All ur msg (+ contacts + email + phone + lives) are belong to facebook
January 25, 2019 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Facebook's messaging services - Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger - will be "integrated" over the next year to make them interoperable. It seems this has been a long-term plan of Zuck's and a core reason for the abrupt departures of the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp over the last twelve months.

Might the EU have something to say about this, having already fined FB for doing what it said it wouldn't when buying WhatsApp? And when the fine was just €110m, does FB care? And what of data and user privacy? Of the default encryption on Whatsapp but not on IG and FB? Of the ability of this ever-growing and tightly integrated ecosystem to spread yet more fake news, kill more people, sell more sponsored product, make more money?
posted by humuhumu (141 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fuck.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:50 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


I'm done with Facebook.
posted by mikelieman at 7:59 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Well, much as I like instagram for posting random pictures of the Feline Overlord, that'll probably get me to delete that account. Depending on how deeply they try to integrate it into Facebook, I might finally abandon that as well (even though I've had Chat turned off for years there, because I loathe it as a chat environment).
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:00 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


It makes sense as a move to consolidate but dang. I like these things separate...
posted by mit5urugi at 8:00 AM on January 25


FFS. I quit social media some time ago and have been using WhatsApp (with a soupçon of SMS/text) exclusively for communication since, much to the annoyance of some friends who literally installed WhatsApp just to accommodate my curmudgeonly tendencies. If I now announce I'm only reachable through Signal I think my social isolation will become nearly complete.
posted by myotahapea at 8:14 AM on January 25 [31 favorites]


I don't know what you guys are complaining about. You're getting three data breaches for the price of one!
posted by Optamystic at 8:14 AM on January 25 [82 favorites]


A creepy thing about WhatsApp is that you can't start a multi-party chat without giving up your phone's whole address book to the Zuckerborg. Last time I wanted to start one I almost went through the steps of backing up my contacts list, deleting it and making a new one with the few desired contacts for the chat and a bunch of garbage information, then giving the app permission to see the contacts list and creating the chat, and finally removing app permission and restoring my old address book. However someone else who still hadn't deleted their FB account stepped up and created the chat instead. Fuck Zuck for treating people as commodities and selling out US democracy.
posted by exogenous at 8:15 AM on January 25 [29 favorites]


Surely this...

Nah, just kidding, pretty sure most folks don't really care about privacy or curtailing corporate influence anymore.
posted by talking leaf at 8:16 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I deleted my FB account on Christmas day and today it became a permanent deletion. This makes me feel even better about my decision. While I have lost a degree of contact with certain people I value, I made sure to exchange email addresses. They know where to find me.
posted by luaz at 8:17 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Instagram is a . . . . messaging app? I guess I'm old or weird or something, but the reason I use Instagram is there is NO TALKING there. Occasionally there's a caption, or hashtag, but in my feed it's pretty much just snapshots of cats, dogs, pretty scenery, neat found objects.

FB messenger is what drove me to finally text people.
posted by crush at 8:20 AM on January 25 [19 favorites]


1. The only consistently good thing about the internet is podcasts. The only reason I have a smartphone is podcasts.

The real question is, how do I seamlessly use podcasts without a smartphone? The one potential solution I see is The Mighty mp3s player, which will allow me to sync with spotify. That seems pretty good. (Would love to hear about other elegant work arounds.)

2. The best thing about getting off of social media is that you don't miss it at all. Been off FB and Twitter since November 2016. Great decision. Don't miss any of it. If I ever feel the need to relive the feeling of being on FB, I'll just wade into a political/emotional thread on metafilter and then quickly run out and close the tab.
posted by Telf at 8:25 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Can we just make a social media app that functions as a worker-owned co-op where we share the value of the generated data through some kind of crypto profit sharing function? Is anyone doing that? I'd love to be able to vote on decisions or give my vote to a representative. I'd pay 3.99/month for member fees.

We could integrate patreon-functions and pay people to create interesting content that could be shared and endorsed through micropayments of the in network crypto.

Someone must be doing this.
posted by Telf at 8:28 AM on January 25 [30 favorites]


Nah, just kidding, pretty sure most folks don't really care about privacy or curtailing corporate influence anymore.

I've just given up. I am defeated. I'm past individual action and onto supporting politicians and laws that'll make companies behave.

Individual actions I can do either don't actually protect me, or require me to contort my life. Delete my Facebook? They still have the data. They even have phantom profiles for people who don't use Facebook but exist, to fill in gaps in their model.

If I visit a website that uses Facebook for commenting, my visits get logged to Facebook. If I choose another company's app, they'll get bought by Google or Facebook.

Facebook has such a monopoly on things that if I cut myself out of their environment, I'm cutting myself out of some of my friends' social lives. What're my alternatives? Nazi Twitter? Instagram (oh right)?

We need government anti-trust action with teeth. We need to stop blaming individuals for corporations' actions, because social media is legitimately a useful tool for communities.
posted by explosion at 8:29 AM on January 25 [88 favorites]


Yep, this just reminds me I need to actually tell my friend group I'm uninstalling Messenger. It's no longer safe for people to have Facebook-controlled apps on their phones.
posted by odinsdream at 8:29 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Crush, apparently youths use Instagram DMs fairly regularly in the same way the rest of us might use FB messenger or even texting.
posted by windbox at 8:30 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


oh, this is pretty cool! I've been pretty frustrated lately that I've got contacts on facebook, instagram, and whatsapp and so for every friend, there's three conversation threads. Which one should I use to connect with the person?

I'm cautiously optimistic that this will reduce the complexity of communicating - and make it easier to find alternatives.
posted by rebent at 8:30 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


Instagram: uninstalled.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:32 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I have virtually separate persona. I used IG for dank memes and dog pictures. I use FB for liking relatives baby pictures and invites to stuff.
posted by Damienmce at 8:34 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


Kudos to rebent for being positive about this. Seriously, I had such a viscerally negative reaction to this announcement that I couldn't imagine anyone thinking this was good news. But obviously, this will make many people's lives better.

Meanwhile, I'll be sitting in my faraday cage, wearing They Live glasses while sending pigeon-based messages to my neoluddite friends as we plan a revolution that will never happen.
posted by Telf at 8:35 AM on January 25 [23 favorites]


The future is privately run Matrix servers for each of your cliques. The local indie music one, the weird crypto one, your family one. The great return of the amateur BBS except run off EC2 instances.
posted by Damienmce at 8:39 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Hey, I think this is where I get off the Zuckerberg DPIs All My Packets bus!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:41 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


BTW, I'm @suetanvil on pixelfed. I haven't really gotten into it (or Instagram, at that) but if you're there and want a follower, ping me.

