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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium, Part One Sectio
Patrice Riemens on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 10:35:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium, Part One Section 4, 2

Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium.
Part One, section 4, #2

For some time now, one can find software programs (codes) on social
networks giving you full mastery of the golden rules of social
engineering. These programme 'study' people's behaviour in order to
extract useful information. They behave just as if they don't know, make
errors, and lie. This is how /socialbots/ have been able to peneprate and
compromise networks of trust on Facebook. But that is not all, less
sophisticated approaches also exist. /Phishing/ for instance, is a
widespread attack method, based on social engineering. To trap a prey, you
need only to issue a warning like "alert! your Facebook account is under
attack! Log in here now to change your password!". This way, even data
that have not been shared with everybody become accessible.

The resulting paradox is manifest: as each and sundry is supposed to be
'one and self', to be frank and upfront in telling what one likes and
does, to reveal precisely where one is at any given time, and to
faithfully update one's status without ambiguity, at the same time a sea
of opportunity opens up for the ill-intentionned: a near infinite pool of
totaly guileless people dying for someone's attention. Andy Warhol did
predict that everybody would get her or his fifteen minutes of fame in the
end - but this is far worse than anything imaginable. We are now in the
age of difuse celebrity, accessible to anyone, but with very uncerrtain
limits and demanding a permanent and relentless updating of one's profile,
and a total trust in and transparency towards machines which know us
better than we do ourselves and who can advise us at all times on products
that are, as it were, specifically geared to our very own, personal
purposes (#).

The final stage of psychological involution on Facebook is therefore
emotional and relational porn [13]. As /talk shows/ and /reality TV/ have
amply demonstrated, snatching one's hair, crying, shouting, quarelling in
public and trading insults, all this in front of spectators going to award
marks and votes is deeply gratifying. Even a total nobody feels famous. No
need for any proficiency on stage, in dancing, playing, singing or talking
in public - or to be cute even. Suffice to go all out for it in front of
the cameras, and to deliver ones' emotions, pure and undiluted. Facebook
has intensified this worldwide project of emotional porn by introducing
transparency tools in the form of boxes to be clicked on, forms to be
completed and empty spaces to be filled with content. What's your current
marital status? It's esential that everybody knows whether you are
available, or engaged, or divorced and ready for adventure. Share your
innermost feelings! What are your thoughts right now? Answer! Be

What is at the same time amusing, and tragic, is the prevalent 'blog
style' format, which makes that yesterday's informations lose their
currency today, precluding any form of refresh.[?] Hence, the 'experience'
is severely constrained into a kind of ever-lasting present. The past
sinks inexorably into a deep hole, and nobody ever reads the older
entries, unless, that is, in order to fish out the failings. After all,
everybody's got a skeleton in the cupboard, don'they? The social
intercourse is based on discretion and on lies, or rather, on half-truth
and omissions. Yet your next boss, a suspicious pal, a piece of spyware,
or a government to whom Facebook has sold your data would very much like
to know more about your previous life. And since you've 'shared'
everything with zeal, they'll get all they want in no time. Facebook's
introduction of that new 'Timeline' feature, where one can insert images,
notes, and contents pertaining to the period before one had an account,
answers to the same logic: to make all aspects of someone's personality
visible, in a clear, linear, sequential fashion - and no hiatus please.

Here be no depth, and no complexity, no ambiguity. One has to be (here and
now). The non-being vanishes, and a 'becoming' is simply a category
outside the order. Contrarily to what happens in the outside world, things
within social networks simply are there, they do not 'become'. A new state
is superimposed on the previous one, and that's it, the previous state
being simply deleted - for good. Your identity is fixed, even if it's
changing. What do you prefer, males of females? Both? Nono, that's not
allowed, you can tick one box only! /Transgender/ you say? No clue what
you're talking about. Maybe that coders are now working on new categories,
also well defined, for the next version of the software. But in case
you've changed your mind, no problem. Here's a new identity and a fresh
'status', cancelling all the previous ones. In reality however, identities
are complex bundles of pulsating characteristics, often in a dissonant
way, and which are mutating, sometimes painfully, because the memory of
who we were is built upon forgeting, selection, and self-remembering, and
not on a kind of total recall of a fixed profile [14]. Facebook is the
champ of emotional and relational porn: be transparent! Write, draw, or
rather take pictures and make links with what concerns you in the most
intimate manner, show your emotions in the most candid way possible, for a
public that observes you in the most trivial way possible: see here the
absolute apex of freedom of expression.

(to be continued)

Next time: The Performance Society


(#) cf 'How Target Figured Out ...' (Forbes): http://onforb.es/18UkfEM
[13] pornography, from the greek <porne>, prostitute and <grafe>, drawing,
script, document, litterally means to write on, or to draw prostitutes.
Public self-representation, the sole object of narcissist pleasure, is
akin to auto-prostitution. And as a marketing object within the public
market of identities, the self-representation prostitutes itself in
exchange for attention.
[14] For a legal and historic overview of memory as forgetting in the
digital world, see Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, The Virtue of Forgetting in
the Digital Age, Princeton University Press, 2009.

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
(http://www.antenna.nl - Dutch site)
(http://www.antenna.nl/indexeng.html - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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