Nuked my facebook account (Long post)

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by will_shred, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    Due to privacy concerns, I am going though the process of running a program that systematically deletes everything in my facebook history, and after that I will be closing my account. Part of it is wanting to erase all the awful posts I made when I was younger, but I am also uncomfortable with the growing field of data mining. I think this election cycle has really revealed how much special interests can use social media to manipulate people, and do more than just swing elections, but really shape the culture in a myriad of ways. Orwell himself could hardly have come up with a more genius method of mass social manipulation.

    Silicon valley has created a network where people willingly, and gleefully, share intimate details of what they think and feel. This isn't just what you post to your public profile, but every comment you've ever written, every post you've ever liked. This information is all stored and sold to companies for the purposes of predicting your desires, thoughts, and actions, and swaying them to benefit a special interest, whether its Sweetwater selling you microphones or a politician wanting trying to get your vote. I think that social media has contributed to the increasing polarization and extremism that is tearing our country apart.


    The combination of AI selecting more and more extreme posts that reinforce your bias, and ideologues, politicians, and government entities, biased media outlets like fox and MSNBC, and psudo media outlets like infowars, create distortions, half truths, and outright fabrications that make for easily shareable headlines, and hence more ad revenue, but contain very little relation to something that resembles reality. It seems to me like the country is having an epistemological crisis, where few bother to read beyond the headline, and actually critically analyze the torrent of information that they are bombarded with every day, which has made it so that the notions of speaking truth to power, attempting to see past your bias to get at a deeper understanding, and critical thinking are on the decline.
    This is a problem on both sides of the isle, but I think that the core supporters of our president are the largest portion of the population where this problem has become most apparent. I don't want to make this a political discussion per se since there is already a 200 page thread all about Trump. Instead I want to have a discussion about social media's role in increasing polzerization, and a contribution to a sort of national epistemic confusion where all facts are relative. Many of them understand that the president hardly if ever makes truthful statements, but they just don't care because its a middle finger to "the establishment/political correctness/communism/whatever)
    In the last year I have seriously cut down on the amount I use social media, and I rarely post on any of the major networks. I just want to unplug myself and my brain from these things as much as possible. Facebook is a huge part of my online data, and probably my most revealing. But I still have oodles of information with google and reddit. And I rely on google for a lot of services that I could hardly manage without. (Google calender, maps, drive, ect). I'm not too worried about my SSO post history lol.

    (Note on epistemology, "facts" and "truth" are shaky claims to make on any basis, when I talk about a fact I mean something like "the most accurate statement about something". When I talk about truths I am referring to "Statements that are generally supported by evidence". When I think about distortions, untruths, and lies, that is things that are not generally supported by evidence. Assuming that an absolute truth is unreachable once you get out of pure logic and pure math, the next best is saying that statements are more or less accurate, and the more accurate ones we say are facts, and the less accurate ones we determine to be false.)
     
  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    In some ways I'm actually glad I work for a traditionally "conservative" industry, because it forces me to take in news from a whole range of sources. CNBC isn't quite the right wing propaganda network that Fox is, but there are a whole slew of (predominately economically, but also occasionally socially) conservative talking heads that I spend 50 hours a week listening to.

    So, I'd say that social media CAN increase polarization... But I think that was already happening. There's a little bit of a disconnect between surveys and actual viewing patterns, but the conservative echo chamber dates back to at least Fox, and MSNBC is doing much the same on the left, and I'm sure much the same could be said of "conservative" and "liberal" newspapers. We've seen a fair amount of geographical political sorting for a few generations now, as well. So, if anything, I'd only call social media a continuation of a long-running trend, and one that makes it easier to get more granular than it was in the past. That can both be good - I know WAY more guitarists than I did before social media - and bad - look at the recent rise of white nationalism.

    I think the biggest change I've seen isn't from social media, its the (for lack of a better word) weaponization of news. Fake news in the traditional sense, either simply making up stories ("The Pope endorses Donald Trump!") or taking a few grains of truth and wrapping them up in a whole swath of constructed context (every Project Veritas video ever), and using largely artificial stories not to enhance knowledge of current events among the general populace, but to attack and smear political rivals. I think this is why truth as a ipso facto concept is dying, the fact we're being conditioned to think of everything in terms of bias and objective, because now so much of what we see in the news DOES have a bias and objective, especially - and very ironically - as you move away from mainstream media sources.