Also: pixelfed is a real thing that (sort of) works. So is photog.social if you can deal with Mastodon.
posted by suetanvil at 8:42 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Damienmce: Do you run one? I would love to run a server if it's SIMPLE to do.
posted by odinsdream at 8:43 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Wait, what about Instagram is a "messaging service"? I know they've already broken off Messenger from Facebook at least on mobile, and WhatsApp is all messaging, but I'm puzzled as to how the photo-focused social network fits in.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:45 AM on January 25


Just shuttered my instagram and whatsapp accounts. I've been happy with Telegram.
posted by Evstar at 8:46 AM on January 25


While all three services will continue operating as stand-alone apps, their underlying messaging infrastructure will be unified, the people said. Facebook is still in the early stages of the work and plans to complete it by the end of this year or in early 2020, they said.

Mr. Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, the people said, a significant step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation. After the changes take effect, a Facebook user could send an encrypted message to someone who has only a WhatsApp account, for example. Currently, that isn’t possible because the apps are separate.
Call me stupid or naive or what have you, but this sounds ...good? Or, at least as good as anything can get that is attached to facebook
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:47 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


I've used Instagram messenger mostly to set up tattoo appointments (tattoo artists do a lot of their advertising on Instagram) and to buy things from friends, like a "virtual yard sale," things about to go on Etsy, or art and craft things.

And it's nice! And it's very easy to go from IG messages straight over to Venmo to complete the transaction. So I'm a little bummed about this news. Not like it's shocking, but it's something I really enjoy using.
posted by witchen at 8:48 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


> what about Instagram is a "messaging service"?

Conversations in DMs. It's very popular. There's slang.
posted by humuhumu at 8:52 AM on January 25


Knitting together Facebook’s apps is a stark reversal of Mr. Zuckerberg’s previous stance toward WhatsApp and Instagram, which were independent companies that he acquired. At the time that Facebook bought the firms, Mr. Zuckerberg promised WhatsApp and Instagram plenty of autonomy from its parent company.

Anyone who's ever worked for a small company bought by a big one has heard this exact story. At the beginning you hear, "We're not going to change anything; we bought you because we like what you're doing" but it's always a lie.
posted by octothorpe at 8:53 AM on January 25 [41 favorites]


Especially when there's redundant infrastructure involved. One of the networks is always going to eat the other.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:55 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


how do I seamlessly use podcasts without a smartphone

back in the day I used a PC podcast client and just synced it with my mp3 player in the evening, MediaMonkey still exists and can apparently do this
posted by BungaDunga at 8:56 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


pretty sure most folks don't really care about privacy

Kinda? I mean, I've assumed since I got onto the nets in 88 or 89 that every unencrypted thing I do is visible to the entire world, and that every encrypted thing I do is only as private as the other end wants it to be. And the other end of most encrypted stuff is some company who can make another buck selling data about me, so they will, just like my bank and visa/mc have been doing for eons.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:56 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Facebook unifying its messaging is, like, the literal opposite of Google's permanent messaging churn.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:57 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Conversations in DMs. It's very popular. There's slang.

Yeah, but that's not Insta-specific. People have been trying to slide into the DMs on Twitter forever.

I think it could be forgiven if people didn't realize that others are using Instagram as a primary messaging platform. It's definitely not an intuitive medium compared to a service like Messenger or WhatsApp.
posted by explosion at 9:01 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Damienmce: Do you run one? I would love to run a server if it's SIMPLE to do.

Nope, but that does give me an idea for a weekend project / Medium post.

I've used it quite a bit in a really strange way. Am a member of Whalepool which is a 20k community of bitcoin/crypto traders chatting pseudonymously about crypto and life in general. There's a 24 hr live audio stream which is kind of like CB radio, that full time traders just leave running, and lots of specific Telegram groups where most of the (very well modded) chat happens.
The community itself is well run but also wary of being dependent on any one platform should one get banned (or ban crypto ) or just die (ezboard) so affiliate links fund backup Riot.im/Matrix servers, which most of the regulars know to fallback onto if anything goes down.
The hassle of this is you have to maintain multiple logins with your known handle in diff places but the community itself is kind of savvy to decentralisation/suspicious of big tech/sovereign of itself as community rather than being a list controlled by FB.
posted by Damienmce at 9:09 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I think it could be forgiven if people didn't realize that others are using Instagram as a primary messaging platform. It's definitely not an intuitive medium compared to a service like Messenger or WhatsApp.

It does speak to a common tendency to repurpose existing tools for new purposes rather than learn new tools.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:11 AM on January 25


Just shuttered my instagram and whatsapp accounts. I've been happy with Telegram.

I have it on good authority (someone who worked with US Cyber Command) that Telegram is absolutely not safe.
posted by odinsdream at 9:11 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not exactly pleased but I'm not really sure this is bad, either. It's better to make it obvious that all these services are run by the same company.

Plus, the people I know who use WhatsApp are invariably smug as fuck about it. Forcing them to deal with the fact that they're just using Facebook Messenger like the rest of us, assholes does have some appeal.

And if this gets us closer to a de facto standard messaging service with end-to-end encryption, it might actually be a good thing. Google is pushing hard for RCS Messaging to be the "next big thing", and I think it's pure evil and needs to die in a fire. There's no place for messaging that doesn't do E2E crypto in the 21st century. I'd rather have Facebook Messenger with dumb ads than send cleartext messages around that my fucking cell carrier is almost certainly storing somewhere (probably in a dozen places), which is what Google is pushing for.

Also, over-the-top messaging services (like Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.) are intrinsically better architecturally than SMS / RCS because they're not carrier-dependent. RCS is the last gasp of the cell carriers trying to stay relevant and do something other than just push packets. Which is bad. We need to beat those fuckers down to the bottom of the stack where they belong, pushing fucking datagrams. We're almost there.

If Facebook Messenger is the hammer and WhatsApp is the anvil on which we break the cell carriers' visibility into the userland, I'll work with those tools. It's a lot easier to move to a different app than it will be to fix problems in RCS if it catches on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:13 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


What do you mean by "safe" in this context, odinsdream? Secure/encrypted communications?
posted by Grither at 9:14 AM on January 25


Safe as in not broken by law enforcement authorities.
posted by odinsdream at 9:15 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I have it on good authority (someone who worked with US Cyber Command) that Telegram is absolutely not safe.

Honestly I wouldn't mind as long as the NSA doesn't start targeting me with adverts.
posted by Damienmce at 9:15 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


The 3 normie-dominated messenger services getting to talk to one another seems fine to me.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:16 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


It's just, like, as long as you're choosing, choose Signal or Wire instead of Telegram.
posted by odinsdream at 9:17 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Yes, Telegram is not a good choice. Signal is better, if you want encrypted comms.

Signal's crypto has been widely audited and is probably as trustworthy as you can get, running on consumer devices. Telegram... is not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:18 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Yes, Telegram is not a good choice. Signal is better, if you want encrypted comms.


