Silicon Valley’s Phoenix-like resurrection is a story of ingenuity and initiative. It is also a story of callousness, predation, and deceit. Harvard Business School professor emerita Shoshana Zuboff argues in her new book that the Valley’s wealth and power are predicated on an insidious, essentially pathological form of private enterprise — what she calls “surveillance capitalism.” Pioneered by Google, perfected by Facebook, and now spreading throughout the economy, surveillance capitalism uses human life as its raw material. Our everyday experiences, distilled into data, have become a privately owned business asset used to predict and mold our behavior, whether we’re shopping or socializing, working or voting. Zuboff’s fierce indictment of the big internet firms goes beyond the usual condemnations of privacy violations and monopolistic practices. To her, such criticisms are sideshows, distractions that blind us to a graver danger: By reengineering the economy and society to their own benefit, Google and Facebook are perverting capitalism in a way that undermines personal freedom and corrodes democracy.
I deleted all of my Facebook posts last week. I deleted my Google+ posts too. They were pretty much all here on my web site too, so nothing was truly lost, but I still feel a bit lighter, somehow.
Like Ryan, Facebook is the only place I can catch-up family and friends. As Ryan stated, “Facebook is still basically a public utility.” What I have done, however, is reduce my interactions on Facebook to about once or twice a month. I don’t discuss politics or religion.
I kept my Instagram account. The local boutique brewery has no tap room and announces the releases on Instagram only. If I want to drink those ales, and they never release the same ale twice, I need an Instagram account.
I kept my Twitter account. I have not had any of the experiences others have had. My interactions on Twitter are no different than I have experience in real life (agreement, affinity, arguments, etc.). I’m sticking with it.
Discoverability for independent blogs is slightly worse than it is on micro.blog. Micro.blog has the advantage of having a built-in Twitter-style social messaging system. I expect that disconnecting from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram would lead to a drop in traffic to this blog. Last year I experimented with this. I stopped posting syndicating links to my content to Twitter and Facebook. Traffic did go down. Previous to that, Facebook and Twitter were my top source of traffic.
Ultimately the goal is that my friends and family know that they can come here to find out what I’m up to. I think I may create a post on Facebook letting everyone know that I will not be posting to Facebook. That they can find me on this website. It will be work for them to do so. They’ll have to remember to visit the blog or I’ll have to explain RSS feeds. Ok … maybe just send them an email, assuming I have their address, remind them to visit. That’s not the same as posting to a Facebook timeline and reading and responding in real time.
After The New York Times revealed last month that Facebook continued to share personal information of millions of consumers with companies like Netflix, Yahoo, Spotify and Google — despite contrary assertions to Congress — many people decided to delete their Facebook accounts. But if Facebook’s actions, as described by The Times, violated the law, consumers should be able to send an even more powerful message, one that could leave a much larger imprint on the company’s ledger books: suing the company for damages.
Facebook knows this and has been working to make it near impossible to do so.
Using Facebook’s logic, if a therapist or lawyer knowingly shares privileged/private information of clients with a third-party, the clients have no legal recourse.