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[liberationtech] CNN writer on leaving Facebook

Allucquere Rosanne Stone sandy at
Mon Feb 25 09:54:23 PST 2013

We've been on this bus before, in (perhaps) a less sophisticated
incarnation. See Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman's 1973 film
_Television Delivers People_ .


On Mon, 25 Feb 2013 15:52:14 +0100,
Petter Ericson 
> Greetings,
> Though I imagine that the facebook
use is significantly lower (and more
> judicious) among the libtech users
than among a more generic tech-savvy
> population, this essay makes a
rather good case on why quitting facebook
> entirely is the proper thing to
do at some point - sooner rather than
> later.
> Best
> /P

> Why I'm quitting Facebook
> By Douglas Rushkoff, CNN
> (CNN) -- I
used to be able to justify using Facebook as a cost of doing
> business. As
a writer and sometime activist who needs to promote my
> books and articles
and occasionally rally people to one cause or
> another, I found Facebook
fast and convenient. Though I never really
> used it to socialize, I
figured it was OK to let other people do that,
> and I benefited from their
> I can no longer justify this arrangement.
> Today, I am
surrendering my Facebook account, because my participation
> on the site is
simply too inconsistent with the values I espouse in my
> work. In my
upcoming book "Present Shock," I chronicle some of what
> happens when we
can no longer manage our many online presences. I have
> always argued for
engaging with technology as conscious human beings and
> dispensing with
technologies that take that agency away.
> Facebook does things on our
behalf when we're not even there.
> It actively misrepresents us to our
friends, and worse misrepresents
> those who have befriended us to still
others. To enable this
> dysfunctional situation -- I call it "digiphrenia"
-- would be at the
> very least hypocritical. But to participate on
Facebook as an author, in
> a way specifically intended to draw out the
"likes" and resulting
> vulnerability of others, is untenable.
Facebook has never been merely a social platform. Rather, it exploits
> our
social interactions the way a Tupperware party does.
> Facebook does not
exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network
> of connections,
brand preferences and activities over time -- our
> "social graphs" -- into
money for others.
> We Facebook users have been building a treasure lode
of big data that
> government and corporate researchers have been mining to
predict and
> influence what we buy and for whom we vote. We have been
handing over to
> them vast quantities of information about ourselves and
our friends,
> loved ones and acquaintances. With this information,
Facebook and the
> "big data" research firms purchasing their data predict
still more
> things about us -- from our future product purchases or
> orientation to our likelihood for civil disobedience or even
> The true end users of Facebook are the marketers who want
to reach and
> influence us. They are Facebook's paying customers; we are
the product.
> And we are its workers. The countless hours that we -- and
the young,
> particularly -- spend on our profiles are the unpaid labor on
> Facebook justifies its stock valuation.
> The efforts of a few
thousand employees at Facebook's Menlo Park campus
> pale in comparison to
those of the hundreds of millions of users
> meticulously tweaking their
pages. Corporations used to have to do
> research to assemble our consumer
profiles; now we do it for them.
> The information collected about you
by Facebook through my Facebook page
> isn't even shared with me. Thanks to
my page, Facebook knows the
> demographics of my readership, their e-mails,
what else they like, who
> else they know and, perhaps most significant,
who they trust. And
> Facebook is taking pains not to share any of this,
going so far as to
> limit the ability of third-party applications to
utilize any of this
> data.
> Given that this was the foundation for
Facebook's business plan from the
> start, perhaps more recent developments
in the company's ever-evolving
> user agreement shouldn't have been so
> Still, we bridle at the notion that any of our updates
might be
> converted into "sponsored stories" by whatever business or brand
we may
> have mentioned. That innocent mention of cup of coffee at
Starbucks, in
> the Facebook universe, quickly becomes an attributed
endorsement of
> their brand. Remember, the only way to connect with
something or someone
> is to "like" them. This means if you want to find
out what a politician
> or company you don't like is up to, you still have
to endorse them
> publicly.
> More recently, users -- particularly those
with larger sets of friends,
> followers and likes -- learned that their
updates were no longer
> reaching all of the people who had signed up to
get them. Now, we are
> supposed to pay to "promote" our posts to our
friends and, if we pay
> even more, to their friends.
> Yes, Facebook is
entitled to be paid for promoting us and our interests
> -- but this wasn't
the deal going in, particularly not for companies who
> paid Facebook for
extra followers in the first place. Neither should
> users who "friend" my
page automatically become the passive conduits for
> any of my messages to
all their friends just because I paid for it.
> That brings me to
Facebook's most recent shift, and the one that pushed
> me over the edge.

> Through a new variation of the Sponsored Stories feature called
> Posts, users who "like" something can be unwittingly associated
> pretty much anything an advertiser pays for. Like e-mail spam with
> spoofed identity, the Related Post shows up in a newsfeed right under
the user's name and picture. If you like me, you can be shown implicitly
recommending me or something I like -- something you've never heard of
> --
to others without your consent.
> For now, as long as I don't like
anything myself, I have some measure of
> control over what those who
follow me receive in my name or, worse, are
> made to appear to be
endorsing, themselves. But I feel that control
> slipping away, and cannot
remain part of a system where liking me or my
> work can be used against
> The promotional leverage that Facebook affords me is not worth
> price. Besides, how can I ask you to like me, when I myself must
> to like you or anything else?
> I have always appreciated that
agreeing to become publicly linked to me
> and my work online involves
trust. It is a trust I value, but -- as it
> is dependent on the good
graces of Facebook -- it is a trust I can live
> up to only by unfriending
this particularly anti-social social network.
> Maybe in doing so I'll
help people remember that Facebook is not the
> Internet. It's just one
website, and it comes with a price.
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