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Experiences like this led me to leave Facebook, then LinkedIn, a while ago. I haven't deleted my Google+ account only because laziness and fear of an experience like the article's author prevent me from going to the site. People describe leaving as trendy, as if leaving had something to do with other people as opposed to the sites' own repellent behavior. For me leaving was easy and fun -- http://joshuaspodek.com/leaving-facebook-easy-and-fun. Experience has unequivocally shown me my life is better without them.

I have a feeling the market forces forcing Google, Facebook, et al into an arms race after your privacy and personal life will motivate people to leave more and more in favor of small players that do one thing well.

I expect people here will see the writing on the wall first that the sooner you get out the better. Yes, social networks have benefits, but they have costs too.

Deleting Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc accounts improves your life. Deleting them earlier improves your life earlier.

Facebook was already doing a good job driving its own users away.

All Google had to do was go under the Facebook tree, and pick up dropped users off the ground. It really didn't need to go climbing up the tree to pick them off the branches.

As they're climbing the ladder, their own users are falling out of the baskets.

Corny analogy aside, they're not even doing a good job integrating mail, youtube, google, google+. I can't count the number of times I meant to click "Settings" for youtube, and ended up going to either Google+ or Google setting.

All we wanted from G+ was "Facebook, but not Facebook". That's it. That's all. They managed even to fuck that up.

This is google's own version of "the burning platform" (that is, the open web, in some of the more paranoid exec's vision). They are doing everything they can think of to fence off their own portion of the web before it's too late. Every product division has been (or had been) instructed to come up with a plan to integrate somehow with G+. This current youtube disaster is one of the results.

The amazing thing was they managed to blow thirteen years' good will in about two months. All gone. When techies are seriously considering using Bing for search ... you know your brand's gone toxic.

If they'd just backed off in the nymwars, WE'D ALL BE OVER THERE NOW. Fucksakes.

I agree with this. Whether it matters if this good will is gone I don't know, but it might - I know my opinion of google has gone from extremely high to really low, and it is partially so low because of their importance, I believe they have a responsibility to act properly.

I truly believe they are opening a gap that others could exploit. Microsoft, so late to this party, with their userbase and technical know-how, with a lot of their ill deeds from the past forgotten or forgiven. If they decided that they are going to do it right, and not try to exploit users, they could become a threat again. I wonder if they are capable of this anymore though.

Or, reddit, with their substantial userbase of young, technically advanced, and influential users - if they could figure out the scalability issues, they could launch a youtube competitor, for example, and LOTS of people would move there very quickly, even if it is not as good, because they are (so far) known to be pure, whereas google has now proven that is is not pure, and dishonest (do no evil).

It's certainly not easy, but my point is, it's a lot easier when influential and vocal technical users have turned on you, and the degree to which they've turned.

tumblr! It just seems to slip under the radar for everyone, even though it has now, what, 50 million users?

Yep, Yahoo! has a lot of chances of screwing it up, but it's also the largest online pseudonymous social network I can think of.

reddit is an echo chamber even worse than here. i dread depending on its platform for any content

More to the point, it's a nasty community. (Second in nastiness only to Wikipedia)

The tone of reddit is set more by downvoting rather than upvoting. Any post on proggit about any language people actually use gets voted down by an army of bots written in languages that people don't use. Also, they're a bunch of communists because they'll vote you down if you drop any hint that (1) you're in it for the money or (2) you care about business in any way.

Reddit's negativity might make it spam resistant, but it will repell mainstream audiences and prevent their expansion.

You're describing particular subreddits, not reddit.

Reddit is actually the most powerful facebook-alternative in existence today. And I mean alternative in the sense of "community for online conversations" and not necessarily, "place to post baby pictures".

The sort of political and organizing power reddit has shown recently (say, with the SOPA campaign) is not thinkable on facebook or google+. An AMA on reddit has also become a required stop for actors/directors/authors etc. for promoting their latest projects. G+ can only dream of such reach and power and facebook is by design (and branding) not suitable for such "interactive-broadcasting" type of usage.

by your logic we should continue to use facebook then.

now, if you want to start to discuss effectivenes instead of size, take a look at slashcode voting system.

