In this context, it means we are the product being sold.
March 26, 2018 4:22 PM   Subscribe

 


I only browse the web on my desktop with uBlock Origin and Reek (anti-adblock killer) so I'm always amazed when I look over someone's shoulder and see the crap that people put up with. Just now though out of curiosity, I opened FB in an incognito window and turned off uBlock and reloaded and still didn't see any ads. Not even sponsored posts. Maybe Facebook has given up on me.
posted by octothorpe at 5:21 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


ICE used Facebook data to track immigrants say internal emails

So you know the authoritarian dystopia is already here, just not evenly distributed
posted by The Whelk at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2018 [36 favorites]


Javascript in advertising needs to be a capitol offense. No exceptions.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


Now, we started from someplace seemingly innocuous -- online adds following us around -- and we've landed someplace else. As a public and as citizens, we no longer know if we're seeing the same information or what anybody else is seeing, and without a common basis of information, little by little, public debate is becoming impossible, and we're just at the beginning stages of this.

We have to mobilize our technology, our creativity and yes, our politics so that we can build artificial intelligence that supports us in our human goals but that is also constrained by our human values. ... We need a digital economy where our data and our attention is not for sale to the highest-bidding authoritarian or demagogue.


Yes
posted by rebent at 7:22 PM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


So glad to see this on the Blue! I can't believe it has not yet been posted here.

Zeynep tweeted this (thread) just nine minutes ago: "Ok @Google. I had turned off YouTube history under my Google account settings. Today, I find out YouTube has been keeping my history for years anyway. See recent videos I watched! I track this stuff for a living. HOW THE HECK IS AN ORDINARY PERSON SUPPOSED TO MANAGE THIS?" It's a great question. How is anyone supposed to manage this?

I would also ask, why should individuals manage this? Why is it our responsibility to not be spied on? "You signed an agreement; don't use the service if you don't like it" is not an answer, because it's still an answer predicated on personal responsibility.

We need laws about this stuff, like, yesterday. Two years ago. Ten years ago. This has gotten way out of hand.
posted by sockermom at 8:12 PM on March 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


why should individuals manage this?

Because we can.
posted by flabdablet at 9:06 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Individuals should manage it because it's a non-obvious decision that different people will decide differently. I guarantee you that a lot of people really appreciate that Google and YouTube keep their search history.

I agree that it would be much better if it were easier for individuals to do it, and maybe having conservative defaults is a more realistic goal.
posted by value of information at 9:13 PM on March 26, 2018


Opt in instead of opt out.
posted by notyou at 9:59 PM on March 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


Zeynep tweeted this (thread) just nine minutes ago: "Ok @Google. I had turned off YouTube history under my Google account settings. Today, I find out YouTube has been keeping my history for years anyway. See recent videos I watched! I track this stuff for a living. HOW THE HECK IS AN ORDINARY PERSON SUPPOSED TO MANAGE THIS?"

Not for nothing, but if you're even remotely concerned about privacy, why the hell would you surf the web while logged into a google account?

I mean, google and friends make it extremely difficult to avoid being tracked throughout the web, but surfing while logged in is basically just doing their job for them.
posted by madajb at 10:22 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Individuals should manage it because it's a non-obvious decision that different people will decide differently. I guarantee you that a lot of people really appreciate that Google and YouTube keep their search history

Honestly, I'm one of them. My memory is terrible, so I like having a backup to "Uh, temple song three blonde surfer girls...damn."

The real answer to data mining would be to simply not use YouTube. Or Google. Stick to CDs made over 30 years ago, and play them in a dedicated CD player with no internet connection. And go live in a shack in Colorado.
posted by happyroach at 10:44 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


The real answer to data mining would be to simply not use YouTube. Or Google. Stick to CDs made over 30 years ago, and play them in a dedicated CD player with no internet connection. And go live in a shack in Colorado.

Even that wouldn't be a solution, because social media constructs shadow profiles of non-users.

There is no individual-scale solution to what social media has become.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:21 PM on March 26, 2018 [23 favorites]


Not for nothing, but if you're even remotely concerned about privacy, why the hell would you surf the web while logged into a google account?

