Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Get your loved ones off Facebook (saintsal.com)
471 points by Siimteller on Feb 1, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 291 comments

All privacy concerns aside, Facebook has had declining utility to me (and my loved ones) over the last few years, which has translated into less and less use by everyone in my network. My news feed from three to five years ago was much more diverse in terms of content and number of people posting. Today, every other post is an ad, and in between are the posts of the remaining power users in my network. I'm not sure if anyone else has had this experience, but I would label the power users as the least common denominators in my network. Thus, my news feed has come to resemble a trashy tabloid magazine more so than a collection of the goings-ons of my network of friends. In my mind's eye, the Facebook ecosystem is like a corrupt, dangerous, almost comic book-like city: A lot of good people may still live there but they only occasionally peak out of the blinds from the protection of their homes and they rarely participate in the community. The streets are filled with trash, and the people running freely on the streets are lunatics and crooked cops. But maybe that's just my wild, childish imagination. I'm a much heavier user of instagram these days, which is probably just like a movie set with sunny skies built within this corrupt ecosystem of Facebook.

Exactly this...

If I am friends with someone, I want their feed unless I explicitly turn it off. But then I remember that I am not the customer, I am the product.

For I don't think the problem is that my less garrulous friends aren't writing about their lives, but rather that some stupid machine learning algorithm has decided on my behalf that I don't wish to hear from them because I don't tend to reply to or "like" the things they post. I know this because I occasionally seek their facebook pages out and find out what I've been missing.

And still, blatant tangent, I can't edit my Facebook updates from the mobile client.

That IMO is an example of the true robot apocalypse: a bunch of "performance enhancements" and marching moron machine learning algorithms that pass A/B tests by some ill-conceived metric and get inflicted on us all to improve shareholder value by Google, Facebook et al.

Facebook isn't alone here: On my Android phone, Google Now was initially useful. It provided location-dependent weather, stock information, time/date-sensitive commute information along with occasional bits of news that related to frequent search terms. If only they'd stopped there. Recently, they "improved" it with a new ridiculously white-spaced layout (WTF is up with whitespacing a 6" screen anyway?) and a tsunami of distracting trivia about anything I had searched for in recent months and nearly every place I had driven, even #%$%ing gas stations and one-time doctor appointments. Obviously, this also passed some sort of A/B test to make it into production, but all it made me do was factory reset my phone and turn off nearly every feature of Google Now.

And that's why IMO people are opting for relatively simpler systems like Instagram and Twitter.

And Google Now keeps prompting me to turn on more tracking and history settings. Despite me opting out each time, I guess if they just keep asking, they'll trick people eventually.

If you use voice actions, they also store voice recordings on the cloud.

Google Now saddens me, since the obvious focus is now data collection (same goes for Fit), instead of working on the platform more (battery drain and memory leaks in Lollipop and they haven't even address it publicly after 3 months).

I'm sure Google has the resources to do both. Google Now was always touted as a personal assistant of sorts, which can only be helpful if it knows a lot about you. Don't have to use it.

And there are dozens of entire teams working on platform issues.

How do you think they process your voice to figure out what you said?

I get privacy-conscious people wanting to avoid leaking personal information, but I don't get those same people wanting personally-relevant services without providing that information.

I understand that, although I don't want such services. Neither did my cousin and his whole family, who were shocked that this was uploaded when I've shown them. They didn't even know. That's probably also in the way Google enables such things, the focus is again data collection, not the user.

Just disable Google Now. Problem solved.

Wow, Facebook has been the exact opposite for me. When Google Reader started becoming too much work to manage, and its closure was on the radar, I moved to Facebook and decided to follow all the brands, companies, and people I'm interested in hearing from, much like what I did in Reader with RSS feeds. After that, I "Unfollowed" everyone I didn't want to hear from me. My news feed turned into exactly what I wanted it to– a resource where I can see everything important at glance. I separated things out into lists, and I made better, more targeted ways to find stories.

It's constantly gotten better with things like "Followers vs Friends", Facebook pushing comments from your friends to the top, Facebook collecting "Shares" towards the top of your feed, lists, displaying links in a more attractive way, etc.

And tastemakers and power users are using it more than ever.

I don't know of any other way to stay connected to the things that matter other than Facebook. Twitter is just a noisy stream of links and quips that you can't keep up with. Linkedin is just awful.

Reddit, HN and things like Techmeme are pretty much the only other places where the curation around topics are really good.

I find it interesting how people use Facebook in such widely different ways. For me, Facebook is strictly for friends--most of whom I don't have any sort of professional connection with. I never follow a brand/company/etc. on Facebook. I use Twitter and Google+ for professional stuff. (And still use RSS as well.)

For me, Facebook = distant relatives.

That's it.

Todo: Get extended family on email list and delete Facebook.

Yes, and you're ok to sell yourself for that? Man, really??

Bands? subscribe to YouTube channels or twitter or mailing lists or what else , your friends? Call them. IT? Come here or use Reddit. This is just over simplification of it, I have ten times more interests than that, and it's not at all hard to manage them without Facebook. You could use some browsers specifically designed with integration of content as their primary feature, I don't remember the names but at some point I've tried a couple and was really impressed.

But again, most importantly, are you really ok with selling yourself for ANY hypothetical advantage FB platform could offer. I never would...

I never understand how people can seriously suggest calling your friends as a replacement for Facebook. How many friends do you have? Must not be very many. I have a small number of close friends, that I talk to at least weekly via some method. But then I have probably around 100 other friends that I talk to not that often, but still want to be friends with, and another 500 people that I like to know what they are up to, but thats about it. For example, I went traveling recently, and one of those 500 happened to post before I left about a trip they made to the same place. I asked them about it, and found out about some cool things to do in that place. That is extremely valuable to me , and if you have a way to replace that type of interaction outside of Facebook, I'd love to hear it.

Calling is absolutely a better substitute for maintaining contact with friends than Facebook. Actual real-life facetime is even better. A lot more information can be conveyed in a real conversation.

I can understand that Facebook might be a good way to keep in touch with acquaintances, but if you use it to keep in touch with friends that's what they'll soon become: mere acquaintances. Exchanging a few typed words every now and than isn't enough.

Also: nice ad hominem on the "not very many", please try to keep it civil on hackernews.

"subscribe to YouTube channels or twitter"

Yes. Not for profit YouTube who doesn't advertise. Twitter? Really?

That's not the point! The article was about how FB deals with privacy, and it makes some considerations on the fact that from the very first moment you start using it, you do accept that they are entitled to record every little detail about your life. And I was saying, is it worth it given there are some least worst alternatives? No! Not at all!

I never said that those alternatives are ad-free, but at least they are operating in a different way.

Google may know my current location, which bands and pizzas I like, my job, all I've searched so far, and even does automatically scan my mail to put some targeted ads in it. Ok, but at least formally, they offer me the chance to opt out from all of that: don't track my position, don't save a chronology of my search history, don't do targeted ads, ...

Speaking of Twitter, they are probably analyzing the hell out of my tweets too, but by design Twitter it's much less all-around-every-aspect-of-your-life than FB. Can you really compare the quantity and the granularity of personal and private information that FB is admittedly collecting with Twitter's? Honestly they have a much clearer business model too: pay them some money, they'll put your hashtags in trending topics. That's it. Moreover being that Twitter is mainly used as a public communication system - and was born like that right from the start - I couldn't care less if they analyzed what I was saying because that's how advertisement has always worked! If I decided to publicly express my love for baking cakes and the day after I was presented with an advertisement for a baking course in my city, then that'd be perfectly fine. Go around and shout out loud "I love dogs!" Sooner or later someone will approach you trying to sell you a dog. That's supply and demand. It's always worked like that and there's nothing wrong with it.

Of course, what Google and FB might illegally be doing under their hoods it's a totally different concern...

Here we are speaking about how FB is publicly and explicitely perpetrating this behaviour and how dangerous it can be not only to the uninformed ones who go by the "I have nothing to hide" argument but to their friends/relatives which don't even own a FB account.

So all I was saying is: is it worth it, given what we know about FB and that there are some least worst alternatives (even by a small degree) ? No, not even for a second. And we should start exploring those alternatives.

And the following quote from @jasonbarone, which I had originally replied to, explains exactly why:

>"I don't know of any other way to stay connected to the things that matter other than Facebook."

"Google may know my current location, which bands and pizzas I like, my job, all I've searched so far, and even does automatically scan my mail to put some targeted ads in it. Ok, but at least formally, they offer me the chance to opt out from all of that: don't track my position, don't save a chronology of my search history, don't do targeted ads, ..."

That's not an accurate assessment. The key here might be "while actively using the service".

You cannot opt out of such things while in Gmail, for example, any more than you can opt out of Facebook intelligence while using Facebook.

This comment comes up all in sorts of discussions and I don't quite get it. I follow a huge amounts of pages/people on Facebook to stay up to date on industries. The fact that I "like" Humans of New York, the Wynn Las Vegas, or Taylor Swift doesn't mean I actually like them in real life. I've just opted in to receive notifications when they post stuff. For all I care Facebook could have an incredibly detailed profile that I engage with Wynn's page 50x per year somehow, and that I'm in love with Taylor Swift because I clicked Like on one of her posts. I really don't care. I get ads that are somewhat close to what I'd be interested in and I'm OK with that.

I'm using Facebook as my primary listening tool to follow things/people.

Your solution is for me to use a browser or an aggregation tool of some sort. Facebook already does that very well, and has apps for all major platforms.

If at some point there's a better tool, I'll use it, and I'll stop using Facebook. But there's not. If that happens, and Facebook hoards a database entry of my lists of likes and communication, that's cool.