Reddit is not a monolith. There are thousands of communities for every interest beyond the defaults.

It did wonders for imgur?

Just one data point here, but I effectively switched to Bing for search (actually, DDG, but they use Bing among other things to get their results). In all honesty, I think that google's results are slightly better, especially when it comes to technical type of searches (maths, statistics, academic papers, etc..), but for the most common types of searches, DDG does just fine. Reasons for the switch? I was getting a bit upset by all these privacy things, and the NSA stuff got me over the edge 4 or 5 months ago. Not that my new setup is anymore secure, but I think that DDG does an honest effort to not actively screw me over, which is more than can be said of the other tech cos so I'm willing to encourage that type of behavior by giving them a shot.

The nice thing about DDG is that it's extremely easy to use the DDG browser interface to search google if you decide to do so.

In Firefox, if you have DDG as your default search:

  ctrl-k (next thing you type will be a search)
  !g     (A DDG "bang code," in this case "search google")
   whatever (this search will be sent to google)
<ctrl-k>!g whatever, and you're sent to a google search result page. Bonus, you get a better results page URL than google usually gives you.

DDG gets better and better every day. I noticed recently that if you search for a street address DDG gives you a map result from open street map, and gives you links to bing, mapquest, google maps and open street map. It's great.

And btw the DDG bang code for google maps is "!gm" and the bang code for google news is "!gn".

It was specifically the nymwars that drove me out, they wouldn't accept my legal, tax-paying name.

Well, that and it was a pretty vacuous experience.

> They are doing everything they can think of to fence off their own portion of the web before it's too late.

<cough> AOL <cough> <cough>

Yeah, I remember two or three years ago there was a long bout of Facebook rage here, and I posted what I would like from Google as a replacement (under an earlier account). And G+ became almost exactly what I was wishing for, except they went out of their way to make it suck.

"Experiences like this led me to leave Facebook"

I would go on a tangent to this, that I never got any actionable information or other life improvement from facebook. I tried, really hard, for six months, to participate and get something out of it, but it was just a huge time waster so I wiped it.

Although supposedly youtube is only (or mostly) used for trash talking comments on kitten videos, I have occasionally gotten actual useful data and experiences from youtube. Programming screencasts and the like. Also the videos I watch and comment on are of a professional-ish level I like being associated with.

So I'm finding the outrage hard to generate. If the whole world finds out my real name liked a university video lecture about simulating a vibrating 2-D plane using multiple stack computers solving differential eqs instantiated on a FPGA as a lab exercise at Columbia, well, I'm not going to ragequit youtube over it. In fact I think thats just great.

Its their property; if they want to drastically change its culture (to something I happen to prefer) its hard for me to feel bad about it. There was a cheesy falling apart barn nearby the Interstate not too far from where I live. The new owners painted it; outrage from traditionalists who would rather see it torn down than painted. What do I care, other than I happen to like the new paint job? If the complainers don't like it, they can put up their own antique barn and let it decay unpainted, or they could have bought the old barn.

The original author didn't like that the rabbit bathing video site decided to dump him, so shout out, you can't dump me because I'm dumping you first. Well all this high school dating drama is amusing for me to watch, but I have a FPGA video to get back to watching. And if someone finds out, that's OK with me.

Unlike facebook, youtube can demand a fair trade because its content is actually worth something. OK here's my real name, now let me watch something useful.

This might be the end of youtube as we know it, as a complete waste of time, I mean. It doesn't mean the end of the site.

Not everyone wants the stuff they do online completely public. I don't want a potential employer to read a stupid comment I left 7 years ago, or my family to read something I said about atheism, or my friends to read my political comments. Let alone having to explain why I just watched or liked some video, not even leaving a comment. Just because you use a website only for professional stuff doesn't mean everyone does.

