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Re: <nettime> social media critique: next steps?
Florian Cramer on Mon, 15 Jan 2018 20:22:23 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> social media critique: next steps?


One could argue that today's mainstream social media critique has finally caught up with the critical media theory of 10-15 years ago. The major arguments have already been made in, among others, Wendy Chun's "Control and Freedom" from 2005. Today's social media critique is a simplified, moralizing version of that earlier theory, much like Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" was a simplified, moralizing, popularized version of McLuhan's 1960s theory of electronic mass media.

Still, I see the need for a renewed critical social media critique; one that shifts its focus from the politics of algorithms to what I'd propose to call the condition of civil disengagement. No matter the algorithms and no matter whether we use mainstream or alternative social media (such as diaspora, Mastodon or Nettime), social media's ubiquity and unavoidability have created a toxic and often dangerous environment for any kind of personal engagement. Anyone who is involved in social or political activism, or even just blogging (as the current case of German blogger Richard Gutjahr shows - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqZiwRk1yLQ), faces severe personal risks, among others through trolling, doxxing and cybermobbing. "Gamergate" set a precedent that has become the standard. Most existing, available criminal justice systems have proven to provide inadequate protection. (Both Zoe Quinn's and Gutjahr's cases are textbook example; on Gutjahr, see his [German] writeup: http://www.gutjahr.biz/2018/01/hatespeech/).

It means that no Chinese "social credit" algorithm is necessary to discourage social engagement or political resistance. It is not even a question of "better" algorithms - whether "better" algorithmic governance within existing social networks or through the creation of "different"/alternative social networks -, since the issue will remain, being one of an 'apparatus' or an 'actor network' transcending binary distinctions of machinic and human agency. (The question whether a troll is a human or a bot, isn't very relevant.) 

Articulation of positions [including artist's positions outside self-chosen safe spaces] is rapidly becoming a privilege of those who can afford their defense. 

-F



On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 11:18 AM, Alex Foti <alex.foti {AT} gmail.com> wrote:
so should facebook pay us basic income? i think some ft editorialist argued as much. but that would mean putting fb on a utility-like pedestal. i m no media theorist and so forgive me for intruding, but i wonder how the latest tweak to the fb algorithm (less news, more cousins) will affect participation to a platform which is only relevant for people that are millennial or older. as a creator of a movement medium in 2010 which listed news and events from and about social centers, i couldn't fail to notice how users and organizers migrated there to communicate events - today most of the traffic to MilanoX comes from facebook on mobile and this applies to anything the autonomist left communicates in milano. so we can't really afford to leave fb right now. However social media fatigue is apparent in its most enthusiastic users: teens. Instagram is no longer growing and Snapchat's failure to remain relevant shows that once you turn 15 you have something better to do with your life than snapping. They seem to understand that it generates social anxiety and superficial communication. i guess we should create a social medium that really addresses the needs of teens for self-emancipation from authority and conformism. times could be ripe for smartly political social media. i also wonder whether mass live streaming will become a thing in europe after it did in china.

On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 9:36 AM, olivier auber <olivierauber2 {AT} gmail.com> wrote:
Before leaving Facebook, here's the bill.
USD 350,000,000,000,000
Three hundred Fifty Thousand Billion Dollar

Open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

Hi Mark!

Best wishes and congratulations on your good resolutions 2018!

1) you tell us you have realized that "with the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it."

Only a belief? Isn't it a little real? And you're here for something, aren't you?

On top of that, you tell us that you are "interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies (of decentralization)"

It's cool ! You should know that others have been working on decentralization for a long time - already long before Facebook was created - to create the conditions for a more equitable and healthy society. If your awareness is real, you can probably help us. We lack developers!

2) You also seem to have understood that your algorithms made people crazy by flooding them with sponsored posts and fake news. You say: "strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness." So you're going to modify some lines of code to reinforce what you call our "strong ties" that have a lot of "value" according to you. In the end you want "the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent".

It's cool ! However, my dear Mark, you must understand that this time is even more precious than what you imagine.

For my part, let's say I spend(t) about an hour a day on Facebook developing these strong ties and my own professional documentation. Apart from that, I also spend(t) some "recreational time". This point is mentioned below*.

But as my strong ties and my documentation are irrecoverable by the Facebook backup system as I explained to your college Yann LeCun**, I must note that Facebook stole them from me.

Let's see how much it costs ...

365 hours a year, that is round to 50 days. If I count my day price at USD 1,000 (it's very reasonable, FB's lawyers are paid USD 1,000 per hour), that's USD 50,000 a year. Since I have been on Facebook for 7 years, I will send you a USD 350,000 bill

All the statistics indicate that I am an average user of Facebook in terms of duration of use. Hence we can multiply this cost by the number of users (not the current 2 billion but say 1 billion as an average number during the past seven years). Thus we obtain the figure of:

USD 350,000,000,000,000
Three hundred Fifty Thousand Billion Dollar

In conclusion, my dear Mark, you provide a true interoperability of personal data that would allow people not to be hostages of Facebook and its centralization, or you repay all of them!

Yours

Olivier Auber

(*) The recreational time is not counted. Indeed, the entertainment provided by Facebook is funded by advertising. That is to say that everyone pays for this entertainment through its daily consumption of products overcharged because of the advertising budgets of the brands captured to a large extent by Facebook ..;

(**) Open letter to Yann LeCun, former Professor at College de France, Head of Research in Artificial Intelligence at Facebook.
http://perspective-numerique.net/wakka.php?wiki=YannLeCunEnglish

1) Resolution 1: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104380170714571
2) Resolution 2: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104413015393571

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--
I'm on diaspora*, a non-corporate social network: https://social.gibberfish.org/people/a76da580ba9b013533100007cb0b1a05
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