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Posts Tagged ‘passport

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.

One teen says that she and her friends are leaving Facebook. Another says that she and all her friends are still on.

So are teenagers leaving Facebook?

Yesterday, Pew Internet stated that teens are starting to “diversify their social media portfolio” so this means they are not necessarily abandoning their Facebook profiles. It could just mean they are also using other social media tools like Twitter or Instagram [1][2].

Those that use Facebook infrequently (or practically abandon it) might treat it like a passport.

Passport protector by kalleboo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  kalleboo 

It is a form of digital identity. Unless you are the equivalent of an frequent international flyer on Facebook, you rarely need it.

I rarely need Facebook. It is a means for people to connect with me but I choose to create, curate, critique, and converse elsewhere.

Facebook was very social at first. But it became complicated and took too long to go mobile. Twitter is disproportionately powerful for its simplicity. Google+ is tightly integrated with Google Apps and Search.

You also have clearer and more logical control with the latter two tools. With Facebook, you feel obliged to friend or friend back. You can choose your friends but the question that is put to you is: Why don’t you want to friend me?

With Twitter, you can choose who you want to follow (in general use) or be part of your personal learning network (in the case of education). With Google+ you can segregate people into groups and choose who you share what with.

Twitter and Google+ are like a radio or TV with which you can choose what to tune in to, and also like ham radio in that you can join or create communities. That is far more social than just friending.

It is not enough to stay relevant; it is important to keep up with the times. This fact was reinforced when I had to renew my passport and when I read a Straits Times forum letter recently.

I am glad that we can apply for a new passport online. We provide a digital photo based on specifications by the ICA and there is even a tool to get the photo just right. You get email notification as to when the passport is ready (in three to five business days). You also get to choose the day and time for the appointment to pick up the passport.

This system works well while you work from home. But it degenerates when you actually have to collect the passport.

You still have to join the main queue to collect the passport even though you have an appointment. ICA still sends snail mail to your letter box. I received the snail mail notification to pick up my passport after I had already collected it.  The latter notice provided more explicit instructions than the email notice.

Why bother with the snail mail when the email is immediate? The snail mail is a waste of time and resources. There is no confirmation of receipt of the snail mail whereas you know that the email recipient has been notified because they can only make an appointment online thereafter.

Why make me join the main queue when I have taken the trouble to fill in the forms, take and edit my own photo and arrange a mutually agreeable time to meet? I am not asking for special treatment. I am asking for the stated service.

Yes, there are a few “aunties” and “uncles” whose idea of technology predates the pen, but they are a dying breed and ably supported (and soon to be replaced) by smartphone toting relatives by their side.

I also read with mild amusement a forum writer’s exasperation with writing cheques (or checks to US readers). I am thankful that I rarely have to write them, but when I do I am reminded of how archaic the practice and the principles of preparing and processing cheques are, particularly in the day of electronic funds transfers with multiple layers of security and identity confirmation. And I have read that even in places where cheques are still used (hello, USA!), you can use your smartphone to cash them in!

Sigh, call me impatient, but I would like the human race to actually race.

In the meantime, I will pore through the teacher investiture package that arrived on my table. The envelope contained a file. The file in turn held one colourful piece of paper after another, containing information which could easily and more conveniently be put in email or a website.

Sigh once more…

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