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Posts Tagged ‘facebook

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.

For me reading some Facebook (FB) group posts is like feeding a morbid habit of watching train wrecks.

I can see them coming because they are guaranteed. The conversations (if they can be called that) are unpleasant, but I plow through anyway. Why? All for the single pearl in the mud trampled by swine.
 

 
By comparing what I do and read in FB and Twitter, I realise that the issue is granular control. I can choose who I follow on Twitter. I can only choose which groups I join in FB.

I can even block people in Twitter so that I curate the right kind of followers. This is not the same as muting people on FB as the control is finer and deeper in Twitter.

It is strange that the more verbose FB provides less granularity of control while the shorter form Twitter provides more. This starts to make sense if you buy in to this description: FB is where you hang out with family or friends. Twitter is where you learn from strangers. It makes sense to have locks on your front door, but not on the ones inside.

But this is where the description falls apart. FB groups are full of strangers who have a lot to say with very little sense. You need only examine any FB interest group with the lens of granularity to realise how this leads to breadth instead of depth.

By breadth I mean the reach that large FB groups have in transmitting information. By lack of depth I mean unsubstantiated rumour, baseless information, or knowledge built on weak foundations.


Twitter is not immune from these, of course. But you can choose who to follow and you can even choose who follows you. You can go for quality, not just quantity, and by doing so choose depth over breadth. As you reputation grows over time, you might develop reach and breadth.

Developing depth over breadth is a more responsible approach. I wonder if this is modelled and taught in digital and media literacy modules. If this is not, then learners just go with the flow of popularity contests that favour breadth over depth.

 
As much as I dislike Facebook (FB) for how it operates and what it stands for, I laugh at the call to #deletefacebook.

Not everyone can afford to. Not everyone should. For example, your FB profile might be the simplest way to stay connected with others socially and/or professionally. You may also need to verify your identify with sites like AirBnB using FB.

When we use FB, we trade some privacy and personal data for connection and convenience. The problems lie in how FB uses (or abuses) our data and how much we choose to share.

We cannot control the former because FB’s processes are not transparent and it is not tightly regulated. For example, it took more digging only after the Cambridge Analytica scandal for us to learn that FB monitors our Messenger conversations and archived user videos after they deleted them.

Instead the onus is on us to manage what and how much we share. That is a bigger problem than FB policies and practices. Why? First consider the “rule of threes”.

The “rule of threes” is that a person can survive for about three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Many find their voice and shape their identities on FB. Depending on how much they rely on it, FB might be their air, water, or food.

This is also why I think most programmes that claim to “detox” you from FB or any other social media platform are nonsense. Unless you are addicted, there is no need for a detox.

The more we realise that social media is a modern necessity and not a luxurious option, the clearer our thinking, and the better our approaches to managing it. Each of us needs to find a healthy balance.

As for me, I only use FB like a passport. FB was cool and cute in its younger days, like a tiger cub. Now older, larger, and more powerful, it has grown into its natural instincts — it is no longer your pet or friend or under your control. FB no longer appreciates what you feed it; it sees you as a complete meal.

So I place a barrier between FB and me. I still am associated with FB, but I can say that I mostly own my FB identity. It does not own me.


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