Today, after much investigation, I've come to a hypothesis that technology's purpose is to gently erode the concept of "self" as it grows in power and scope. We drive this growth, but at the same time more than a few of us worry about how the growth is affecting our "right" or "natural state" of privacy to be who we want to be without blame or for someone speaking (in aggregate) to what our actions may hold in the future. It seems obvious privacy is a good thing, because as long as privacy exists someone can't take your information and do things in private with it as they see fit. The more tech they have, the more they can do with your data and the more they can "invade" your privacy.
Facebook's accumulation of information is concerning, not so much from the standpoint of the addiction that causes us to contribute to the quantity of data, but from the standpoint of collective thinking that arises from it.
I don't want to be part of a collection or be told to think with the collection. I want to be me and think about things that are important to myself. I want to do that without anyone else telling me how to think about it or speaking for what I know at a later date without knowing me.
Exactly, although it's being done in a roundabout and non-obvious way. There are millions of tech folks, all (in my mind) honestly trying to create technology to empower folks to do things they've never done before.
But the beauty of tech is generalization, creating cookie-cutter choices. Everything we do, and in ever way we interact with tech, it's more and more leading us down pre-canned behavioral pathways. Even when completely unintended, the place where tech is taking us unless we drastically change our ways is something like the commodification of the species. It's a freaking horror show.
The Borg are going to go from sci-fi super villains to an accurate description of our great-grandkids in just a generation. Amazing.
Will the last human please go outside and do something unique?
I deleted my Facebook in high school in 2010 also, out of paranoia of this exact future. The problem is that if someone sums over the comments I make on other media, they could deduce my identity anyways. In the big picture Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, HackerNews, etc. are all in the same boat. I imagine there exists software which sums over many common sources (FB, TW, HN, IG, YT, RD, etc.) to find correlations in prose structure, post time patterns, topic similarity, sentiment similarity, etc. to identify people, or at least reduce the search space. The NSA would likely use such software, if it existed.
Now sidestep to phones. Nation states can tap into your calls and to your location through the GPS info tied to your phone. So if you want your calls to be anonymous you pay cash for a burner and only turn it on and use it in large crowds. Ok, that seems ok, but burner phones are specifically targeted since they are more likely to be associated with behavior a government would want to track. So now what happens is as soon as the burner comes on you are triangulated, phones near you are identified and these are used to start to pinpoint who you are. Social media of everyone near the burner can be mined. Over time if you continue to use the same burner the higher likelihood of being identified.
But these figurative "burners" are everywhere. Little, tiny, seemingly untraceable ticks, invisible to the naked eye. Computers are telescopes in the bit world, eyes on us at all times. People don't seem very concerned. You can't just pour water and sand over your digital footprints to erase them... I would not be surprised if FB held on to my data 7 years after I deleted my account.
You're describing a kind of 'tell' I think. Still an interesting point you make.
 Sorry for the google ref link but I have fb hosts blocked and couldn't find an easy way to just copy the actual link:
The link to permanently delete is only found inside help articles.
Centralized corporate-style internet services may achieve that, but many other kind of technologies strive for and achieve the exact contrary. I'm thinking of all the free (as in freedom) social networks that allow people to express their true self, to say what they can't say in their outside social life.
Two aspects necessary for these types of communities to exist I think I've identified are: 1. having a persistent identity that isn't linked to your real life one, and 2. having minimal moderation (either hierarchical or caused by mob mentality). Basically the opposite of Facebook.
Or do you maybe think putting up your information on that open and permanent graveyard that is the web could put you at risk, someday?
If not, then I envy you, but you're not the norm, nor can you guarantee that your environment always be this supportive. What's guaranteed though, is that the databases will still be there.
That's how novel artistic and political movements are born, from people not being afraid to share "offensive" ideas. "Secret online alter egos" allow you to discuss ideas that you couldn't have considered otherwise, and because we humans tend to restrict our thoughts to our field of possibilities, these alternate identities will actually make you have more of these creative ideas.
Of course you can keep all that to yourself and either continue living the life that society has prepared for you, or try alone to change it, but that's pretty limiting.
No, it's up to the person who likes give up as much information as possible that you hang around. "Hey, I ate lunch with ikeyany today", now held in Facebook and Instagram forever. "Tagged: ikeyany" in the wedding photos of your friend.
Even if you're a digital hermit, you'll still be found and categorized, since everyone else seems to love giving up all their personal information.
I closed my account yesterday for these reasons and also because, I can honestly say, it's just a boring distraction and waste of my time.
LinkedIn does this as well. I don't know about others.
Or you can go the full ban hammer route and add all of facebook's known domains to your hosts file.
 - https://github.com/jmdugan/blocklists/tree/master/corporatio...
Even if you haven't signed up for a facebook account but someone you know has an account, they by proxy, you have an account. Merely existing as a contact in their address book is enough to create a shadow profile with facebook. Their deep-learning algos can collate such data from all your friends and serve you correspondingly appropriate ads.
In fact, I just thought of an experiment that you could try sometime.
1. Buy a new cellphone number and store a small number of contacts (say, about 5) in your phonebook. Make sure all 5 of them have functional & active FB accounts.
2. Install the FB app on the phone and grant it access to your phonebook.
3. Open the app, create a new user and check out the list of suggested friends.
I think you'll be surprised.
As the original commenter said, LinkedIn seems to be even worse with this, creating those spooky empty default accounts for your grandmother or your child's best friend's dad.
I think there will be a backlash against all this - surely it is a case of diminishing returns for the social media corps, combined with an ever-growing sense of _unnecessary_ intrusion by their users?
If person D some day decides to install, say, WhatsApp (or even if he had it before Facebook acquired it), it also has his text messages, and photos shared through said app. It can all be linked to that shadow profile with that phone number. If D at some point typed his email-address into WhatsApp, or signed up at some site that shares data with Facebook, it's also easily linked to that shadow profile.
A bit unrelated to your broader point, but I recently dropped my phone and shattered the camera lens, and have been astonished at how much less I'm using social media. It's even more surprising because I don't actually post that much and don't take a ton of photos relative to others.