Patrice Riemens on Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:15:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium, Part One, Section 6,

Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium

And this is not all: identities are constantly evolving. At 15, fast and
furious rebelion against one's parents is the thing to do, but at 30 this
doesn't make very much sense  - and if still the case, the symptom of
something much more serious dooms up, typical a person whose growing-up
process hasn't been particularly smooth. Our mates from primary school, at
least those we haven't lost of sight altogether (only to find them back on
Facebook of course) all remember a very much different persons. In the
same vein, our first loves may in retrospect see us as the sunshine in
their lives, while our ex-partner hates our guts because of the alimony
that has to be vired every month. Which we repay in kind by showing only
coldness and ill temper: love is over, everything's different, Baby! We
change, we have changed and our social relations reflect the change that
makes us alive. We'll give here a few examples to show how perverse are
the mechanisms of fixed identity/identification that are proposed, or
rather imposed, by Facebook. These examples, admitedly a bit simplified,
and which we have set in the feminine gender, are unfortunately fast
becoming, or have become, reality.

Example 1, abusive dismissal:
A very competent young female teacher, adored by her students, is filmed
being seriously plastered at a party among friends. Explicit pics and
clips are circulating in no time on Facebook, posted and reposted by
'friends' of 'friends' of 'friends' ... till they reach her director and
the college's boeard. Upon which she is no longer allowed to apply for
tenure, and gets a severe reprimand. Her plea that her private life has
nothing to do with her work as teacher is dismissed, and she herself gets
the sack for being a bad example to her students.

Example 2, violence at home:
A mother tries to protect her child against her violent husband, gets
beaten up, and then raped in the process. After untold sufferings, she
manages to escape her tormentor. She moves to another, far-away city and
starts her life afresh, together with her son. Crisis over - so she
thinks. But there is Facebook. Her tormentor finds her out, either simply
by reading her messages, or by checking out on an application she
sometimes uses, and which gives away the user's exact location. In order
not to be found out, this woman, will have to close her acount, whatever
she tries otherwise. In her case, being on Facebook can put her life in

Example 3, suicide:
A young woman is capptured on video by 'friends' while she's cock-sucking
her boy-friend in the college's toilet. The clip is instantly on line, and
in no time everyone knows about her private, but now very public skills,
which are profusely commented on Facebook. She tries to defend herself,
switches educational institution, but to no avail: her new pals are also
on Facebook, and are very well clued in on 'what kind of girl she is',
thank you. She is constantly ridiculed, insulted and marginalised. "You
did it, so now you get what you deserve" is the backdrop, but also often
explicit attitude, which convinces her that her life is longer worth
living. She slashes her arteries in her bathtub after having written 'I am
not like that' on her Facebook wall.[28]

(end of section 6)

(section 7)

Privacy no more. The ideology of radical transparency.

Facebook, in its first five years of 'public' existence (2005 - 2010) has
increasingly narrowed the private space of its users [29] Facebook centers
its public relations drive around transparency, or even, radical
transparency: 'our transparency with regard to machines shall make us
free' [30]. We have already deconstructed the assertion that "you can't be
on Facebook without being your authentic self" [31a]. The 'authentic
self', however, is a tricky concept. Authenticity is a process whereby one
is oneself with others, who in their turn, contribute to one's personnal
development. It is not an established fact, fixed once and for all.

But the 'faith' of/in Facebook is a blind faith, an applied religion,
impervious to reason. Indeed:

Members of Facebook's radical transparency camp, Zuckerberg included,
believe more visibility make us better people. Some claim, for example,
that because of Facebook, young people today have a harder time cheating
on their boyfriends or girlfriends. They also say that more transparency
should make for a more tolerant society in which people eventually
accept that everybody sometimes does bad or embarassing things. The
assumption that transparency is inevitable was reflected in the launch
of the News Feed in September 2006. It treated all your behaviour

The fact that 'behavioural' social networks and 'affinity' ones are merged
together online, is, as we have seen before, the cause of serious problems
in daily life, when not of very real dangers. Yet the merger is one of the
main credo of Facebook, and this for very precise, commercial motives: in
order to maximize the sale of on-line advertisements, it is necessary that
users' data are in the open as much as possible, and that their privacy
shrinks to the point of being only a vague remembrance from a distant
past. Advertisers must be able to verify at all times, without infringing
on anyone's privacy, that their ads have indeed reached the Facebook pages
of those internauts whose profiles match the hypothetical consumer of
their product or service.

All this is of course, for our greater benefit. This at least is
Facebook's official stance, a mission the company broadcasts by way of
numerous press releases, interviews and road shows. But what if I do not
want to be totally transparent? Not because I have something to hide, but
simply because I don't want everybody to know the same things about me at
the same time. I have many aspects, I am not afraid of contradictions, and
I have more resources than my Facebook account allows me to express. I
like to introduce chaos and discordance in the data that purport to define
me. I love to shake up the deck!

(to be continued)

next time: Party time ... without you!

[28] There have been a number of 'Facebook suicides' in Italy, and all
over the world - 'Google' for that term for particular cases in England,
Mexico, etc. (This replaces the authors' original note about one
referenced case in Italy - in italian -transl)
[29] See the interactive graph by Matt McKeon:
[30] See Danah Boyd, Facebook and radical transparency (a rant):
Such transparency imperative, by the way, does not appear to apply to Mark
Zuckerberg himself, who is rumoured to protect his own 'privacy' with
increasing intransigeance. For a good laugh, see:
Or to upturn the latin proverb: quod licet 'Jovi non licet bovi' (-transl)
[31ab] David Kirkpatrick, op cit [26], p210 and 210-11.

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
( - Dutch site)
( - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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