So, on March 13, I posted a long piece here about how much I think that social media, mostly Facebook, has improved my life. On March 17, the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal hit, and since then, we’ve heard even more bad stuff about Facebook. This has predictably led to an anti-Facebook backlash, with friends and public figures threatening to leave Facebook, or actually doing so.
I’m not going anywhere. As an initial matter, I kind of expected that my Facebook postings and the like were going to be scooped up and used, although I admit that I didn’t expect douchery of the Cambridge Analytica type. Although a company founded by the Mercers and run at one point by Steve Bannon is definitely likely to act in a douchey fashion. Second, and most importantly, I don’t see any alternative that would provide me with the benefits that I get from Facebook.
Even beyond the fact that I’d miss the interactions with friends and family, and the feed of news from the organizations that I trust, there’s a more important reason to stay connected. And because I’m no Rebecca Solnit, let me quote at length from her Facebook page:
I’m not deleting my FB account anytime soon. We are in a constitutional crisis/slo-mo coup (in part thanks to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica), and in responding it we will need to share information. FB is how I stay in touch with a lot of people (including many I am in touch with no other way), send out some news and analysis and occasional calls to action, follow many activists and find some news stories. Shutting down that capacity now would reduce my range and access to information and allies, and I doubt it would harm Facebook.
Use them. Try not to let them use you. Remember to disable Platform, which is how they pimp your data, use Adblock and Ghostery, don’t click on the ads, and say as many bad things about FB as you can on their platform (and cheer their stock crashing). The time may come when we can say goodbye to a destructive and amoral corporation without saying goodbye to each other.
p.s. I’m glad people are outraged but they could’ve been outraged last June when most of this information was summarized in the NYRB or earlier when other versions of it appeared. I might add that all this data was to manipulate us. What makes people manipulable is lack of scrutiny of sources, being uninformed, herd behavior, unexamined assumptions, gullibility, jumping on bandwagons, taking slogans for ideas, etc. Critical intelligence, being well-informed, and researching what you’re responding to are acts of resistance.
Oh, and it was always more intrusive on phones than on computers, which is wny I never added FB to my phone (aside from not wanting to slouch into that bog when I’m out and about in the world). Subtract it from your phone if possible.
And here‘s a piece from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about how to protect your Facebook account, to some degree.
It seemed like a song titled “Exposure” fit this piece. Enjoy Peter Gabriel singing over Tony Levin’s bass, Robert Fripp’s “Frippertronics,” Jerry Marotta’s drums, and Sid McGinness’ guitar (trivia–Sid later played in David Letterman’s band for years). And while we are at it, here’s the version from Fripp’s Exposure album, featuring essentially the same music, with Terre Roche, of the Roches, giving a more anguished vocal performance, and a repeated snippet from a speech by J.G. Bennett, who was a major influence on Fripp, “It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering.” Which seems appropriate today.