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Here's the kicker, which I think others have pointed out, but I want to say this succinctly:

First, to quote the article:

> The big gainer, interestingly, is under the same roof as Facebook. It's their co-owned Instagram

Now, to my point: The average person does not care about privacy, just the illusion of privacy (I suspect people reading this site intuitively know this. At some level, nearly everyone is in different ways, it turns out.)

Instagram provides that illusion by not injecting opinionated content into your feed (The most obvious example: you aren't seeing injected news stories in your Instagram feed, generally its only ads and people you follow, and the ads are marked)

Rest assured, they're getting their data's worth, maybe not the same way, but photos (particularly metadata on the photos that most smart phones, for instance, default collect) are just as (if not more so) valuable, not to mention there are still a myriad of other ways of collecting privacy intrusive data about users.

Hows about that?

(just to show my assertion is not completely unfounded, check out this survey:

https://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-views-about...

The survey says: 9 out of ten americans care deeply about privacy (particuarly around data privacy and collection)

Yet, our actions, even faced with the outright knowledge of those very things being actively and routinely violated by services, is not enough for people to leave platforms for good, simply, people shift between social media outlets, like those leaving Facebook over privacy concerns yet still continue to use Instagram, in fact, Instagram is projected to grow as noted in this article, in part because of people migrating away from Facebook)




I think focusing only on privacy is a mistake. Every single person I’ve talked to that has deleted Facebook has done so because it did not improve or enrich their lives whatsoever, in fact, they saw it as a net negative. Why do people feel the need to endlessly browse pictures and statements by loose connections? Not one person I’ve talked to has mentioned privacy.

Yes, many of those people are on Instagram, but some of those have also left IG because they’re seeing the exact same strategy they saw executed on Facebook now being used on Instagram.

I’ve actually seen more people using private iCloud photo shares. I think FB as a whole has exaggerated how many people actually want to share and connect with random people or loose connections.


I think FB and people in general dramatically overstate how many connections they'll lose if they quit Facebook. I quit Facebook 9 years ago, but haven't lost a connection I cared about. I did lose connection with real people that were a net negative in my life, though


> I quit Facebook 9 years ago, but haven't lost a connection I cared about.

I did the same, around the same time, and my experience was the same as yours.

I would go even further -- I found that after I quit Facebook, my connections with the people I actually care about increased rather than decreased once the intermediary was removed and we had to start communicating directly with each other.


There's really no substitute for giving a friend a phone call or meeting them for lunch.


Self-selecting sample. People who are confident they won't lose any friends they value through leaving FB are significantly more likely to drop the platform.


My point is the lack of confidence is probably unjustified. But perhaps I'm wrong. It's not difficult to imagine that connections people think they have are so shallow that they actually would lose the important ones if they left Facebook.


I like the learning aspect of this. Before i was all in, now i know, this new thing is not for me.


I did not leave Facebook because of privacy concerns. That's your biggest mistaken assumption.

I work on Big Data for a living and know how inept companies are at actually doing anything useful with personal data. The data being generated is massive and the vast amount of it is random and useless.

My reason for reducing my social media presence is the Like count next to every thought expressed. By adding a publicly visible number next to every expressed human thought, you influence behavior and thinking. This has all kinds of consequences that tech corps and society are waking up to - ledger.humanetech.com

That is why I have consciously reduced my social media usage.


>I work on Big Data for a living and know how inept companies are at actually doing anything useful with personal data. The data being generated is massive and the vast amount of it is random and useless.

Your anecdotal experience isn't evidence businesses aren't doing anything with data collection which would be worrying to consumers or that privacy concerns are overrated. And yes, this is what that paragraph of yours is implying.

If your company didn't have a strategy for analytics, it doesn't mean others do not either. The mere fact that users get used to that practice is already a win to those who wish to take advantage of that information.

Not to mention that the greatest threat comes from sharing and connecting those databases, so what may have been random and useless may find significance when sold to other aggregators.


Same here.

After working in a fin-tech for a while, I realized how greedy these companies are for data, and how useless they render it. I was amazed by the scarcity of talent and overwhelming amount of routine job I encountered and lack of diversity of projects and space for free thinking.

Anyway, I got rid of FB/Insta years ago(4-5 maybe), and recently I also closed LinkedIn acc. as well, I have low tolerance to BS and self-glorified business gurus. I'd rather do something meaningful in my everyday life)))

Cheers.


I wish I could tell you exactly when it started happening, but the number of vapid and/or histrionic LinkedIn posts floating to the top of my feed has really picked up in the last 12 months or so. What used to be a pretty useful and concise activity feed has started to look more like the uglier sides of your average Facebook feed.