Why is that?
posted by Evstar at 9:23 AM on January 25


So I still have a Facebook account because a bunch of my professional community discussions happen there. I do not use Messenger and have refused to use it, and nor am I an active poster.

I am forced to have a WhatsApp account because a whole bunch of my extended family and former classmates, especially outside the US, are not on iOS and that's the only common channel we share.

I actually like Instagram.

And now it's merge all three, or nothing? I might be pushed to "nothing".
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:24 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Why is that?

Very next sentence:
Signal's crypto has been widely audited and is probably as trustworthy as you can get, running on consumer devices. Telegram... is not.
posted by zamboni at 9:24 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I will say, I've been using signal for a long while and the Android app is excellent. I wish more people I knew used it.
posted by selfnoise at 9:28 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Oh crap. I use Fb and Instagram for work. This is going to muddy so many streams and make it impossible to keep my work and personal online lives separate.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:29 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I deactivated Facebook at the beginning of 2017, and finally deleted it last year. After reading this article, I deleted WhatsApp; I only use it for a handful of people, most of whom I can talk to via another method.

Instagram is my lone hold-out. Deleting it would cut me off from a bunch of people that I know, so I'm reluctant to do so.

I just wish there was a better, more viable option out there.
posted by vitout at 9:32 AM on January 25


I hate that I can't quite quit FB (local cycling community is there and nowhere else) but I guess I oughta quit my dalliance with Instagram and remove the apps from my phone.

Is iOS sandboxy enough that i can trust having FB and Messenger on my iPhone if I deny their attempts to read anything?
posted by uberchet at 9:33 AM on January 25


I'm going to have to side with our General Contact Unit here.

Privacy is one of those things that people often think they have more of than they actually do. Truth is, almost everything you do online is shared somehow or another, as well as a lot of stuff you do offline. In theory the more intrusive bits are opt in, like Google's location tracking, but it's really easy to opt in without quite realizing just how much you've given them.

And, of course, as the coolness or utility of a technology increases, the willingness of people to give up some or even all of their data increases. There's an SMBC about that and Mr. Weinersmith is entirely correct. Right now Google basically owns all my public facing data: my location, my photos, my contacts, my email, even my shopping because I keep my shopping list in an app provided by Google. And I'm allowing it because, to me, the utility of having all that data out there is worth letting a third party have it.

Also, I'm privileged enough that I don't need to worry about whether Google will leak things potentially harmful to me because due to my privilege the category of "things potentially harmful to me" is a lot smaller than it is for other, less privileged, people. If I were LGBT that'd worry me more, because if there's a leak it could out you and even America being outed is potentially harmful, to say nothing of nations where it's even more dangerous.

One of the really unfortunate parts of this, is that while my data is available to others it often isn't available to me. I know for a fact that my grocery store keeps track of every single product I buy, has that data linked to me, and tailors ads based on that to serve me. Bu I can't get access to that data, and it'd be pretty handy for me to know some of that stuff too. How often **DO** I buy flour? How long does a bottle of vegetable oil typically last me? How much did I spend last year on razor blades and can I save money by only shaving every other day? My grocery store knows the answers to all those questions and more, all because they have my info. But I don't.

This isn't to say "don't sweat it, privacy is obsolete". There is validity to worrying about what for profit megacorps are going to do with all your data.

I am saying that I think the trend is irreversible and we will need to find a way to make a future with most of your data known to third parties livable and workable. Way back in 1998 David Brin saw the core of this problem and wrote a book called The Transparent Society on how it could be dealt with in positive ways. For a book 20 years old, it still seems relevant and urgent. We cannot go backward. Not only will most people not be on board with the disconnect movement, even if it worked all that would happen is they'd find other ways to get your data. A society where public cameras are outlawed is not going to be one where they don't exist, it just means that they'll be hidden, smaller, and officially denied while being abused in secret.

SOMEONE is going to have the data on you. That's unavoidable. The question is not "can we keep our data secret", because we know the answer to that: no. Therefore the real question is: "can we prevent abuse of our data and get positive benefits from it being out there?"

One thing to keep in mind is that with a lot of applications that benefit us, they're really only useful if they exist as a monopoly. A dozen Facebook like services would be completely worthless because the only utility of Facebook for you is that everyone is there. The disturbing part is that a dozen Facebook like services would be just as useful to those who want to exploit your data as a single Facebook is. We're in the bizarre position of arguing for a monopoly because that's the only way we can benefit too.

Which brings us to harm mitigation.

For obvious reasons people would be quite uncomfortable with having Facebook owned by the government. It doesn't sound so bad if you have a government run by people you trust, but of course there's always a Trump (or even just a mainstream politician you don't trust) coming along. However, forcing Facebook to be a non-profit with maximum transparency to the users and monitoring by external watchdog groups could work. It'd take a lot of political will, America is not traditionally a very friendly place for proposals of nationalizing, or even quasi-nationalizing, private enterprise, but it seems to be the only viable path forward.

Regulation without making Facebook into a non-profit with transparency built into its bylaws and corporate charter will be a constant game of catch up.

Our data is out there. That is unavoidable. But transparency must be reciprocal. If they know about us, we must have the right to know about them even if we choose not to exercise that right. At the moment Facebook is a black box. No one knows what goes on inside, quite likely including many of the Facebook execs who like to imagine that they do. Who buys your data? You not only don't know, but you have no possible mechanism for knowing.

So step one, before we take the step of quasi-nationalizing Facebook needs to be threefold.

First is the right to access your data. You should have the right to know precisely what they're tracking and the right to have that data available to you for your own use. After all, it's yours.

The second is the right to know who is using your data. You need to have access to a continuously real time updated list of every single entity that has ever accessed your data, including "anonymized" metadata, who they are, how much they paid for it, and why they wanted it.

And the third, the one that's really going to be hard to get done is that we need reciprocal transparency from the companies involved. If Facebook knows about you, then you need to know about Facebook. Just for a beginning their financial info needs to be totally and 100% open and easily accessible on the internet. You should be able to see their cash flow down to the penny and that's just the beginning. Their org chart, their meetings, everything needs to be transparent. You should be able to watch live video of their board meetings and recordings of all past board meetings.

If we fight for privacy in the sense of no one having our data, we'll lose. We might gain the illusion of privacy, but it will be nothing but a lie while the powerful few who have our data keep themselves secret.

We can't have anonymity, and really we never truly had it. We **CAN** have control, reciprocal transparency, and the benefits of our own data, but only if we give up the fight for the phantom of anonymity.
posted by sotonohito at 9:43 AM on January 25 [51 favorites]


Hey fun this won't suck for app developers at all thanks to upcoming deprecated code
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:43 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


how do I seamlessly use podcasts without a smartphone

So - apparently Apple still sells iPod Nano's and Touches, which can sync with iTunes...

