This week I got a facebook ‘friend-block’: for 7 days I cannot add any new friends, because ‘you have attempted to add a friend you don’t really know in real life’. I am told to ‘please only send friend invites to people you really do know’.
Has anyone ever pondered about the philosophical consequences of this little overjealous bit of security apparatus? Here we have a ‘new medium’ that sees it as its role to determine whom you can connect with inside of this medium and whom you can’t. It apparently is able to tell whom my real friends should be, and the idea to connect with an ‘unknown person’ is presented to me as a crime that should be punished.
What is wrong with connecting to unknown persons? We do it all the time when we are on the street or in a bar, its called ‘socializing’. And as these are so-called ‘social media’ one would expect they’d rather enlarge ones options to connect with like-minded people, rather than block your possibilities of ever doing so.
The truth is I was severely bored with facebook, especially because its such a limited environment, so I set all my posting rights to ‘public’ and started adding anyone that responded to my posts, in a genuine wish to make the whole thing more dynamic. Just a few days later, I am banned.
Imagine a telephone book that blackens out phone numbers and decides for you whom you can call or not, based on the software’s idea of whom you ‘should know’. However unimaginable such a book would be, it is exactly what facebook is doing at this moment. Why?
The obvious and incorrect answer is: incompetence. It’s a flimsy policy created to battle spammers. This is probably the argument that would come to mind of most people, but it’s entirely incorrect: ‘whom you know’ is really a totally ineffective standard to battle bots with, since its perfectly possible to create a million bots that all know each other very well on the network.
The somewhat less obvious answers is: facebook realizes that its only worth money if the ‘map’ of friendships it draws and sells to governments and companies is real. What good is it to ‘map’ all human connections if those are basically just connection that do not exist in the real world – useless information for spooks, marketeers, and so on.
Ergo: getting to know unknown persons / meeting new people = evil. It devaluates their network. They can’t sell demographic information based on fake ties: if everyone has 5000 friends, the information is utterly useless for any commercial purpose. Hence, the idea of ‘socializing’ must be treated with the idea of severe punishment.
It fits perfectly in this idea of a paranoid, self-centered society where anything that is actually natural and healthy is forbidden and destroyed, since it threatens the paranoid hierarchy. Which brings us to the other issue: nudity.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that it would be relatively easy for facebook to make a ‘personal filter’ that anyone could just turn on or of, just like Google images does. On Google images you can simply choose whether you prefer nude images to be included, and the filter works perfectly. It is not a technological issue at all.
And yet, as I recently heard a friend explain, we are asked to believe that facebook hires huge amounts of religious people in third world countries to constantly search and moderate its content on ‘nudity’.
I find that story simply too dumb to believe: if it is true than the facebook management consists of utter digibetes. Recently there have been a number of rather grave censorship incidents, when not just pictures were censored but also artworks (Picasso) and Cartoons (The New Yorker).
Since the aforementioned ‘filter’ is relatively easy to realize, we must draw a different conclusion here: nudity in any sort of form is declared public enemy number 1 on this medium, regardless of country or region or whatever else standard you might want to apply. Facebook is a television that has not only completely banned nudity, but has also gravely censored artistic expressions of such. Why?
The obvious and incorrect answer is: they fear the right wing american public. Nonsense, since they could turn on the filter by default and offer an option to turn it off.
As the first example showed, their idea of a ‘social media’ is one that prevents socializing and quarantines it to a sell-able unit.
The second example shows that portrayal of intimacy is unwanted. Why? Well, to remind people of intimacy is to remind them of the real world. With real people. Whom you could connect to, outside, and have a real conversation with. Intimacy always has been the traditional enemy of totalitarian states.
And a totalitarian state is exactly what facebook is: there are no philosophies, no laws of appeal, no responsible people: its one huge invisible machine that creates the ‘rules’ for users, and there is no possibility to even contact a living being over any of it. Intimacy and socializing are forbidden: welcome to the new ‘Social Life’ of the 21st Century. It’s all about ‘whom you know’.
But wait, wait, wait: what is it I see there, on the advertisement block?
Right. Art and Intimacy are forbidden, but prostitution is okay, it’s cold and it makes money. Way to go, Mr Suckerberg.
