and assigned admin roles for those pages to a new, just-for-those-pages-FB account.
But … Why?
A long-simmering combination of factors, a few recent stories I’d read, with one insignificant, but final straw over the weekend that led to this facebook experiment.
This resonated with me:
The activity in my News Feed does not have a direct impact on my life and my relationships. I think that will be cool to talk more directly with my friends. It can really level up the discussion and I will hear a lot of “But, you haven’t seen my post on Facebook?” I will be glad to say: “No, but go ahead and tell me the story yourself”. That will be refreshing and I might have more interesting talks than “Yep, I saw it, so cool”.
A friend asked – How will you do your business without Facebook?
Easy. I don’t use Facebook for business now, so I won’t suffer a loss. Yes, there are clients and friends on facebook, and I’ll miss seeing their dogs, their kids, and such, but I have written less than a handful of explicitly real estate posts. By deactivating my account, I’m able to focus on what I *need* from FB – that being groups and pages.
What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook
My facebook habits were ingrained; the muscle memory was there. That scared me. I’d scroll through the feed, liking, scanning, “connecting” to people. The “connections” were thin; I’d rather connect with people on my bicycle or over coffee or beer.
This aspect is fascinating to me; real friends and people I’ve never heard of are asking on my new profile to be my friend. Why do people who don’t know me want to be my “friend?”
Being private in this world is mostly an impossibility, in part because of the world in which we live, and in part because of my profession. I am a Realtor, and a member of my community I have to be public, but I don’t have to follow and acquiesce.
I also opened a new email account, on Proton Mail. And I’ll pay for the service, gladly. Google has enough of my life in its history, and Google is unavoidable.Convenience is the grease for acceptance. But I also opened a new email for one of my kids, and advised the other one to do the same. Why capitulate if there are options?
What I’ve Deleted/changed
- Snapchat (never used anyway)
- Wifi. No it’s not deleted, but I do turn it off often when I’m out and about; stores track this, too.
- Added a VPN to my mac & iPhone
What I’ve Kept
- Instagram/Instagram (in spite of their listening to every damn thing I say, and using it to target me with ads)
- Twitter (for JimDuncan and RealCrozetVA – I’ve had them longer)
- Facebook Pages (for the aforementioned RealCrozetVA & Crozet Cycling Club pages)
- Facebook Groups (I can’t quite my neighborhood group, and a few real estate groups)
- Google suite
- I can’t quit google. Photos, RealCentralVA, Nest emails … and with that, all of the surveillance that comes along with it.
- Alexa at home; because, why not embrace a bit of hypocrisy?
*I’m writing this post more so I can better understand my rationale and thought process to what is both a consequential, but not, act.
- Keeping Your Habits Private In A Connected World
- Escape From Yahoo! (one of my favorite podcasts)
- On internet privacy, be very afraid
Part 2 will come in my monthly note my weekend experience in which I offended a couple people when I used the “f word” on Twitter, and how they subsequently attacked me. We’re in a weird world, folks.