Twitter?! I had my company's account blocked because it looked suspicious to them. In my opinion the only suspicious thing was the fact that we tweeted only 2 or 3 times during its one month lifetime. At least Facebook didn't do that to us.

No Facebook will always be glad to have you, don't worry :)

You do realize that brand likes are public, right?

Yes, and my profile is public. I also follow brands I don't necessarily like, but am interested in following, whether it's keeping up to date on an industry, or just knowing what competitors are up to.

I can relate to this experience as well. For me, today, Facebook's utility is that of an address book of acquaintances, a place where you can contact people that you once came across but weren't close enough to ask for a phone or an email address. That's it.

To me it has become like LinkedIn. It is a directory of people and a very occasional way to communicate via messenger and events. I have not used the newsfeed at all for about a year (except a few really specific occasions where I was told about something out of band). For entertainment, Imgur and HN fullfil my needs currently.

This is my experience too. Most people are still on Facebook, but they are less and less active. And nothing gets me closing the page faster than seeing a bunch of advertising.

Keep in mind that facebook filters your default feed view by who you interact with the most. So if you want more of a certain person's posts, make sure to like/comment on anything they post (and hopefully they do the same to you). It sounds like maybe you went passive so they can't surface what you want any more.

Facebook is now nothing more than a glorified feed reader for me. All actual communication happens on WhatsApp. All pictures from last night's party go on Instagram.

Which is to say, Facebook is dead, but it is also very much alive and kicking

Literally in every Facebook post there is someone saying how their Facebook feed is a mess and how Facebook is "declining." I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's you and the people you are friends with that are the problem. Not Facebook (all of their metrics and revenues are up). Try being friends with more interesting people (or at least mute the bad ones).

That's just one side of story. On the other hand given how much Facebook supposedly knows, it could prioritize better what's shown in the news feed. There are high chances that even these people who are complaining, still have a couple of friends who post interesting stuff.

Curious. What do you use to remain in touch with friends and relatives?

Facebook has been invaluable to me for keeping in touch with friends and family from my entire life time. I've rekindled contact with lost friends, kept in touch with family living abroad, made new friends. Its a tool and like any tool there are instructions and warning labels. What more, this tool is free, and to be fair, costs millions of dollars a month to run. And we mustn't forget Facebook is also a business, and yes, we are not the customers - we are the product used to keep the machine running and make some people a healthy profit in the process. That is the nature of business. Remember that, accept that and use it right, and Facebook is great. You don't like - get off it but don't expect everybody to follow suit. There has been (are still are) many attempts to move the party else where. They all failed or will fail since the point of the 'party' is having everybody attend and attend all at once.

"[...] we are the product used to keep the machine running and make some people a healthy profit in the process. That is the nature of business."

Making a profit is the nature of business. Requiring payment in giving up privacy and control over your perception as the only options is not, and being a monopoly also is not.

"They all failed or will fail since the point of the 'party' is having everybody attend and attend all at once."

That is exactly why facebook must be faught, the name economics has for this is "network externality"[1] - the monopolization of a dominant communication system by one entity has a cost for those who don't participate, which is not acceptable.

Also, you might want to consider that "having everybody attend and attend all at once" technically does not require a monopoly. The telephone network, for example, is also one telephone network where every participant can call every other participant, but still, there are multiple telcos offering access to the network, competing with one another. Something similar is true for most traditional internet services, and the internet itself. Every machine on the internet can send packets to every other machine on the internet, but there are plenty of providers to choose from. You can send email from every email account to every other, but there are plenty of email providers, and it's relatively easy to open your own. Every website hosted anywhere can be read by anyone, not matter which provider they connect through ... all of those technologies allow you access through one single telephone, email client, and web browser, but there is no single entity that controls all of it, and that is vital in order to avoid an unhealthy concentration of power that in the end is likely to affect not just those who choose to use facebook, but all of society.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect

The telephone network is interconnected. I can call anyone from any network to any network provider. Facebook is not. If I want to see my friends on Facebook I have to use Facebook. When there is a social network that aggregates all other social networks then it would be like the phone network.

That was exactly the point.

> That is exactly why facebook must be faught [...]

Why the war talk? Can't people who are willing to accept Facebook's terms just use it, while those who are unwilling refrain from using Facebook?

OK. I'm not willing to accept Facebook's terms.

Now, what should I do about my friends posting my photo and personal details such that Facebook creates a shadow profile of me without my permission?

Tell your friends that you are not willing to accept their terms of friendship. On multiple occasions I've asked my friends/acquaintances to not post a specific photo that I'm in, and they've stuck to it. They might still keep it, as a keepsake, but it's not publicly available. If I wanted to go any further than that, I'd have to ask myself the extreme question of... "Why go out in public at all" due to all the times I'd have my face or actions tracked.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as not uploading a single photograph. If Facebook has scraped your friend's (or grandma's) contact lists, the shadow profile has been created, and the friend tracking has begun.

Yes, that is the kind of question that dissidents in societies that work(ed) like facebook do/did ask themselves.

When someone does something that prevents you from going outside, society generally makes that illegal. You might find that some of us are not all-powerful enough to make people do things simply by threatening to no longer be their friend.

Well, you need to look at it a little more objectively:

It "prevents" the individual from going outside because that individual has precluded the idea of going outside due to the possibility of being tracked/photographed.

I.e. Nothing about being tracked/photographed "prevents" an individual from going outside. But that, combined with an individual that fears/hates/morally_objects_to such a thing, makes it so that that individual is compelled to not go outside, lest they be forced to subject themselves to the thing they object to.

Additionally, it's not about "making people do things", and being not powerful enough to do so. That's quite an imposing/forceful line of thinking. It's about "thing X bothers me, what peaceful non-violent actions can I do to avoid X affecting me (negatively?)." And yes, making a regulation against X and forcing people to submit to it through the threat of imprisonment is quite violent.

Your idea of privacy is unrealistic. Anything your friends know about you and freely post is not private.

You're assuming the friends gave the information knowingly.

Most people have no idea what modern image recognition and data mining techniques can do, and many don't understand what they are really agreeing to when they let some on-line service scan their address book.

I've never quite figured out how compiling shadow profiles doesn't violate all kinds of data protection laws in at least much of Europe, but our regulators seem to be gunning for Google at the moment rather than Facebook.

It is still personal data and theoretically regulated in Europe at least. It is hard for me to see how the information about non-users is legitimate from my understanding of UK data protection law but maybe they just stay inside the Irish law (which I know even less about).

Maybe so, but does a Facebook app uploading my phone number from a friend's phone to their servers, or turning on my friend's microphone while we are having an otherwise-private conversation, count as "freely posting"?

If he gives access to his contact list, yes.

But I can't see a situation in which Facebook turning on a mike to record conversations is not a huge violation of privacy.

Do they do that?

They've introduced an optional feature that records media around you. Based on their past record of changing defaults, I think it's a reasonable possibility that this feature will be turned on by default in the future.

But I can't see a situation in which Facebook turning on a mike to record conversations is not a huge violation of privacy.

Do they do that?

FYI, this is mentioned in the article. It also linked to this article on that specific issue:


Short version: It's not as simple as "they record all your conversations", but yes, they can and do turn on your phone's mic.

Isn't the "shadow profiles" thing somewhat of an urban myth?

What would be the benefit for FB to store shadow profiles? If they can't use that data publicly or internally or with advertising partners, why would FB need shadow profiles?

I'm not convinced there's a secret hidden profile page with my details on FB. Unless of course they're planning to use that data one day to try to convince me to sign up to FB... this is about the only reason I can think of for them to have such data. Any other reasons you can think of?

It's not a myth. For example, if you tag someone in a photo who doesn't have a FB account, they'll do facial recognition and point them out in other photos you upload. They'll also create "Pages" for companies without their permission. I remember Jake von Slatt had to go to a lot of trouble to make them take down his Page.

No. I have never been on Facebook, but use to receive emails "Look all the friends you have on Facebook". It was slightly disturbing as there were pictures of, indeed, my friends. They've stopped sending these emails a few years back, but I'm sure they haven't dropped me from their graph.

Then you want to a a little experiment: Do sign up on facebook, using the e-mail adress that you normally use to communicate with your friends.

Don't enter any other correct information about you. Just have a look at the suggestions the sign-up wizard will be showing, based on nothing but your e-mail adress. You will be surprised.

(You should immediately delete the account again when you're done if you don't want to stay on facebook. In this case, make sure to clear your cookies.)

Maybe if it were simple as that, the 'war talk' would be avoided. However, as the article explains, facebook tracks people who don't even sign up to its terms.

Which is normal on today's web, which as Bruce Schneier says, is a surveillance-based economy....

To be fair, Facebook hires psychologists to basically get you addicted to Facebook and hides (as much as it can) the nature of its practices from its merchandise.

Maybe you should have read the rest of the sentence before deleting it? I'll reproduce it here for your benefit:

"[...], the name economics has for this is "network externality"[1] - the monopolization of a dominant communication system by one entity has a cost for those who don't participate, which is not acceptable."

FB is valuable for me too but that doesn't mean I trust it. As you say, it's a business that exists to turn a profit and I am cattle. I don't like this arrangement but I don't really have an alternative (as you say).

However, that does not mean that people shouldn't draw attention to what FB is, what it captures and what it does in your name. Nobody reads the "instructions and warning labels" and even if they did, they're not going to comprehend them. Would you then admonish the user to RTFM? I'd call that victim-blaming. How many developers would dare blame the user for not understanding how to use their shiny new web-app? Why take the same approach to those who can't understand a ToS?

FB may be a tool but that's also an oversimplification. It's not anything like a 'hammer', or even a chainsaw. I'd consider it more like a drug (eg morphine), which is also a tool but is not really your friend. Those kinds of tools get regulated.

