Law in the Internet Society

[DE]VALUING FACEBOOK?: How to Change People's Perspective and Preferences [REVISION]

-- By DavidKorvin - 21 Dec 2012


In my first draft, I argued that though I did not particularly like Facebook nor did I feel comfortable using it as a means of communication, I still felt compelled to use it on a daily basis because all of my friends use it. However, as we progressed in our discussions this semester, and spoke of the ways in which Facebook services to manipulate and restrict personal liberty, it became increasingly clear to me that I no longer felt comfortable using my Facebook account as a means of socializing on the internet. The easy party was deactivating my personal Facebook account and joining Diaspora*, which emphasizes that “you shouldn’t have to trade away your personal information” to connect socially. Though am I am very new to the program (and not particularly gifted with technology), I have thus far enjoyed my experience because it allows for a more creative, personalized profile. (One application I have particularly enjoyed using is, which is a way to collect photos on-line.) Additionally, because Diaspora* is open source, I no longer feel pressured to put my data on Facebook’s pre-determined server.

The easy part was individually choosing to join Diaspora* and become more involved in the open source movement; the more difficult part will be to convince my friends to do the same. The rest of this essay will focus on how individuals, such as myself, can convince friends that are currently deeply entrenched in Facebook’s platform that there are better options out there on the internet, such as Diaspora*.

Diaspora* is FREE

I think the best way to get people to initially use open source social platforms such as Diaspora* is to emphasize that [1] it costs nothing to join, and [2] there are no monthly charges to remain a member. From my experiences, the best way to get someone to try something new is to highlight how there is nothing to lose by trying the new option.

At first, I believe that many people that start using Diaspora* will not delete their Facebook immediately. However, I think that many people will enjoy their Diaspora* experience more, and over time people will spend less and less time on Facebook.

Additionally, I think it is important to note that though Facebook does not currently cost any money, it runs the risk that non-neutral intermediaries will start charging users for touching, which makes it long-term sustainability vulnerable; Diaspora*, because it is open source, does not face this same third party pressure.

Therefore, I feel that the most powerful action I can take is to get friends of mine to try Diaspora*, and I think that the best way for me to initially convince them to do so is to remind them that joining is costless and there is only upside in trying it as an alternative to Facebook.

Why Do I Continue to Have a Facebook Account?

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that even after taking this class, and knowing what the government does with my information, that I continue to have a Facebook account. I have not posted any new information on it in over a year, yet I go on the website nearly every day, mostly just to see what other people are up to.

Do you not understand that your access to everything there is also monitored and data-mined? Of the four streams (what you publish, what you access, what others publish that relates to you, what others access that relates to you) what you publish is by far the least important. What you publish is mostly just a point on a graph, where the other streams always contain lines of connection, links between people, which are the raw material of intelligence.

Also, going on Facebook is one of the main ways that I am able to plan seeing a group of friends because most of the parties I get invited to are through the Facebook platform. Thus, though I do not really want to be on Facebook, I feel obligated to do so in order to maintain- and perhaps even expand- my current social status. I feel that I would quit Facebook if all of my friends did, but because I know they will not quit Facebook, I know I will continue to have a profile.

This is a conclusion jumped to without technical justification. Replacement social networking software, that provided a way for you to share only with your actual friends, without putting all your information in centralized databases where access to it can be monitored by the central pseudo-friend, needs a migration architecture. You have to be able to move to secure sharing without central monitoring or storage without losing touch with your friends as all of you migrate on different schedules, to different extents, picking up other federated and centralized friends and acquaintances as you go.

Facebook's primary lie to its investors has been the one you are now parroting about yourself: "We're a roach motel; people can come in but then they can't leave because they'd be leaving their friends." Smart people who want to solve this problem aren't likely to have overlooked that part of the story, right? Before you come to the conclusion you reach here, and buy all the political disempowerment involved, you might want to learn a little bit about what other people think who are thinking ahead of you. To begin with, you might want to join somewhat under 37,000 other people at my [[][Freedom in the Cloud]] talk, and then look a little into Diaspora.

Does this mean that I value my ability to maintain friendships more than my privacy? To be honest, I am not sure if I know the answer to this question. However, I do know that because I have never felt the effect of Facebook limiting my privacy, I have never felt the need to quit cold turkey. Additionally, I have trouble seeing how the government could use the content that I choose to put on Facebook to restrict my privacy and freedom in a harmful way in the future. I am aware that the government “knowing everything about everyone everywhere” creates a problem for society as a whole, but I am unclear (perhaps naively) of how it affects me individually.


The last thing I wonder is what would happen if the United States government publicly announced that it used Facebook as a surveillance mechanism? Even if this were the case, I think I would still use Facebook, but I would put even less material on it; for example I would take down all my pictures and be much more selective in deciding who I friend on Facebook. Because I do not egregious things, I do not feel there would be any consequence from this announcement.

However, I do know, if Facebook started charging money, I would stop using it almost immediately.


Webs Webs

r5 - 22 Dec 2012 - 03:48:32 - DavidKorvin
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