Again with the "it's their right to do whatever they want with it, so you can't complain". First of all it's perfectly fair for people to complain or criticize a service. Especially if they use it a lot or depend on it. It's certainly frustrating to use a website for years and be forced to leave it or deal with the changes.

Second YouTube is basically a monopoly. There are not many other video sharing sites, especially with lots of viewers, to post videos on. And for viewers almost all the videos on the internet are hosted on YouTube and most content creators. It's not like we have much of a choice to just go somewhere else if we don't like it.

My thing about anonymity and Internet commentary is that neither the producers of content, nor maintainers of the medium, should be under any obligation to provide the consumers with an anonymous forum. This isn't even an issue of "build your own video streaming site with a comments system you like"; YouTube has a nice API. Build your own anonymous community. Or just use Reddit or whatever.

At one point, the comments were probably really useful to YouTube. They probably increase the virality of the content, before Facebook and Twitter provided new ways to share. But now, it's a liability. Advertisers don't want their product to be juxtaposed with unaccountable commentary, and advertisers are the ones that finance the whole enterprise, for better or for worse.

I'm really glad Google finally decided to do something about their video comments. They host some of the vilest commentary I've seen on any mainstream site.

Yes they do have an obligation. No one is going to use your additional commenting system over the actual site's system. You don't really have a choice but to use it. Limited anonymity is very important. People regret what they said years earlier. People don't want their future employers reading what they said online. People don't want to keep certain things private from their family. Youtube isn't a social network and they are trying to merge it in with one.

I'm not aware of advertisers ever caring about comments and if so that's absolutely ridiculous. Keep in mind they also allow anyone to post videos of anything at all short of porn and place adverts right over that. Plenty of forum sites have ads as well. I really doubt that was ever an issue and it's incredibly silly if it was.

Fixing the comments doesn't require removing anonymity or even censorship.

The problem with youtube comments is that it was a huge mainstream site open to everyone. Unlike niche communities that filter out certain kinds of people just because they don't go to the site. Second there was no sorting of comments at all. Anything anyone posted immediately appeared at the top. Like and dislike buttons had no functional use, they were a joke.

And the comments still suck and they always will.

Here's the thing, I used to write very polite comments on YouTube that could be divided in either opinions that added to the discussion or questions to the uploader but now this goggle+ bs is so annoying and inconvenient that from now on I'm not making any comments anymore.

But the racist idiot posting the most vile and offensive stuff you have ever read is going to sick around because he enjoys doing that.

I don't know what to do with your comment. I think every single person I know over age 50 on Facebook has gotten a lot out of it, for instance, if for no reason other than they used it to reconnect with old friends. But you didn't get anything out of it so you deleted it.. ok - is there some bigger point you're making? I'm missing it.

It sort of sounds like another one of those "I'm 22 and don't understand why other people can't just be true to themselves and don't want their real name associated with every single thing they've ever said or done" rants against old people, but I wouldn't slap that accusation on you.

I think people just want to say things sometimes without it hanging around forever. Like yelling out something funny in a crowd. What's wrong with that?

"is there some bigger point you're making?"

Sorry for responding late. TLDR of my long post is its a privacy market. The trade happens when both sides think they're getting the better half of the deal at the same time. FB is a classic privacy market which I got almost nothing from, so I'm not willing to trade more than a microscopic amount of privacy for it, in fact I'm not willing to participate at all. On the other hand, I feel I get substantial "stuff" in exchange for giving up some privacy on youtube, there actually is some worthwhile stuff there, so I feel its a fair trade. This market making balance varies pretty widely across different people at different sites. I could have just as well used HN as my example of trading off privacy (however little) vs what I get out of it (which is a lot) but FB is the standard market player for privacy discussions, so...

On the bigger picture, I suspect those who run YT know what they're doing, and this is a reasoned decision. You must give up this much more privacy to trade, means they are hoping / expecting the value of whatever videos they're shipping will improve to make it worthwhile. Or they just can't monetize anonymous cute cat video comments anymore so abandon that market sector, which is frankly not much of a loss to humanity.

