My mother is a huge internet skeptic. She’s afraid of being scammed online and having her details used without her consent. She also uses Facebook. See the problem? No? Let me explain.
While it may not be scamming per se, Facebook (and many other websites) utilise a tool called metadata* to save our details and produce content based off of it. It’s this metadata that tailors the ads we see, suggests events to attend and pages to like, and gives us the answers to the Facebook quizzes everyone loves so much (I’m guilty). They build us a convenient reality based off of this information, called a “walled garden” – a system that seemingly gives us the freedom to roam, all whilst being watched and monitored by those who actually hold the power. It’s called iFeudalism – relating back to the days of kings, peasants and a hierarchy of power.
Facebook isn’t the only one with this kind of setup. Apple is notorious for it, as is Instagram (conveniently owned by Facebook I might add). By placing themselves on top of the pile, we are forced to either conform to their rules and demands, or else lose access to their “gardens”.
Is this truly the best way to utilise the internet? I believe not. By removing these walls, you open up the world to endless possibilities based on limitless creativity. But Facebook won’t ever do that, as it means relinquishing its crown.
* = links to an essay I wrote for LHA101 about metadata.