Life After Facebook

November 10, 2017


I’m a geek, and I try to be an early adopter of emergent technology whenever possible. I got onto Facebook early. And, whatever you may think of it, much of my life has taken place there. I found my wife there. I did most of my networking and communication there. I hosted thousands of personal photos from my private life, tens of thousands of observations and intimations on my status, and untold hundreds of thousands of comments and private conversation messages, …all of which are now just gone. Like that. No warning. No appeal. No read-only access. Just, …gone.

For the typical Millennial (I’m a bit long in the tooth, belonging to the “Xenial” gap generation between Xers and Millenials), your Facebook is more of a valued and valuable public service than your mailing address, your phone number, or even your driver’s license. As handy as VK has proven to be, nobody can dispute that Facebook has become an undisputed and unchallengeable (for now) monopoly and vital public service, with all of the responsibilities and risks that position entails. Imagine if the post office decided to stop delivering your mail because you fail to support the latest “progressive” campaign for transgendered “rights,” or if the BMV threw you out the door because two months ago you had worn a rebel flag t-shirt.

Everybody hates racists, and nobody gives a damn that I have no access to arbitration or even the ability to download my account data after the fact. I get it, and I’m not asking for pity. I’m asking for everybody, regardless of where you’re at on the political spectrum, to reflect on how much power Facebook has to manipulate, steer, and even silence political discourse. It’s all well and good while they’re censoring nationalists in the West (and only the West, and only the white ones), but who’s to say they won’t flag more mainstream conservative discourse as likely “Russian hackers” and hellban it? Under the clumsy and misguided jihad against “fake news,” they’ve already granted a couple random liberal degenerates who work from home the power of life and death over which news is allowed to go viral.

They’re already openly and systemically using their access to Big Data and machine learning algorithms to tip the scales of American discourse in increasingly subtle and imperceptible ways. If you’re a bugman shitlib whose interests are perfectly aligned with the multinational corporate agenda, this is all well and good, but what about the rest of us, …on both the left and the right? Who’s analyzing the analysts, here? Nobody is. Nobody can. Nobody will, because Google, Facebook, and the other Silicon Valley titans swept into power fast enough and bought enough lobbyists rapidly enough to achieve a complete stranglehold on Washington. It’s too late. It was always too late.

There’s no daylight between the deep state and these multinational corporations, with Google and Facebook working hand-in-glove with the NSA, CIA, and their hive of private intelligence contractors on intelligence and espionage work. This is why China, Russia, and Iran are fighting like hell to keep Google and Facebook away from their citizens. They’re fighting for their lives, because they know that social media infrastructure is too politically critical to be trusted with a foreign corporation beholden to a competitive and actively hostile Atlanticist political bloc. While Facebook’s no less foreign to or hostile to Middle America than it is to rural China, we don’t have any political protection from them of any kind.

In fact, my home state’s politicians are getting schmoozed and dined by Google this very weekend in Indianapolis, as part of their #GrowWithGoogle initiative to implant themselves even more deeply into the public sector.

It’s very easy for me to announce that you should “cut the cord” and deactivate your Facebook in protest. I shrugged at similar protestations before I was permanently booted from the service. I expect you to do so, as well. But be wary of how much you share, how much you’re trusting the platform with critical communication, and how much you’re relying on it to host your photographs, your valued relationships, and your life. Over the past decade since Facebook came into being, gay marriage has moved from being the minority position to being a position so dominant that failure to agree with it is a violation of Facebook’s “Community Standards” which will result in account termination. Even feminist lesbians who dispute that a man can put on a costume wig and become a real woman are also facing censorship and account terminations.

In time, the decentralized and open source social networking options will reach the point where they can effectively compete with Facebook, but they’re not where they need to be just yet. Facebook, after a very impressive run of having minimal ads and minimal censorship, is sinking into the trap of trying to keep up with investor demands for monetization and political temptation to exploit their position to manipulate the conversations it hosts. MySpace also enjoyed the network effect advantage and also succumbed to pressure to monetize and manipulate. It’s a cycle, and (((Zuckerberg))) has inexorably slipped into it despite being fully aware of it. The next time, it’ll be a platform that they won’t be able to simply swoop in and buy up. It’ll be truly community-owned and community-driven. The cycle ends when we, the users, stop trusting these capricious, manipulative, self-righteous oligarchs with our virtual lives.

We’re currently in a strange interregnum between the dying age where financiers control communication and a new age where communication is entirely decentralized, neo-tribal, and unaccountable to the multinational corporate oligarchs. The more aggressively the major players try to fight it, the faster people will be driven off of their proprietary platforms. A decade from now, people will be baffled that a social media website that facilitated communication with friends and family was once valued at half of a trillion dollars. People will have a hard time imagining trusting absolutely all of their data, email, and infrastructure to some random corporation which not only can rifle through all your information and communication, but openly does so in order to pass it along to both marketers and government agencies alike as its core business model.

I remember reading Bill Gates’ “The Road Ahead” when I was in high school, imagining that I would find some insights from the wealthiest man in the world. Alas, the book was an apologia for his own generation of spreadsheet vendors, trying to explain how their entrenched business model would remain dominant in the age of the emerging Internet. A similar phenomenon is taking place now, with Apple, Google, and the rest all insisting that we’re in an end of history where this Orwellian conglomerate of Western tech companies will remain in complete control of the entire web and its profit streams.

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  DAMJ 1 week, 3 days ago.

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    DAMJ
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    Don’t miss it a bit

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