There are options - but, admitedly - I like the idea of carrying just one device that handles my email over cellular, is my mobile phone, replaces by former GPS navigation device and replaces my MP3 player...

AFAIK - within the Apple ecosystem, you do not actually have to install Facebook, WhatsApp, Instragram or anything other than what comes with the phone... But, of course we all install things that let you connect with your "people", so we do - I have them all, but frankly if you don't text/email or call me, you won't reach me in a timely manner - because I turn notifications off for everything other than phone/txt...
posted by jkaczor at 9:46 AM on January 25


I almost long for the days when Usenet ruled the digital world.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:48 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


I miss Netscape and Prodigy, personally
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:49 AM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I should add, the threefold data proposals I have aren't just for Facebook, but for any entity that collects your data. If they know you, you need to be able to know them, you need to know who they're sharing your data with, and you need full and free access to the data they've collected about you.

Grocery store club card? Great! That means you should have unfettered access to all the data it collects as well as access to the grocery company's data.
posted by sotonohito at 9:50 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Instagram has hurt me for a while. But even in Ask Me when I asked about alternatives, the vibe was very THERE ARE NONE and NO ONE WILL USE ANYTHING ELSE, which is insane. I would be cut off from a lot if I ditched it. Facebook is gone from my life and I'm glad but I have to cut myself from Insta too and can't make myself yet.
posted by agregoli at 9:51 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


And can someone explain in layman's terms what's wrong with Telegram X? I use it. What's unsafe about it? Talk like I'm 5, please.
posted by agregoli at 9:52 AM on January 25


BTW, I'm @suetanvil on pixelfed.

I am @rickscully on PixelFed, and I put in a request to add PixelFed to the Also On for Metafilter via the wiki.

Edit: added link to PixelFed account
posted by terrapin at 9:54 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


So what would make it a “good news” to me is if Facebook were to open the protocol to third parties, so that messenger apps in general could talk to each other with an agreed upon protocol. Jabber and a variety of other messaging standards failed to achieve that, but it doesn’t mean it’s not do-able, and 3 of the largest messaging apps sharing that standard would be a good start.

What’s concerning to me is what will be the policy for message retention. Even with end to end encryption, my understanding is that WhatsApp messages are not retained on servers beyond delivery, while IG or messenger ones are. I would be wary of Facebook switching to storing those + metadata as part of this
posted by motdiem2 at 9:56 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Way back in 1998 David Brin saw the core of this problem and wrote a book called The Transparent Society on how it could be dealt with in positive ways. For a book 20 years old, it still seems relevant and urgent.

No, Brin's argument has always been crap. First off, it doesn't actually work, because of the disparity between individuals and corporate entities - they can much more with your info than you can do with theirs. Second, a society built on spying is a fundamentally unhealthy one.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:57 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


AFAIK - within the Apple ecosystem, you do not actually have to install Facebook, WhatsApp, Instragram or anything other than what comes with the phone...

It could just be my fault for doing something wrong but Instagram completely blocks out all content on my iPhone without the app installed. I have an account and used to have the app installed on my phone but got fed up a few months ago and uninstalled the app and logged off on my laptop. I can still follow what my friends are posting while not logged in on my laptop, but on my phone IG puts up a login wall that completely blocks everything using a browser.

I don't care and I'm not looking for a solution because I'm 99% done with that environment, but maybe this is a warning to anyone else looking to ease away from IG on your phone, they are kinda all or nothing.
posted by peeedro at 9:58 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


So what would make it a “good news” to me is if Facebook were to open the protocol to third parties

I don't know if the company could survive this without massive transformation. Not that that's a bad thing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:59 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


And can someone explain in layman's terms what's wrong with Telegram

My understanding is that Telegram’s claims of security haven’t been independently audited, and it’s hard to do so because the client is not open source, and no one can confirm the open source bits that are/were made available are indeed used in the current version of the app.

AFAIK It hasn’t publicly been proven to be insecure, but there’s very little consensus on its claims to security.
posted by motdiem2 at 10:05 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I found mlkshk, which is now known as mltshp, an excellent replacement for instagram
posted by infini at 10:08 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


I almost long for the days when Usenet ruled the digital world.

almost. I miss trillian/pidgin and multi protocol chat clients.
posted by motdiem2 at 10:09 AM on January 25 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not exactly pleased but I'm not really sure this is bad, either.

I think this is basically the same as when Microsoft tried to bake Internet Explorer inseparably into Windows: there's a vague argument it makes things easier to use, but it's fundamentally about a business thing -- a business thing that's bad for everyone else.

In both cases, the core terror is that the business is about to be broken up by regulators because it has been too dominant/abusive in the space. FB is clearly much more vulnerable to this than MS was: you could order them tomorrow to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp and it could happen quite quickly.

But if they're actually "all just different ways of looking at the one big thing, yr honour" then it's a different story. But as MS discovered, courts can and will overrule technical objections.
posted by bonaldi at 10:13 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I've been slowly moving my entire social existence into slack.
posted by nikaspark at 10:17 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


If only your internet provider would offer you some means of sending text messages over the internets.
posted by farlukar at 10:28 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


FB is clearly much more vulnerable to this than MS was: you could order them tomorrow to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp and it could happen quite quickly.

So what... The damage has already been done... The moment one company acquires another social media company, the pillager certainly immediately makes a backup copy all of the social details of the users...

And then they keep rolling along, snapping up the data - sure, some may be a little stale if they have to diverge the original company - but those profiles they are building on us become much more valuable historically and in the aggregate anyways...

And now (above) we see everyone going... "I'm out"... So what... FB already has all your data, your contacts, your social graph - it's not going to stop being valuable for awhile - chances are you will move to another platform that they will eventually acquire, or there will eventually be data sharing among the main players (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon). (Even if one company is purchasing data from another...)

The only true way to opt out is to dump the digital world - close your accounts - everywhere... Not just FB...

And never go back, and don't try anything new.

Sigh... Or just let them have all your data anyways... (That's my privileged view - I don't care how much they collect on me, because I am not in a marginalized group - and almost all forms of "advertising" typically don't work on me...)

Or... run "cointel" on them, and mess up your profile and data - LIE EVERYWHERE...

THE MGT.
posted by jkaczor at 10:33 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I found mlkshk, which is now known as mltshp, an excellent replacement for instagram

Am I missing the part of mltshp where people post regular day-in-the-life kind of stuff? It seems to be almost entirely lulzy gifs and macros. Which is fine, but not really the same as instagram.
posted by zamboni at 10:39 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


will be "integrated" over the next year to make them interoperable.

I can't be the only one that first read that as: "to make them intolerable"
posted by philip-random at 10:43 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


If I now announce I'm only reachable through Signal I think my social isolation will become nearly complete.

