Goodbye Facebook, it’s (not really) been real

I am sure there must have been some highs from using you, something akin to witnessing an actual wedding or road trip or birth or sunset or a new poem taking shape or a really great poem by a friend. It’s just that I only remember the lows. My general feeling of inadequacy, lack of beauty, and wit, all fueled by endless and instant comparison with others in the broad daylight of numbers of likes and comments. So, in secret, I unfollowed every single one of my friends, and kept only the newsfeeds of the papers and blogs and websites I felt I could trust to give me an honest account of what was happening in the world.

Anthony Wilson

Feeling Busy and Distracted? It’s Not Your Fault

So if you constantly feel busy and distracted, it’s not your fault. But there is something you can do about it: You can change the defaults of distraction and busyness by reconfiguring your technology. Let’s get real: If you want to reclaim control of your time, it’s your responsibility. No digital wellbeing feature or anti-technology manifesto is going to undo these defaults. And nobody cares more about your time than you do… But you can’t wait for tech companies to give you back your time. It’s on you.

Make Time

The Case Against Google

Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins. Should the government step in?

But on Google, Foundem had effectively disappeared. And Google, of course, was where a vast majority of people searched online.

The Raffs wondered if this could be some kind of technical error, so they began checking their coding and sending email to Google executives, begging them to fix whatever was causing Foundem to vanish. Figuring out whom to write, and how to contact them, was a challenge in itself. Although Google’s parent company bills itself as a diversified firm with about 80,000 employees, almost 90 percent of the company’s revenues derive from advertisements, like the ones that show up in search. As a result, there are few things more important to Google’s executives than protecting the firm’s search dominance, particularly among the most profitable kinds of queries, such as those of users looking to buy things online. In fact, at about the same time the Raffs were starting, Google executives were growing increasingly concerned about the threats that vertical-search engines posed to Google’s business.

New York Times

‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

When the security expert Bruce Schneier wrote that “surveillance is the business model of the internet” he was really only hinting at the reality that Zuboff has now illuminated. The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. This has profound consequences for democracy because asymmetry of knowledge translates into asymmetries of power. But whereas most democratic societies have at least some degree of oversight of state surveillance, we currently have almost no regulatory oversight of its privatised counterpart. This is intolerable.

And it won’t be easy to fix because it requires us to tackle the essence of the problem – the logic of accumulation implicit in surveillance capitalism. That means that self-regulation is a nonstarter. “Demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists,” says Zuboff, “or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the internet is like asking old Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand. It’s like asking a giraffe to shorten its neck, or a cow to give up chewing. These demands are existential threats that violate the basic mechanisms of the entity’s survival.”

The Guardian

Is 2019 the year you should finally quit Facebook?

If you’re still on Facebook after everything has happened this year, you need to ask yourself why. Is the value you get from the platform really worth giving up all your data for? More broadly, are you comfortable being part of the reason that Facebook is becoming so dangerously powerful? Are you comfortable being on a platform that has, among other things, helped incite genocide in Myanmar?

Time and time again Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it is a morally bankrupt company that is never going to change unless it is forced to. What’s more, Facebook has made it very clear that it thinks it can get away with anything because its users are idiots.

The Guardian

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

To evaluate location-sharing practices, The Times tested 20 apps, most of which had been flagged by researchers and industry insiders as potentially sharing the data. Together, 17 of the apps sent exact latitude and longitude to about 70 businesses. Precise location data from one app, WeatherBug on iOS, was received by 40 companies. When contacted by The Times, some of the companies that received that data described it as “unsolicited” or “inappropriate.”

New York Times

The new Yahoo? Facebook should heed the lessons of internet history

One of the main reasons Yahoo declined is because it lost out to a powerful rival, Google, in online search; Marissa Mayer, its boss from 2012 until its sale to Verizon last year, was unable to restore advertisers’ or employees’ confidence as users left. Today there is no company that truly competes with Facebook’s suite of apps, partly because it has hoovered up competitors such as Instagram, the wildly successful photo app that is at the centre of its future plans.

But people who watched Yahoo’s collapse see ominous similarities. Executive turnover was a leading indicator of its decline; before Ms Mayer was hired it went through four chief executives in three years. Mr Zuckerberg, who controls the majority of Facebook’s voting shares, is not leaving, but many top executives are.

The Economist

It is time to leave the Facebook universe!

I left Facebook on 1 January 2012. Never used Instagram and stopped using WhatsApp on 30 April 2017. I haven’t missed it for a second. Some people asked me why I don’t have Facebook / WhatsApp anymore. I have a few answers for them:

It became clear that Facebook broke it’s promise. It promised it would not connect Facebook and WhatsApp. And would not use any WhatsApp data to improve their advertisement platform.

I spent too much time in WhatsApp, it became unhealthy.

I absolutely hated the group conversations, and you are kind of mandatory to be part of it and be responsive.


How a Month without Computers Changed Me

Boredom was the thing that scared me the most, so I did a lot of preparation: took a few thick books, drew up a schedule (when I leave one place for another) and made up several evening rituals to follow every day. The internet-less reality turned out to be a boredom-less one, too.

On the very first day, I went to bed early and woke up early—my biorhythms adjusted to the Sun in no time.

Your battery is never low if you don’t have one. Nor will rain ever ruin your expensive phone. I always had time to think everything over and always felt the pleasant sensation of doing the right thing at the right time. My heart was filled with bliss and confidence.

Andrey Sitnik