Why you won’t find me on Facebook

October 28, 2012

People keep asking me why i’m not on facebook. This post is just to sum up some reasons (not even all of them) of why i don’t have (and never had) an account on facebook. To sum it up quickly: i’m old-fashioned in some ways, maybe, i don’t like to be a commercial product, and i’m passionate about security and anonymity.

– Facebook doesn’t want you to use a fake name or a nickname. They use the good old ‘totalitarian-regime’-strategy of letting neighbours spy on each other, so that if you use a nickname that does not correspond with your real name, they can report you, and your account will be removed.

– Just like a real totalitarian regime, they use a censorship policy to control what topics can be discussed or not discussed. If you try to break it or circumvent it, guess what, your account will be suspended. Even if your comment does not add value to the context of the original post, or if it’s ‘irrelevant or inappropriate‘ (whatever that means) facebook wil censor your content. Also, facebook doesn’t allow you to post your political views, when they are not in line with what they think. Read here and here if you want to know more about this topic.

– Speaking about totalitarianism, tracking of every user/inhabitant is an important part of that. Facebook is the absolute expert at this. Many other social networking companies do it, two other really big players are google and twitter. Also web advertisers play a big role here. Everywhere you go on the internet, you’ll find social buttons like the facebook ‘like’ button or a twitter ‘tweet this’ button. Since the button is loaded from eg: facebook.com’s domain, the social network site knows you have visited the site that included the button, even without you clicking it. Every site you visit is more data for their social graph. For instance, if you start visiting a lot of sites about pregnancy and babies, they can easily deduct you may be expecting a baby soon.

– Facebook doesn’t tell you they gather this data about you, you can’t see what they have, and if you ask them, they won’t give it to you. Even when you’re not on facebook, like me, facebook knows (or can guess accurately) a lot about you, for instance your name, your sex, your age, where you live, who your friends are (they send invites!), and they can also (less or more) track your surfing history. This makes for a quite complete ghost profile for almost everybody with internet access.

– You can imagine, with all that data at hand, facebook has a great many opportunities to make money of your personal life. Based on your (ghost) profile they can present you with targeted advertisement (it’s a lot more lucrative than non-targeted ads), they can sell that data to market researching companies, they can sell it to everyone they want. Even the companies behind those stupid facebook games get to see all your data if you decide to play that game. Last but not least, if the authorities suspect you of a crime, even if you have nothing to do with it, they’ll happily give all your data to them too.

– Facebook uses an opt-out policy. They’ll add new features, mostly making your data more public, and if you don’t agree with that you’ll have to search through your settings to undo them, if you’re even allowed to do so.

– The facebook ‘social’ network works in an exclusive way. I mean that many people just don’t send you an invitation to a party or event if you’re not on facebook, and you can’t see their travel pictures because you’re not on facebook. Also, it seems to be a trend to move all communication for workshops, small teams (any subject), and general banter to facebook. I’m a volunteer in many organisations, and most of them need to make exceptions in their communication just for me. That’s not a social network. It’s a join-or-be-excluded network, or an anti-social network.

– Recently, i met Jacob Appelbaum and had a great afternoon talking and listening to him about privacy, communication and many other things. While we were talking someone made a really good point: in the fifties, sixties and seventies, East-Germany needed a whole secret intelligence unit (Stasi) to know only a fraction of the information we gave facebook for free, and willingly. If tomorrow someone decides to start torturing everyone who is gay, or politically left-minded, or whatever, they’ll only have to ask facebook who to catch. It’s true, and really crazy if you start thinking about it.

– Last but not least: i like to meet and talk to people in person, i like to accidentally walk into an old friend and go drink a coffee with him, i like to talk to strangers on the train. These things go away when everyone’s social life moves to the internet.

That’s it.

PS: I know, haters gonna hate. Don’t bother commenting.
PPS: I know, it’s not only facebook. It’s also the X social network and the Y advertiser and the Z company. I know. Facebook is just the one everyone seems to want me to join.


2 Responses to “Why you won’t find me on Facebook”

  1. Tim Says:

    Great read toon. Funny I can sign in with facebook to post a comment 🙂

  2. digihash Says:

    True that. I totally agree on this. I know that they collect all this data, but as you said, they also know almost as much about non-registered users.

    A lot of companies these days collect as much data.

    It would be better if they used an open protocol to use Facebook in a way and to connect with the other people, i.e. if you share these events or if you want to communicate something to a lot of people in your organisation and they use Facebook. You should be able to do that. For know the only possibility is to send an e-mail to all the facebook e-mail adresses of these users, so they receive it as a chat message.

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