    PS - I'm still on facebook, and have no real plans to go anywhere.
     
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  3. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    I sometimes speculate that one of the many roots of these issues is that in the United States we have no educational standards for Logic & Reason. Admittedly, I myself have no formal educational background in Logic whatsoever, having gone through public schools in Indiana...

    ...that's why I think so many people cannot begin to wrap their heads around whataboutism and why it is not a logical defense. People point out whataboutism and logical fallacies all the time in internet debate, but I'm not convinced that most of the people being called out for it really understand why a whataboutism isn't actually a defense of Trump/etc. They hear "that's a logical fallacy" but they've never actually stopped for a second and thought about the notion of whether there can be objectively incorrect logic. They hear the whataboutism and they mistakenly believe that it is indeed a good defense... Because they're ignorant, but only for having never been educated... so I don't want to judge them too harshly for that specific ignorance. Even I wish I had a better background in it. I regret not taking any courses in university.
     
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  4. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    I think an equally good reason to delete your facebook account is that facebook is terrible. The only reason I keep it open is that facebook messenger is a convenient, free way to "text" with the handful of people I know in other countries.

    I can't say I'd miss out on the endless stream of pictures of food, babies, and weddings. And I DEFINITELY wouldn't miss any political posts. Political posts on facebook are horrible, no matter who does them.
     
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  5. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    People over-estimate the importance of the social data they create. The only thing I worry about to the point where deleting facebook might be an appropriate response/countermeasure is the thought of everyone's FB chats getting released in some public dump. Kind of like the leaked cables but with just everyone's cattiness and backstabbing put out for the world to see.
     
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  6. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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  7. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Is that Tom from MySpace? :rofl:
     
  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I sort of get the impression that increased connectivity (not social media specifically, per-se) has simply lead to people being much more confident about their beliefs, since the internet can "confirm" just about anything, true or not. What social media gives us is self importance that we didn't have previously. Everyone is important and worth "following" and has their own tiny little stage that we've tied to our self worth. When you pair that with the overconfidence of having access to any (true or not) knowledge in your pocket, you end up with a huge barrier to critical thinking.

    I think staying away from facebook for decent period of time is a good idea, but not because it's any more manipulative or shady than any other part of the world we live in, but because the bombardment of data is a huge stressor. All of the information in the world is competing to get funneled into your eyeballs, from ads, to friends posting their opinions of things, to everyones wedding and baby photos, to youtube videos about everything, reviews, memes, etc. and it's too much to process. And social media is GREAT at funneling stuff at you. Everyone always says they're anxious and stressed all of the time -> well of course you are. Go outside and relax for a bit. Turn the brain off for a while. Go camping with no phone. Stop trying to be important. Stop trying to take everything in. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Stop spending your time with activities that aggregate all of this stuff you need to process. It sounds like an "old man yells at cloud" argument, but I think it's the truth. It's way too much to handle all at once and all the time.
     
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  9. JSanta

    JSanta SS.org Regular

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    It's also a wider spread issue of people not having a foundation in critical thinking. It's not even something that I encountered in traditional education until I got to my doctorate. In "good" research, you're just laying out facts, but you don't have skin in the game with respects to the outcome. Collect data, analyze data, share data, repeat. Social media I think to an extent just exacerbates what individuals already intrinsically believe and then provides a confirmation bias because of the community nature of social platforms.
     
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  10. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    I don't know... my hunch is 2 things are getting conflated: social media, and the rise of average people as information sources. I guess by definition, that's "social media", but we used to compartmentalize the types of information we wanted from the social aspect (friends) and from traditional media. Like... sure, Brian, show me your news about your vacation to Italy. New York Times, tell me about the gun control policies being pushed in the wake of Parkland.

    Now these are all scrambled up. The media is partly to blame. You didn't used to have actual news agencies like CNN taking a timeout to be like, "Tell us what you think. @FartsOrSharts says, ..." It's supposed to be like, who cares what a random twitter account says. They're the news. Their opinion is supposed to totally eclipse that of the random uninformed person on the internet.