"but I don't really have an alternative (as you say)."

Which is another way to say that you in fact do have an alternative. People in oppressive regimes tell themselves the same, which is how they do get perpetuated. The change happens when people accept the fact that there is an alternative.

I don't think I would compare this to living under an oppressive regime. There are plenty of people in oppressed countries who speak out, and yet the regimes are perpetuated. Sometimes the readily available alternative is just another flavor of repressive regime. It's easy for people in relatively free societies to say, "they should just stand up for themselves", yet have no concept of what that would actually entail.

I didn't say "they should just stand up for themselves", and I didn't say that the alternative was "readily available", I just said that change comes from people accepting the fact that there is an alternative, and that considering the status quo as being without alternative perpetuates the status quo.

Also: No, an oppressive regime with plenty of people speaking out is not perpetuated. One in a million speaking out is not plenty, and half the people in a country speaking out won't leave the government much choice. That's why oppressive regimes suppress free speech. You cannot control a majority of a country by force.

Just because an individual's action may not amount to much, doesn't mean that there is any other way out than individuals' actions. The oppressor won't just give up, and the other side consists of nothing but individuals, whose inaction certainly won't change anything.

Facebook is a social network, not an oppressive regime.

There is no contradiction between those two terms. Nation states are social networks, too, and some of them are oppressive regimes. One risk factor for becoming oppressive is a concentration of power. Facebook concentrates a lot of power. The concentration of power is why people feel that they have no alternative.

Note: Analogies are analogies because they are analogous, not because they are an exact copy.

Honestly, I'd rather they make it a paid service than a dystopian clusterfuck of advertising espionage.

I'm more likely to quit the wonnnnderful "free" service you describe and defend because it "costs millions of dollars a month to run". Those millions of dollars are just R&D on how to get advertisers more intimate data. If they didn't pay for all that gross research, the infrastructure wouldn't cost nearly as much.

I seriously doubt that 'millions of dollars a month to run' price-tag. There are alternative, even superior open source software solutions.

The only cost are the servers, but certainly, even with facebook's traffic, a well built stack could run on not more than a dozen. So I'd imagine facebook could be run on a few thousands of dollars a month, certainly the costs shouldn't be that much higher than wikipedia's.

The only thing that's valuable in facebook, and hard to replace, is the user-base, which was won through heavy marketing, and having a more attractive product at a critical stage (more attractive =/= technically superior).

According to this [1] Facebook has multiple data centers with around 60,000 servers as of 2010, probably a lot more now. If you know how to do the same thing with a dozen servers, I am sure they'd love to hire you!

[1] http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/the-facebook-data-center-...

In fairness, while I think the previous comment is a bit clueless myself, I'm inclined to ask how many of those servers would be necessary if FB wasn't logging so very much data on everyone.

If FB's job was once again just to show me my fucking posts, instead of building the most complete profile of a human being in the history of mankind so that it can sell me out to governments and corporations, it seems to me the data load would be a lot lighter.

I don't have a source for this right now, but I remember reading that the vast majority of disk space used by Facebook is taken up by users' photos. They are probably saving hundreds of uploaded photos per person (on average) and while they do compress them quite a bit this still has to take up a lot of storage space.

Of course they do also collect a lot of behavioral data, but I imagine all the data Facebook has collected on me probably uses up less storage than my profile pictures alone...

Also I remember reading that they keep 7 copies of everything at all time a few years back in an article about how deleting your account didn't actually delete your data, which became obvious after data from accounts deleted several years before had reappeared after the introduction of a new feature.

> I'm inclined to ask how many of those servers would be necessary if FB wasn't logging so very much data on everyone.

Hmm, but that's how they make money. They log, they analyze, they show you ads and they sell your data.

I doubt they really sell your data. The only way advertisers can get info about you is if you click through an ad.

Edit: So downvoters, how do I buy data about Facebook users?

You cannot and you are right there. The only way to target individuals is by having specific lists of emails or ids that you can upload and create custom audiences (or via their notion of retargeting through pixel fires). Even then though you don't know WHO saw your ads. Its a walled garden and impossible to get per user data as you would in traditional retargeting campaigns. That is why the bidding system is impossible to game (despite some claims from some companies). You have no idea WHO is seeing your ads - only the DEMOGRAPHIC of the ad views/clicks and only if you segmented your campaigns in a way you can track that.

Right now, this would be insider stuff and asking for much trouble to reveal it. Meanwhile, you just have to wait for it to be obvious that facebook has failed and it will start selling user data directly, or that they get hacked and a dump is available on the black market.

In the meantime, find yourself a dodgy intelligence agent or sysadmin.

I wonder how many email servers are running today? Probably comparable within an order of magnitude. Yet those server are not owned by one corporation, they're multiple corporations cooperating to move data between each other.

It's too bad Facebook and Twitter are businesses, instead of multiple protocols and multiple businesses. Or in other words, it's too bad The Old Ones didn't think cat pictures and what they had for breakfast was important. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_pioneers

EDIT: Changed to intended link.

WhatsApp is of comparable scale and is doing this with 100x less servers.

As per [1], in March 2014 they were handling 20B messages/day (with 600M pics, 100M videos) with just about 550 servers.

My guess would be that, every day more photos are shared on WhatsApp than on FB.

Major difference: At present, WhatsApp does not "keep" your messages or sell "you" to advertisers.

[1] http://highscalability.com/blog/2014/3/31/how-whatsapp-grew-...

Its not comparable scale. WhatsApp are shifting messages from point A to point B and that's it. Even 100x less servers is still a LOT of servers just or that. They don't store data, just traffic it from one user to another.

Okay, 60,000 servers - for 1.23 billion active users. That's less than 0.0005 server per user. Facebook as such may cost millions to run of course, but the price they pay to keep your account active is so negligible that you're essentially selling your data for peanuts.

Huh what? Are you really suggesting facebook could be run on a few dozen servers, or are you just trolling?

Not centrally, no. But many existing P2P networks prove that you do not need massive data centers to hoard everyone's data. You can use the collaborative effort of humanities existing computation devices.

Decentralize all the things.

That was not the point he was making -- he was making the point that "even with facebook's amount of traffic, you could host it on a dozen servers". That is just so far detached from reality I cannot take that seriously.

I agree that p2p social networks are an interesting alternative, but they are a whole different kind of product and a kind of apples / oranges comparison in terms of cost of operation.

Decentralization is less efficient. Instead of each piece of information being copied in a few place it would need to be copied to hundreds or thousands with a decentralized system.

I apologise in advance for the sarcastic tone (I could not help myself): If you can run Facebook at Facebook's scale with no more than a dozen servers, I'm going to hire you for my next project because man, that would be something! I suggest you send a CV to Google because they are running an even bigger scale than Facebook and if you can dilute them to say 100 servers - its a win! Facebook's infra is unique. If it was built today it might have been different but it would still run on MANY servers across MANY geographical locations. It would still cost millions to run every month. This is why companies like Google are building data centres. Its cheaper for them in the long run to own the infra from the ground up, literally (i.e., owning the actual land the DC is on).

You can search and replace your argument with the automotive industry and it works pretty well. You can't be a successful adult without a car, no matter how loud an extremely small minority of the population claims otherwise, and the general public has pretty much no interest in the alternatives.

Yet, in contrast to the auto industry, no one thought it was great that Ford Pinto gas tanks would explode, or the cops punish people for the crime of "driving while black".

If as a company you insist on business practices or class of business operations that inevitably results in the destruction of any real free market probably via monopolization, you can expect criticism and regulation to at least try to reduce the harm.

I'm glad you're here to point out that I can't be a successful adult without a car. I hadn't realized that, but now that I'm clued in I can go buy one to fix the issue.

P.S. I think around 25% of my coworkers have cars, and we live in the US making six figures.

I own no car and live comfortably, because I don't live in the US. Why the dig at those who cycle, walk, or take transit?

I don't own a car and almost never miss it. Granted I would miss it slightly more often if ride-sharing services didn't exist as sometimes I'm too lazy to cycle, but it'd still be perfectly doable. I live in the US.

You can't be a successful adult without a car? That's one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. That's like saying you don't love your wife unless you buy her a diamond. Granted one has more purpose than the other but essentially they are both material objects that we as humans place too much value on.

I would like to see more people using simple email and blogs instead of social media. One way to make this work is having a clear flag for friends and family that an email is just for fun, and they should not feel like they have to read it if the title does not interest them.

I let people I work with, family and friends know that if I send out a broadcast email with everyone on a BC blind copy, then they really should not feel obligated to read the email. This allows me to send out general interest emails to a dozen or more people and feel like I am not wasting people's time. I don't use email lists, rather, I spend a minute deciding who might be interested.

This is cumbersome but it gets around problems of Facebook choosing which of your posts they will show your friends.

I like this idea very much. I did the same reasoning regarding whatsapp and the likes. Mobile messaging is another use case that can be handled pretty well with email. We just need a better UI.

To toy around with the idea I created a prototype (still far from prime time but already working): http://www.carteggio.ch

Like the thinking here, but how to handle spam?

SPAM is a general problem with email. I assume that "for fun" emails sent to people I know will not be considered to be SPAM :-)

I don't want to say spam is a solved problem, but at least with gmail, I haven't seen anything spam-like hit my inbox in at least a month.

I think, there are some good spam-filters out there.

Gmail as replacement of FB is a little troublesome solution, I think. Gmail also has his privacy problems, though absolutely not as huge as Facebooks. I think, own (challenging) or paid Mail-providers should be preferred if you really want more privacy. Paid Mail-providers should be able to do the spam-filtering for you.