You don't need Signal to communicate with someone with Signal, but your communication won't be encrypted like it would be if you both had the app.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:46 AM on January 25


Am I missing the part of mltshp where people post regular day-in-the-life kind of stuff? It seems to be almost entirely lulzy gifs and macros. Which is fine, but not really the same as instagram.

Perhaps someone involved with mltshp will chime in, but I assume that people can use it as they like. A majority kept with the mlkshk model, but there is nothing keeping one from posting selfies and photos of their pets.
posted by terrapin at 10:47 AM on January 25


Plus, the people I know who use WhatsApp are invariably smug as fuck about it. Forcing them to deal with the fact that they're just using Facebook Messenger like the rest of us, assholes does have some appeal.

Yeah, this integration is purely on the underlying tech level, and I labour under no illusions that FB wasn't already collating the data from these three sources. They'll just be doing so slightly more efficiently now.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:51 AM on January 25


Perhaps someone involved with mltshp will chime in, but I assume that people can use it as they like

Sure! I'm not suggesting that it's not possible, just saying I don't see anyone doing it.
posted by zamboni at 10:53 AM on January 25


It seems to be almost entirely lulzy gifs and macros. Which is fine, but not really the same as instagram.

You and I follow very different Instagram users!
posted by tobascodagama at 10:53 AM on January 25


“A dozen Facebook like services would be completely worthless because the only utility of Facebook for you is that everyone is there.”

I mean... sort of agree but disagree.
Everyone needs to use it for the networking effect to work, but that doesn’t mean it would be a monopoly.
You need all your relatives to be on it for it to be a useful forum for keeping up with family.
But that’s not a reason fb should own instagram. I wouldn’t want fb to own LinkedIn. There’s never going to be 20 Facebook clones competing, because all your relatives will end up on 1 or 2- but I’m fine with 20 separate networks for separate purposes. Twitter for writers, tumblr for artists, insta for photographers, Indeed for work, Craigslist for classifieds, etc. Google doesn’t need to own youtube and I wouldn’t want them to have vimeo and soundcloud and indeed too. That’s what Facebook is trying to be - gobble up everything and be the only platform for forums/games/classifieds/comments/news/photo/video/politics/etc. The only way to reach any specific subculture or subcommunity and therefore you need to pay facebook to advertise.

I wasn’t online for the Usenet days but I’m pretty sure we could get closer to that feeling of the internet being human-centric and community-centric if we trustbusted these giants. Not even full communism, just a little trustbusting. Little tiny bit of ruthless ironfisted trustbusting. (And ban the nazis and have decent management? Twitter wasn’t shitty before 2014. Tumblr was great before management ran it into the ground) The internet was a relatively decent, human-centric place far, far more recently than 1988.
posted by cricketcello at 10:54 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Clicked into the mltshp popular feed and, well, Hell Frasier!
posted by sammyo at 10:55 AM on January 25


Instagram is a platform for posting photos, not a "messaging platform". I'm done with it, sadly. It was nice while it lasted but FB's acquisition truly was the beginning of the end.
posted by tommasz at 10:56 AM on January 25


I agree that there isn't much we can do on an individual level without drastic policy and law changes, of course I don't besmirch anyone's attempt to do so.

I bailed on facebook at the beginning of this year and I'll be keeping instragram. I have a healthy relationship with insta - I don't surf it all day, and it's mostly a few friends along with hobby stuff. No memes, no awful political outrage exhaustion, no aspirational lifestyle stuff that makes me feel inadequate.

Overall I'm working on eliminating the cheap dopamine hit sleepwalk-through-life aspect of the modern internet, without losing all its awesome benefits - most of the (non-social) best parts of my life over the past decade probably wouldn't have happened without it.
posted by MillMan at 11:01 AM on January 25


FWIW, many teenagers I know use instagram mostly as a messaging platform and never upload anything to their feed
posted by motdiem2 at 11:02 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


The best thing about getting off of social media is that you don't miss it at all.

They say, posting on metafilter...
posted by happyroach at 11:03 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I miss Netscape and Prodigy, personally

Bring back RealPlayer!
Wait what?
Don't.
posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on January 25 [13 favorites]


You don't need Signal to communicate with someone with Signal, but your communication won't be encrypted like it would be if you both had the app.

Only if you let Signal handle SMS from your phone, and then you can send people SMSes from Signal. But that's exactly the same as texting from your phone's default app. It's convenient if you do a lot of communication on Signal to put both SMS and Signal chats together, but it's just texting.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:04 AM on January 25


Great, now I'm going to need to find a new app that's comfortable for zinesters because fb sure isn't it.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:10 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


According to David Khan's comprehensive history of the subject, one of the turning points in the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII was the development of a signals intelligence capability that could identify German submarines by their transmission habits and patterns before the ciphertext was sent off for analysis. They could also triangulate a rough position, enough that cracking the Enigma key wasn't necessary in some cases.

In other words, end-to-end encryption isn't necessarily going to save you if Big Brother has your address book and your messaging habits.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:13 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Is this one of those things I'd need to own a TV to understand?
posted by biogeo at 11:14 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


No, Brin's argument has always been crap. First off, it doesn't actually work, because of the disparity between individuals and corporate entities - they can much more with your info than you can do with theirs. Second, a society built on spying is a fundamentally unhealthy one.

I read his argument and thought "Dude, you choose to live a public life. You've never tried to escape anything". Talk to anyone who left smalltown sousveillance behind as ask them what they prefer and you won't get Brin's preference. I like living in a city because it affords a great deal of anonymity whenever I want it. I like living in an apartment building because there is an implicit code of 'mind your own business' that you don't get in the suburbs. I get to enjoy social interaction largely on my terms and timetable.

I want this from the internet as well.
posted by srboisvert at 11:16 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


Instagram is a platform for posting photos, not a "messaging platform".

Sounds like SOMEONE's not posting racy enough photos!
posted by naju at 11:20 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


But Brin's argument wasn't that sousveillance is a good thing, but that universal surveillance is inescapable so it's a way to make the most out of a bad situation.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:24 AM on January 25


It seems to be almost entirely lulzy gifs and macros. Which is fine, but not really the same as instagram.

> You and I follow very different Instagram users!


I've seen the kind of instagram users that post memes and lulzy shit but I sure don't follow them (or follow them back). I think IG is just like Twitter (or like what Reddit users say Reddit can be) in that you're in charge of curating your own experience. I see friends' daily lives, works in progress from my favorite artists, and the occasional notice from a band or two that I like. No meme garbage.

Which is not to say I'm not active on MLTSHP, because I am, or that I don't like meme garbage, because I do, but it boils down to the same thing as choosing a restaurant based on whether or not you want fast food or home cooking. I try to keep the two things separate.