    And then once we started to legitimize the opinions of everyone as a valid source of news, then all these micro-Alex Jonesy people popped up. And now you can follow dozens of different liberal or conservative nodes if you want, and I feel like that's where the real echo chamber comes from.

    That and public comments sections on FB. I was very tempted to take a week off and write some sort of chrome extension to just clear off all the political hatred that saturates any news link I click off the FB wall page.

    But ya, to me there's not a lot of negatives to social media, but separately there's lots of issues about what information is factual and who you can trust, etc., that haven't been dealt with much. If I were to leave FB it'd be because I just had it with all that stuff... not any real concern for use of my data.
     
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  11. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    It does bother me on some level when twitter content makes it onto the news. There are lots of people and people have opinions. None of that is news to anyone vaguely tech-savvy.
     
  12. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    I'd at least sort of be okay with it if it was like Quora,

    @TomMM, Professor of History at Ohio State says,

    But with no qualifications and complete anonymity...whose greatt idea was that?? I mean, The Onion always kills it with those "Tell us what you think" and has 3 people giving their opinion on the issue. But now reality is not far removed!

    Or like, late night talk shows used to really like to go out on the street and ask everyone some question and basically highlight how stupid everyone is (hopefully a byproduct of a lot of interviews and heavy editing). Yet, that is precisely what a lot of media is doing now, without any mention of the stupidity.
     
  13. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    It sort of strikes me as a case of someone seeing it happen on late night shows, not getting the joke and thinking "this is a great idea"!
     
  14. Grand Moff Tim

    Grand Moff Tim Some call me... Tim

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    Not having a FB account is the new "I don't even own a TV."
     
  15. StevenC

    StevenC SS.org Regular

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    Well, time to delete Facebook.
     
  16. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    I have this friend who refuses to own a TV for what to me is pretty transparently identity posturing and it bothers the shit out of me (especially because I know that his wife really wants to have a TV).

    Then I go to visit him and we're chillin havin a doob and he's like lets watch some Star Trek and I'm like hell yeah... and then we're sitting crouched over some 8" Acer notebook, the volume at max is so low that even speaking quietly totally obscures the ability to hear the show. I tell him See? The situation we're in right now. This is why you should have a TV. And he's like nahhh man, all I need is a computer. He's so concerned with identity posturing that he won't even admit the reality of the situation he was presently living. I try to explain to him that there are things it's good to have in your house that aren't necessarily for you as much as they're for your house... if that makes sense. That many people have things even though they don't use them every day. That he's keeping from his wife a privilege that's even afforded to incarcerated convicts.

    I realize that's all off topic. I was a little triggered I think :lol: That guy's my friend but sometimes he's... well nevermind.

    But there are some comparisons that can be made to Facebook, if you live far away from friends and family. I used to live in Japan and I know a lot of people there, and they probably have no idea that I enjoy seeing them on the rare occasion that I open my facebook. It makes me realize that maybe I'm being slightly socially negligent by never ever commenting or posting anything on fb for them to see me too. Luckily my wife kinda does it for me :lol:

    If you and everyone you care about live in the same town then it's probably a lot more tempting to not have a fb. But for those of us with close international connections, it sometimes feels like deleting facebook isn't really an option.
     
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  17. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    update: it took like 2 days for the script (social book post manager) to fully run, and it didn't work :(
     
  18. ramses

    ramses Guitar/pizza regular Contributor

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    Haven't read this thread, nor will I read it. However, my 2 cents:

    I joined facebook when it was restricted to college students. Since day one I have been sharing information in it with the assumption that facebook is a public forum, and that anyone can read anything I post or send through its messaging tool. Why? Because facebook is someone else's computer.

    You should apply the same logic to any other "social media" or "cloud application."

    Source? I'm a Computer Scientist.
     
  19. Grand Moff Tim

    Grand Moff Tim Some call me... Tim

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    What a strange thing to post.

    ...Especially since the thread is still only one page long.
     
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  20. ramses

    ramses Guitar/pizza regular Contributor

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    Agreed.

    It is just that too much nonsense has been propagated everywhere in the last couple of weeks. I don't even know what am I doing here right now.
     

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