The New Wilderness (Idle Words)

The large tech companies point to our willing use of their services as proof that people don’t really care about their privacy. But this is like arguing that inmates are happy to be in jail because they use the prison library. Confronted with the reality of a monitored world, people make the rational decision to make the best of it.

I disagree. This analogy is false.

It’s more like you’ve come to my house for a party. You notice all the cameras outside the hose, and a few inside the house. I tell you that I have recording devices in my living room.

You express your discomfort but I’ve told you that the devices are staying. I’ve told you that you are free to leave at any time. But yet, you decided to hangout in my lounge complaining to all my guests about how I should offer more vegan options.

It’s my house. It’s my party. Please leave if you don’t like the house rules. You need my permission to stay. You can choose to leave any any time.

I think the author is conflating privacy and anonymity.

5 thoughts on “You can leave at any time

  1. It’s my house. It’s my party.

    Source: You can leave at any time by Khürt Williams
    Khürt feels that social networks are not like jails, because you’re not being held at gunpoint and must stay. They’re like a house party, sponsored by Khürt. It’s his house and he can boot you any time. But that also means that you can leave whenever you want.
    I don’t think that analogy is correct.
    Social networks are like a sponsored agora – an open space that feels like a welcome hangout spot, but which are nevertheless run by someone. That someone can have their security guards kick you out, or you can up and leave.
    But you’re not staying because you’ve made your peace with the privacy issues. You’ve made your peace with the privacy issues because all your darn friends are there and it feels good to hangout with them.
    Khürt is pretty active on micro.blog. If tomorrow Manton feels that Khürt is not welcome any more, he can kick him out.
    But that arbitrariness is what has caused problem for twitter and Facebook before. If it truly were their party, people who are kicked out would be blamed for their misdeeds. But that’s not how it works. Increasingly, you see that these networks make the mistake of kicking someone popular off, or kicking them off for the wrong reasons, and a cycle of blaming these networks runs its course.
    It’s their house, but it’s not their party. The party is brought there by the people. In Facebook’s case, the party was brought there by the people signing up from their college times. In twitter’s case, the party was equally brought by the people as well as the developers.
    Twitter chose to kick out developers a few years ago and they’re still reeling from the effects of that move. It’s held on to the people because of the critical mass. Same for Facebook (critical mass and dirty moves in that case).
    If enough people leave Facebook today, as they did Uber during the #deleteUber campaign, and MySpace during its years of attrition, and tumblr during their recent purge, the party gets dull. No matter what the host does then, the party is already dead, it just needs to get called.
    That time has not come for WhatsApp or Instagram, but has pretty much come for Facebook. People are tired of the big blue’s shit. They just can’t leave yet because of all their friends there. The next generation chose to skip Facebook altogether and just go for SnapChat. How long can Facebook keep the party running?

      • It's quite obvious that Facebook's demographic has shifted over time - my parents and people of their generation joined up in droves when they discovered that they can use it to get in touch with decades old friends and also to look at their children's photos, something with each generation hides from the last.

        That doesn't mean that Facebook hasn't sweated losing the younger gen to Snapchat. They've been worried about it since a long time.

        The party is dying down, and Facebook as a company is noticing and crying out (that news item that they send out CTAs to the 2FA SMS numbers is true, it has started happening for me!) about it. Their prime property is ailing and dying and their only way to survive is to choke some more life out of their other properties.

        I am not saying that Facebook won't be around 10 years from now. But in what state? God knows.

        • That doesn’t mean that Facebook hasn’t sweated losing the younger gen to Snapchat.

          They lost some. That doesn't mean it's a trend or even a mass trend. The death/decay/end of Facebook is grossly overstated. It's hyperbole.

          The party is dying down

          We don't know that. IMHO, it's a vocal minority of people. It's an echo chamber. From my perspective, in my world, the party hasn't changed at all.

        • Check out one suggested solution to one of the issues:

          In many ways, the anonymity of the Web strips individuals of the coercive forces of norms and consequences that typically govern behavior. In turn, the globalized nature of the Web means it is far more likely that individuals will come into contact with those who do not share their views, experiences and narratives, creating conditions ripe for unrestrained conflict. Would Replacing Anonymity With A Single Universal Social Media ID Fix The Web’s Toxicity?

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