As for this joining of things - I'm not on FB or WhatsApp but I am a heavy IG user. I won't go into the details because that's what profile links are for but long story short my hobby and community interaction revolve exclusively around IG and I really don't think I could quit it at this point, not like I did Facebook. If the three are integrated I won't notice, I don't think, but if something terrible happens as a result and I'm forced to ditch IG I'm going to spend a few sad months looking for more endorphin rushes on some other platform with far fewer followers. My current situation is real lightning in a bottle and I don't think I could ever organically replicate it.

my point being: please don't eff this up and take away my Instagram. Thank you.
posted by komara at 11:39 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


FWIW, many teenagers I know use instagram mostly as a messaging platform and never upload anything to their feed

I’ve seen this from a few people in this thread and I’m just like... why? What am I missing? Easier to hide from parents?
posted by Automocar at 11:47 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Fuck this shit, I'm just gonna talk to people around me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on January 25 [18 favorites]


tobascodagama: "It seems to be almost entirely lulzy gifs and macros. Which is fine, but not really the same as instagram.

You and I follow very different Instagram users!
"

I unfollow anyone who posts that kind of stuff. Unless it's in stories since I just pretend those don't exist.
posted by octothorpe at 11:50 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


So is Riot a better messaging alternative then? Similar to Signal?
posted by lunastellasol at 11:50 AM on January 25


Trillian! I’d forgotten. Got drawn to it because of the name and stayed because I liked it. thanks for the memory, motdiem2.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:09 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Those of us who continue to be blasè about the dangers of surveillance might be interested in reading about a book from Hitler's personal library which was acquired last year and unveiled recently at the Canada national archive.

It was a "disturbingly thorough catalogue" of the Jews of the United States and Canada.
posted by jamjam at 12:10 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I have a smart phone. I did not give my number to facebook. I don't use their messenger. I have email in my phone, but I run email off the web, log in every time. I kept FB but I never gave FB or Instagram my number, I log in off the web, every time. I tried FB Messenger, but did not like it becoming the default program in my phone, I quit in the middle of the install. I kept all my social media accounts but rarely post to them, any more I just didn't want to lose my name or nick. I was taking my time to erase hundreds of photos. I don't have enough buying power to be of interest to anyone.
posted by Oyéah at 12:13 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I’ve seen this from a few people in this thread and I’m just like... why? What am I missing? Easier to hide from parents?

The way my 13 yo explained it to me is that it’s because it’s easy to send images to small groups, that images disappear after a while, and for some 11-14 yo it is more accepted by their family than Snapchat
posted by motdiem2 at 12:17 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


One possible silver lining of integration (and its admittedly a very small benefit - if it is exists at all) is that as the different platforms merge over time it’s possible that regulatory and transparency requirements for some parts of the platform - like for the new WhatsApp Pay function in India - may mean more of the overall platform gets third party eyes on it from a controls and privacy perspective - for instance if payment messages get sent to IG or Fb messenger they may become partially in-scope. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that....but it’s possible.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:48 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I don't see that anyone has mentioned Flickr. It's been sold off a few times over the past few years, but I've never had concerns or issues with it, the app is easy to use, and the quality of photos posted is lovely.
My photos are underwhelming, but I'm there.
posted by BekahVee at 12:54 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I reluctantly paid for another year of Flickr because the new owners, SmugMug, held my photos hostage. I downloaded all of my photos, but until I find a new home for my 15 years of photos on Flickr I felt I made the decision with a gun to my head.

PixelFed is working on an import feature, and when that happens I will try to migrate all of my photos there, but I am NOT happy with Flickr's new ownership.
posted by terrapin at 12:58 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


But now Flickr charges for over a 1,000 photos where once they allowed a terabyte. I just deleted 40,000 of my photos from there instead of them doing it for me.
posted by agregoli at 12:58 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


About regulation (FD I got this idea from an article in the newspaper I work for) a platform like Facebook which gets its value from being a central clearing house is providing a market rather than a product so we should look at the way stock markets are regulated for ideas.

But I don't know who the 'we' in that statement would be. If regulation of FB relies (as an early commenter said) on US democracy, I guess I just want to wish you all good luck
posted by doiheartwentyone at 1:24 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


how do I seamlessly use podcasts without a smartphone

I have a tiny iPod Shuffle that holds 2 GB of music and podcasts, which means I always have room for the handful of albums I am listening to that week plus room for more podcasts than I have time to listen to. I use iTunes to manage podcasts, but I don't subscribe to them because subscriptions seem to cause my computer to freeze. (I click Subscribe to add them to my list of podcasts, but then I unsubscribe to leave them on the list without letting them call home for automatic updates. Instead, I download a podcast manually if a new episode looks interesting.) For music, I just drag filched mp3 files to playlists on the iPod as needed. I generally don't carry a phone at all. I live in a Faraday cage with a macaque named Antoine.
posted by pracowity at 1:32 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


So - apparently Apple still sells iPod Nano's and Touches, which can sync with iTunes...

I have a tiny iPod Shuffle

FWIW, the Nano and Shuffle were both discontinued in 2017. I'm dreading the day that my much-loved and heavily-used gen-5 Nano finally dies.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:56 PM on January 25


I reluctantly paid for another year of Flickr because the new owners, SmugMug, held my photos hostage. I downloaded all of my photos, but until I find a new home for my 15 years of photos on Flickr I felt I made the decision with a gun to my head.

But now Flickr charges for over a 1,000 photos where once they allowed a terabyte. I just deleted 40,000 of my photos from there instead of them doing it for me.

And we wonder why the "track your browsing habits and sell all your data to advertisers" model has such a stranglehold on the internet.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:08 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Don't dread it. Plenty of those iPods on the secondary market. Pawn stores, even!
posted by agregoli at 2:17 PM on January 25


Don't know what Flickr photos have to do with browsing habits, but I don't know much of their tracking.
posted by agregoli at 2:23 PM on January 25


Fuck this shit, I'm just gonna talk to people around me.

That can work if you're not in a minority category that means the people around you hate you and want you dead.

I am sorry for the FB, IG, and WA users who are going to be screwed over by this, especially as it likely means WhatsApp's "no retained messages" (sort of) feature is going to become "well, they're not available to end users after delivery, but..."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:39 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


So - apparently Apple still sells iPod Nano's and Touches, which can sync with iTunes...