I can't say if it's a content problem associated to the normalization of social apps as a whole (probably a bit) or the changing of the LI algo to push this stuff to the top (probably also attributable), but it's certainly diminished my general experience.

That said, LinkedIn is still very useful for recruiting and being recruited insofar as it is a widely-used database for professional information. I just don't recommend using it casually.


The cyber criminals who penetrate these companies seem to be a bit better at doing useful things with the data.

Not as much of a concern here, but nefarious governments around the world are quite good at doing awful things with this data as well.


> The survey says: 9 out of ten americans care deeply about privacy (particuarly around data privacy and collection)

This is a problem with focus groups. Ask people 'do you care about your privacy', and almost everyone will answer yes.

There's almost zero social cost to answering that question in the affirmative.

On the other hand, there's a good deal of social sacrifice in leaving these platforms for good.

More likely - they don't care about privacy as much as they say they do and are leaving Facebook because it has become a polluted river of crap.


Exactly. Asking someone "do you want to have more savings?" is meaningless. Everyone will say yes. The right question to ask is "will you cook at home to save $10000 a year?"


And even out of the majority of people who will say, “yes, they’ll cook at home to save $10K,” only a small percent of those will actually do so.


> only a small percent of those will actually do so.

Even then, it won't save them the money. Like anything else, if you want to save the money - you have to move it out of your regularly accessed account, and put it somewhere else, ideally an account you can't withdraw as easily from.

So - when you cook for your family to save the money - you need to then (immediately) move the money you would normally spend for dinner (perhaps minus the amount for ingredients, time, and power - if you feel it necessary) over to that other account.

But most people never do that, I'd wager.

Instead, that extra money stays in their primary account, which they then likely spend on something else. So their savings continue to be zero (or likely less), and they continue to wonder where their money goes...


Much easier to appoach these the other way round: I could choose not to cook at home, but that would cost me a fortune, so I never stopped doing it. Best way to avoid expenses is not to commit to them in the first place.

Same goes for avoiding exploitative apps: never install apps unless there's no alternative. Block all ads. Deny all notifications, especially on the desktop browser. No, I won't send you my location.

It's annoying to have to maintain a wall of "no" but it saves problems in the long run.


> On the other hand, there's a good deal of social sacrifice in leaving these platforms for good.

I honestly don't think that there is much social sacrifice involved in leaving these platforms. I think there's a good deal of fear of social sacrifice, though.


You have the exact same pattern around road/airplane/food safety, hygiene and disease control, housing quality, and much more...

All problems that people care about but the average person cannot tackle autonomously.

And that's why societies implemented regulatory bodies (often through national governments, but that's not a requirement).

GDPR is a small step in that direction.


I don't think the migration is caused by privacy concerns. Facebook has become ridiculously bloated with all kinds of features up to the point where it starts resembling enterprise software rather than an online consumer service. Even I, a techie, sometimes have hard times understanding how to do this or that in Facebook.

On the other hand, Instagram is plain simple and understandable.


When I first joined Facebook after jumping ship from Myspace, it was really simple to use with minimal intrusion of media clickbait which is in stark contrast to the bloated and highly optimized for engagement monstrosity it has become today.

I was grandfathered into this experience and it no longer appeals to me today as an adult. I suspect this phenomenon is affecting other early adopters as well. Can anyone else relate?


I joined 10 years ago after the local equivalent of classmates become utterly useless which mean creators had to seek for revenues and that included but wasn't limited to sponsored profiles of local brands and famous people, virtual currency (you could spend on ridiculous pictures that were meant to enrich your profile and interaction with people), games, annoying promotion of their twitter-alike microblog nobody had idea how to use and which caused great uproar. Service was of course filled with ads of which most controversial one was sucking out your profile picture to dump you an customized credit card ad. Before those "improvements" it was a good place to reconnect with people you knew but since it was something new and unknown, a lot of them had no idea how to use it and made fool of themselves or deliberately used it as dating site - hell, at some point profiles of prostitutes of both sexes started to appear. Facebook largely dethroned naszaklasa in upcoming years but IMO didn't improved social skills of most people who carried those along to the new network. The service was sold but still operates and it's popular among less experienced with technology people.

The similar scenario happened with news agregator similar to digg - at the beginning wykop was aimed for powerusers, IT professionals but quickly idea was extended and included content of various type. Userbase grow had an upward trend which of course lead again to monetization; ads, sponsored content, microblog, shameless promotion of certain political agendas were introduced and at the same time, the content quality heavily piked down. Site still operates today under third - if I'm not mistaken, owner but I'm no longer there since interaction with biased content and teenager, 20-something trolls is not appealing at all.

