The Illusion of Control

In the first instance, the next steps are obvious; you will NOT do anything other than to regulate your apps usage and control the recipient list for all your future posts. Perhaps you need to do a bit of spring cleaning, follow basic tenets of social media and, just like in real life, stop being daft about whom you share your thoughts with on the internet!

For those who have decided to hit that delete button, know that there are alternates, albeit with the grand limitation of being disconnected with the rest of the world!

  1. Diaspora is the first alternate I can come up with. However I wouldn’t recommend their main pod as it tends to become inundated with spam. If you are tech savvy, I would rather I would recommend that you host a pod and manage your family members/ team more effectively.
  2. Movim is another. While their code might be in the Git, it does not necessarily guarantee you trust another centralised site. So, you can setup your own server and be in more control.
  3. Elgg is a good alternative. While you can visit their website for some showcase pages, you can also get going by installing it following some simple instructions.

I am sure you can dig some other alternates, but the above mentioned sites remain some good starters. But if you are still worried about being tracked, remember that you are in a connected network. There’s always going to be that someone who keeps shadowing you. You can try some of the tools I’ve recommended in my previous article to keep your online life private.

If you break up the modules of Facebook you use everyday, there are some effective alternates for each of those:

Single-Sign-on (SSO): Facebook is quite effective when it comes to letting you in on streaming or health app sites. But those sites also have their own login or sign in via Google. You should setup unique password for each site and then use an effective password manager.

Newsfeed: Any good RSS reader like feedly or even aggregator like Digg should suffice. Wired has a very good article detailing other top choices.

Event/ Birthday Reminder: While services like Eventbrite exist, you can also rely on enriching your Contacts through apps like Clearbit & then rely on your calendar app to remind you for events.

Groups/ Messenger: This would be difficult to replace if you have a very popular group or community. While Google Communities come as second choice, you will still end up playing into the hands of Google! I’d rather recommend you go with Discord for channelised group conversations and Signal or Whispeer (not WhatsApp-as it now belongs to FB) for a secure private messenger experience.

Marketplace: IMHO this is a space that FB has not conquered yet. I have not seen FB to be a popular site to buy/ sell stuff (privately). This is because most folks would rather prefer local community sites that are more prominent in their country/ city.

Here is a simple rule of thumb to live by. If you get any online product for free, then you are the product. Eventually all big companies need reliable data to justify their existence. FB masks their one true purpose with a social media cover, Google might use one of the many at their disposal. In the end, it will be unfair to say that their services are completely irrelevant. An average person can have a symbiotic relationship with such companies provided he/ she has taken adequate precautions & restrain themselves from infinite scrolling.

The web is open and the alternates are out there. Do a bit of exploring. Maybe you will land on something larger, get to do more meaningful work and build a really worthy online profile to truly understand the worry behind such data leaks.

The issue is not about what info Facebook (or Google for that matter) has about you. Rather this fiasco is all about questioning their integrity when it comes to managing this data and ensuring they are the smartest in the room & not some unknown third-party app maker who can extrapolate or steal your intimate online details. If you want to worry about something, then let it not be for the data you shared so far, but rather how very little you can control such corporates when it comes to whom they share info about you and how much!

In a digital age, those who know what to do with data and control it will rule it all! But do not the big shots mislead you with the illusion of control! In the end, it is you alone who control your data. Try not to be too naive and just be vary of what you say or where you post.

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