I also get a lot of value out of youtube videos. I am pretty careful about never being logged in to google except to do occasional maintenance/checking on my legacy email addres, so I don't worry too much about being tracked beyond my IP, and I never need to leave comments anyway.

I'm learning a few instruments, and I find a lot of instructors use youtube for that. (Although I'm finding I prefer instructors' vimeo videos when they do it that way.) Some of them are very good. As long as youtube lets me view without logging in, I'm happy. I'll react in some rational way if they change that.

It's been a while since youtube started restricting access to video that have been flagged. I don't remember when exactly but in 2009 there were already videos explaining how to circumvent this "feature": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUkrX7PZNok

Then there are the video you can't watch from third party websites and from certain regions and so on.

It is an improbable possibility that google will require to be logged in to watch youtube videos, but it's still could happen one day.

but you have option. like that fancy pants academic video? nice. thumbed up a silly cat video just to show someone later on your phone? too bad. its there now too.

It's very hard for me to imagine someone who wants to try so very hard to maintain a serious public image that they won't be caught liking a silly cat video on YouTube. That seems hilariously self-important.

Replace silly cat video with some video about a medical condition (I know I've gone to YouTube to check something relevant and medical before). And you can see how people start to feel uncomfortable when their identity is plastered all over the relevant page.

>It's very hard for me to imagine someone who wants to try so very hard to maintain a serious public image that they won't be caught liking a silly cat video on YouTube. That seems hilariously self-important.

Eh, I think this idea that we must live our whole life in public (to the /same/ public using the /same/ identity) is a bit insidious. Especially in these days of "cultural fit" - it leads to this idea that you need to spend your private life in service of your professional life.

If you have an unpopular hobby or sexual proclivity, keeping that out of your professional life, in many circles, could be even seen as polite; At the office? nobody wants to know about your love for furry fan-fiction.

Sure, cute cat videos are different from furry fan fiction, but... if I'm "following" you? I will "unfollow" if there are a bunch of cute cat videos. I mean, unless I'm following you for your great taste in cute cat videos. More to the point, if I'm evaluating you and, say, your long screeds advocating a political cause I find particularly distasteful keep coming up, I might have a hard time evaluating you rationally, on your skills. (Also, if I'm hiring you, I want you to be able to leave the bullshit at home. Leaving the bullshit in another identity helps with that sort of thing.)

I really think that multiple identities is the solution. You can have your cute cat picture identity, your furry fan-fiction identity, your radical socialist identity, and your professional programmer identity. I can choose to follow the identity I find interesting. I mean, yeah, if someone /really wants/ to connect your furry fan-fiction identity to your professional programmer identity, they can. However, if you practice proper identity hygiene, it becomes much easier for me (or another third party) to interact with the professional programmer, without dealing with your hobbies I have no interest in, or maybe even find distasteful.

Most of the "real name" folks seem to think that by making everything public, we will see that we are all weirdos, and become more accepting of our differences.

I guess that's my prime problem with the 'real name' folks; I think that it's just fine to do business with, or even relate socially to folks that have hobbies or political views that I believe are downright wrong. I don't think that 'acceptance' is required for that. I think that you can like and trust one facet of a person's personality, without liking other facets of their personality.

I want to be able to say "I think this person is a great programmer" without implying that I also endorse their badly written Spock/Kirk slash fiction, or their half-baked anarcho-capitalist political rants.

That's still one of the primary ways Google+ tries to differentiate itself as a social network. In fact I remember some of their commercials describing an almost identical situation. 'Circles' let you share things with only the people you know who care about them. I don't know how this works with YouTube, I don't use it very much. But it's implemented pretty well on Google+.

does plus let you display different names to different circles? I didn't think so (but maybe I'm wrong. I'm a big advocate of one browser (or one profile) and one account per identity, so I haven't really messed with circles.) - without that capability, circles are... much less useful.

No, it doesn't. All of my social circles are tied to me in real life in one way or another, so using a false identity isn't really something that's important to me. I can see how it would be in some cases though, especially if a particular social circle is entirely online.

