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[liberationtech] CNN writer on leaving Facebook

Jon Lebkowsky jon.lebkowsky at gmail.com
Mon Feb 25 10:54:10 PST 2013


As Bruce Sterling was saying, from the perspective of Facebook the company,
users of the system are cattle - they're product sold to advertisers. That
kinda sucks, but here's the thing: Facebook is useful to its users, or they
wouldn't be there. Doug is making an ideological argument, but ideologues
often revel in ascetic rejection of the world and the agora. I love Doug,
but I won't follow his lead here.  But then (guilty admission), I also
watch television.

I reject the notion that Facebook users are cattle, and I'm not sure
they're mere consumers. They accept a bargain, but it has benefits for
them. And as with television, you learn to ignore the ads, or if not
completely ignore, at least avoid being somehow enslaved by them, and as
part of the bargain you're entertained. Facebook is more useful than
television - I get more from the bargain and the marketing is even less
oppressive.




On Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM, Allucquere Rosanne Stone <
sandy at sandystone.com> wrote:

> 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* <http://www.ubu.com/film/serra_television.html>.
> -sandy
>
>
> On Mon, 25 Feb 2013 15:52:14 +0100, Petter Ericson
> wrote:
> > 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
> >
> > http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/25/opinion/rushkoff-why-im-quitting-facebook/index.html
>
> >
> > 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 behavior.
> >
> > 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 sexual
> > orientation to our likelihood for civil disobedience or even terrorism.
> >
> > 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 which
> > 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 disheartening.
> >
> > 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 Related
> > Posts, users who "like" something can be unwittingly associated with
> > pretty much anything an advertiser pays for. Like e-mail spam with a
> > 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 you.
> >
> > The promotional leverage that Facebook affords me is not worth the
> > price. Besides, how can I ask you to like me, when I myself must refuse
> > 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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-- 
Jon Lebkowsky (@jonl)
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