Terms And Conditions May Apply - Agree

Why I’m Minimizing My Facebook Presence

Terms And Conditions May Apply - AgreeI initially setup my Facebook account with a ton of information about me: where I went to school, was born, have lived, blah, blah, blah. I also created accounts on other social network services, providing them with a lot of personal information as well. As time has passed, I’ve learned more about what is being done with this information and how these corporations use it. I now regret having ever given them so much of my personal data1. Once these corporations have your data, you can’t even delete it, only hide it from yourself. They have it forever.

What’s odd, is that it doesn’t feel like I’m giving these transglobal corporations anything. It feels like I’m sharing information with you: people, people I might know and with whom I may want to reconnect. It’s a very, very clever strategy. And then Mark Zuckerberg proclaims that “information wants to be free.” Riiiight. He’s certainly not making his personal information freely available, is he!

I’ve never much written anything exclusively for any of these social media sites like Facebook or Linked-in. I use my blog, what you are reading now, as my central and sole online presence. I use the various social media as distribution channels to bring readers here—to my blog. My strategy has been: post here and share links through there.

You see, I want to solely own, and have some small measure of control over, my online presence. I basically want transglobal corporations to interact with my life on my terms, not their oblique terms of service that are designed to take from me and give to them.

Have you ever read any of these sites’ terms of service (TOS) agreements—you know, when you click “I have read and agree to…?” I didn’t think so. I’ve looked at one or twice of them over the years. Too many words. Too much overstatement. By design. I’ve always assumed I was just clicking on: “Ok, screw me any way you want.” Actually, that’s exactly what we are doing when we “agree.”

What I never factored into the mix was that they really would. Linked-in says anything and everything you post or do on Linked-in belongs to them and that they can do whatever they want to do with it forever. (They use bigger words, like “in perpetuity,” et. al., but this is what they are saying in their TOS. Literally. And those companies that have reasonable TOS get bought and those TOS inevitably change. What then?!

I know many people do not share my concerns. Many feel they have “nothing to hide.” Get real. From time to time we all have something to hide or we wouldn’t tell even those little white lies just to be polite. And even if we didn’t, why should you give information about yourself away for free to transglobal companies that will make over $300 per year selling your freely acquired data2.

If you want an eye-opening experience, watch the 2013 documentary: Terms and Conditions May Apply. This was made just before the troublesome revelations by Edward Snowden about how the NSA is spying on innocent Americans—literally every last one of us. I also have encouraged people to read Eli Pariser‘s book: The Filter Bubble.

It’s not just that privacy is dead.

It’s far more serious than that, as if that is not serious enough.

The new TVs on the market today can literally watch us and how we watch them. They can be used to target ads to the people watching based on facial recognition software using  the data profiles these corporations are selling. They, in real time, can inform your profile of the mood you are in and what you are most likely to purchase, who you are most likely to vote for, etc. Advertising can be tailor-made in an instant to manipulate you for whatever purposes those with the money want to accomplish.

The power to control and manipulate comes through knowing as much information about you as possible. The art of manipulation has become an amazingly refined and profoundly hidden science.

So What’s Next

Erasing you. Complete and total data control. Through the power of the algorithm and fast computing, dissent can be hidden when it can not be prevented. You post about, oh, say: election fraud, but that post is never seen on the internet. It disappears from view even though you, the author can see it. This is now possible. I’m confident it is coming to a country near you.

So All of This to Say

I’ve begun deleting personal information from my social media presence. I’ll never again share personal information with any such site. I don’t trust them3.

I’ll continue to blog here often. (After all, the NSA needs to keep tabs on me, I’m sure.) And I’ll continue, for the time being, to share links via social media to my posts here.

George Orwell could never have imagined the pervasive scope of his dystopic view past 1984 into 2014! Where did personal freedom and true liberty go?!

Now go watch Terms and Conditions May Apply and read Eli’s book. We live in a very different world now.

  1. Here’s an interesting aside: your fingerprint is not your property. The police can demand that you use it to unlock your phone’s TouchID sensor. They can not require you to tell them your passcode because that information may be used to possibly incriminate you, but they can require you to use your fingerprint to incriminate yourself. I found that judicial decision this past week of interest. 

  2. Yes, that’s what they are reported to make per person on average. 

  3. I’ve told you before about deceased friends “liking” things on Facebook! I know I’ve supposedly labeled people in photos even though I have never done such a thing.