My breakup with Google and Facebook

Christopher Wylie Banned from Facebook

The more that comes out about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, the more it makes me want to break up with Zuck’s business. The latest news is Facebook has banned Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower.

No reason has been given, yet, for the ban, so I’m holding out on complete deletion until I hear from both sides. Still, the optics of this are pretty awful.

I expect to find out that the account deletion was brigaded, and an automated system did this. This happening on Friday night, I’ll bet this will get cleared up by Monday.

It Doesn’t End with Wylie or Trump

But Wylie’s not the only one to feel Facebook’s banhammer. There are reports of people posting instructions on how to delete their Facebook accounts only to have the posts removed, and the accounts banned, themselves. Again, this feels like overreach on the part of some automated systems, and I’ll wait until next week before passing any kind of final judgement.

And Trump wasn’t the only beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s data-mining efforts. Reports from Channel 4 today indicate that Vote Leave, the organization behind 2016’s Brexit referendum, violated campaign spending rules by dumping £625,000 in a single payment into a Canadian data mining company with ties to Cambridge Analytica. That company would ultimately receive £2.7 Million from Vote Leave before the dust settled

What’s up with Google?

I’m taking a long hard look at the data I’m voluntarily sharing. Besides Facebook, I give a ton of data to Google. While they haven’t been a bad player like Facebook appears to be, I should probably limit my exposure on their platform where possible. I give them a ton of signal through my use of GMail hosting of my email address, my Google Photos account, and my nearly exclusive use of Android.

Apple is the only company that has made data privacy the cornerstone of their relationship with customers. Of course, I’m not naïve enough to believe them completely, but given the playing field, they’re definitely more trustworthy than Google or Facebook right now.

What now?

What always keeps me locked in to social media is FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. The fear of knowing that something is happening in the world, and not being in the loop is real. I’m working on that. I’ll miss the personal connections with friends and family. That’ll just force me to forge real and tangible connections with those folks.

I’m disabling my Facebook account as of right now. Not deleting – Facebook is still useful, and I may yet return, who knows? I’m moving over to iPhone from Android. I’m going back to self-hosting my email domain.

If anybody out there has concerns like me, reply to this post and tell me what you think. Also, if you need help transitioning away from cloud-services, or switching to iPhone, email me and I’d be happy to help.

Facebook isn’t a monster, but it is monstrous

You’re going to be seeing me sharing a whole lot less on Twitter and Facebook, because I believe Facebook is Godzilla. That may not make sense, so let me explain…

With the latest revelations from Cambridge Analytica, it’s clear that we are being manipulated by our participation in social media. And, to paraphrase WOPR from Wargames, the only winning move is not to play.

While misuse of their platform is ultimately Facebook’s responsibility, I don’t really blame them for Cambridge’s manipulations. I believe them when they say they’re trying to increase community and social engagement and enhancing democracy. Mark Zuckerburg believes he’s helping.

Facebook: King of Monsters

See, I liken Facebook to Godzilla. That giant lizard stomping through Tokyo believes he’s helping the citizens by fighting Mothra. He doesn’t see the poor people below being stomped flat or crushed beneath the rubble he’s generating. Godzilla doesn’t kill people because he’s evil. He’s no monster, but he is monstrous.

Facebook is the same. They truly believe that connecting people and enhancing their ability to share and relate and communicate makes people’s lives better. Unfortunately, bad players are adept and game their algorithms, and easily manipulate people’s fears and prejudices.

That manipulation drives moderates out of political discourse, and allows more extreme views to propagate easily. That’s how we get the Tea Party and Trump; reactionaries activated by social media shout-down the moderate Republicans who are willing to work and compromise.

This isn’t goodbye.

So you’re not likely going to see me participating so much in Twitter and Facebook any more. I say not likely because I’m human and weak and crave that validation and feedback, so some retweets and likes and hearts are inevitable.

That said, Twitter and Facebook are still fantastic aggregators for content, and I won’t be completely inactive there. You’ll see this post, probably, listed there, for example, but I’ll try and post most of my content here. I won’t be as interactive, but I’m not going away.