Apple's been dead to me since they started the encrypted bootloader thing and couldn't be flashed with Rockbox.
posted by mikelieman at 2:59 PM on January 25


(Legit cannot understand why people are sore at Flickr for no longer giving out a terabyte of free storage. It's a good site and service! Pay for it if you use it!)
posted by uberchet at 3:22 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


cannot understand why people are sore at Flickr for no longer giving out a terabyte of free storage

A few are just sore because something that used to be free isn't anymore. Some are unhappy that they'll be deleting photos instead of just freezing legacy accounts. And the logic Flickr is using for the free-vs-paid cutoff is interesting:
He said that the 1,000 images shook out from the data: 97% of free-tier Flickr users have fewer than 1,000 images, while the vast majority of paid users have more than 1,000. There wasn’t a better sweet spot to pick.
On the one hand: Yes, that sounds like a good spot to draw the line. On the other: So, only 3% of your free users were getting the pro-level storage - most of those not likely using up anywhere near the full terabyte - and you're going to delete up to 15 years of images that aren't costing you any notable amount to host? Why not just freeze those accounts, allowing the images to be downloaded (but maybe not hotlinked), and no new images added until the owner drops it below 1000 or goes pro?

Also: “I view Flickr as a community, not as a cloud-backup solution,” he says. So, you want a community full of people with multiple free accounts? The ones using it for storage rather than "community" (dafuq does that mean?) are the ones who won't mind just creating a new login when they fill one up. (Note: Flickr is now part of the Oath collection under Verizon; it doesn't even have its own TOS anymore and just uses the Oath generic one, which doesn't remotely disallow multiple accounts.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:52 PM on January 25


I fucking HATE Flickr's web page, for starters. They made it super complicated to know for sure what you are doing when you categorize, change photos to another folder, etc. I thought I had deleted photos by deleting albums...but no! They make you use their strange photo organizer and the whole thing is a pain in the ass. I was only using them for the free storage and the ease of seeing photos large vs. my other backup, Google Drive. Yes, their app is good...but I don't enjoy their site, and that's primarily where I'm dealing with photos, on my desktop. I already pay for Google Drive, so no, I'm not ponying up for one more service. I ain't made of money.
posted by agregoli at 4:03 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


What do you guys know about the Line messanger? I have a friend in Japan that wants me to use it.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:18 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I used to have Line for similar reasons. It does the job as a messenger. Not sure how it is with privacy and data although I doubt it could be worse than Facebook.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:46 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Integrated services means a unified login. No more anonymous WhatsApp or Instagram logins; they'll have to be your Facebook login... which of course now has to be your real name and phone number, too. Which of course tracks all your internet activity once you use it to login. Are mugshot-style photos mandatory yet? They will be.

I mean, there are sixty four other concerns, too, but crushing the last bit of anonymity to wash away any privacy that's left seems a pretty straightforward mission, here.
posted by rokusan at 5:55 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I'm dreading the day that my much-loved and heavily-used gen-5 Nano finally dies.

Oh man, I googled prior to posting that, ah... only accessories... The "touch" is still available - but for how long?

And - while others have mentioned the secondary used market, of course it is probably only a matter of time before some update to iTunes stops recognizing older devices...
posted by jkaczor at 6:15 PM on January 25


Well if something requires a Facebook login that's right out for me. I've been politely asking for alternative ways to do things like buy tickets when people only post FB events. Not on there!
posted by agregoli at 6:26 PM on January 25


I'll be sitting in my faraday cage, wearing They Live glasses while sending pigeon-based messages to my neoluddite friends as we plan a revolution that will never happen

PBM me
posted by flabdablet at 8:21 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


You could join us over at Flickr & post “Nice capture” on alternate Tuesday’s & “Lovely bokeh” on alternate Thursdays.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:26 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


years ago, i decided i didnt want the fbook app but just wanted to message people on fbook thru the web client. when they made that impossible on smartphones, it was a biiiig red flag. i have to install your app on my phone just to use your messaging system, even though i see all your ads thru the web client on my phone and PC anyway? why?? and top, the app scans my addess book and god knows what else?? why??

ohhhh right, cuz you're fucking me over.

text and signal... plus a blank IG acct to follow bands and such. i cant possibly imagine being more online than that.
posted by wibari at 9:29 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


This Pixelfed thing looks like a good replacement, but I need them to finish writing up pages about their privacy, how to report bad guys, etc. etc. etc before I can make a judgment call about signing up or not. If it's just Same As Instagram Including The Facebooky Bad Shit, then maybe not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:10 PM on January 25


Hey so I'm a photographer and I'd love to leave Instagram because of Facebook's bullshit, but is there any replacement available aside from Pixelfed and Mastodon instances? I'm really not seeing a lot going on for either of those so far.

In the meantime, I've uninstalled Instagram from my phone and will use my phone's browser (or better yet a browser on a computer with a mobile phone's user agent string) to upload.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:58 PM on January 25


I used to have Line for similar reasons. It does the job as a messenger. Not sure how it is with privacy and data although I doubt it could be worse than Facebook.

I'm probably going to start using it because my and my wife's phones silently fail to send about 1 out of 30 SMS messages. So frustrating.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:55 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Will regular users of each of the old platforms have to log out then log on to one of a trio of accounts on the new platform? (I don't use WhatApp or FB so, I don't know the usual login, e.g., email, mere userid, or ?) Or will you have to choose one for some convoluted convergence?
posted by filtergik at 5:17 AM on January 26


Given that Signal is head and shoulders above all its competitors on technological grounds, is backed by a nonprofit and is in any case open source which protects its users against its present backer going rogue, I'm fascinated by what it is that goes through people's heads as they consider switching to anything other than Signal after leaping from the messaging platforms hanging from der Luftschiff Zeppelin Zuckerberg.

The usual rationale for holding one's nose while putting up with Faceache's offerings is that they're what everybody else is on so you kind of have to. But if you've already decided that the stench has just become too overpowering, then that rationale simply doesn't apply to any of its competitors. If you're going to put yourself and your contacts through the pain of cutting over to something else, why not just pick the best available? What is it that you perceive Signal doesn't do?
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


What is it that you perceive Signal doesn't do?

Proper multi-device support for one thing, native desktop apps for another. Telegram is by far the best UX for messaging, it’s a shame their security is so suspect.
posted by bonaldi at 7:22 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The problem I have with switching apps for messaging is that I'd lose contact with so many people I know who only use Facebook Messenger. I'm never going to convince my sisters to use something like Signal.
posted by octothorpe at 7:43 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I'm sure that it's a quality of being middle-aged but almost no one I know uses anything but FB messenger or SMS. I've never met anyone in real life who mentioned Telegraph or Whatsapp and certainly not anything more obscure than those. Facebook really understands how to leverage the network effect and if you need to keep in touch with friends and family, it's hard to escape that.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 AM on January 26


So Telegram is right out. Anything wrong with Jabber plus OMEMO?
posted by anthill at 9:46 AM on January 26


Telegram isn't "suspect" it's actually broken by state actors and just pretending it's not isn't responsible. Just like it's known that SMS is not at all secure, and recommending it for people is irresponsible. Signal hasn't been shown to be broken and you might have complaints about it but be honest about it being the best current secure option.
posted by odinsdream at 9:50 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Has it been shown to be broken? Best I could see was a poorly-substantiated claim. (Genuine Q!)