Martinus Benders, Istanbul, 15-09-2012
Yesterday there were two items appearing in the Dutch news almost simultaneously: the famous Dutch television host Paul de Leeuw ‘would not be put in court’ for putting the following tweet on twitter when the marriage of Swedish crown-princess Victoria took place:
‘Are you also secretly waiting for the moment a black Saab crashes itself into some sort of monument? Not that I wish for it to happen, but at least something would happen then!’
The OM, the ‘National Prosecutors Office’ (website) the next day said Paul the Leeuw would not be sued for making this tweet on Twitter. Would not be sued? Can you be sued for just saying something, an innocent joke? What the hell has the National Prosecutors Office to do with an innocent tweet? Don’t these people have anything better to do? Are we supposed to feel better now that we know they actually investigate tweets, to see if they can be legally sued? The guy made a joke, for christ sake.
Then, simultanously, this item appears in the dutch news. Dutch Broadcasting Network ‘TROS’ fires Cornald Maas for putting the following tweet online:
‘What nice export products we Dutch have, Sieneke, Joran van der Sloot and the PVV’
Cornald Maas was working for the TROS as a commentator and he also commentated the Eurovision songfestival for the Netherlands. So this guy is FIRED for making a joke on twitter? What is wrong with these people?
Isn’t it obvious that social media are becoming increasingly more dangerous and narrow minded. Yesterday I took a peek at a fake facebook account i created after not having looked there for about two months. Now every post you make there says ‘flag’ under it, so you could be nicely reported for anything you could possibly say.
I am actually glad they threw me out of facebook. It is becoming a very narrow minded instrument of moralistic social control and twitter doesnt seem any better judging by these news items. Think about it, I am a well known dutch author, and they simply deleted all my work ‘because someone complained’ and they wouldnt even tell me what the reason was for deleting my profile!
I dont want weird government agencies to gloat over my family pictures, thank you very much. I dont want ‘prosecutor agencies’ weighing every joke and remark I make on the scale of their legal apparatus. Having such agencies controlling everything you say in your own home is RIDICULOUS and UNACCEPTABLE. Yes, I articulate that, because people somehow seem to start to think this is all normal.
My book was one of the bestly reviewed books of 2008. I was nominated for the Buddingh price and won two other poetry awards. It means nothing to facebook: it simply deletes all my work, all my poems, all my thoughts, because some monkey had some moralistic issue with something I wrote. And they wouldnt even tell me what it was. There was no chance of appeal, nothing. Justice doesn’t exist in their world, just low-brow moralism.
That seems exactly the road we are on: a road that leads to a world where low-brow moralism of the most stupid sort rules and justice is simply a thing of the past. Too complicated, too nuanced, to much maintenance costs.
Facebook and Twitter increasinly are becoming control instruments. I actually started to develop a new social environment, called ‘Soulsat’, because I do like the technology, I just dont like the morons who happen to control it. I will try to get it online in the coming months.
Just updated to WordPress 3.0 – the open source CMS that Loewak runs on – and I must say that this time they got about everything right. Especially the side menu option was (I think) a reason many people still preferred a (in my opinion) much more sluggish and inflexible CMS system as Joomla or Drupal. I work with all CMS systems as a designer and programmer but I highly prefer WordPress since its usability is simply way way better than that of any other CMS system. The intereface designers of WordPress are simply top class and many, many – a software builder could learn a lot from simply looking how the people who build WordPress have set up their user menu’s and usability.
Frankly, I think WordPress should be forcefed to the people at Microsoft and Adobe. Especially the latter have ruined their software with a kind of usability that is, well, maybe useful to some people who like to spend their time figuring out what the hell can be used for what. I find the usability of Adobe products ranking amongst the worst usabilities I have seen – they probably hired some expensive consultants who knew exactly what we all want just in case we couldnt figure it out ourselves.
But no, the new WordPress is wonderful. It became a real adult CMS system now instead of just some weblog software. The new design is minimalism done the right way, and it comes with a nicely designed default theme (about time too!) which will greatly improve the looks of a lot of weblogs (or at least lets hope so!)