Essays on Technology and Culture

Privacy, Control, and Facebook

What doesn’t make sense to me is trying to keep using these networks without disclosing any personal information for the sole purpose of avoiding being tracked or being shown ads. I suppose it’s technically possible, but it’s just too exhausting. I know it because I, too, have tried. It’s like going to a restaurant and only ordering side dishes to avoid paying for your meal. You can do it, but it’s kind of missing the point.

Álvaro Serrano – “A war on privacy”

Truth be told, it’s less about privacy for me, and more about control. By setting limits on what I feed Facebook, directly and indirectly, I wrest back the control that Facebook had over my life. As Jessica Ferris put it, “Facebook wants to strengthen our relationship with Facebook, using our friendships as vectors.” The less I feed it, and the less information it has on me, the less Facebook is able to sing its Siren Song.

Everyone has different limit they want to set, and that’s fair. And, frankly, even if Facebook charged me a nominal amount per year to have an ad-free, tracking-free social experience, I wouldn’t do it. It’s still an experience that’s predicated on a different way of interacting that I feel comfortable with at this point. By using Facebook on my terms, I maintain at least the illusion of control, which counts for something. It is true what Álvaro says, though: “The greatest trick Facebook ever pulled was convincing the world they needed to use it.”