I'm seriously looking at Fastmail rather than Gmail. Once they get CardDAV / CalDAV support out of development, I would consider them a serious contender.

FYI, our CalDAV support has been in full production for almost a year now.

I was referring more to them as a pair. I know that CalDAV has been out for a while (didn't know it was production, thought it might still be beta), but I know that CardDAV has been taking longer due to integration with your pre-existing contacts system. :)

The entire appeal behind Facebook is the huge user base. Everyone I know is on Facebook, and so is everyone they know. If you're going to get people to switch, you'll need both some killer feature that sets it apart from Facebook and some means to mitigate the loss of that user base - perhaps some compatibility layer where information that wouldn't reach your friends that switched with you to Platform X gets posted to your linked Facebook account.

I'm ultimately envisioning a future where people could host their own Facebooks or set up an account with a family member or small business, seemlessly transfer their data between servers whenever someone wants to switch providers, built-in SSL for everything, PGP with automatic key sharing between friends, encrypted file storage, etc. - everything that tech community advocates for in an easy-to-host-yourself distro.

So much good could come out of having a standardized platform for social media; you just have to be able to overcome Facebook's inertia.

GNU Social?

GNU social is web software you can use to run your own social network, either privately or publicly.

    The software supports both single-user and community modes and can be used in an intranet environment or as part of the wider GNU social federated social network.
    The software has been used in production environments for over five years and is very stable. GNU social also easily communicates with other GNU social servers, and traditional social networks such as Twitter.
    Because GNU social is written in the de-facto web standards of PHP and MySQL, it runs virtually anywhere you can run a common piece of web software, such as WordPress or Drupal.
    And because GNU social is part of the GNU project, it's 100% free software, with no malicious features, spyware or advertising.

Have you looked at any of the sites on GNU Social?

Yes, I tested https://quitter.se/ Looks good to me. But I am in no way a hardcore social media user.

> I'm ultimately envisioning a future where people could host their own Facebooks or set up an account with a family member or small business, seemlessly transfer their data between servers whenever someone wants to switch providers

I think you've just described Diaspora.

To be fair, the concept behind diaspora. I was closely following the development at the time diaspore was "hot" and, honestly, the setup was too complicated for people who are used to setting up wordpress or something.

I still think the concept is amazing, but unfortunately, they kind of failed to deliver.

My roommate likes to say the following, which I strongly agree with:

"Several years ago, when Diaspora hit the big news channels, we hackers should have picked up the slack, joined en masse, building a decent early adopter user base while helping with the code.

What we did instead was bickering about technical aspects of the implementation, pointing at the crudeness, and pretending that 'getting off all social media is the best'. And then we all joined Facebook."

This is disturbingly true and points to larger problem in tech.

Every time I looked into Diaspora over the past several years it seemed dead. I took another look, and it seems to have progressed quite a bit - I just signed up for account!

People move from platforms all the time. Before FB there was MySpace, before Google there was AltaVista, before GApps you'd probably use MS Exchange etc etc. There are many examples.

What's needed is software infrastructure to make it easy to build decentralised systems -- everyone should have their own piece of the cloud. On top of that is the need for a compelling use-case (beyond privacy) that will spur word-of-mouth and user adoption. All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.

The sad thing is all of the technology essentially already exists in some form or another - it's just that no one put it all together in an easy-to-configure box with a web interface. RSS for updates, chat over XMPP, messaging with SMTP+TLS+PGP. At this point it seems like most of the tools for the backend are done and the rest is would just involving plugging them together, putting a nice interface on top and acquiring the user base (I know - understatement of the year).

There is movement in this area - see sandstorm, owncloud, disapora, etc. Slap it all in an Odroid and you have control of your data again. But people won't pay for it.

I would pay for a service that respects my privacy and doesn't filter content out. When I first heard of Ello, I thought, maybe this is it.

Something else needs to be built, with a beautiful interface so we get everyone off facebook. I want to help.

I tend to agree, but really nobody will respect your privacy but yourself, which is why this should be on your own hardware (or at least on a VPS). A small box under my couch hosts my site, cloud storage (owncloud), and if I could get away from it the RSS feed that basically is facebook, and it's quite nice. It was too hard to set up, though, which is why sandstorm looks great.

The people most likely to be early adopters of such a platform would distrust a solution hosted by a 3rd party. Why? Because if you don't control the system, it can still be used to spy on you. Even a decentralized system with Wordpress-like companies that are federated are not immune.

I hear this a lot, that people move platforms "all the time", but it's not really true as it relates to Facebook. Before Facebook, the vast majority of users on social media (MySpace), were teenagers and young adults. Social media only exploded to your parents and grand parents and everyone else with Facebook. It's much harder getting those folks to switch, and the network effect is that much stronger with the ~30x larger user base. Switching off something like Alta Vista to Google isn't even comparable - there are basically no switching costs in that case.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but the stickiness and network effects of Facebook are pretty much unprecedented.

You need to factor in time. As an example Microsoft isn't treated the same way it was years ago and IBM isn't the same as before Microsoft.

I'm not suggesting FB will become obsolete but people will use other services if they see value elsewhere. If that weren't the case then WhatsApp/Instagram wouldn't have grown so fast. Network-effects does not mean something is immune from disruption.

FB is already obsolete. Teenagers are not using it. It's seen as an 'old people social network'.

I have three questions regarding self-hosted social networks: (1) Isn't it a huge advantage of social networks like Facebook that it's a central instance which can remove accidentally leaked data from the network and which prevents data scraping on a large scale? (2) Isn't it also a disadvantage of peer-to-peer networks that when your key leaks, all your data that is stored in the distributed network will be irreversibly accessible to everyone? (3) To which degree is it feasible to burden the average user with crypto key management without a locksmith?

Agreed. This will happen again, as it has happened before. I pretty much had the same thought process as you on how to implement it, technology wise. It might be instructive to look at how AOL lost out to the larger web in order to envision how it might play out. Maybe there needs to be a web technology similar to the browser that displaced AOL, a standalone app acting as a front-end to the stack you described. Who knows, maybe snapchat or a similar highly-adopted app could evolve into this.

I wonder though if Facebook will be able to leverage it's massive database of psychological profiling to stay ahead of the curve. Over time companies have lost their spot at the top but this is the first time technology has been powerful enough to reward the company on top with incredibly powerful information reserves. I think Facebook is going through an awkward growing phase but will smarten up and begin using it's role as facilitator of social influence much more effectively.

These psychological factors are much more powerful in this field then an engineer's solution.

> It might be instructive to look at how AOL lost out to the larger web

FB just hit 1.23 billion monthly actives. AOL peaked at ~26 million [US] subscribers. FB's network effect is much stronger than AOL ever had.

Also, AOL was heavily dialup-based. Independent ISPs offered broadband at better prices, just as the open web was becoming rich with content. That lured away a lot of AOL customers.

> I'm ultimately envisioning a future where people could host their own Facebooks...

If we had "bandwidth equality" from our homes the paradigm would be quicker to shift, i.e. upload/download speeds the same. That way we could easily host/transfer/share to and from our home located devices/servers.

You might want to check out red#matrix (http://redmatrix.me/).

There user accounts/identities are federated. It is easy to switch to another node.

The "standardized platform" is the ZOT-Protocol layer.

What you actually need is the 13 years old demographics onboard and the other teens. The user base migrates to the next website really fast as it happened before with the several other websites that existed before fb.

  >  If you're going to get people to switch, you'll need 
  > both some killer feature that sets it apart from Facebook 
  > and some means to mitigate the loss of that user base
Something which integrated your facebook feed in a nice way (nice for the user, hostile from FB's perspective of course) could work well.

I have tried almost all of these arguments and simply put, the benefit that facebook gives most people is a much higher value than their perceived cost of privacy (or so they think).

Until the house is burning down across the street, it is often difficult to sell fire insurance, and they dont see the massive data mart that fb is.

That's pretty much it. Since so many of my friends are on it, the benefit to being on it is high. (And after a transcontinental and trans-oceanic move, it's much easier than staying in contact in person.)

But I do limit my Likes - I don't Like any ads or commercial entities, with 1 exception - I endorse musicians. Since I am a musician and many of my friends are as well, I Like their music pages.

I don't Like Books/Movies/Games, whatever else. My profile info is relatively sparse and I ignore FB's attempts to make me fill it out further - everything on my profile is already publicly accessible info.

Ultimately I'm useless for marketing data anyway. I've participated in voluntary consumer surveys a few times, and none of the questions were about activities or products I've ever used. I'm so far removed from mainstream/popular culture that there are no advertisers marketing anything of interest to me.

It doesn't actually matter if you limit your likes. From the article:

    Like shadow profiles of people, Facebook can "infer a like" based on
    other information it has about you, like what you read all over the
    internet or what you do in apps where you log in with Facebook.

Yeah, I don't use FB login for anything else. I don't click FB Like buttons on other web sites. FB can't tell what you're reading on other web sites without your explicit action.

> I don't Like Books/Movies/Games, whatever else.

But every time your friends (who know your taste) share with you, it's pretty much the same thing.

Even the Snowden affair didn't make much people "buy fire insurance". I believe good, free and easy to use doxxing tools could help people change their opinion on the value of their privacy.

For once I want to read an article from someone who's a true insider in the alleged "market" selling and re-selling user data.

(Edit: I'm not suggesting such a market doesn't exist -- I'd just like to know what's actually going on. I'd like to know what's "de facto" practice in the industry.)

Thanks for raising that. I've clarified in the post:

There are marketplaces to buy and sell consumer data orginally started around credit agencies and direct mail companies, then growing with the browser toolbar industry when Internet Explorer was big - now they're filled with more information than ever before.


