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.

There is No Question that Facebook Does a Terrible Job Protecting One’s Privacy

Another way that I can try to convince friends that they are better off leaving Facebook is to underscore the huge privacy shortcoming of the platform with them. Many of my friends are currently in law school, and I think it is fair to say that we are all very concerned with our reputations- both professional and personal- moving forward. One of the major problems with Facebook is that it puts a user’s information into a centralized database, and once it enters this database it is no longer under the exclusive control of that user; this, in effect, serves to disempower Facebook users. On the other hand, platforms such as Diaspora* allow for secure sharing without central monitoring or storage.

Because we are so concerned with our reputations, I believe that data mining poses a real threat to us. (Of course, data mining has an impact on everyone, but in this essay I am attempting to explore how I can make a difference, and for better and for worst, most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are aspiring lawyers.) Facebook not only tracks what I individually publish, but also what I access, what others publish that relates to me, what others access that relates to me. I think that most people are well aware of the first track, but that they are much less aware of the latter three methods Facebook uses to track users.

In my circle of friends, I think I can help nudge friends away from Facebook by clearly delineating ALL the methods Facebook employs to track its users, and how these methods constrict one’s freedom in a way that is absolutely impermissible when there are alternative options out there. I am quite certain that not one of my friends would feel comfortable using Facebook if they knew all of the devastating short- and long-term damages that Facebook imposes upon its users; the more I think about it, the more I feel it is my obligation to inform them about this harm.



Webs Webs

r6 - 22 Dec 2012 - 06:29:20 - DavidKorvin
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