This kind of attitude is not really helpful when trying to think about how to solve what has become a systemic problem. Plenty of people probably don't even realize that they're logged in to Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc all the time. And even for those who do--it's tough to do this stuff right! And then there's the shadow profiles that they have of even the people who do take care not to be tracked but who are present in friends' networks.

Boiling it all down to a matter of personal responsibility on the part of users rather than corporate responsibility just helps push the tech companies' line.
posted by col_pogo at 11:24 PM on March 26, 2018 [31 favorites]


We are all in the pan-opticon, so we can be identified, divided, and exploited. Freedom is now only a gauge of how big a sandbox autocrats and ceos permit us. .... Now here's Tom with the weather...
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 12:19 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


social media constructs shadow profiles of non-users.

As I've said before, this is why it's important to have two email addresses, a 'real' one for actually emailing people and a second one (with a different provider) thats just used for signing into websites.
My contacts can share my real email with Facebook or Google all day long but it won't be any use to them because I don't use that address to sign into any web-service anywhere.

If the adverts are anything to go by, Facebook can't even figure out if I'm male or female so I think the strategy is working.
posted by Lanark at 1:55 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised this hasn't made it here sooner, too; been sharing the link a lot this week. I know we're all a bit over TED talks, but this is an important one.

Other worthwhile writing by Tufekci on recent developments: Facebook’s surveillance machine; YouTube, the great radicalizer; her Twitter feed; her book (my copy hasn't arrived yet, so I can't vouch for it directly, but I'm expecting good things).

Something I wrote the other day inspired by her TED talk:

The issue with Cambridge Analytica isn’t only that—maybe not even mainly that—UK and US voters were being fed fake news. It’s that their Facebook data meant they could target messages designed to increase the chances of specific groups turning out to vote (Leavers in the UK, Republicans in key US states) and messages that decreased the chances of others (Remainers, Democrats).

Those messages could even be benign on the surface: Facebook once tested a tweak to a “be sure to vote” message—a single message—that increased turnout in a US election by 340,000 simply by adding pictures of each target’s Facebook friends.
[Tufekci was my source for this.]

Imagine sending that sort of message only to Leavers or Trump supporters, rather than to everyone across the board: using seemingly innocuous psychology hacks to add a couple of percent here, shave a couple off there.

That’s how you break democracy. An artificially distorted sample can’t give a fair result. The US and UK need Australian-style compulsory voting, just to begin to find their way out of this. (Having debated compulsory voting online with various non-Australians over the years, I can’t see that happening any time soon.)

All this casts the legitimacy of the EU Referendum into serious doubt. It wasn’t just the Brexit bus, or “Project Fear”-style rejection of expert opinion, or that some voters cast a protest vote without realising it would actually matter. The UK’s system of non-compulsory voting was potentially gamed by a covert campaign to turn out Leave votes and suppress the Remain vote in ways that few could have suspected beforehand.

A deliberately distorted vote can never be considered the will of the people.

posted by rory at 3:20 AM on March 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


Nthing "have two email addresses." They're free.

I have one dedicated solely to Facebook, and only browse Facebook + that email address in a dedicated browser instance. I never consult that email address any other way. Meaning, for example, my iPhone and Chrome with adblock for my real email (and nothing else), Firefox with adblock for Facebook + my other email address. Never upload my contacts anywhere. Never click on ads – if a site interests me, I'll open a new tab and find it manually. Check my FB privacy religiously. Delete old posts from time to time.

I checked that MeTa thread on what Facebook has on you, and in my case, it's pretty close to nothing. The only interests it has on me are the ones I selected. I've been on FB since 2006, so twelve years as of 2018.

The other black box is Google. I never use it for searches, ever. DuckDuckGo via https all the way.

All that said – absolutely the convenience and lack of clarity surrounding these things make it entirely understandable that people would unwittingly give away info they're unaware is being used for profit. There's a lot of implicit technical knowledge that goes into "common sense" web behaviors; companies like Facebook and Google certainly take advantage of that.
posted by fraula at 3:44 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have one dedicated solely to Facebook, and only browse Facebook + that email address in a dedicated browser instance. I never consult that email address any other way. Meaning, for example, my iPhone and Chrome with adblock for my real email (and nothing else), Firefox with adblock for Facebook + my other email address. Never upload my contacts anywhere. Never click on ads – if a site interests me, I'll open a new tab and find it manually. Check my FB privacy religiously. Delete old posts from time to time.