When I worked for a direct marketing arm of the agenccy JWT, we had a bunch of "list augementation" services for our clients' customer lists. Back then, they were used to derive and clean contact information, and glean insights into people's psychology via course methods like correlations to their postal code. (This was surprisingly accurate in Canada, but didn't work as well with US ZIP codes.)

That said, I'd love to hear from a modern insider too. I've just extrapolated.

I found this article. Not sure if this is exactly what you're asking about: http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-we-know-about-w...

articles like this and the news in general try to make it seem like there are boogeymen that have access to when we shit and piss, and can target advertisements accordingly. The truth is, we are far away from this reality. Most advertisers suck at targeting, plus they're lazy. It takes a lot of work to target effectively, and just because you have a lot of info on someone doesn't mean you know their intentions.

It's not until we welcome advertising (because it's so aligned with our interests, and it alerts us to things we actually want to buy and do), will we get to the point of the fearmongers.

Do I think this article has a valid point? Of course. Do I think marketers have this wizard of Oz-like power to target us using data? Not yet, but they will in the next 15 years.

> Not yet, but they will in the next 15 years.

It's worth remembering that they will have access to your current data in 15 years; being proactive in the protection of your data now will pay off when marketers catch up with the state of the art.

Also, remember that marketers are not the only consumers of this information. Aside from the government, our "anonymous" profiles are being passed to academic institutions as well, and the results of Facebook's experiments on us are being posted in academic journals.

Additionally, there are the insurance agencies as mentioned in the article - you can bet that they're a lot less than 15 years from using this data against you.

I wonder if they are really going to use 15 years old data though. But I agree that insurance covering doctor visits is probably more of a problem.

You mean the Snowden of Facebook? Unlikely to happen. They pay their minions well.

Uh, that applied to Snowden as well.

Facebook doesn't sell data, it sells targeted ads.

Good point, thanks. I should be clearer - Facebook sells ads but reveals data to third parties, who sell data.

Although I agree with the point of the article, I abhor the way the author makes his points.

> They use the vast amount of data they have on you, from your likes, things you read, things you type but don't post, to make highly accurate models about who you are -- even if you make it a point of keeping these things secret. It's a technique called linear regression which has been used in marketing for decades.

Oh man, not linear regression! They're really breaking out the high-powered statistical tools aren't they!

> Peter Thiel. He wrote a book attacking multi-culturalism at Stanford

Thiel has since retracted those remarks IIRC.

> From the Terms Of Service (not the Privacy Policy -- see what they did there?):

The following content clearly belongs in a TOS IMHO so implying something nefarious is just ridiculous.

> There's no need to talk hypothetically about government surveillance here. One of the first Facebook investors called Greylock has board connections to a CIA investment firm called In-Q-Tel. According to their website, it "identifies cutting-edge technologies to help the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community to further their missions".

Oh man! A company that invested in Facebook about a decade ago has a board member that is a board member of a company that has connections to the CIA! I'm pretty sure that you can say that about literally any large technology company that exists.

Now, I agree that Facebook is funneling data to the NSA and they are building models of your life, but the way that this author makes his points is frankly disgusting. Not to mention the rate of about two typos per paragraph that make the article even harder to read.

I agree that Facebook is funneling data to the NSA

I don't agree with that either.

Facebook should be prohibited from looking into the data that I send to friends. Rationale: telephone companies are not allowed to listen in on my conversations, so why should facebook be allowed to do essentially the same? IMHO, facebook and other social networks (with say >100k users) should be regulated much like telecom companies, and I am surprised that they aren't yet.

Also note that telecom companies are required to interoperate with other telecom companies.

That could be easily done adapting FB business model, letting you choose between:

Free membership: No fee. FB uses your data to run targeted ads.

PRO membership: Monthly fee. Your data is only yours.

It's interesting how charging money changes the perception of different practices. Like with your hypothetical PRO membership, when taking into account the data that FB collects on people without their input, by studying their network relations, sounds to me like a massive extortion scheme: 'If you give us a monthly fee, we won't disseminate this potentially embarrassing/damaging information about you that we got without your knowledge or consent'. But instead of doing that, they're just disseminating the information, and not even bothering to give you the option to pay to keep it private, since they know that others will pay more for it than the average user will.

The free option is certainly more damaging in some situations, yet the paid option is the one that feels criminal.

It's highly unlikely FB would want to so directly call out the value they get from controlling your privacy.

Additionally, the value of mined data decreases when you start taking members out. Given the massive number of FB users.

They're generating an avg of almost $1/mo/user, but that's probably heavily skewed towards users that have more money to spend. And while I'd personally spend a few bucks a month for such a service, it's seems unlikely that there'd be enough adoption to make a difference in how FB goes about privacy.

Facebook has too much value because of Groups and Events. Both are incredibly useful and when everybody else is using it to organise things it can be hard to stay in the loop without.

That said, it is possible to use Facebook and insulate yourself. I use a fake name, a fake email and never added my phone number. My use is limited to Groups, Events and Messages - I don't doubt that they are still mining data for my account, but my account doesn't link to me.

Don't forget to block their web-wide beacons (a.k.a. "like buttons"), and lie about your birthday (useful information for identity thieves[1] -- remember how your bank asked for the last 4 digits of your social when you called them?). I still use them to keep up with some people I know, but with a somewhat fake name, a blank profile, and minimum searchability. I don't think using it unduly exposes me to identity thieves, creepy potential employers, and other not-Mossad threats[2]. I've used it since it required ".edu" addresses, and never clicked an ad, so I think I'm basically getting my money's worth.

[1] http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/07/social-security-numbers-a... [2] http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/mickens/thisworld...

As far as I understand from the post, as long as one person is your friend on facebook (and perhaps even if you just exchanged messages with), and also has your real name and phone number on their phone and linked those two together - facebook can therefore link this (fake) user to your (real) identity.

I don't think anyone actually does that? Link facebook accounts to contacts in their phone?

I mostly go by a nickname, I haven't yet seen anyone add me to their phone using my real full name - I think only about 10% of the people I know even know my full real name, many just assume my facebook name is my real name. I feel pretty safe.

All your friend has to do is run the Facebook app on their phone, as I understand things. It has permission to contacts.

What do you mean by "doesn't link to me"? Is your online identity not "you"?

"online identity"?

Just because Google wants "one account ALL of Google", and Facebook wants your real name and Mastercard details, doesn't mean you have to drink their kool-aid and live their grand ONE ID registered member internet life.

Live the way you want to. Go crazy and get a name such as zAy0LfpBZLC8mAC, and suddenly this proxy gets you new powers of expression that can't be tied to your Mastercard or advertising partners of companies you don't even like.

Not if you've stuffed it full of information that is in no way representative of yourself, is the notion the parent poster is describing.

This is actually an old tactic for maintaining privacy while participating on the internet: avatar, persona, handle, multiple names for it. It's the origin of the notion that "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." The social networks hypothetically ban this in their terms of service, but because Facebook has become the market-dominant entity now and can trust the average user to not intentionally falsify all their data, they no longer actively police this aspect of their ToS.

Facebook "Like" buttons on the web will still track your activity and link it to your profile, but you can take measures to ameliorate that (clear cookies, block the "Like" button origin URLs, and---for the most paranoid among us---use Tor so that not even the IP addresses are easily correlated to your activity).

I thought of this too. The problem is that adding noise doesn't throw off the existing signals. All you can do is try to introduce new patterns, like try to convince the linear regression that you're left-wing and right-wing. Random data won't do that though; you'd need to know what patterns to recreate. A lot of effort, and as you say, pretty paranoid given one could just optout and block web trackers.

"Not if you've stuffed it full of information that is in no way representative of yourself, is the notion the parent poster is describing."

Well, but what would that actually look like? And who would actually do such a thing?

What I am trying to point out that "it doesn't have the name from my passport attached to it" does in no way mean that it's not "representative of yourself". The name in my passport has some special significance, but in many ways it's also just as much a pseudonym as "zAy0LfpBZLC8mAC" is. If someone knew everything about you, except for the name in your passport, you could hardly argue that they didn't know you, could you? If someone writes a comment on here using a pseudonym, do you really think that the content of that comment is "in no way representative of [themselves]"? Does it matter for facebook that they don't know the name from your passport when they can see a large part of your interaction with the world? Does it make any difference in how they can influence you? What's the effect once you add in your social contacts? How is your social interaction hidden by the fact that you use a pseudonym to tell facebook who you know in real life and what you talk to them about? Even if all of them were using pseudonyms?

Edit: To maybe make it even clearer: Stuffing an account full of information that is in no way representative of yourself would mean that you use the account only to communicate with randomly selected people (otherwise it's info about who you are interested in talking to), newly selected randomly for each new contribution (otherwise it's info about who of the people selected randomly previously you found interesting), writing about randomly selected topics, probably mostly stuff that you are not interested in (but not necessarily, of course, otherwise the lack of certain topics would represent your interests), writing from a randomly selected standpoint (even on topics that you are actually interested in, otherwise it's representing your standpoint), but of course never using your expertise for anything you write (neither for defending your actual standpoint nor the opposite side, as the depth of your knowledge would be representative of yourself).

Specifying that your name is foobar and that you live in Peking and then talking about events in Paris to a semi-constant group of people many of whom are also constantly talking about events in Paris at the time when people in Paris are awake ... is not "Stuffing an account full of information that is in no way representative of yourself". If any human with half a brain can infer something from the whole picture of all the data you and your contacts supply, then that info is there, whether you specified it explicitly or not, and the only way to avoid that is by not letting your interests and your knowledge influence what you do, which is something nobody would ever do.

>do you really think that the content of that comment

Easy fix for me, I don't comment on things on Facebook, nor do I ever feel the need to and I never visit the news feed. My usage is pretty much either:

- Receive email about event, RSVP.

