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Posts Tagged ‘facebook

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The whole interview by Trevor Noah of former Facebook product manager and whistleblower, Frances Haugen, is worth the entire watch.

But here is what the argument against Facebook builds on: According to Haugen, Facebook is much less accountable than Google or Apple. From the 4min 41sec mark, she described how the latter two companies are more open to critique while Facebook hides behind its corporate and policy walls.

In the case of Google… we can download their results and analyse them and see if there are biases. In the case of Apple, we can take apart the phones and put up YouTube videos saying Apple phones do or don’t work the way they claim.

But in the case of Facebook, researchers and activists have been telling Facebook, “Hey, we have found all these examples. We think there’s pattern here…” Facebook keeps coming back because they know no one can call them on it and saying, “That’s just anecdotal. That’s not real.”

I say this: First, you are judged by the company you keep. Next, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. I choose to be part of the solution for better social media. To do that, I try not to feed Facebook’s algorithms.

In January, I learnt that Facebook had fallen to third on the list of favourite social media platforms. It is behind WhatsApp and Instagram.

Then I found out from Vox that Facebook experienced its first decline in user growth since its birth 17 years ago.

Journalists and pseudo-journalists are already predicting Facebook’s demise. I would like nothing more than to see this unethical behemoth die, but I face this fact: The top three on the list of favourite social media platforms all belong to Facebook/Meta.

Some folk have walked their talk and left Facebook. I have not posted there since 2015. Maybe more of us will starve Facebook of what it needs most — our data. We might do this slowly and almost imperceptibly, but that is how we beat the beast.

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I picked this comic out of several that Larry Cuban shared in a blog entry

At a superficial level, I get that he comic is supposed to be funny because of the role reversal. The traditional bully is now the bullied because the new bully is savvy enough to manipulate Facebook.

On a deeper level, Facebook? Really? The youth of today are not flocking to Facebook. Their parents and grandparents are. The comic is designed for the older reader and possibly prepared by an older writer.

It is one thing to connect with your audience, it is another to misrepresent a group you have your crosshairs trained on. Doing the latter perpetuates ignorance.

If you cannot REACH them, you cannot TEACH them. 

The lesson in teaching that I draw from this negative example is this: If you cannot REACH them, you cannot TEACH them. 

Being out of touch with your learners is surmountable — you can read, watch, listen, and learn. This takes effort. Staying out of touch with your students is easy — read and laugh at a comic because you do not question its premise.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a prophet warning others of impending doom? Climate activists and scientists do. They know what it is like to be ignored.

The edtech world has observers and prophets who gaze forward and see issues too. This world does not have as urgent a set of problems, but they are no less important.

One issue is the commoditisation and commercialisation of education. We should be worried when open courses meant to level access get locked behind paywalls. We should be even more worried when a mega company that is irresponsible with user data wants in on the game.

It has been said that if an online service is free, you are not its user or customer. You are its data and product. 

Like managing climate change, what we do individually matters. We can limit what Facebook does with our data and with us as data points. We might not be in the position to create or enforce regulations, but we can take personal control. If we do not take action, we only have ourselves to blame. 

This tweet reminded me about how Facebook tries to redefine friends. You might end up with thousands of “friends”, most of whom you have not met in person or online. You might not even know these people and some might even be your enemies. These are not friends; they are barely acquaintances. 

Twitter is guilty of misnomers too. Take “likes” as an example. If you want to keep track of a tweet but not propagate it, you have to like it. You actually want to bookmark or archive it for later reference, but you have to send a wrong message to the tweeter and a wrong data point to Twitter.

These platforms are not reinventing the wheel. They are reshaping it so that it is twisted out of shape and feeds their data-hungry appetites.

Words matter. We need to say what we mean, and mean what we say.

I am not being pedantic about semantics. But I am particular about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

If we do not have shared meanings, we do not have common reference points. Then when we try to solve problems, we might go off on different tangents and risk being irrelevant. 

…the Facebook algorithms. This includes its adopted children Instagram and WhatsApp.

Or starve them at least by not posting, sharing, liking, etc. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

It is not content that you are creating or propagating. It is data that you are creating. You and your behaviours are the data.

In the hands of responsible entities, such data might be handled with care. Facebook is irresponsible and greedy, and it craves user data. The recent tracking limitations in iOS 14.3 are useless if we do not limit ourselves.

 
This is a PSA for anyone who relies on WhatsApp: It is a poisoned chalice.

Both apps can do a lot of good. But they are owned by a parent company that does not have good track record on how it uses our data and on stopping disinformation.

I stopped sharing on Facebook in 2015. I avoided using WhatsApp when it was bought by Facebook. If we are judged by the company we keep, I avoid these “friendly” apps because they are insidiously toxic.

It is easy for me to ignore messages on Facebook, WhatsApp, and even email.

I have not posted on Facebook for years. I refuse to feed it data for its questionable algorithms. I use Facebook like a passport — for the rare occasion I need to prove my identity.

My byline in WhatsApp is “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you” and I share a link to what I think is WhatsApp-tiquette. I leave groups or mute individuals that are noisy or pointless.

My WhatsApp byline.

Both Facebook and WhatsApp are full of navel gazing and misinformation even if I know the people there. These platforms become too porous when those same people share information without filters or critical thought.

Then there is email which is essential for work. On that I set strict filtering rules. One particularly effective strategy is filtering out email with too many recipients in the TO or CC header.

If this means I miss a few messages, then so be it. If there are that many people on a single email, it was probably not important or directed at me. It is also the best way to avoid spam.

It is not just easy to ignore messages on Facebook, WhatsApp, and email. I find it to be essential. Just as we self-quarantine to keep our bodies safe from the current pandemic, I ignore noise, misinformation, and disinformation during the concurrent “infodemic”.

I need to be on WhatsApp, I do not want to be on it. This is the message that greets anyone who is interested in visiting my profile there.

My WhatsApp profile.

Likewise, I need to be on Facebook, but I do not want to be. My last post there was actually an automated one from my blog in 2015.

My last FB post was in 2015.

I use WhatsApp and Facebook only because so many people are already on it. I rely on WhatsApp for the occasional chat and I use Facebook like a passport to access a few linked services.

Both platforms are too noisy for my liking. But I have tamed WhatsApp to the point that it no longer harasses me and have starved Facebook of information. I do this because I am information literate — I don’t just know things, I do something about it.

If there is a leak of my information or a break in my sanity, I cannot just blame the tools. I would not blame an open window or entry; I shut the blinds and lock the door.

This CNET article is one of many that tries to provide help to those who want to control the data that Facebook has on you.

Its advice is restricted to changing settings on 1) who can tag you, and 2) how you should review posts before they appear in your timeline.
 

 
But there is much more you can do. For example, you should also check app permissions and audit privacy settings.

Facebook app permissions.

Facebook privacy settings.

The most important thing you can do is not a Facebook setting. It is a mindset and practice — you should reduce postings or refrain from posting.


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