Sometimes a vast majority can be dead wrong; as a matter of fact, in this world of #fakenews it seems to be happening more and more. Here’s a little story about Facebook and its evil companion called Messenger.
Years ago, when social media was in its infancy, the early clients out of Zuckerberg’s company included the ability to send private messages to another user. Yet another channel through which to communicate, I thought, I hope it doesn’t catch on, but whatever, we’re using the app, it is what it is. Then came Facebook Messenger, at first with the option to still do without it. Then all of a sudden, functionality was removed from the main app, and it became mandatory to use the stand-alone system! I never installed it in the first place simply because on installation it very clearly asked for permission to access all kinds of stuff on your phone, including your calls. Even before all the latest improvements in permission management, it seemed immediately unacceptable to me to give this company such private info, for what? The ability to send text messages? Send a picture? WTF, I though, why is everybody just jumping on this bandwagon?
In Europe, where SMS still costs money, everybody started using WhatsApp instead. It has the same problem, and even more, because it aims to replace your phones basic text mechanism so it cannot function without access to everything. Much to my friends chagrin, I refused to install it on my main phone; and when Facebook bought it, I felt even happier that I had resisted. In the meantime, here in La La Land, unfortunately more and more people had started communicating within the walls of Facebook, to the point where a gig offer might actually come through its channels. Now I’d rather miss out on a gig than get abused by this brave new world, but amazingly there was a pretty good solution!
Here’s where thinking for yourself really pays off: it turns out there is a special version of the Facebook App called Facebook Lite, designed for parts of the world where data speed is limited and phones are not the newest and fastest. First off it’s tiny, loads superfast on any device, but more importantly, includes messaging without Messenger. It works exactly the way the old, old app works, all inside. No permissions necessary, no access to anything you don’t want to give to Zuck and his peeps.
So here we are; something like 50 million people have now given years of calling data to Facebook. That’s right, it (and who knows who else) now knows who you called when and for how long for the last few years. It probably knows who was cheating, or who’s at risk of doing it soon. This is what we KNOW they know. Did they secretly record the actual audio of our calls? Did they store text messages? Do all of those folks deserve sympathy even though most clicked willingly and knowingly through all the permission warnings?
One last thing, and it’s about something that we’ve talked about before: in EVERY, and I mean every situation in which something is ad-supported, the user is the product. When you watch ABC, the show is not the product, you are, and your attention is being sold to the advertisers. The programming is only to ‘lure’ you in if you will, to keep you tuned in the longest. It doesn’t even technically matter if you like it or need it; outrage works well for keeping someone’s attention for instance. I’ve been saying it for years: I don’t understand why people think it’s a good idea to frame our personal lives in a commercial operation in which we are the products. Social Media can be wonderful, but we need a paid system, where our data is sacred, or an open source peer-to-peer network that we collectively own. Until then, I will remain on the sidelines as much as socially possible, and boy am I glad I have so far!
(Added on 03-25-2018)
Credit where credit’s due: it turns out on iOS apps are not able to collect data about your calls and text messages! So even if you installed Messenger, and gave it access to your contacts, the inherent security of the platform prevents the app from ‘knowing’ who you’re calling or SMSing.