That said, I’ll take iMessage as the best secure-enough option: what you lose by trusting Apple over proper code review you gain in UX and network.
posted by bonaldi at 1:43 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


So how badly do we all actually miss AIM? I was never a big AOL fan, but that one thing did its one thing perfectly well.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:40 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


My sister and I used AIM until they killed it just over a year ago. We switched to Jabber and it works fine for us. Don't know how secure it is but we never say anything of much outside interest anyway.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:16 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


For those of us wondering about what problems Zuckerberg's proposed integration has for end-to-end encryption (E2EE), the short answer requires a little context.

tl;dr: The technical problems for multi-client multi-platform E2EE will not be easy to overcome and may not be possible while maintaining basic functionality such as finding contacts across different platforms.

E2EE requires that decryption keys be held only by the sender and the receiver (end-to-end). Servers in between the sender and receiver by definition can't have access to these keys.

If multiple apps on the same phone (e.g. Messenger, WhatsAPP and Instagram) all have the same decryption key, there must be a mechanism to share this key which is not possible in modern iOS (for one example).

There may be ways (experts say) for different apps on different devices to securely communicate with E2EE chains but there are no real world examples and some (experts) say that the technical challenges are too large to overcome while maintaining ease of use (e.g. finding Whatsapp friends from your Messenger list).

A couple of other things I'd like to add that are pretty much Just My Opinion™.

Given their voracious appetite for user data and Zuckerberg's/Facebook's history of lying about its behavior and motivations, E2EE for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger is unlikely. It is much more likely that integration is Zuckerberg's/Facebooks's way of finally surveilling WhatsApp (for advertising, etc.)

Second, a few people upthread seem to suggest that Facebook's unethical and immoral behavior with regard to user data has been so complete (shadow profiles!) that fighting for privacy or trying to protect privacy is bootless. The insinuation is that we should simply be ennervated and stop even caring or trying.

These people are wrong and should be ashamed for trying to influence their fellows to give up. We should never stop insisting on our rights as users and human beings especially if we are fighting for rights that promote our personal, collective, political, and spiritual well being.

There are many battles to be fought and the war may well be endless, but we must fight while we still have breath and perhaps even after that.

Stay committed. Stay strong.
posted by mistersquid at 7:51 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


> E2EE for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger is unlikely. It is much more likely that integration is Zuckerberg's/Facebooks's way of finally surveilling WhatsApp

I disagree on the former, but agree on the latter; in other words, I think they will probably allow E2E encryption across platforms and collect a lot of data in the process. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Most of the data that Facebook cares about, for targeting ads -- bearing in mind that they are fundamentally an advertising company with a captive social-media platform -- can be gleaned from metadata analysis. They don't need the content of the messages. In particular, your social graph -- who talks to who and how often -- can be determined entirely from metadata, even with fully encrypted message payloads.

End-to-end crypto across platforms isn't that hard, if you own all the platforms and can muck around with the backend all you want; multiple devices, on the other hand, are very hard to do well. To get cross-platform, e.g. Messenger to WhatsApp encrypted messaging, really they just need to agree on a protocol. And, conveniently, Messenger and WhatsApp already use the same protocol -- incidentally, Signal's secure-messaging protocol -- for E2E crypto. (Messenger doesn't use it on all messages, just "Secret Conversations", which you have to select when initiating a conversation with another user. Not having this be the across-the-board default is one of the biggest criticisms of Messenger from a security perspective.) It'll be interesting to see if Messenger to WhatsApp messages will be "Secret Conversations" by default.

Multiple device support, though, is hard. If you allow people to start an encrypted conversation on one device and continue it on another, you create a very significant avenue for attack. Messenger allows this, with a rather easily-missed warning that the other party has added a new device to the chat. If you don't notice that and ask the other person what happened, and check key fingerprints out-of-band (which, lets be honest, nobody ever does), it's possible to Man-in-the-Middle a conversation, at least in theory. The Messenger developers have clearly decided that it's more important to allow multiple devices than to close off this avenue. That's a legitimate design decision, and the overall messiness of multiple devices with E2E crypto probably contributed to the decision not to make Secret Conversations the default when it was rolled out. Signal, on the other hand, doesn't allow this IIRC; its conversations are between two devices and don't follow you around, which is a better security model, but obviously less convenient to use.

I don't see any reason why your address book or contacts list would need to be shared across platforms or between apps locally on a device. That opens up a significant can of worms, which you don't really need to get into just for messaging interoperability. Maybe at some point down the road we'll see FB basically merge the backend accounts, but nothing I've read suggests that this is happening in the near term; what they're aiming for sounds more like what in the Jabber world was called "federation".

tl;dr: WhatsApp and Messenger already use the same protocol for E2EE, so no reason they won't offer it; they can still sell lots of ads without knowing the exact content of messages.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:31 PM on January 27


Protip, though: it doesn't matter how good the crypto you're using is, if the person on the other end just shows their device to the cops.

You know, just, hypothetically.
And despite this mounting evidence, Stone might have gotten away with much of this had he been a bit more keen about operational security. He believed that WhatsApp, which he used as a "secure" phone line and for messaging, would protect his communications from the eyes of investigators—forgetting that the people he was talking to could just show the messages to Mueller's team and a grand jury.
And that was my moment of zen for the evening.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:56 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Facebook just hired a handful of its toughest privacy critics -- EFF's Nate Cardozo once said Facebook "depends on our collective confusion." (Cyrus Farivar for Ars Techinca, Jan. 30, 2019)
At a time when Facebook has been under increased public scrutiny like never before, the company is now hiring at least one of its fiercest antagonists.

On Tuesday, Facebook acknowledged that it had hired three veteran privacy law activists, including Nate Cardozo (EFF profile), an attorney formerly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has been very publicly critical of the company in recent years (Mercury News, Op Ed by Nate).

In 2015, Cardozo once wrote in an op-ed that Facebook's "business model depends on our collective confusion and apathy about privacy."

In addition to Cardozo, Facebook also hired attorney Robyn Greene (Twitter account), previously with the Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC, and Nathan White (profile from Access Now), who is set to leave his position at Access Now. (Full disclosure: Cardozo is a longtime friend of this author, and Greene provided a blurb for this author's book.)

Cardozo will specifically be working on WhatsApp and will be based out of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The new hires will be working for Facebook itself and will work out of the Washington, DC, office.

Facebook declined to make the new hires available for interviews and explained the move in a statement sent to Ars.

"We think it’s important to bring in new perspectives to the privacy team at Facebook, including people who can look at our products, policies and processes with a critical eye," said Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer.

He continued: "We know that we have a lot of work to do not only to restore people’s trust in Facebook, but also to improve their privacy experiences. We hope that the new hires we are making will challenge us to build better approaches to privacy in the future and we’re excited to have them onboard."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:53 AM on January 30


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