Personally I'm a big fan of encouraging the use of real identities for reputation management in online communities instead of relying on fake Internet points. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes down!

>Personally I'm a big fan of encouraging the use of real identities for reputation management in online communities

For me personally? I use my real name for most things. It's convenient. And in a "cultural fit" world, well, I am a "cultural fit" for my profession, so why not run with it? Nearly everything I've done online in the last decade has been under my real name.

That's the key, though. Being a 'cultural fit' means that the community is unlikely to have a problem with my personal life, and if they do, it's likely to be a minor sort of thing.

Actually, the multiple identities thing you talked about is one of the new G+ features on YouTube. You can create a G+ Page, which is treated as a separate profile across YouTube and G+. This Page is internally linked to you (but no one can see the original owner) and you can switch in and out of it by clicking "Switch Accounts".

Edit: forgot to mention, you have to explicitly connect the G+ Page to YouTube.


huh. That is pretty cool. I mean, there's a lot of room here for 'human factors' kinds of screwups, but... that looks like they are heading in a reasonable direction.

Note, that functionality is exactly what the author of the article is objecting to.

That's not typically how people operate though. When you go to your crazy culty church or your Socialist Workers Party meeting or your gun club or your polyamory potluck you don't typically go by a pseudonym, you just don't expect your work friends and your church friends to overlap, and if they do, who cares, your friend was at church too. The problem seems to be reconciling this with a world where you can google for people or add them on social networks where all these disparate things happen online. But even then, there's a simple solution--don't use social networks. Sign up for the gun forum, the polyamory forum, the culty megachruch forum, the Socialist Workers Party forum, and even if you use your real name or a traceable pseudonym, people would have to go out of their way to match things together, and with a lot of false positives along the way.

Google's stated goal is to organize the world's information. That (presumably) includes linking and making easily searchable all those pseudonyms at those diverse forums you use. Trusting that those bits of interaction will stay nicely in their own corners is like trusting that only your high-school buddies will see that compromising picture you just posted on Facebook.

but then why do you "like" or "+1" the cat videos in the first place, if not to make it known to the world that you liked them?

>but then why do you "like" or "+1" the cat videos in the first place, if not to make it known to the world that you liked them?

My point is that I may have 'cat video friends' who, you know, are in to that sort of thing, with whom I may wish to share these sorts of things.

My point is that while it's fine to have my cat video friends, I ought to have the option of not sharing my 'cat fancy' with other groups who may look down on that sort of thing.

well then it looks like you are not looking for the +1 button, but for something more complicated than that, an ACL'd endorsement of sorts. Right now the closest thing to that is to just reshare the video to your 'cat video friends' circle :)

I have liked a lot of things as thank-you or acknoledgement to the author. If I want to make something known, if I want to spread the word, I clicked the "share" button, that was its purpouse.

You can send a message to the author if you want to acknowledge something privately. The +1 button is there to make it publicly known that you endorse the content, that is its purpose.

thumbed up a silly cat video just to show someone later on your phone?

But there are lots of ways to share YouTube videos, forwarding a URL being one that does not even require any YouTube account or bookmarking for yourself to load it up later.

why would you click thumbs up when you meant bookmark? that's the wrong button.

I'm really psyched about Tent (https://tent.io/) as an alternative model. If people start to build apps around it, the promise is a system that puts storage and sharing into the hands of the user, not the provider.

And https://cupcake.is is a really dope free service people can use to kick the tires of it.

EDIT: Here is an example: https://siracusa.cupcake.is/profile.

Friggin' awesome. I have been thinking of a way to do social media but strictly under your own control, on your own server (until you decide to share something). It sounds like that's what these guys are doing.

Still, people like stranger-to-stranger social media as well, like with Instagram. I suppose that functionality will always lie with a third party, since no privacy can be assumed in that case.

