Carsten Agger on Mon, 4 Nov 2019 14:38:35 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Facebook

On 11/3/19 5:28 PM, Frederic Neyrat wrote:

I'd like to know if some people on this list - be they activists, environmentalists, artists, thinkers, contributors - are (still) on Facebook and if yes, why, being given the extreme noxiousness of this "social" (?) network.

is not the reason of my email, but its occasion.

I use Facebook. I use it to keep up with some important networks, among others my local capoeira group is coordinating the training in a Facebook Group, so if I was not on it I wouldn't know if training is canceled etc.

That illustrates a very important point:

Your mileage may in vary according to your location and interests, but Facebook is no longer "just" a social network you can choose to use, it's the public communication infrastructure in a lot of contexts. To illustrate my point, two years ago I visited a revolutionary communist squat in Napoli, Italy, with graffitis and posters against the system and for a worker's revolution everywhere.

Their online presence? A Facebook page.

That means, that in general, the IT giants - Facebook, Google, to a lesser degree Twitter, Microsoft, definitely Amazon, Apple ... - are no longer just annoyances that people can avoid by their individual choices. I'm sorry to say that in some places even Uber, the Über-exploiters, has become basic infrastructure. :-( If we say to people they should not be on Facebook, never shop with Amazon, not use any Google services and not even think about touching any software provided by Microsoft (which I at least don't) or Apple, we should, at the same time, explain to them how they will get back a similar level of infrastructure.

This monopolization and privatization of public space can't be broken by individuals choosing to be "on" or "not on", and it's pointless to believe it could. It should be solved on a structural level. Specifically, I think, by legislation and regulations, including a complete ban on collecting data for advertising purposes (goodbye Google, goodbye Facebook). If society fails to address the privatization of information infrastructure, it makes no sense to chide individuals or have them go without vital infrastructure. We could help people to different infrastructure, by supplying it and by educating, but this also requires dedicated resources - i.e., that's also a structural problem that has no relation at all to individual choices.

And, also specifically, I don't think Facebook are worse than any of the other companies I mentioneded. I think Google is probably the one standing out as the truly worst and most ruthless of the bunch, but singling out Facebook makes no sense. At least, Facebook doesn't treat their workers as slaves, as Amazon does (or I assume they mostly don't).

My own Facebook account lives it life dangerously and might indeed go in the near future - I could make some anonymous dummy one for the capoeira class, that would work. But I don't think that it would be an act of resistance against the evil social media empire, it would be down to personal annoyance and nothing else. For many people, deleting their social media would, as things stand, be tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot - and nothing else. Their is a potential war between decency, freedom and democracy and the likes of Facebook and Google, but it does not lie in people's individual choices of infrastructure.


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