They can still correlate that browser instance to the other one by, say, the manifest of fonts available to the browser, or minute variations in the machine's GPU performance, or similar; the browser leaks a lot of side-channel data about the machine it's running on, which can be used to determine whether two users are really the same one.

When I need to log into Facebook from a desktop, I use a VirtualBox VM running a dedicated Ubuntu setup which is only used for logging into Facebook.
posted by acb at 4:09 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Facebook don't need to do anything as complex as matching browser fonts, they can just look at the ip address, so activity when logged in on browser 1 + email address 1 can be linked (thanks to the ever present social media widgets) with activity on browser 2 + email address 2, though they won't actually discover the email address 2 unless you login to facebook with that session.

To stop this tracking, you either need to setup a custom set of rules for your adblocker or just install a dedicated add-in like Disconnect.Me
posted by Lanark at 4:25 AM on March 27, 2018


Also something to consider about search engines is that while you can block adverts, Google still retain history of every search which they will link to your account and/or ip address. DuckDuckGo claim not to do this.
posted by Lanark at 4:36 AM on March 27, 2018


We're buildingt a dystopia just to make people click on ads.

fixed

yay unfettered capitalism and the wisdom of crowds
posted by entropicamericana at 5:19 AM on March 27, 2018


There has always been an anti facebook movement. It has just taken a lot of people the required privacy violations flagrantly being waved in their faces to understand what is actually at stake.

The extreme folks, live off the grid completely and drink their own urine as a survival technique. No one is saying you have to go that far, but yeah... DTMFFBA.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:02 AM on March 27, 2018


Silicon Valley Has Failed to Protect Our Data. Here's How to Fix It by (mefi's own!) ftrain: "It's time for a digital protection agency. It's clear ethics don't scale, and it's not just Facebook's problem."

also btw... posted by kliuless at 6:12 AM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've traded my privacy for being able to know really important stuff, like my city council is voting on a conversion therapy ban today, or there's a last minute meeting of some state commission about employment discrimination. I literally don't know how else I'd find this out without Facebook, because that's where everyone posts it. I guess I could ask someone to call me every time anything important happens? But how would I know which people to ask?

I found my trans support group there and met the majority of my current friends through there. I got a recommendation for a surgeon because that's where people post pictures. I got advice on dealing with insurance for transgender coverage. Etc etc. There are other forums - including reddit - but they don't have the same functionality or local focus. I trust my local friends far more than some rando on reddit whose identity I can't verify.

And then there is much less important stuff, like parties and so forth that people invited all their Facebook friends to, forgot that I wasn't on FB anymore, so didn't contact me separately.

Abandoning FB just won't work for many people - especially marginalized people - unless there is a an alternative and a critical mass of people using it. So there need to be privacy laws across the board, or the replacement for FB will have the same issues because capitalism. Germany got Google to bend to their will by blurring out locations in Google Street View (among other things).
posted by AFABulous at 7:41 AM on March 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


ICE used Facebook data to track immigrants say internal emails

FWIW that article has been corrected:
Correction: March 26, 2017
Due to errors by editor Ryan Grim, this story and its headline originally reported that the investigation referred to in the ICE emails targeted an immigrant. The story as filed did not include those errors, or any others. The documents reported on in the story do not establish that the target of the investigation was an immigrant or that the individual was being pursued for immigration violations. The target of the investigation was, according to the documents, based in the New York metropolitan area, while several of the ICE agents on the emails were based in New Mexico. Additionally, this story has been updated to include a comment from Facebook.
posted by asterix at 7:52 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Given that the current US administration was elected largely through the manipulation of opinion by our panoptically aware social media, I have scant hope of any kind of regulation coming down the pike.

As for the next administration, I worry it will be a lot like Justin Trudeau's Liberals who ran on a platform of election reform, and once they won, said "oh, nevermind."

When the cops are corrupt and the judges are corrupt and the legislators are corrupt, where do you take your complaint?
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:26 AM on March 27, 2018


I linked this in the older Cambridge Analytica thread, but will add it here too: Chris Wylie's appearance before the UK parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is absolutely explosive.

