Those of you who have read my blog at all will know that I’ve written about internet privacy a few times in the past. My conclusions are that a non-tech savvy person can do to protect their data online. That’s why the story of Facebook allowing their data to be foolishly scraped by a third-party has gained so much traction. Nobody really thought sharing memes and political posts would do so much damage to our society. But here we are. We’re now at the point where we’re discussing deleting Facebook. and even then not realizing that deleting Facebook in political protest will do more harm than good.
Facebook, like most tech giants that exist to leverage your personal data, makes you the product. This isn’t a new concept, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. Think about it — it’s not as though deleting Facebook in political protest is going to solve anything anymore than deleting your Equifax account is going to recover your financial information. Removing your access to the data you provided isn’t going to make Facebook magically delete your personal data. That’s not even in the cards. You already gave them the keys to the castle, so you might as well hold on to your access.
Instead, realize that blindly following a movement to delete Facebook in political protest is no better than following any crowd-control trend. We were all manipulated into this, that much is true. Nobody truly realized that their data would be used to sow political divisions. That obviously wasn’t the intention of the platform, but any consumerist doctrine exists to divide. Whether you evangelize for Samsung or Apple, or Xbox or Nintendo, you need to like one and hate the other. Otherwise there’s no competition, and no competition is bad for business. This just wasn’t applied to politics before, but it doesn’t mean your data hasn’t been used to sell you things for years and years. This time it was just Donald Trump.
But it’s not as though that division didn’t exist already. Nobody can run a psychological warfare machine if the conditions weren’t already present. That’s why deleting Facebook in political protest isn’t just not solving the issue, it’s counterproductive. Instead, you may want to take a look within your culture. Realize why things are happening the way they are. It’s not a matter of ‘wokeness’ as much as just engaging with the world beyond the immediate political moment. Don’t trust the data and models, but look at the theories and see what makes sense to you.
And most of all, don’t think that deleting Facebook in political protest will even help you on a personal level. According to Juan Carlos Lara, a lawyer specializing new technology, there really is no way to effectively delete your Facebook data:
“The information stays inside Facebook’s servers even if it disappears from the public user interface. Additionally, everything that was published on somebody’s wall or sent over private message will remain there, it’ll just show a deleted user image.”
“The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrated that once information is out of Facebook’s control (or in general once it’s on the Internet) it is very difficult to follow its trace or know how many times it was duplicated,”
In other words, once it’s out there it’s out there. There’s nothing you can do. You can gum up the machine by sharing bullshit that says nothing about you, changing your data profile from within. But you can’t really access it, not a backend version anyway. Instead of deleting Facebook in political protest, I’d encourage you to stay inside the machine and learn about how it works. This way, you know when you’re being played.