Thing 8 – Facebook
Had I taken up this 23 Things challenge a year ago, I could have done the Intermediate stream for thing 8. Last spring I deactivated my Facebook account, keeping FB messenger available. A lot of people didn’t know you could do that. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to leave Facebook, from getting back some of my own productivity, to trying to take more control of my presence and data I create, to just the utter disgust I had with the company’s behaviour. A lot of it known before the USA election, but 2018 was not such a good year for the company:
So, I archived my Facebook account (obtaining all my posts, pictures, and chat logs), and deactivated. I kept messenger because there were a few of my friends that I chatted with using that as the primary communication tool. I also reached out to people and let them know I was deactivating the account and that if they wanted to keep in touch to drop me a line at a couple of different places. Finally, I closed the account completely. Now here’s the catch. I still use Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which are owned by Facebook. I started an IG account for the first time in the fall of 2015. It was at that time I was starting up Module13’s wood working portfolio and thought that would be a good place to show off the work and build a presence so I could apply to different craft fairs. I’ve found, as I’ve wound down production that I don’t use it very often anymore and am wondering if I really need to keep the account or not. Maybe at the very least I should take it off of my phone.
WhatsApp was a big question mark for me as well. Before it was bought by FB it was a super popular tool in Europe, so the people I chat with on there mainly are from over seas. Sure beats the hell out of international texting costs, plus it’s supposed to be encrypted (although I’m sure in the next year or two we’ll find out FB was lying about keeping that feature). Knowing WhatsApp is owned by FB I did look for alternatives and settled on Signal. I’m not sure about you, but if you are trying to talk your friends and family into using a chat tool that isn’t FB Messenger it can be a real challenge. Some people just write off your request as “he’s a crazy paranoid privacy person”. Others just don’t seem to care. If you have tips for how to approach this conversation I’m all eyes/ears. Anyway, I conceded that WhatsApp would be ok. I was pretty careful about restricting its access to things like my location, camera, microphone, and photo library. I also restricted its access to my contact list as I know that’s a major way companies build up profiles on you and your contacts. I know I’ve mentioned dark patterns on this blog before, but it’s worth noting it here again because WhatsApp/FB really aggravated me with this one. Because I restricted the app’s access to so much stuff, EVERYTIME I opened it a prompt would appear suggesting it would be better if I allowed all this stuff (liars). Then one day a contact sent me a photo and WhatsApp kept it blurry because I need to click to download the photo (saves my dataplan). So I open the app, go to the conversation, and just as I’m about to click to download the photo a pop-up appears and they stole access to my contact list. The prompt had NOTHING to do with the actions I was taking, they just had to find a way to doop a user into giving up the information. Whoever came up with that idea deserves a special place in hell.
This plan for FB products worked moderately well for 2018, but the news on the apps does not look good:
Facebook are going to monetize encrypted messaging by consolidating metadata analysis of 3 key platforms (Messenger, Whatsapp & Instagram). They will make money by tracking your relationships and social groups. They will make that information easily accessible to law enforcement.
— Sarah Jamie Lewis (@SarahJamieLewis) January 25, 2019
The whole thread is worth reading. So, now I’m stuck a bit because not so many people have moved over to Signal, but in my ideal world I would close Instagram and run all my own photosharing, and also replace whatsapp with other messaging systems.
If you’ve given up all FB products, how did you go about it?
I just bumped into Bruce Sterling’s All Things Facebook list if you’d like to see an ongoing list of the flaming garbage heep that is FB.