2018-04-17

Increasingly concerned about Facebook, Google etc

For some time I've been concerned about Google, Facebook etc. I'm writing this to try and pin down what my concerns are and what (if anything) I should do about it. So here are some thoughts in no particular order (a 'brain dump' in the vernacular):

Monopoly

It seems that with Facebook there's a network effect, where the value of being part of a network increases with its size. So with Facebook, if 'everybody is on Facebook' then that's the one I'll join because I'll be able to communicate with everyone else. Conversely, leaving Facebook and trying to persuade people to use Signal is difficult. I've tried and people just don't want to move

Open Source

This seems to be part of the solution. I'd call it a necessary, but not sufficient condition. With proprietary software you can't see what the software is doing, which is troubling to me. With open source software, people with the skill to read the code can raise the alarm if it's doing anything underhand.

Internet Freedom

Perhaps part of what I'm concerned about could be called 'freedom on the internet'. Freedom from billionaires paying money to internet monopolies to influence me in an underhand way.

Walled Gardens

Walled gardens are part of the problem. Avoid them!

Advertising

I suppose it's not so much advertising, it's the diabolically clever targeting of it. For example, DuckDuckGo has advertising, but it doesn't track you, and so there's none of that collection of personal data which is then used to manipulate you. Perhaps I'm saying that anything that allows micro-targeting is bad. So that would include any necessary steps (collecting personal data, organizing it in order to target people, and the actual adverts itself).


So those are, briefly, some of the problems. Here are some tentative solutions:

Open Source on mobile phone

I already use an open source operating system on my laptop, but my mobile phone runs stock Android. Really I should follow the steps that the FSFE gives to Liberate Your Device.

Move away from Google

This is difficult. One thing I can do is move this blog and my website to be a simple static site, hosted without charge. The other thing is to review my various applications hosted on Google AppEngine and see what can be done about those.

IPFS

IPFS is an alternative to the web, but still uses the internet. I should start to get to know it, and perhaps write an app. This won't solve things immediately, but it (or something like it) is needed.


I think that's enough for now. I'll try and make a bit of progress and then come back and see what more I can do.

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