So yeah, I believe it's pretty the same thing everywhere: a simple service idea is successful, userbase grows and revenue sources are needed. Sources are being introduced along with new features but content quality starts to drop. Unpopular decisions are made leading users to migrate in search for better and simple alternatives.


Do you think there is enough abandonment of the core userbase that Facebook can be dethroned?


I really doubt it; they may lost users in long term but not because of new player - they have seem to reached already over-complexity stage with features and thus service will simply become unappealing to existing and new users but that will take time. If they start changing messenger into more discord-slax alike service then they may keep users as this form of communication seems to be getting more popular


I wonder how many people leaving in the USA are fed up with the endless political fights? It’s why I left.


I think they do actually care about privacy but are only ever offered illusion.

The problem really is lack of choice.


No one wants choice either. Having 100 social media apps on your phone is not ideal. We want one choice that is also a good choice. That seems virtually impossible when companies are motivated only by profit and only kept in check by customers having a better choice or by government regulation.

If facebook was driven purely by the motivation to help people stay in touch with their friends and to find events going on it would be a truly wonderful platform. Virtually every issue on facebook comes from seeking profits. At least problems from facebooks side anyway. There is also the social issues of propaganda and jealousy but facebook would have more time to deal with these when they aren't making the company more money.


> That seems virtually impossible when companies are motivated only by profit and only kept in check by customers having a better choice or by government regulation.

Assume this in every situation and you'll never be disappointed ;)


Agreed, as noted in the survey I linked to, 9 out of 10 people (in accordance to this survey, but even its more realistically 7 out of 10, its still a lot of people) claim to. I think its a few things:

1. Awareness. I don't think people are aware of how/what services are collecting data and how that data can be collected

2. Influence. Its hard, I imagine, for a lot of people to drop social media altogether. Its not all vanity. My wife has a disability that sometimes leaves her bedridden for weeks. Without social media, she wouldn't be able to communicate with our friends unless they call/text/come over, which they do, but its not always feasible one of those things will happen, so following them on Instagram and chatting via Facebook Messenger is really helpful in keeping her spirits up in those times.

3. Inertia. I think a lot of the current outrage against Facebook has been media driven, in particular, I think after Trump got elected -

(just a side note here before I continue, I'm talking about a criticism of media in general, not democrat vs republican politics or anything of the sort)-

I have a strong feeling, that I can't really substantiate, so take it as you will, of course (I acknowledge I could be wrong), large main stream news outlets started digging around about the mechanics of that election, and stumbled into the Cambridge Analytica scandal as a result, increasingly their practices came under fire, in part because I think some large media organizations (rightly, in my opinion) blame their data harvesting practices on getting Trump elected in the first place.

This also brings up another point I find so sad: despite the openness of the internet, the mass media still reigns supreme in being able to influence the masses, and I (anecdotally) feel like the power of freely and ubiquitously available knowledge via the internet has not had the impact on this sort of thing that one would have hoped. It was one of the promises of the internet in the 90s, that we would all vastly become more informed and it would take vastly less effort (and it does, if you are looking for it).


If the problem was lack of choice, why do the large majority of all Facebook users never change their privacy settings?

Or why did hundreds of thousands of users actively choose to share their data with a random company called Cambridge Analytica?

The problem is not lack of choice. The problem is that people don't care.


Or why did hundreds of thousands of users actively choose to share their data with a random company called Cambridge Analytica?

They certainly have never chosen to do so. You can accuse them of participating in some innane quiz, but it was exactly the big scandal that not only the participants' data, but also that of their friends was sucked and resold to Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge by the "researchers".


All participants have actively clicked a button to confirm that they would give Cambridge Analytica access to their profile data and data from their friends. The scandal was not that the data was collected without the participants knowledge. The scandal was that they used the data for something else, than what they initially had told the participants.


Slight correction: since 9/10 said they care about their privacy, its more that they are not educated on what Facebook does with their data, or how to limit their own exposure. Lack of education != ignorance.


Maybe they do care about their privacy, they just care more about sharing stuff and more about looking at videoes than they care about looking at ther privacy settings. The media has been all about Facebook and privacy for many, many years. Facebook have had popup dialogs on user feeds asking users to check their privacy settings. People are not uneducated about it. They just don't care enough to change their behavior or make an active change on their settings.


