What do Steve Wozniak, Susan Sarandon, and I have in common?
In recent weeks, 9% of Facebook users have deleted or disabled their accounts. I’m joining them. Here’s why: Privacy, Time Wasted, Lack of Regulation. I’ll expand on all three in just a bit, but first wanted to put things in perspective. Several years ago, I published some thoughts on the internet as a medium (click the excerpt below to read the entire article) which ring even more true today.
The introduction of browsers (remember Netscape?) and the “world wide web” in the late 80’s catapulted the internet into every day, everyman use. It became a driving force behind the explosion of “personal” computers, gaming consoles, and smartphones which, in turn, prompted further expansion of the internet. In almost no time, it’s blanketed the entire world.
The biggest factor enabling this revolution was the absence of regulation. Beyond the limited purview of the United Nation’s ICANN agency (which controls the process for assigning domain names), there’s still no regulation. Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress this week highlights this. His appearance was due to the recent Cambridge Analytica (CA) fiasco (which overnight blossomed from 50 to 80 million people affected). And the entire CA story was possible because there were no laws against it. The hearings, also highlighted the complexity of the medium; even congressional experts were confusing social media privacy with net neutrality during their questioning. So, the lack of regulation and controls not only fueled the internet’s growth, it may prove to be its Achilles heel as well. Time will tell…
It’s addicting. Globally, the average user is on Facebook 50 minutes per day. (70+ minutes if you include all social media). That’s nearly 400 hours per year! I dearly love sharing thoughts and photos among my family and close friends…and I’ll continue to do so via my own personal website and by email. But I’m not going to waste almost 1 full workday per week looking at pictures of what others are going to eat, cats in funny poses, click-bait, ad nauseam. All at the expense of my privacy, and the opportunity costs related to virus protection, identity theft, ransomware, etc. I’d much rather spend that day with friends and family in person, or perhaps outside in the sunshine and fresh air.
On the privacy front, you don’t have to go far to see a story about a “security breach” impacting millions of users – government agencies, online shopping, credit reporting, medical insurance, and more. And yes, social media. On one hand, we’re not paying for Facebook so we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re hit with advertisements – somebody’s gotta pay the light bill. On the other hand, we don’t have the tools or the rules in place to protect unwitting users from over-zealous privacy invaders.
How would you feel about marrying your Facebook data with some medical information from your local hospital? (Click the article snippet below to see what else is waiting in the wings regarding social media and privacy.)
Friends and family: If you’re not already on my mailing list, you’ll be getting an invite soon! Meanwhile, feel free to bookmark my personal website/blog (www.randykenyon.com). And, if you’re so inclined, you can get updates when there’s something new at my Piedmont Technology website, or keep up with my picture-taking hobby at Randy Kenyon Photography.