The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story is way bigger than Brexit alone, but nobody who values UK democracy can trust the EU Referendum result now. Leavers on Twitter are calling these revelations an example of Remainer desperation to overturn their "democratic vote", which only shows how desperate they are to ignore them.

Wylie described himself to the committee as a supporter of Brexit, by the way. These aren't Remainer whistleblowers.
posted by rory at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I will also point out that Google has actively worked to make logging out more difficult. Now it keeps you logged in even if you close the browser, and even if you manually log out, it will automatically retain a record of the account, and you need to go through four extra clicks to remove that record -- the initial one hidden under the dropdown without any other cuing or explanation.
posted by inconstant at 8:34 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there just an article recently that said something like "the internet is a paperclip maximizer for advertising?"
posted by Foosnark at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Abandoning FB just won't work for many people - especially marginalized people - unless there is a an alternative and a critical mass of people using it.

I'm sorry, but as someone also marginalized I just can't accept this or understand it any more, and it's time for people to stand the fuck up to Facebook and make real sacrifices and realize the real world costs to everyone else around them.

My very valid and real world perspective about Facebook and marginality is the exact opposite - that it's a gatekeeper and barrier to entry compared to, say, an old school opt-in and difficult to monetize/datamine service like an email list or basic web page or forum. There is no data that Facebook provides that can't be handled with a plain old web page.

Excuse my capslock, but please pay attention, because I don't think people are actually paying attention to this:

HELLO. WE ARE AT WAR. WE ARE ENGAGED IN ACTIVE CYBERWARFARE THAT'S ENTIRELY NEW AND DIFFERENT, AND YOU AND YOUR MINDSHARE ARE THE BULLETS AND BATTLEFIELD COMBINED.

I know that sounds like some psychtronic flouride-in-the-water crackers-in-the-bed crazy science fiction bullshit, but here we are. We are at war, and it's unlike any war we've ever had before. It's not a cold war, it's a hot war - and it's difficult to see that it's warfare even when you're looking directly at it.

Most people still don't even know there's a war happening, and a lot of those people still don't care when you point it out to them because they don't understand war that doesn't involve bullets, bombs and dead bodies. Well, easily identified dead bodies.

This is the inevitable end results a lot of anti-Facebook people have been screaming about for years. This is the end results of that walled garden business model. It's not just about DRM or your family photographs, or your own personal privacy or choice to give up your own data. It's not just because people get left out. It's not even because people like me have a harder time finding new music or shows because all the events are posted to Facebook.

It's because these walled corporate citadels of concentrated, aggregated data are dangerous to culture, freedom and privacy as a whole.

I keep hearing this argument of "I can't quit Facebook because of X" and I'm getting so, so frustrated with hearing it. I think it's short sighted and openly and publicly making a deal with the devil.

"I can't stop using Facebook because people use Facebook!" is totally circular. Your counterargument should be: "If I don't stop using Facebook, people will keep using Facebook and critical mass to leave won't happen."

Here's my counterargument: By using Facebook, you are continuously selling the data of everyone else in your life around you who refuses to use Facebook without their permission and you're actively helping Facebook continue to entrap shadow users/profiles who don't wish to participate.

Does your job require Facebook? Maybe you should really rethink your job or career. Maybe if your job absolutely requires Facebook, maybe your job is a small part of the bigger problem? I know this is terrifying, but maybe you should reflect on what your job actually means to both you and the world's well being?

By using Facebook, your are trading your own individual wants, needs and goals for collective goals and helping support Facebook's monopoly and hegemony.

By using Facebook, you are participating in aiding and abetting the manipulation of entire populations as well as individuals By using Facebook, you're selling me and everyone else out who doesn't want to be captured by Facebook. By continuing to use Facebook, you're endorsing this gross large scale manipulation of the public by the any and all bidders.

Is that too extreme? I don't know, is it? I don't think it is. We're at war here.

Facebook never should have become this big. I really wish that all of my smart tech/media/creative friends never signed up for Facebook in the first place. I really wish people listened to me over 10 years ago when I was saying this wasn't going to end well and that Facebook was going to become a huge cultural problem and extra-governmental force in addition to the walled garden and privacy concerns.

I really wish I knew how to tell people this message better without sounding like a totally angry and crazy crackpot, but I'm starting to get pretty angry and frustrated (and deeply concerned) about Facebook and people's continued participation in that unrelenting dumpster fire of a shit show.