- Receive email about group message, respond with Yes/No/Okay.

Your point being? That which events you are interested in and which answers you give is "in no way representative of yourself"?

I have found that simply using Firefox with third party cookies turned off, along with the PrivacyBadger plugin and no flash installation provides a pretty good experience, while making you generally untrackable unless ip tracking, cache tracking, browser fingerprinting, or nefarious permacookies are used...

... and if those techniques are used by a big player, and it gets out (which it most definitely will), they'll have a consent decree (or worse) slapped on them so fast their head will spin. Look at what has already happened to Google when they were found to be circumventing Safari's third-party cookie blocking.

The main things that don't work under such a setup are: 1. Social buttons: meh, don't care. 2. Commenting systems such as disqus: again, meh.

The advantages are: 1. Most sites simply don't have ads under such a setup. 2. The sites that do show ads show non-targeted ads; generally related to the site content. Which is fine.

It strikes me that allowing cookies to be set or retrieved by third party domains was a terrible idea, and the current situation is a direct consequence.

The mobile privacy model is broken. I should be able to install Facebook without giving permissions they don't need. Every 2-bit app doesn't need to access my contacts and all my messaging history.

Until then, will not install Facebook app, and will limit apps to companies I trust or apps I can't live without.

Facebook is a silly place too, but that's whole 'nother story.

I very much agree with you.

I am not sure how much it helps maintain privacy, but I advise non-tech friends to choose one web browser (either Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) to use for just Facebook, Google, and Twitter use. Choose another web browser with a privacy plugin for use for all other use of the web.

I think apps having permission to access private data on our devices is such bullshit, and allowing them to post messages in our names, etc. transcends bullshit.

Prefer web standards over apps.

If only we could have webpages on our mobiles, eh? :)

Can you really get out of it?

I closed my account years ago. Use NoScript, Disconnect, uBlock. But my profile is probably still there. It's been mentioned that they keep profiles of people who don't have an account.

I can imagine they could attach this comment and my online activity in other platforms to that profile. Even tell my friends about them.

That would make a good episode of Black Mirror. Titled "The Privacy Freaks", it would show people in a social network observing the lives and making fun of the absurd things privacy concerned people do to stay "out".

This didn't exist a couple of years ago, but now there's a - supposedly permanent - way to delete your account: https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account

I assume that they will still keep some data around in order to spot possible new accounts with fake names (by people who deleted their real name accounts), like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. But it's a start...

As far as I recall, Facebook battled companies that offered "social suicide" (automated deletion of private data from the service). Eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0_Suicide_Machine#Controv...

  That would make a good episode of Black Mirror. Titled "The
  Privacy Freaks", it would show people in a social network 
  observing the lives and making fun of the absurd things 
  privacy concerned people do to stay "out".
You should read "The Circle" by David Eggers. It is basically this.

Is there really a reason to use all three plugins?

I personally use Adblock Edge with the EasyPrivacy + EasyList and Fanboy's Annoyance List filters. I tried NoScript a while back but it destroyed how too many web pages worked for me to keep liking it. I assumed the EasyPrivacy feature took the place of Disconnect pretty well.

this article is not very accurate, it' like the author just found out about the data he is giving up:

-all your private financial transactions.

no, my private financial transactions are private, how can Facebook access them?

-...the right to privacy, and the right to have a say in how information about us is used. We've giving up those rights forever by using Facebook.

No, you are giving up a small part of your privacy using Facebook. You give up privacy basically using any online service, and a lot of offline as well (loyalty cards, phone number, ...). And it's not forever.

-In reality, lots of your posts are never seen by anyone!

I think the article refers to the "Top Stories" features, but you can change it to "Most recent". The problem is not facebook, but the amount of material available. They are not hiding posts, it's just that they are too many for the average user

> "I've been pretty dismissive towards people who hesitate with privacy concerns."

It's this dismissiveness that hasn't helped innovation in social media privacy, but sent it backwards. Thanks for that.

> "Get your loved ones off Facebook".

And this hair-on-fire turnaround doesn't help either. Our "loved ones" have their own brains. They would tell me to bugger off if I tried to spoil their fun.

I don't think I believe that FB keeps shadow profiles. What would be the commercial usage of such data? I doubt they are sharing shadow profile data with ad partners. What would such data look like and how could anyone possibly verify it?

I never signed up to FB, it's not my thing, too much like a club, not open enough, terrible or non-existent open data approach. I prefer gardens without walls. FB puts barbed wire fencing up by not allowing such basic things as RSS or feeds from FB to a website. Even the person who admins the FB page can't get to its data. Instead you have to install their like button on your site, and get an ugly widget thing to stream the data in within this God-awful blue and white box thing that really looks ugly on a website, and is bloated and crap.

But I see other people enjoying FB, especially the group pages which is where the best action is I'm told. (my 20-something flatmate tells me as she looks at FB right now on the couch).

If you leave FB for whatever reason (or never sign up in first place) then just do it. You don't need to blog about why you left. Just leave.

Just because you can't see a reason, doesn't suddenly make it any less true. Just search for 'Facebook shadow profile' and find the stories for yourself.

Too f*ing late. They already 'know' you. What makes you think they will delete your profile and 'forget' you? By closing your account or stop using it they may lose track of you for a little while but you are who you are and FB, NSA, etc already know it. In fact, I think the smartest way out would be to start posting, liking, commenting, installing apps that deceive your true self, let them build a different profile, fool them.

It's never too late, and this is coming from someone who stayed away from the whole thing because it was obviously headed this way. How did I know? because it's not the first time this happens, it's actually a known business model, only difference is that they tried to pull a google by exploiting it themselves instead of selling to a larger established third party. And by the time facebook decline will be closer to the bottom, they will probably either sell the whole thing to recoup some cash, or massively sell the data in bulk, it's the usual way.

I once wondered actually if the best way to get yourself off of there would be to become a spammer and get flagged out of the system. Ultimately I'm not sure it would be very effective.

To address the too late point, I disagree. Yes they have the foundation but outdated data is just not as valuable to them as the fresh stuff. There is also something to be said that continued use of the service is in fact continued unpaid immaterial labour on your part. To keep using it is to continue trading your time and the commodification of your life and relationships over to the bad guys.

Off-topic, does anyone have any idea why the text looks so horrible on Firefox running on Linux? I'm using firefox-35.0.1-3.fc20.x86_64. I've also tried midori-0.5.9-2.fc20.x86_64 and it's the same. Only google-chrome-stable-40.0.2214.94-1.x86_64 renders it in a readable way.

P.S. Screenshot: http://imgur.com/m4rLSHQ

The chosen font has strokes thinner than 1px at the chosen size. Every rendering engine has its own way of handling this kind of broken design, your engine uses subpixels to show accurate stroke width, therefore the weird colors.

[Edit:] Those ultra-light fonts are a very unfortunate fad that probably began with the introduction of iOS 7, maybe even earlier with MS's Metro, contrived and perpetuated by people who don't read but who look at texts.

That's what it looks like for me too. Contrast is so low that it's essentially unreadable for me. It is very pretty though. Elegant.

On Firefox, Alt-V Y N (for no style) is in muscle memory by now, and renders in glorious 1990s black and white, and the text flows within the browser borders (another problem on many sites today).

Sorry - I just picked a theme and never thought to browser check. Weirdly, I run FF on Linux and it looks okay. Anyway, I'll try to tweak the font. Thanks for pointing it out.

Not an expert at all in any sorts of font issues, but I remember having something similar with unfortunate settings of font `Hinting` and `Antialiasing`.

My current settings are: Medium and Grayscale respectively. (on Gnome Shell)

Indeed, it looks more readable with anti-aliasing disabled: http://imgur.com/Zze1yAm

Looks fine on Firefox on Linux to me, maybe you've zoomed the page by accident? Try ctrl-0 to see if that fixes it.

Nope, it's the same.

They don't look too bad on the same Firefox on Ubuntu 14.04:


What Linux are you running? "fc20" I guess that's Fedora? So it looks bad on Firefox on Fedora but fine on Ubuntu. That's a Fedora issue not a Firefox or general Linux issue.

Yes, fc20 stands for Fedora 20. The difference between it and Ubuntu isn't that big if I zoom in: http://imgur.com/ptlQEmf

Based on the other comments I got, the small differences could be caused by different anti-aliasing settings or font engines (I'm currently using freetype-freeworld- for example).

I see, well as a test you could download the Ubuntu fonts and switch to them for comparison.

PS I agree too, they look better in Chrome, don't know why.

Looks fine on Iceweasel on Debian and no JavaScript.

I tried quitting FB 2 years ago when I realized I was no longer using it productively, but just sort of using it habitually, FOMO-style.

I caved in and deactivated my account when I realized there were some things I enjoyed about the experience - e.g. maintaining passive relationships with 2nd-tier acquaintances , especially from years past.

I just quit again 3 weeks ago, and this time feel absolutely no loss or desire to return. Baby pic? That's what holiday cards are for. Announcement? If it's important at all, it won't be shared exclusively on FB (if there was a brief time that wasn't true, it's long past in my age group of over 30s).

One big takeaway is that FB is a very poor substitute for keeping in touch with family. I wonder what's up with my sister. Hey I'll FaceTime her.

And those 2nd-tier relationships with people who might aortof be interesting to keep track of? The last time I got a kick out of reconnecting with one of them was probably 5 years ago, so I feel sort of been there done that.

This article is rambling, unfocused, inaccurate, and has many distracting grammatical errors. Why is it upvoted?

