Why do I dislike Facebook (Fb)?

I was challenged with this question last Thursday when I told my family about the intended changes to the WhatsApp Terms and Conditions of Use. I didn’t reply to my IT-savvy son until this morning when I was first asked to agree to these new Ts&Cs. This is what I wrote …

“It starts with trust, and then you work away from that. It’s what a company does with information and whether you can then trust them to handle it properly. Google+ was a closed system that you opened up; Fb is an open system that even though it has Privacy Controls – which you need a degree to work out how to set them – essentially allows them to do anything with what appears on their platform.

You take a photo – you don’t retain copyright, you assign that right to them when you publish to the platform. You can’t opt out of adverts (understandably – that’s how they make there money) – you are conned into thinking that in allowing them, you will get a better experience.

For whom? For you – no, they’re just an annoyance to me, but for others they just drive people to buy stuff they might not want/need. For them – yes, that’s how they drive income and more.

So it’s the more that’s more interesting and insidious because what they do with that information leads to targeting people with posts, hence my reference to Brexit and Trump. [I had said in my brief first reply – Cambridge Analytica, Brext and Trump.] The algorithms behind the scenes work the data and susceptible people get targeted with posts as well, not just adverts. I could go on, but as I said – it’s all about Trust, and Fb as a company is one that I just don’t trust.

Getting data from WhatsApp was something they committed at take-over they wouldn’t do. Now they are starting to do just that. Next step targeted adverts on a platform which is advert free; then “posts from others you might be interested in” – not the encrypted ones, but ones from Public Figures. Then “oh! dear” we have to drop encryption because of new privacy laws in the US. [Aside: is it a coincidence that Google, Twitter and Fb appear to be more privacy focussed since the Republicans lost control of the Senate and they just might want to be on the right side of the argument that’s going to come in the US in the next four years ].

So I always logout of Fb to stop them tracking me; I suspect that WhatsApp will have a mechanism that prevents a user from being disconnected so Fb with these new Ts&Cs will be tracking as well as getting the other personal info from users.

Please feel free to comment either on the post.

4 Replies to “Why do I dislike Facebook (Fb)?”

  1. Nodding. I had a similar conversation with Mrs E last night. My dislike is manyfold, but it’s sometimes hard to articulate this without going too far down the “grumpy old man” route – and I do also admit to being that, too…

    For me, and in no particular order

    1) It’s a waste of life. I just don’t need to know most of that stuff, and having sucked on the crack pipe that is Twitter for so long, I’m pretty glad I’m outta there. I do 100% accept that a) I have an addiction problem and b) I’m grumpy and old and this doesn’t necessarily apply: but the circle of people who I *really* care about is actually pretty small, and I’m very happy with that.

    2) I hate, and have always hated, the walled-gardenness of it. This works in both directions – there’s nothing worse than someone sending a link to a thing and you having to sign in (to Facebook / anywhere!) to see it, and there’s similarly an irritation when you know there is probably interesting content in there which can’t be seen by external searches

    3) All the copyright and visibility stuff. All the “who knows who can see X” stuff. I think this is probably better now, but for years it wasn’t, and pictures of our kids “leaked out” so anyone could see them even though Mrs E had flagged them as private, because FB changed some obscure setting. This erodes trust hugely.

    4) The telemetry. I am SO pissed off with companies passing user data around in a mind-bogglingly opaque way. I’ve had a Pi-hole [https://pi-hole.net/] installed at home now for a couple of years, and it’s a) fantastic but b) scary – on any given week, roughly *12% of all traffic* is blocked. This is ad, tracking, telemetry stuff. I also use Brave (or Firefox, depending) and the usual suite of tools to kill unwanted tracking. This stuff is just horrendous. I recommend the Pi-hole as a good nerd project btw, if you don’t have one 🙂

    I have had endless conversations with people about privacy. I tell them to watch The Social Dilemma [https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81254224] . And then if they give me the “I have nothing to hide” line, I ask them to unlock their smartphone and give to a stranger in the street. That normally shuts them up 🙂

  2. We’re at one then on Fb! Some commentary on your points:

    1) Totally agree, but I do feel a heel as some very good and nice people I really do like are on both Fb and twitter and I miss them. I have started popping in to twitter now and then but for my sanity I have a separate twitter ID which I only use with a very few close friends and family. As for Fb – logout, logout, logout – that’s the message I preach to U3A folk, but at least that stops the tracking. My suspicion is that WhatsApp is effectively “always on” and so the link to Fb is not good news. I’ve just been sent this link – https://bit.ly/2LdddHC – you might find it interesting reading, especially towards the end when the links to Fb and the future are made clear.

    2) Yep! Yesterday I even re-visited at tumblr (now owned by Automattic – missed that) as a way of creating communities, but no obvious advantages over personal blogs. Everyone should have one; should be part of the national curriculum 🙂

    3) I don’t think the Copyright issue is resolved. Last time I looked at Fb Ts&Cs you effectively gave away all rights and as an active amateur photographer who has no interest in making money out of their interest, I don’t want anyone else to do so. I use CC for my images, they would be over-ridden by Fb Ts&Cs, I believe, so … I don’t put any photos now on Fb and I’ve stopped using my Photography Page. I should stop using Instagram as well, but … another day.

    4) Thanks for the tip. My family already think I’m off the nerdy-scale but VPNs and now Pi-hole can be added to the growing list of things I “must” get round to.

    Cheers.

    1. That makes Fb even more insidious than I thought. I follow the logic. I’ll have to correct my advice to be a warning rather than a recommendation. Thanks Mike.

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