What did you use before Facebook? What can you use besides Facebook? Phone, emails, a pencil and paper? USE THAT. MAKE THE SACRIFICE. BE THE CHANGE.

KILL YOUR TELEVISION FACEBOOK.
posted by loquacious at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2018 [20 favorites]


Speaking as a paid-up chorister, that was some damn fine preaching.
posted by flabdablet at 9:06 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I mean you could replace every instance of "Facebook" with "the United States" in your post and it would all still be true. The rot goes to the core. There's nothing OK about anything. We're all complicit in our own destruction with everything we do. Facebook is barely a nick on the surface.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:09 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


You can't get people to make a sacrifice when deep down they know the sacrifice will hurt no-one but themselves and help no-one at all.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:12 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Facebook is barely a nick on the surface.

Each day we're confronted with more and more information suggesting that this is not true. Facebook is not the only problem, but it is an enormous problem.
posted by halation at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


I mean you could replace every instance of "Facebook" with "the United States" in your post and it would all still be true. The rot goes to the core.

No arguments here. The main difference, though, is that quitting Facebook is a lot easier than renouncing citizenship or finding a whole new country to emigrate to.

Facebook isn't mandatory and enforced by state violence/power. Yet.
posted by loquacious at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


You can't get people to make a sacrifice when deep down they know the sacrifice will hurt no-one but themselves and help no-one at all.

Except quitting Facebook might not even hurt. It might actually be good for your mental health.
posted by loquacious at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's not that you're wrong per se, it's that...nobody is going to listen. The war is over. We lost.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


The rot goes to the core. There's nothing OK about anything.

nobody is going to listen. The war is over. We lost.

WELCOME TO HECK
posted by flabdablet at 9:20 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


The war is over. We lost.

It's only beginning, and you're still standing. It's not over, because I'm still fighting. Join me.
posted by loquacious at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2018


Also, AFABulous, I want to take a moment to make it clear I'm definitely not attacking you personally, nor am I wanting to take part in an circular firing squad.

I'm definitely ranting against the idea you present, but it's an idea I've heard a lot of lately and one in particular I've wanted to take apart. That frustration and anger definitely has zilch to do with you as a human being or person and everything to do with Facebook itself, so, hugs.
posted by loquacious at 9:29 AM on March 27, 2018


Only beginning? Y'all I gave up out of sheer futility and exhaustion in 2003.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:29 AM on March 27, 2018


A strange game. The only way to win is for everybody else not to play.
posted by flabdablet at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hi there. I am currently in the last few days before my Facebook account is (maybe*) deleted from their servers. I’ve toyed with quitting before (and even asked MeFi what to use in its place).

Just like in 2016 when I failed to follow through, I am having some doubts. I sometimes feel the act of quitting is as useful as protesting the sunrise every morning. I console myself by saying that the joy that I’ll have by no longer having FB around means that I can replace the High School Reunion That Never Ends with maybe doing something else that I’ll like a whole lot better (e.g. posting stuff on MeFi, the other blue website).

Here’s to staying strong.

Related: if I’m still using Instagram, does that render my stance meaningless here?

(Also, mad props to Zeynep Tufecki.)

* Do they really delete all of my data? How would I know? If I were a EU citizen I could contact the company after GDPR goes into effect and ask for receipts... but... who really knows.
posted by snortasprocket at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Do they really delete all of my data?

Probably not, but ten years from now everything they have on you will have rotted to uselessness. Especially if, as is the fervent wish of all here, everybody else wises up and dumps them as well.
posted by flabdablet at 11:07 AM on March 27, 2018


have two email addresses.

*checks mail client*
17 Inboxes, 12 SMTP servers, 3 relays, 1 GPG enabled account, 67 custom rules.

Only two?
posted by daq at 11:08 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


*checks mail client*

*realizes she does not even know what "mail client" means and is pretty sure she doesn't have one, but might, because what is that even? Definitely has two email addresses but definitely never uses the other one because she lost the password 3 years ago and doesn't care enough to reset it.*

I feel like people on Metafilter have NO IDEA how un-techy, and how thoroughly uninterested in being even remotely techy, most people actually are. Something like 17,000 people typed "BFF" into the comments bar on a facebook post this morning because some jackass told them it would verify their account's security if it turned green.