I was about to complain about the constant, ubiquitous and severely annoying (for me) confusion between "it's" and "its". I'm finding it more and more, everyday and everywhere, in articles and posts. People, what's so difficult about it? "It's" === "it is". Therefore, "it's own" === "it is own"; "it's merit" === "it is merit". You can work out the rest.

"Its, without an apostrophe, is the possessive of the pronoun it. It’s, with an apostrophe, is a contraction of it is or it has. If you’re not sure which spelling to use, try replacing it with it is or it has. If neither of those phrases works in its place, then its is the word you’re looking for."

The collar of the cat => The cat's collar. The collar of it => its collar. Possessives usually are formed with 's.

His, hers, its, yours, theirs

Because we care about the content, and not about the quality of English. To many of us English is a second or third language, so we care even less.

I think transparency is good. The secretive (and superficial) society we have now favors cheaters and liars.

If there was a way to publicly expose everyone for who they really were, maybe society would start to value those individuals who have real integrity (as opposed to greedy, manipulative, two-faced individuals). Absolute social transparency would allow power to be placed in the hands of people who are actually worthy of trust.

That said, I'm skeptical about Facebook's intentions. It looks like they just want to take people's personal information and use it for their own benefit. Their primary goal is not to make society more transparent for everyone - They just want to keep this information for themselves and keep everyone else in the dark - That way they get leverage over everyone else.

It is very generous of you, as a white, presumably Christian* heterosexual male living in a Five-Eyes member nation, to assert on behalf of society that no one could possibly have a legitimate reason to keep their personal details and correspondence away from you, or your government.

If no one has anything to hide, no one has anything to fear, right?

*I haven't seen any mention of your religion on the public profiles I've discovered yet. Indeed, almost everything i've seen relates to your programming work. How are we as a community to decide if you're worthy of trust if you don't disclose more personal information about your political views, family, finances, religion? What are you trying to hide? Why are you trying to deceive us?

That being said, while I am against real name policies, I do want to make anonymity unnecessary most of the time however.

How would you like Facebook to use this data? Perhaps it should report miscreants to their local school, church or police force?

Google tracks everyone everywhere as well. Should it do the same?

> Facebook's blocks posts based on political content it doesn't like. They blocked posts about Fergusson and other political protests.

Did Facebook literally do that or is it really about users deleting/blocking posts on some Facebook groups or on they walls?

I think it was mainly about th trending topics section. People were complaining it wasn't showing up there, but I'm pretty sure that is algorithmically driven based on your interests. So if you don't post about politics and news much on Facebook, or Like politics or news posts, it's not considered your interest.

I would definitely get me and my loved ones off Facebook, I am just looking for an alternative on a few features that keep me on the platform. If that alternative was more open and secure, it would definitely make me switch. Me and most of my friends are using it as some sort of chat to organise events and have "private" discussions grouped by topics. The main feed really doesn't appeal to me as it is mostly noise and it's too hard to keep it clean and organized. That feed just ends up distracting me every time I want to see updates on an event or a group discussion.

I'm really interested in hosting my own Telescope (http://www.telesc.pe/) for this reason. I'd like to use Sandstorm for this, but since it's not out yet, I might just host it on Digital Ocean.

I'm really interested in hosting my own Telescope [http://www.telesc.pe] for this reason.

Wow, this looks pretty simple and free hosting on meteor is probably enough for a small group of friends. I'm thinking one for friends and one for family. Is it easy to share images on telescope? Or do they need to be hosted elsewhere? Thanks for sharing!

The solution is really simple - have an (optional) monthly fee of $10 and the need to monetize (your) user data is gone. But how many people would take that deal? I somewhat doubt it would be a significant portion.

I suspect your data's worth more than that to them.

Revenue in Q4 2014 was $3.58 billion, monthly active users was 1.393 billion which then yields a revenue of $0.86 per active user and month. With $10 per user and month they would earn a lot more and at the same time with a lot less effort.

I doubt that - most users would probably not pay $10 per month to remain on facebook. The more people who left then the more incentive there would be for more people to leave, since part of the barrier to exit is that many of a user's friends and contacts are using facebook and don't have a presence on alternative social networks.

How about requiring it for some optional features?

$10 may be cheap in the developed countries, but in much of the world this is a very significant amount of money.

The fee would obviously have to take this into account but I see no principal problem with that. I would assume that showing ads to somebody from a rich country also brings in more money than showing them to someone from a poorer country.

People with disposable income who are able to pay $10 / month are exactly the people that advertisers want to reach. It's a catch 22 problem.

But Facebook should not care if they get their money via ads or directly. They should actually favor fees because of less overhead. Ad prices and therefore the fee could go up until it reaches the real value of those ads making it a free choice for everyone if they want to pay a fee and keep their privacy or if they see value in ads and want to pay indirectly via higher product prices and additionally lose their privacy.

Personally I see absolute no value for consumers in ads. I like good critical reviews, not marketing bullshit. If I had the power, I would probably even consider prohibiting advertising altogether.

Quite ironic, but the only reason i haven't deleted my FB account yet is because i participate in https://www.fbclaim.com/ui/page/faqs

Anyways in my opinion FB doesn't have a lot of value because the stuff you read on it isn't REAL. Everyone only posting their best pictures, best experiences, none of the normal or bad stuff that happens. Thus, not realistic = fake = no value.

And the worst part of the privacy abuse is of course people not even being aware of it...

So when I take a bad picture (happens regularly enough), I shouldn't delete it but instead post it to Facebook?

I suspect the OP doesn't mean bad as in poor quality but bad as in the more negative experiences in life. Most people rarely post anything but mostly positive experiences on Facebook. You occasionally see the more gritty reality of life bleed through around the edges, but in my experience, that's more of the exception than a rule.

There was an article on HN some months back someone wrote that shared similar experiences and how Facebook feeds in general could lead to mild depression when someone sees their friends constantly doing fun or exciting things, going on vacation, etc., while they compare such activities against their own otherwise boring or monotonous life.


Reading my Facebook feed is like watching a theatrical performance, the stuff people post is not what really happens (it's often glorified), i assume because they want to present themselves to the world as if they are having a perfect life or something.. but meanwhile i know for a fact that they are sitting at home being depressed.

> Reading my Facebook feed is like watching a theatrical performance

Great way to put it! The façade presented on Facebook often contributes to a feeling of inadequacy among more impressionable people precisely because of this.

I found an article that's roughly along the lines of the one I had in mind (saw it here on HN about a year ago--but I've since lost it). Either way, this one is a pretty good review of some of the psychological factors you were alluding to in your previous post (and addressed in this one):


While I doubt Stubb will see this comment, I think it's important to keep in mind that your original point was most assuredly not wrong.

Edit: Ah! I think I found it (turns out they both cite separate studies that come to very similar conclusions):


Right now, I could be posting pictures of the horrific amount of phlegm I'm coughing up while I recover from the flu. But I think I'll stick with pix from recent trips to Iceland.

Mild depression seems a healthy response to seeing people do fun things while living a boring, monotonous life. Take a road trip, buy plane tickets somewhere fun, get out and live a little. We're not here forever.

> Right now, I could be posting pictures of the horrific amount of phlegm I'm coughing up while I recover from the flu.

Even you have to admit, that would be a pretty gritty but realistic take on life. ;)

That said, I'm not sure where your disagreement is. My assumption was correct about the OP's intent, so my next guess is that you're being contrarian simply for the sake of it.

This is hyperbolic. Facebook isn't evil, selling ads isn't evil and they have no intention or incentive to violate anyone's privacy.

They don't sell secrets about your life, they allow advertisers to target ads based on demographics, location and categories of interest. This does not mean they say "Hey advertisers, Jane Smith likes to do drugs with her friends and take embarrassing pictures. Sell her stuff!". It's more "Show my ad to women between the ages of 18-24 in Portland, OR who have an interest in rock music". It's just boring, not evil and not an invasion of anyone's privacy. Mailing lists have been segmenting audiences for decades, often with much more personal information, and no one is freaking out about it.

The facebook model of advertising is stupid anyway. They have the potential to use unimaginable amounts of information to infer who is most like to buy what from whom. Instead of using it to the fullest extent, they let advertisers select their own targeting criteria based on tiny sample sizes and gut intuitions about who their ideal customers are. You have nothing to fear from this, it's just advertising, same as it's always been.

If you don't like using facebook, just don't use it. The sky won't fall, the dead won't rise and the sun will come up tomorrow. They aren't doing any more harm than any other corporation, and the use of their product isn't any more requisite than any other product.

> [...] selling ads isn't evil and they have no intention or incentive to violate anyone's privacy

Depends on your perspective. Take eating meat. A butcher doesn't think that selling meat is evil, but I'd bet that cows would.

I've done work in advertising, but it's now on the list of things I won't work on. The basic purpose of almost all advertising is to manipulate people into buying stuff. I've come to see that manipulation as immoral. I think it's also an enormous waste: so many bright, creative people putting their lives into something that produces no net systemic benefit. Advertising is an arms race between companies, and we could re-purpose circa $1 trillion annually if we declared an armistice.

Your definition of net systemic advertising is rather different to mine. There are multiple products I wouldn't know about, and wouldn't have bought, without advertising. Yes, those adverts can be misleading, but they also give me the information I need to make purchasing choices.

You mean net systemic value? You've only described a gross local value, and you haven't fully examined your contrafactual.

For net systemic value to be better than a world without advertising, you would have to count not just your personal positives and nothing else but individual positives and negatives both in the actual world and in the contrafactual.

For example, a lot of people have died from cancer caused by tobacco advertising, and things like the car accidents and liver failures that result from alcohol advertising. That's the actual negative side. You've assumed that in the contrafactual you just never would have heard about those products. But people hear about products all the time without advertising, so that's unproven. Perhaps in a world without ads we'd have more things like Consumer Reports and The Wirecutter, yielding better-informed decisions.

