Social media is broken. We’re going to fix it.
Tell me if something like this has ever happened to you. You sent a few text messages to a phone number from Craigslist. You made a few purchases from the seller. As far as buying is concerned, it’s banal and pretty forgettable.
Until a few days later when Facebook suggests that you and the seller become friends. Why is this happening? And how does Facebook know that you met this person?
As it turns out, Facebook is spying on you. Not only are they tracking everything you do on Facebook, they’re going through your phone calls and text messages in order to make these “suggestions”. How is this surveillance acceptable?
And more importantly, how do we stop it?
We’re living in a social media dystopia
Back when a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was a Harvard student living in a dorm, he had this conversation that reveals a little bit about how he views privacy:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
It’s revealing that, at this early stage during Facebook’s development, Zuckerberg acted irresponsibly with users’ data. All the more, he viewed everyone who gave him that data as rubes, or — to put it in his own terms — “dumb fucks”.
But surely, Zuckerberg has evolved his views since then, right? After all, he was still a teenager then, and now we’re supposedly dealing with a mature man who cares about the security of his users.
As the New Republic notes, Facebook is still abusing your privacy. Now they’re using more advanced technology on a scale of billions of users. Facial recognition technology is being used to identify people without their consent. They’re even tracking you based on the dust on your smartphone camera.
Even if you’re not a Facebook user, Facebook is tracking you. Their business model demands they track people, and monetize your identity even if you’ve never given them permission.
There’s only one word for this reality: dystopia.
Are other social media platforms better than Facebook?
Let’s be real, privacy safeguards on Instagram and WhatsApp are suspect. After all, Facebook owns those platforms. However they function, they must abide by Facebook’s monetization strategy.
For example, much ado has been made about WhatsApp’s end-to-end message encryption as a privacy safeguard. However, this does not prevent Facebook from accessing WhatApp’s chat logs. It is a fact, actually, that WhatsApp is sharing data with Facebook.
This may be one major reason WhatsApp’s founder left Facebook, and almost immediately after, told everyone to delete Facebook.
How do other platforms like Twitter or Snapchat fare?
In contrast, users generally expect more privacy from Snapchat than from Twitter. Much more sensitive information, after all, gets shared there. However, even early in its development, Snapchat already violated the privacy and security of its users. Now it’s following in Facebook’s footsteps.
What’s the alternative?
What all the main social media platforms have in common is that they demand that users submit their data to the Cloud so that companies can track and then monetize their data. By making these demands, companies become the middlemen between users and their personal connections.
It is therefore clear that it’s the architecture of the Cloud that is central to all kind of privacy problems.
What if we removed the Cloud? What if we built platforms and apps that allowed users to store all their data privately on their own devices without the need for a predatory middleman — a middleman who, let’s not forget, views its users as “dumb fucks”?
There is an alternative to the social media status quo, and that’s implementing a peer-to-peer social media platform (or peer social) that not only makes it hard for companies to abuse your privacy, but also makes it technologically un-feasible to do so.
Peer.social is a social media ode to privacy. Peer.social is pure social because it allows genuine human interactions without the eye of big brother watching you. Right now, it’s a work in progress.