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Posts Tagged ‘facebook

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.

The aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandals are online movements like #deletefacebook.

As much as I dislike that platform, this is not something that most people will do. For them, Facebook is a necessity for remaining in touch with people socially and professionally. They are not going to #deletefacebook.

However, it they do not do not take reasonable action, they risk their data being misused or abused. Facebook has long evolved. We are not users of the product; we are the product.

Under pressure, Facebook will tighten privacy controls. But it will still use our data. The issue is not IF it uses our data — it has to — but HOW it uses our data.

We have some control on how Facebook uses are data. Every time we read and write in Facebook, we provide data. The permissions we give Facebook guarantee its use.

I suggest we do not give away so much so that we open ourselves to abuse. By way of analogy, it is one thing to let people know your home address and it is another to let them know the code to your gate and door.

Periodically I do personal data security and privacy check-ups. At the moment this is a manual plow-through process in Facebook.

I also do not post anything in Facebook or allow too many mentioned postings. My last Facebook posting was in May 2015 where I said that I “avoid Facebook like it is the plague”. My last allowed mention was in April 2016.

I might start using Firefox for reading community postings in Facebook to prevent data leaks.

I choose to use Facebook like a passport. Like international travel, it is a form of identity, but I only use it when necessary. It is not my default or go-to, so I do not use Facebook credentials to log in to other online services.
 

You need to read and watch these exposés on how Facebook enabled Cambridge Analytics to access and capitalise on user data.


Video source
 

Video source

If your time is precious, just watch the video immediately above of the whistleblower revealing his role and the impact of his actions.

TLDR?

  • Cambridge Analytica tapped a professor’s idea to get users’ Facebook data with a personality survey app.
  • According to the whistleblower, it took a few hundred thousand initial users to generate the corpus of data that came from millions of users who were associated with the initial few.
  • The tool mined the initial users’ families, friends, and acquaintances so that the company then had access to tens of millions of users’ data.
  • According to the New York Times, only the 270,000 survey participants gave their permission for their data to be used; the rest from the resulting raw corpus of 50 million profiles did not.
  • The company then fed users with targetted resources to sway opinion.
  • Cambridge Analytica would not have been able to do this if not for Facebook’s fast and loose data use policies. This was not Facebook’s first strike (see my curated resources).

This incident is unlikely to be Facebook’s last because most people seem to close their eyes and mouths to such misuse of data. If Facebook does not lose face, it will brazenly continue along this path.

You can choose to block its path or get off this well-beaten track. Unless you are powerful, influential or heavy-handed, you are unlikely impede the Facebook juggernaut.

If you are like me, you can choose to stay off Facebook or try not to provide it data that it and its partners can turn against you.

Today I highlight two videos that provide insights into current issues.


Video source

The first is about what some workers are worried about — robots taking over their jobs. This is an issue made real by what people can already see happening around them.

It seems to be a relatively immediate threat, so policymakers and workers alike spread and share the worry.


Video source

The second is about the harm that Facebook has brought. Facebook ostensibly wanted to do good, but in reaching almost everyone on this planet, did not regulate its own ambition.

This issue is less obvious to most people than the previous one. However, I think that it is as big a threat, if not bigger, than robots taking over jobs. Robotisation is a result of many agencies and stakeholders that are subject to rules and standards; Facebook is one mega corporation that makes its own rules and standards.

The irony is that laypeople has little say in robotisation. But we make Facebook what it is and we empower — and possibly embolden — it by using it indiscriminately or not objecting to its poor practices.

How more myopic can we get?

 
Most people I know do not question Facebook. They should, as an issue of:

I use Facebook as little as possible. I once described it like a passport that I use for identification.

I am part of a few Facebook groups, but I do not post to them. I refrain from posting in my timeline (my last one was in 2015). I do not wish to pour fuel into the fire.

I squirm each time I have to mention Facebook as one possible social media-based professional development option for teachers. For me that is like recommending a seedy bar for it salads simply because lots of people go there.

Just say no. It gets easier with practice.

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