[Image: Seppukoo by Les Liens Invisibles] Sean Dockray wrote:
Everyone now wants to know how to remove themselves from social networks. It has become absolutely clear that our relationships to others are mere points in the aggregation of marketing data. Political campaigns, the sale of commodities, the promotion of entertainment – this is the outcome of our expression of likes and affinities. And at what cost? The reward is obvious: we no longer have to tolerate advertisements for things for which we have no interest. Instead our social relations are saturated with public relations. But at least it is all *interesting*!
Unlike the old days, when we could invent online identities daily, our social networks today require fidelity between our physical self and our online self. The situation is unbearable.
The frightening consequence of it all is that we believe in the value of these networks. We understand perfectly well that our privacy is being renegotiated without our consent; the rules are changing in plain view; but we still participate! It is like a new form of money, something we realize is a myth, but we act like it is real and that is its power. We can’t leave because everyone else is there! Or because we are invested in the myth ourselves.
The question is how do we extract ourselves from this predicament?
Recently, some programmers figured out how to computationally do exactly this. By entering in your username and password, the software would delete as much information as possible, ultimately removing the account itself. It was a radical enough idea to attract the legal attention of Facebook.
This software did not go far enough!
When someone disappears from Facebook, does anyone notice? Does this software retroactively invalidate all of the marketing data that has been collected from the account? Has this person de-dividuated themselves? No, silence has not disrupted the system in the slightest!
Social networks need a social suicide. In the same way that 99.99999% of users on Facebook don’t exist within the cloistered world of one’s home page, an invisible user – one who has committed suicide – is simply a non-factor in the constant and regular computational logic of the thing. The answer isn’t silence, but noise!
Suicide on a social network is a matter of introducing noise into the system. It spreads viruses and misinformation. It makes things less interesting for others. It disrupts the finely calibrated advertising algorithms on which suggestions are made – for friends, groups, institutions, ideas, and so on. Social networking captures, quantifies, and capitalizes on positive feedback. It records and reproduces similarity. Oh yes, everyone is not watching one of three mass-produced choices; but beneath all of the possibilities there is only one choice! The one for you!
A roadmap for an effective Facebook suicide should do some of the following: catching as many viruses as possible; click on as many “Like” buttons as possible; join as many groups as possible; request as many friends as possible. Wherever there is the possibility for action, take it, and take it without any thought whatsoever. Become a machine for clicking! Every click dissolves the virtual double that Facebook has created for you. It disperses you into the digital lives of others you hadn’t thought of communicating with. It confuses your friends. It pulls all those parts of the world that your social network refuses to engage with back into focus, makes it present again.
Invisibility comes in many forms, and on social networks it is the form of a radical overload of information – a maximum participation. No more thought, because every considered click adds to the collaborative filtering algorithms that makes sure everyone continues to like what they like, but in slightly modified form. Click everywhere, click often, and don’t stop until you have disappeared beneath a flood of meaninglessness.
This is a call for suicide, for the abandonment of seriousness and belief. It is a call to reclaim ourselves from the sad version of ourselves that lives in that bloodless village. Don’t become nothing, the singular point defined by an absence, become everything, with everyone else. Drown the system in data and make a new world in the ruins that remain!
Paulo Ruffino wrote:
Finally, someone had to say that!
In the last years I’ve been joining a random group for every one I was actually ‘interested’ about, I’ve uploaded random family pictures from Google with my own personal photos. I’m part of the group ‘English teachers in South Korea’ and I actively participate in the discussions of the ‘5th Battallion 13th Marines’ group. No need to say I’ve never been linked to any of those groups.
The idea that the content we upload on Facebook can unveil something of our inner personality, and make it possible to violate our privacy, is based on the assumption that we are coherent, sensible beings. If we were, then it would be possible to ‘catch’ our private sphere and sell it to the best offer. In fact, and luckily enough, we are not coherent. We should just force a little the randomness of our thoughts and overload Facebook with noise.
I now receive advertisement from South Korean brands and military movements (among very useful information about how to enlarge my penis). I can now say I can freely use Facebook, with no fear, and have fun in uploading Mbs of garbage on its servers.
I like to do it while screaming and waving a hat in the air, more or less like this:
Nicholas Knouf wrote:
This is the same idea behind the track-me-not plugin by Daniel Howe and Helen Nissenbaum:
Floods google searches with other, random searches.
I’ve heard from some CS people who study this sort of thing for a living that the tactic is not as good as it seems, as too few people are doing such things for it to be effective. (It’s the same argument as with crypto; since so few people use it, other forms of traffic and data analysis can be used to build a profile based only on your use of the technique. The flood facebook idea is only so good insofar it does not mark you as an outlier.) Not to say that I don’t like the idea(s) or I don’t think they can be efficacious; rather that they can’t be relied upon by themselves.
Hellekin O. Wolf wrote:
On Sat, May 29, 2010 at 10:45:09AM +0100, Paolo Ruffino wrote:
The idea that the content we upload on Facebook can unveil something of our inner personality, and make it possible to violate our privacy, is based on the assumption that we are coherent, sensible beings.