> Instagram provides that illusion by not injecting opinionated content into your feed (The most obvious example: you aren't seeing injected news stories in your Instagram feed, generally its only ads and people you follow, and the ads are marked)

What Facebook content do you consider "injected"? AFAIK, the only things in feed are:

1) Posts, events, shares, etc from people or pages that you follow

2) Posts that your friends have interacted with (liked, commented on, etc)

3) Ads that are marked as "promoted"


Back in the day you didn’t have “pages that you follow,” you had interests listed on your profile. These later became pages that you were automatically signed up to, which the relevant companies post ads on. My feed rapidly became mostly adverts which I’d never actually signed up to receive, and it was more effort to fix it than to just stop checking Facebook.


I think it's number 2. I don't particularly want to see what my random stuff my friends are liking or commenting on. I know Instagram provides this too, but it's separate from the main feed.


And the reverse: I use facebook for very little else than to run my hobby life (and it's been transformational at that!), but my non-hobby network is still connected to the account and I don't want to annoy them with a flood of deeply specific posts (in part because life demands keeping a facade of being a somewhat normal person). So much self-censoring because it would be shown to an uninterested audience I care about.


When I used to visit Facebook, I get "Popular On Your Network" stories.

I consider #2 as injected. Basically, any content that was not directly posted by a "friend" to share to their network.


> Now, to my point: The average person does not care about privacy, just the illusion of privacy (I suspect people reading this site intuitively know this. At some level, nearly everyone is in different ways, it turns out.)

>Instagram provides that illusion by not injecting opinionated content into your feed (The most obvious example: you aren't seeing injected news stories in your Instagram feed, generally its only ads and people you follow, and the ads are marked)

I think you're right about the content that people like being missing, namely shared video and images, but wrong about the underlying reason people prefer that stuff being gone. The content is vastly different on Instagram 90% of the stuff I see is at least tangentally the life/art/activities of the people I follow. It may be a heavily edited near fake version but it's not the 100th 5 minute craft video or a reshared news story from that (more than) slightly kooky uncle.

I think the general lack of a share button (there are ways to 'reinsta' [I believe that's the term] but from the people I follow that's fairly rare and it's mostly sharing art) leads to a materially different type of content. Maybe this is just a byproduct of the different groups in both though Facebook is the older platform for me so there's a lot of people I don't particularly care about anymore on there and Instagram being newer (and not positioned to me as the primary social hub so there's less pressure to follow everyone) I have a more curated list of followers.

Finally Instagram is just much easier to consume to me since it's mostly just the visual snapshot of some activity with less generic shared content and much less video.

TL;DR: I'm not sure it's the privacy differences (perceived or real) between Facebook and Instagram rather than the content differences. ie more things directly related to the people/groups I follow.


Advertising, and tracking user data are not inherently bad. The user must know what's being tracked, and probably more importantly, the user must be getting something of value in exchange. Facebook is an ever-degrading skinner box, providing less and less value to users while being addictive and malicious.

Contrast this with something like Google Maps: It's a privacy nightmare too, but it's also incredibly useful.


> tracking user data are not inherently bad.

If that tracking is being performed on people who have not given informed consent, then it is very bad.


Internet could not be as free as it is without advertising. Facebook and Google need to gain money so that we could use them for free.


> Internet could not be as free as it is without advertising.

I don't think that's true. That's true for certain things, like Facebook and Google, but those sorts of companies do not constitute "the internet".


I rarely use Facebook these days, and the reason has nothing to do with privacy. There's simply nothing interesting on Facebook to pull me back.


> Hows about that?

All I put on Instagram are landscapes and some cityscapes. I do not see like giving away any privacy doing that. Alas, phot-sharing days of Instagram are in the past and stories get more and more annoying every day without any option not to see them :(


I don't have Facebook, but I do have Instagram. For some reason, the ads I see on Instagram are wildly untargeted. Like some Dallas based real estate company advertising to me, even though I'm based out of India


> I don't have Facebook, but I do have Instagram.

Which means you have Facebook in a different costume.


If Instagram doesn't heavily customize the ads or the news feed, then how does it extract any value from the data it collects?


Using the data to personalize ads elsewhere? Does Facebook operate a conventional ad network out on the web? (I could not name it, but I assume they do)


Instagram/FB data crossfeeding.


That means IG will lose its value as people stop spending time on FB. So it would have to develop some independent way to monetize its users.


A few seconds of googling: facebook calls their off-site advertising product "audience network". Same model as Google selling ads placed elsewhere than a search engine result page.


Also object recognition/tagging on Instagram photos


Everyone here is celebrating "people leaving facebook" as if it is a victory. People are simply moving from facebook to instragram as instragram is viewed as more "hip" and "young".

The title could be "Instragram gaining millions of users in the US" but I guess that doesn't sell as well.

Also, facebook may be losing users in the US, but it's gaining users overseas. So overall, facebook's overall user count is going to continue to climb for a while.




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