I think the way you would do this on Tent is that you would choose from many CMS apps capable of editing your blog post type (presumably, these apps will spring up as the ecosystem matures). While you're still crafting the post, you can set its sharing permissions such that no one else can see it. Perhaps you want to share it with individuals before you go public.

One way to publish it would be to have your front-end platform act as a subscriber to posts with some type of "published" flag. This sort of paradigm would be amenable to having multiple aggregators acting as the front-ends for syndicating content.

Comments on your posts would themselves be Tent posts, created by readers and hosted in their own Tents. Readers could have some of their conversations on your content publicly, but could also @-mention other users by Tent Entity URL to have private conversations within their social groups.

I really think the sky is the limit, because the system puts the data in the users' wheelhouses, and there can be all sorts of innovation in presentation and interactivity, decoupled with many of the concerns about storage.

Platforms could still monetize post content that they create and mediate, it's just that users would be able to choose the platforms that serve them best, rewarding those providers.

I think there's probably a lot of stuff to figure out still, but I'm very excited to see where this goes.

Like the web, global search and recommendations can be easily powered by Tent search engines (actually easier on Tent than the web since content is pushed, not pulled). Tent also supports content licensing on the post level so users can choose how their data can be used.

the second I read "build apps" I knew this is not even close to an alternative models.

the only alternative model is decentralized, encrypted and pseudonymous/anonymous. Maybe something along the lines of btsync, btchat mixed with pursuit [1].

[1]: http://www.fp7-pursuit.eu/PursuitWeb/

Tent is decentralized-- most Tent apps connect only to the user's own Tent server (they aren't hosted and don't "phone home"). Tent supports client-side encryption and strongly encourages anonymity.

You just described Tent!

I am late to this party, so I doubt my comment will be seen but...

I think you are oversimplifying the pros/cons of social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are incredibly useful as networking tools if nothing else. I can maintain a network of people in many different cities and countries and keep up on family/friend developments without talking on the phone for hours. Plus it makes sharing things like articles, photos, and videos much easier. The list goes on and on...

As for privacy? Well, celebrities live with the absence of privacy as a requisite of becoming famous. We enjoy a free service with the implicit agreement that we are giving something of ourselves in exchange--our eyeballs and personal data for ads. It's up to you to make that choice, but you can't whine when you enjoyed a free service for so long.

Celebrities also generally receive large amounts of money and other perks for their loss of privacy. Facebook can film me 16 hours a day if they hook me up with a couple mil.

E-mail and blogs can do that as well.

I think you're underestimating the lengths people will go to in order to use the company whose products they are already somewhat familiar with. Google+ has certainly made a big mess of Google's accounts and settings systems, but I'll just stumble my way through all of that occasionally to avoid potentially getting burnt by some smaller company that I don't know as much about.

I found that unsubscribing from friends feeds and only following certain publications that are in tune with my personal interests has allowed me to stay with Facebook longer. More recently however I have been moving towards twitter / hn for my news intake and conversation, and Facebook has remained in my routine only as a 'bad habit'

Experience led me to not get a gmail when the service opened, actually I stayed away of anything google (except the search engine while it provided relevant results) since it switched from being a search engine to an ads seller based on profiling of people.

Then being hired to uncover people's identity from their online activity in times before so called "social networks" were coined led me to never register on friendster, myspace or any other followers of this trend. I failed to see the benefits of linkedin which still spams on a regular basis (if anyone knows how to stop receiving emails from linkedin...) and saw where facebook was headed in their attempt to be the new msn which for those who remember was microsoft attempt to destroy the internet by replacing it with a microsoft owned network which came bundled with windows 95.

I value freedom, therefore privacy, I refuse to be the product being sold and hate with a passion anything ads-based for I have experienced the web before ads which is the vector from which privacy invasion and surveillance came to be.

For some reason people started to offer money to display ads banner on websites but asked for at least a way to count and track clicks on those banners and It's been all downhill from there. For those who read TAZ by Hakim Bey he put the end of the potential of the web to put the people in power around 1996 when ads came to the web and turned it into a surveillance tool.

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