12,000 of those people now think their facebook has been "secured" against whatever, and it's all better now.

Another 5,000 of them could not enter "BFF" correctly and now think their Facebook has been hacked because when they typed BFFF or BDF or BF it did not turn green.

These folks are not going to have 17 email addresses and dedicated private browsers and layers of adblocks. Not ever. They just wanna click ONE BUTTON to look at their goddamn grandkids who live 1200 miles away because that's the only place their kids could find paying work. And I'm not sitting in high-and-mighty judgment on them, either, because frankly I am only gonna do like 10% of that shit myself.

If bringing down the big data panopticon requires everyone --everyone-- being as vigilant and dedicated to privacy as (a small percentage of) the folks on Metafilter the war is indeed LONG lost.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:45 AM on March 27, 2018 [25 favorites]


I wish to also emphasize that "tech-unsavvy" isn't just the domain of doting grandparents. My younger sister, who is in her early twenties, didn't know how to get adblocking extensions in her browser and I had to do it for her. The Kids are not digital experts just because they grew up with the technology.
posted by inconstant at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


Fun fact - this also involves many brands of SmartTV. If your TV is attached to a network in any way, it's collecting and housing data about what you watch, how you watch, and how you interact with your devices during programming. There's a transparent browser window running atop your program stream and it knows if you change during a commercial. If your smartphone is on the same network (bearing the same public IP if they're behind the same router) it'll start correlating the data from the two devices.
posted by msbutah at 1:42 PM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Not for nothing, but if you're even remotely concerned about privacy, why the hell would you surf the web while logged into a google account?
You know, it’s funny how hard Google has pushed two factor authentication. I mean, they don’t seem to care enough about us to not track us all over the web, but they care enough about us to helpfully give us this security feature. It’s honestly a very nice security feature!

Of course, that security feature also coincidentally has the side effect of making it a gigantic pain in the ass to log out and back in frequently. Which coincidentally has the effect of making you stay logged in all the time. Which coincidentally has the effect of making sure you get tracked all the time.
posted by edheil at 2:05 PM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nthing "have two email addresses." They're free.
Isn’t this the kind of thread where we scold people for trusting anything they get for free on the internet?
posted by edheil at 2:14 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I feel like people on Metafilter have NO IDEA how un-techy, and how thoroughly uninterested in being even remotely techy, most people actually are.

For sure. This is kind of like "well, you can keep driving your car, so long as you change your own oil, fix a flat, and diagnose ODBII codes." Some people can do all these things, some people know how to but don't want to, some people know the general concepts but wouldn't know how to start, and I suspect most drivers have no clue what an ODBII code is.

Some people wouldn't miss having a car (or don't have one now); for some it'd be a minor inconvenience; for most it'd be a major inconvenience; and many couldn't have anywhere near the same quality of life without one (I admit that's where the analogy starts to fall apart).
posted by AFABulous at 6:10 PM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel like people on Metafilter have NO IDEA how un-techy, and how thoroughly uninterested in being even remotely techy, most people actually are.

As a person frequently paid actual money to do literally nothing more than work my way around the xkcd cheat sheet, I am well familiar with how un-techy, and how thoroughly uninterested in being even remotely techy, most people actually are.

I feel like people on Metafilter have no idea of the sheer size of the bullshit mountain from which their apparently immediately essential "smart" devices and "indispensable" social media continue to emerge.
posted by flabdablet at 10:41 PM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Some people wouldn't miss having a car (or don't have one now); for some it'd be a minor inconvenience; for most it'd be a major inconvenience; and many couldn't have anywhere near the same quality of life without one

and many devote a significant percentage of their lives to lurching along below walking pace on city-strangling freeways originally designed to let cars move at 100km/h, because cars are not only a thing now but an indispensable and necessary thing now; There Is No Alternative.

I think your analogy works better than you thought.
posted by flabdablet at 10:47 PM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sir Tim Berners-Lee hits out at big tech companies - "For example, Sir Tim suggested, rules could force social media companies to give users more control over their own data... 'Certainly we could imagine that in a better world... you would have a choice of search engine and a choice of social network to join', he said. 'In a better world you'd have complete control over your information anyway'. Sir Tim published an open letter on Monday to mark the 29th anniversary of his proposal that became the world wide web. In it, he calls on policymakers and businesses to improve access to the internet through community networks and public WiFi initiatives, and to boost skills training for women."

