Privacy and Social Media

Be thoughtful about data sharing and connecting

Think about your photos and private data. Don’t just think about what happens if I want to get them back from Facebook (take them, they’re yours!), think about what Facebook can use them for. Hey, it recognizes people automatically in my photos! That makes it way easier to tag people that were at the party! That’s also creepy, intrusive, and none of their business that we were at the same party. Nor forget about what I said above, regarding the AI that’s coming, and geotagging photos. These things are a convenience for us, and a cross-selling opportunity for them – bollox to that. How you want your data used should be up to you. With some of the EULAs you have signed, the only way to control that is to control the data that you post.

Didn’t I just talk about this? In a way – there are two different technologies at play here. The first is how you log on. The second is what you connect to within the new system. The one I’m talking about is when you log into the new site about your potato hobby, and it allows you to connect to Facebook and Twitter (and likely the rutebega site, too), all in the name of “finding your friends!”. Let’s find your friends! It’s a wonderful feature, and you’ve just given everything you’ve ever given to Facebook over to your potato hobby site (which you know you will use for 12 days and 3 posts before you decide it’s dumb). They connect and they get everything, just remember that. You don’t have any control, and just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened yet.

Delete Dead Accounts

You know all those accounts that you have? The potato and rutebega hobby sites that you now no longer go to? Delete them. It may not, under the EULA, force them to stop using the data they’ve already collected, but they can’t collect any more data.

Are you starting to feel nervous now? You know that there are several accounts out there that you just… left. Probably all sharing one password too (I’m coming to that, don’t worry…).

Don’t react right away, and Ignore the likes

Don’t like, don’t retweet, or cross-post right away. Really think about that action. There is a whole lot of slack action that happens as people mindlessly scroll social media. Scroll scroll… like… scroll scroll… like… scroll… retweet with confetti emoji and “yeah! your right” (always spelled wrong, by the way); all while waiting in line at the Starbucks. It is what has lead us to slacktivism. It’s the intellectual popcorn, the mindless fluff, the space where we used to read People or GQ while waiting for our haircut. Be intentional about what you post yourself. Be selective about what you like and repost, and from what source.

I have a theory. I think that there are basically three types of Facebook users in the world:

  1. those who use it to yell out loud to the universe, generally about negative things and how they are affecting them (including their latest ingrown toenail and a livestream of their hernia surgery);
  2. those who curate a perfect life, only posting the ultra-positive (including their cover photo of them, in silhouette, on top of a mountain, doing their hardest ever yoga pose); and
  3. folks like me that have essentially abandoned what I feel is a “burning platform“.

When I was more actively using Facebook, I was probably more in line with #2. I looked at my Facebook page – and still look at my LinkedIn page – as something to be curated. My best life. I would share what I liked, and what I think others might be interested in, but always a best foot forward. I would post – and on LinkedIn, continue to post – meaningful things.

I will occasionally re-share something I find on LinkedIn (more often I’ll just “like” it), and will likewise occasionally retweet and cross-post things I find on Twitter. Even then, I try to wait and take my time before I post it, as I want to make sure it’s “right”. I tend to find my own content (whether an article or a news item) and post it directly, rather than a lot of liking and re-posting. I’m also very careful, and selective, about who I like and retweet / re-post from – I try not to feed the trolls.

I also recommend not getting wrapped up in likes / kudos / thumbs / follows / retweets. Everyone likes to be liked, and everyone likes when their stuff is followed and commented on, me included. The more you stop paying attention to (and getting notified of!) likes and whatnot, the more you will be able to focus. At least, that’s what I think, anyway (and when I focus, it’s not often on social media at all).

I stopped really caring about the amount of reaction my posts and whatnot were garnering when I caught myself scrolling through other people’s social media and hitting the like button quickly and without much thought – essentially, letting go of my “wait a while” rule. Did I actually like that, or did I want them to see that I did, so that I could start an interaction, in hopes that they might like and follow my stuff? Did I want to engage with that person, and be seen to be engaged with that person, using the low-impact way to do so? I eventually resolved around the fact that I was hitting like because I was bored, perhaps, but also because it’s social media, and likes beget likes.

Then I realized that if I’m doing it, so are most people. The pull of that engagement is what makes social networks “sticky”, it’s what keeps you there. You wonder if you are getting likes, so you’ll hang around the site and like some other people’s posts until the next one comes in for you, oh look, there it is! It’s an intermittent reward, and that’s how casinos keep people at slot machines, and also how we train dogs. Think about that for a moment, because it’s a sobering thought. We have been trained by the Snaptagram and the Bookfacer to constantly be looking for reactions to our posts. Pavlov has been ringing his bell for years now, and we all salivate every time.

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Insurance is my profession, and one of my passions. Motorcyclist, runner, skier, photography newbie. Nerdy tech geek, craft beer enthusiast. Thoughts are my own. Snark is omni-present.

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