*** As well as mathematics. Math rarely lie, and when it does, it often comes from how it is interpreted. Looking at explicit and implicit relationships make it easy to draw an incomplete, probably wrong, picture of an individual. If you happen to show interests in contents considered harmful by a third party, nothing prevents that third party from categorizing you as whatever he likes, or rather: fears. You could end up in a list of “potential terrorists” if you voice your concern about U.S. foreign policy, or support Wikileaks openly.
In 1945, the Conseil National de la Resistance (CNR, the French National Council for Resistance) declared files on individuals illegal, after such files had been used to identify, arrest and displace Jews, Gays, Communists, Anarchists and other “minorities” opposing or targetted by the Nazi occupant. This law was simply blown away by the current French governement that instituted files on individuals by merging different police, administrative, fiscal and health records.
Whomever had the chance to see a police file know that there’s a lot of information there that doesn’t reflect reality, but present a vision of an individual through the police suspicious eye, making it easy for a policeman reading that file to suspect you even if the record is wrong. For example, if you happen to be a member of a gaming association bearing the name of a Nazi-friendly science fiction author, you could end up as a “extreme right sympathizer” yourself.
It is the clear cut of categories that makes your “avatar” detached from your “uncoherent self”. That picture might draw something very similar to you when read appropriately (with actual knowledge about yourself) but could as well prove a burden if read otherwise.
“Overloading Facebook with noise” certainly can lure the advertising engine, but won’t prevent Facebook from drawing a clear picture of you anyway, if they really want to: they can use information from other networks as well to consolidate their records.
I must say that as a non-Windows user, I found that the Facebook UI is specially targetted to users of that platform, showing the same bias: complicated settings if you want to change the defaults, invasive and distracting popups and other system events, that often concern irrelevant stuff. Its main force is the social graph it provides, making it easy to “reconnect” with old time acquaintances.
For me, Facebook is the Windows of social networking.
Re: suicide on a social network
I was very late using Facebook, finally drawn there by the buzz, and the fact many people around me where using it. So I gave it a try. 15 days later, I changed my email to a temporary one, removed everything I could (although they certainly have a copy) and removed my account (which they keep, “in case you want to use it again”.) I changed my email before closing the account to ensure that nobody, even myself, could ever take that login again, except if they decide to cleanup the database at some point, which wouldn’t be coherent with what they told me at the time.
More generally, if a user can remove his contents from a network, that gives him a huge power over the service, as the holes in the conversations created by the removal of his contents can remove a lot of context and make the conversation unreadable. In a world of open social networks, that means services have a strong incentive to be kind to the user, and consider him more than a sale value.
Nathan Jurgnesen wrote:
love Dockray’s “FACEBOOK SUICIDE (BOMB) MANIFESTO” and the point that we can stick it to facebook by gumming up their system. database vandalism!
however, for many, quitting facebook is not really an option (e.g., because all of your peers use it). another less extreme route is to simply have a “fakebook” where you do not use your real name and fill your profile with nonsense information. your real friends will still know who you are. you can still use the site to network and enjoy what it offers while simultaneously sticking it to facebook a bit by inserting so much false information (not to mention it solves many of the privacy concerns).
i wrote it up a bit here: “Trade Your Facebook in for a Fakebook.”
Geert Lovink wrote:
bombing, deleting, committing suicide, with a machine (or not)… These are not really the metaphors I call mine.
Leaving the scene is perhaps a better motive.
It reminds me of Baudrillard who writes about the art of disappearance and the strategies that go with such moves.
Indifference is one of them. Who cares? Forgetting is another (the password). What was my username again? Damned. No idea.
That’s very likely going to be the way most Facebook users will say goodbye to the System.
A computer crash. Moving town. A love affair. Life is strong. And so are alternatives networks. Alternatives to networks.
(after my Facebook’s gone)
Danny Butt wrote:
One of the things I’ve noticed about the departures from Facebook that have been announced for Quit Facebook Day is that most of the people doing it never engaged much in the platform anyway, and so little has changed. In that respect, the more active “suicides” suggested by Sean make a lot of sense as a political intervention.
For me, Facebook solves a simple problem, it allows me to keep in touch in a low-effort way with many dispersed friends in all parts of the world, and across many different disciplinary and familial groups (for better and worse, my mother is not going to join iDC and comment on my post). Facebook’s governance is, to put it mildly, completely fucked in either democratic or economic paradigms, in ways that are potentially catastrophic if you are a sucker. But after editing a book-length study on ICANN/IETF governance back in the day, I can’t say for sure that poor governance is that easily correlated with value. Until something comes along that’s 90% as easy, it will continue unabated.
[FWIW- I think the only short-run competitor is some kind of HTML 5 wrapper aggregating photos and videos around a Twitter ID, while wrapping RTs into comments somehow. Think about how on the iPhone SMS messaging completely ignores the 160 char limit to make "messages" in speech bubbles that may be 2 or 4 messages long, but you don't really know and don't care that much if you can afford an iPhone. Yes, I know part of the value of Twitter is that it doesn't have extra features, but for many of my facebook friends, the main thing they'll want to share is baby photos. And I'll want to see them without clicking on a link.]
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