Digital privacy rights require data ownership - "A key part of the answer lies in giving consumers ownership of their own personal data... What is needed is a tool that lets consumers track and collect the value of the data that their online activities generate."

Most people in Silicon Valley 'have regrets right now,' says Microsoft's Jaron Lanier - "[H]e is confident there is a path toward a healthier digital future — one in which Facebook is an option, rather than an inevitability... 'Right now we all think of Facebook almost like our government', said Lanier. 'We think of it as this thing we have to use. It sets policies, it tells us how much privacy to have, who to connect with, how to-find out about things. It creates the texture of our lives'... But Facebook is not our government, Lanier said. It is not a democracy and users do not have a vote."
posted by kliuless at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


You know what, never mind what I said above, I'm deleting my account. This Buzzfeed article was the last straw.
On June 18, 2016, one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s most trusted lieutenants circulated an extraordinary memo weighing the costs of the company’s relentless quest for growth.

“We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it,” VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth wrote.

“So we connect more people,” he wrote in another section of the memo. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies.

“Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”
posted by AFABulous at 3:32 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


and many devote a significant percentage of their lives to lurching along below walking pace on city-strangling freeways originally designed to let cars move at 100km/h, because cars are not only a thing now but an indispensable and necessary thing now; There Is No Alternative.

Everyone knows that there's theoretically an way of using the Internet and social media that does not harvest and abuse user data. Just as there's theoretically an alternative version of the United States that has universal mass transit and no car culture. Theoretical AIN'T MEAN SHIT at 7am when you need to get to your fuckin' job, and it ain't mean shit when people tell you to chuck your smartphones and delete your facebook and await the Glorious Privacy Revolution, coming 20never.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:27 AM on March 30, 2018


Quite so. We are mere stimulus response machines, completely incapable of learning from our increasingly desperate struggles to stay afloat in a world choked with the consequences of past technological success.

Refusal to peck at the crumb trails laid before us by our Silicon Valley owners will only lead us to starvation and ruin. There Is No Alternative.

Innovations must become necessities as fast as they can possibly be offered to us. It's the American way. It would just be unpatriotic for a chicken not to keep on voting for Colonel Sanders.
posted by flabdablet at 10:42 PM on March 30, 2018


Quite so. We are mere stimulus response machines, completely incapable of learning from our increasingly desperate struggles to stay afloat in a world choked with the consequences of past technological success.

I mean, yes. Have you ever MET people?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:32 AM on April 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Apple seeks to take advantage of Facebook's woes :P

also btw!
The rise of the information economy threatens traditional companies - "A 'data tax' on Google, Facebook and Amazon would stimulate real competition."
In Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data, the authors make two provocative, interrelated arguments. First, they contend that data have largely superseded price as the most effective signalling mechanism in the economy. Second, data-rich markets will increasingly render the traditional company obsolete, with massive consequences for our economies and workforces.

For centuries, the authors write, price has worked as a miraculous market mechanism, connecting buyers and sellers, consumers and producers. Some $100tn of transactions take place around the world each year guided by the “invisible hand” of the market.

As Friedrich von Hayek, the liberal Austrian economist, put it: “The market is essentially an ordering mechanism, growing up without anybody wholly understanding it, that enables us to utilise widely dispersed information about the significance of circumstances of which we are mostly ignorant.”

The intriguing possibility of today, though, is whether data-rich platforms have, in some areas, invented a better ordering mechanism that can structure information and reduce ignorance. They can now match buyers and sellers taking into account multiple preferences, such as personal taste, timing and convenience, rather than just price.

If data do indeed supersede price as more efficient economic information capsules, then that will threaten many traditional companies. In essence, companies exist because they can co-ordinate some human action more efficiently than decentralised markets. They act as legal entities, raise capital, bundle risks, and separate management of assets from ownership.

But the authors argue that the rise of data-rich “superstar” firms, such as Google, Apple, Alibaba and Samsung, will suck the life out of many traditional companies. Those that know how to exploit the informational advantages of data will flourish; the rest will die.
posted by kliuless at 6:19 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


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