You also ignore the not-as-good products you're using because you never heard about the better ones with smaller advertising budgets. Think of all the folks using inappropriate Microsoft and Oracle products just because their bosses saw an ad. Similarly, you ignore how you've missed out on the products that don't exist because their companies were crushed via large advertising budgets. E.g., all the good beer that wasn't drunk because Budweiser out-advertised the small breweries.

And you also ignore the opportunity cost of advertising. I know a lot of smart, creative people who devote their lives to trying to shift market share from one essentially equivalent product to another. And for the most part, their work is canceled out by people from other advertising agencies. What if that money was spent on R&D, or just given back to the customers? What if those people were doing something that made the world better?

For net systemic value to be positive, the social benefits (product discovery is the only one you mention) would have to be greater than the costs. I don't think advertising actually helps, in net, with product discovery, but if it did I don't believe the value created even covers the $1 trillion or so in direct costs, let alone things like MS SQL Server and lung cancer.

Even if the benefits did cover all that (which I deny strongly) then I don't think it justifies the opportunity costs as compared with a world where people found their products through Consumer Reports and we spent the spare $1 trillion on something useful.

"Facebook sells your data" was always a stupid charge. Why would they give away their most valuable asset when they can make more money by renting indirect access to it (targeted ads). There are actual data brokers who do sell your data and none of them make anywhere near what Facebook makes. Facebook actually has an incentive to protect your data.

The latest one is hardly worse than the others. Sure, it's bad if you use instagram, but I have zero interest in sharing photos of my lunch with crappy filters on it, and IIRC that's the key change this time. Meanwhile, google add more and more anti-privacy provisions to their terms all the time and don't get anywhere near this amount of coverage.

I'm definitely critical of facebook and their privacy record, but most of the linked post is about their app, which I never use and of people I'm close to, I don't know anyone who does exactly due to those excessive permission requests. The tracking with like buttons is worse, but easy enough to mitigate with any number of addons. Facebook may be dodgy, but they are no worse than google, apple or microsoft in that respect.

There isn't anything as good as facebook for communicating with friends, and for that reason, trying to stop people using it will never work, no matter the privacy implications. Treat facebook as something dangerous, be careful what you share, and contain it appropriately with addons, etc., but it's unfortunately necessary. What are the alternatives? Google plus is a ghost town and run by the one company worse than facebook on privacy, and disaspora is a joke. I do wish there was a good alternative, but there won't be, as facebook is as much a platform as a site these days.

G+ is actually *not a "ghost town"; it doesn't presume that you have friend-like connections, and allows you to follow/circle and correspond easily with anyone. I tend to think of it as a more powerful Twitter, and have used it to stay in touch with what's going on in my profession. Very helpful to follow and participate in discussions with people from all over the world.

I find that messed up, that anyone can add me without me having to accept. Guess it makes sense in google's ideal panopticon world where privacy is a swearword though. It's just not something I would ever be a part of.

Oh, and it is a ghost town. When it launched, 3 people I know made profiles. None still have them.

Well, privacy or no... I have found just the sheer "overhead" of _dealing_ with FB to be exhausting. I mean, really.

Trolling through so many mundane and inane posts to get to the few relevant items of interest has become a huge time-sink, for me.

Yesterday, I posted a simple, non-accusatory statement that said that I was stepping back from FB for a while, maybe forever, and that we could still stay in touch via email and text. So far, the response has been nothing but positive.

"And if you haven't heard - it was revealed by wikileaks that all your Facebook data is delivered directly to the NSA." {{Citation needed}}

I avoid Facebook as much as possible, but there's a whole lot of nutty nonsense in this article. The reason I avoid Facebook is that it grew from a culture of bros instead of a culture of professionals or academics, and I won't entrust my data to bros. It's the same reason I don't use Uber.



I think I had a few more in the sources section at the bottom of the post too.

Good point on it sounding nutty though. I just added a reference to this http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-...

1. None of those are Wikileaks.

2. Facebook delivered 19k accounts' data to the US government out of more than 1 billion, and nowhere does it say it delivered all of their data. That is not "all of your Facebook data" unless they received a court order for all of your data, which is very unlikely unless you're running ISIS.

3. For PRISM, certain data for those specific users is delivered directly to the FBI, not the NSA. The NSA gets it from the FBI.

Thanks - I'll update the post.

Facebook is an awful experience, even with AdBlock. The only reason people are on Facebook is because everyone else is. It's like the worst bar in the town, but it's the only one you can reliably see anyone at. It's desperately in need of disruption. Google+ could have done it, but their data greed with the Real Names policy fucked them.

I would heed that advice if I used Facebook purely to over-share pointless random personal information.

Unfortunately, Facebook is where people I want to communicate with can, and generally do see what I post, and engage with it at higher rates than on Google+.

Back when Google+ was new and very Google-oriented, I was able to build a community of a large number of followers for my personal account and a page for one of my books. But the Google+ user base is now larger, more diffuse, and less engaged. That's not very useful.

Lately, LinkedIn has been a good alternative. LinkedIn has improved their update stream. I read it, and I post to it. But LinkedIn does despicable things with your calendar information.

I'm pretty sure the people at Facebook have figured this out: Either you need it, and will put up with the privacy issues, or it's an entertainment medium for you and you don't care.

I've deleted Facebook and LinkedIn apps from my mobile devices, but I still use them via their Web UIs.

I read about the fuzz but to me its unclear what changed in the policy. I dont haven a Facebook account because the current policy isn't very different from the bad one years ago when I had an account and therefore deleted it.

So does someone know what exactly changed and why my dear ones should suddenly stop using Facebook?

Quick question: is Facebook tracking what you articles read online on third party sites even when you are not logged in to Facebook? This can be done via cookies, browser fingerprinting, and other methods so long as the third party site (e.g. Buzzfeed) is firing a FB tracking pixel?

They used to track you via cookies even when you were logged out. http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-to-stop-facebook-fr... This lead to investigation by the FTC and a $15 billion class-action lawsuit.

Thanks for this. However, unless FB were directly sharing this sort of data outside of FB, this consent decree would seem to be very hard to enforce/police.

I've never been a fan of Facebook, although as an early adopter I've been on it for a long while. In fact, I've always said (and still say) that Facebook is the closest thing the modern world has to a devil, because it uses your friends against you to encourage you to do things you would not normally do. It's really, really bad.

But I'm still on. Why? Well, because, like I said, all my friends are on there. It's a faustian choice: give up hearing from and relating to all of those people I have put so much emotional capital in all these years? Or stay and hold my nose?

I do not feel that the hype against Facebook is overblown. In fact, looking at it over a period of decades, it's probably understated.

could you give an example of things it encourages me to do?

It's ironic how that page uses google analytics, enabling Google to track your visit.

And has a 'please share this post' section at the bottom, including - you guessed it - Facebook.

The is fear bait and not a well rounded analysis, it belongs on FOX news and is completely sophomoric.

For example: (Peter Thiel) - believes in a theory called "memetic desire" which uses people's social groups to manipuate their wants and intentions. - Copy pasted will spelling error^

A theory is not something you believe in, Memetic Desire ( Google René Girard) is a very interesting psychological idea, I find it interesting , will the author paint me as having evil intentions as well..

wyck - I quickly wrote this for my immediate family and posted as-is. I'm actually a big fan of Thiel and see the positive sides of the theory as well. To someone not from our tech startup world though, I wanted to be clear about the politics of the people behind the service, and the possible implications. Facebook is a business, and it likely has a political agenda behind it.

I'm sure you're a nice person. I also honestly think that Facebook, the NSA, Al Jazeera and even Cheezburger are full of nice people who want to make the world a better place. (Maybe not FOX news though. :) ) That doesn't necessarily condone what their organisations do.

I constantly see negative bias towards social media, sure some of it is warranted, and most of it related to privacy, but what abut the positives?

The hard reality that revenue needs to be generated is a very real struggle. This was evolving pre-facebook, it just so happens that they are able to take advantage of what was already going on.

The answer is not to abandon social media, but to force awareness and possibly regulation, but again it's not easy when commerce is involved. I think that this will come in the future, right now the ground is still unstable, but it's important to look at the big picture and take the goods with the bad.

Can anyone name 3 alternatives and the strategy to get people to quit FB and sign up for something new?

Alternatives to what? What need does Facebook actually fulfill in your life?

I quit Facebook a few years back. I didn't replace it with something new. I simply quit. I don't share my life online. I just live it.

Guess you filter through a lot of email or don't engage online with friends and family. Also, people actively use FB for events and groups. Do you not follow any local events?

True. I don't engage much online with friends or family. Or even via email. We mostly call and text, or we actually are together face to face. Likewise with local events - people talk about them in real life and we attend when we want to.

Naming alternatives is easy: friendica and red#matrix

A strategy to get people off FB ans sign up for something new? Almost impossible.

I feel like this article, like every other article about facebook, is based on a misunderstanding of what it is and how it should be used. It seems to me that everything on facebook should be to some extent a facade, an idealised version of whats actually going on. Its a really nice way to keep in some sort of contact with people that you've fallen out of touch with or people who you were never that close with to start (but they post interesting things). This is where the primary value of facebook is (for me at least).

The point is, information on facebook is pseudo-public, not private and hopefully not too personal. Use it like this, and it don't think theres any problem. There are plenty of other options for more private or personal communications so its not like they have any monopoly power in this area. So, regardless of the dubiousness of Mark Zuckerberg's vision for open communications, i think the problems written about in this article reduce to a lot of hyperbole.

Since the whole purpose of Facebook is to enable people to share things with their friends, you'd have to be phenomenally stupid to use it to store things you want to keep private.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact