It looks like I am getting old: social media is pissing me off.
I remember opening a Facebook account circa 2007 and finding my old housemates from London through it and thinking: this is really super cool, haven’t seen these guys in years but now we can be in touch.
Now, I am over it. Sure it’s nice to be able to reach out to people that I wouldn’t be in touch with otherwise and sometimes know what they are up to. Social media gave me a way to meet up with people I wouldn’t have met again with otherwise, like finding out randomly while I am in KL that a friend I haven’t seen in 10 years is there too and have a drink together.
But the constant narcissism, vacuity and general pointlessness of it is slowly driving me away. Then, the whole Big Data issue started to be a bit more obvious with every year that passed and now I feel it is a real issue.
Quick run-down of some documentaries you might want to have a look at if you have no or little idea of what I am talking about:
- The social dilemma: social media mechanisms explained by people that worked in social media. While the narrative of it is a bit tedious with the fake family narrative, some of the things said there are quite frightening. When the former SVP of Twitter tells you his kids are not allowed to use social media, he surely has some good reasons. Their website is also full of good ideas. It made me change my browser and install a bunch of privacy settings on it.
- The Great Hack: this is scary shit. It explains the use of social media information for the 2016 US elections and the Brexit campaign. Again, some disputable editorial choices in there, but the heart of the matter is well explained.
- Citizenfour: a great documentary about Edward Snowden and more generally the surveillance system he was concerned about. His book was really interesting too.
Saying that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about is bullshit.
The fact that you can be fed targeted information that you have no control over is a problem. The fact that this information can be targeted so specifically that millions of dollars are invested towards that before some elections is a problem. The fact that it becomes a source (or the main source) of information without much control is a problem.
I don’t have a solution, though. I understand social media isn't the only issue, so is internet tracking, device tracking, etc.
More resources on online privacy:
- Basics of online privacy
- Privacy for your iPhone
Privacy for your online browsing
I have deleted this week my personal Instagram account. It might be the first of a series, except what I need for work.
And to prove my point, I will not be sharing these anymore on Facebook. If you want to read my scribblings, either come back and check the website once in a while or use the “update” box to get email notifications.