As a follow up to my posts on how MeWeexposes out our hypocrisy, my first and secondFacebook suspensions, and most recently my announcement that I’m not giving up on it, I demonstrate that MeWe isn’t immune to at least on of the more annoying aspects of social media. Meet my new friend, Doriane.
Four days later, it continued.
I almost called ” Doriane ” out right then and there, but I wanted to have some fun. I’m going to keep playing with “Doriane” as long as I can. If necessary, I’ll be proactive and reengage myself with one of my own selfies. In the mean time, I’ll have fun with one of her friends.
I’ve written a few times about MeWe. I pointed out that our instinctive dislike of MeWe‘s exposed out our hypocrisy with respect to privacy concerns. I talked about how my first and second Facebook suspensions were driving me towards MeWe despite my instinctive dislike. I then took a thinly veiled stab at Facebook. So here I am trying to find a replacement for Facebook, but it’s been tough. Last weekend, I posted the following to Facebook:
I’m really trying with #MeWe, but it’s just not going anywhere.
After navigating my way through some commentary that were mere diversions, I reached a conclusion as to why I’m having so much trouble with MeWe. Sure, the privacy protections make MeWe unwieldy, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be used the way we use Facebook. With Facebook, it’s all about “friendships.” I hate that they use that term. We’re not necessarily friends. “Connections” would be more accurate, but less marketable. Obviously, the latter is Facebook‘s concern, but I digress. To use Facebook as intended, you should have as many connections as possible. MeWe‘s technology isn’t conducive to that, but I get the impression it isn’t meant to be.
I think the idea behind MeWe isn’t about making numerous direct connections. Instead, the idea is for you to join groups that cater to your interests, and interact with people within those groups. That is, you’re not supposed to just post a random thought on your timeline and expect to receive reactive comments from your connections list, nor are you supposed to see the random thoughts of your connections hitting your timeline and giving you an impulse to rant. Instead, you’re expected to do these things within the groups you’ve joined, thus reducing the noise on the site, and avoiding the need to connect directly with other accounts in a way that could compromise your privacy.
And MeWe is great with groups. I’m a member of many music-oriented groups, and despite song lyrics often addressing sociopolitical issues, I’ve never once seen a sociopolitical debate in those groups. We can discuss the lyrics of, for example, Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, which are about the civil unrest of the 60s, in particular the Vietnam War, race riots, and Charles Manson. As long as we discuss the Stones’ opinions and don’t inject (or at least don’t emphasize) our own opinions on analogous modern subjects, there’s no true mixing of politics and music in a way that spoils the group. If you want to share your opinions on modern issues, there are plenty of political groups available that are designed specifically for that. Go there. You may even see many of the same people there. Problem solved. Everyone’s happy.
In contrast, I’m a member of a Far Side group on Facebook. I’ve never once seen a post that didn’t devolve into a sociopolitical debate. I’m not exaggerating. Every single Far Side post is a debate between Republicans and Democrats, vegetarians and meat-eaters, etc. It’s maddening, and it’s typical of Facebook. Perhaps when MeWe gets more popular, it’ll devolve into that as well, but for now, these groups really work well.
So why am I still having trouble with it? Simple: I’m not used to it, and Facebook keeps my brain from adjusting. On Twitter, I have over 40 accounts. No shit. Over 40. I do that to reduce the noise. GSLLC is for gaming, music, and other assorted nerdity, MMADork is for sports, PropertyAtty is for law, and RobertEBodine (seldom used) is for politics. (The other accounts are anonymous satire accounts or related to a gaming project I’m working on.) I’ll never cross those streams on purpose because I’m doing my part to keep the noise down. Nevertheless, even Twitter has the same effect on my brains because none of you follow the same practice. My GSLLC stream is loaded with politics I don’t want to discuss (or even read) there, and filters are only so good at keeping those topics out. As a result, Twitter also keeps my brain from adjusting. Transitioning to MeWe successfully is going to take a lot of work. For me, that’s worth it — I’m very concerned with the antitrust implications of the Facebook/Twitter oligopoly — but I don’t know that it’ll ever be worth it for you (until you’re severely censored).
Plus, there are the small things. For example, I’ve turned off automatic notifications of chat messages, but I still get the audible ding whenever someone posts a group chat message. In other words, I can’t turn it off. More importantly, MeWe is missing distribution lists. Google+ introduced me to them because they had them from the start. Facebook eventually followed suit, but not before I had well over 1,000 Facebook connections. It took a lot of work to place all of you onto list. One of these days, MeWe will wise up and introduce them, and that’s going to create a lot of work for me. Finally, I’ll mention that MeWe avoids ads. Hooray! Right? Well, not really. In order to maintain the site and make a profit, some features require payment. We hate ads, but we’re used to not having to pay directly for social media, so most of us won’t pay for those features. Again, it’s our hypocrisy. We’re not bad people, but we’re continually making our own bed with this, and I hope enough people are paying for MeWe Premium ($5/month) that the site stays afloat.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work eventually.
Well, it’s Tuesday, so my second Facebook suspension is winding down. During this “one-day became three-day became four-day” suspension, I was unable to manage my charitable fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, all because Facebook is afraid of people having opinions (though my expressed opinion was clearly a joke).
I see no reason to delete my Facebook account, because I’m still able to communicate with people via Messenger. After all, the whole point of social media isn’t to solve the world’s sociopolitical problems, but rather to connect. And share cat memes. However, I’m quickly shifting my focus to MeWe. My profile can be found here: https://mewe.com/i/robertbodine1. The problem with MeWe is that it’s not very good for building networks, which, again, is the point of its existence. The only way to find people is to know they’re there. So please, if you’re considering an alternative to Facebook, give MeWe a try, and invite as many people as you can to do the same. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before Facebook runs afoul of antitrust law. You may find yourself making a change eventually.
Facebook should be ashamed of itself, but it isn’t.
Less than an hour ago, I deleted a post from this Twitter account. It’s my daily, automated paper, and because this account is meant to be fun and/or silly, I use every filter at my disposal to make sure nothing too serious appears in that paper. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, and today’s paper included articles I simply didn’t want appearing on this stream. That said . . . .
I have to share this bullshit. I just got this message from Facebook.
This is clearly a joke, I can’t imagine why they would even hide the post, let alone give me a 24-hour ban (UPDATE: 3 days now, including my birthday). Ironically, I received this ban on the day I received my first vaccine shot.
Let me remind you of the problem with Facebook, et al. In the old days, the ordinary citizen’s standard means of political discourse was to stand in the middle of town square, get on a soap box, and bitch. Such acts would result in counterarguments from the crowd, but even more importantly the bystanders got to listen and form opinions somewhere in the middle of the lunatics. Because town square is public property, the Free Speech clause protected such discourse. Now the ordinary citizen’s standard is to use social media, and it’s what everyone relies upon for such discourse. The problem is that social media platforms are private property, and even clear jokes can be censored legally. Speech is going to be chilled at a time when we need reasonable discussion — and a sense of humor — the most. Our only recourse will be antitrust law, and Twitter has certainly flirted with that in the Parler case (see the section entitled This Isn’t the End of the World, but It’s No Small Matter), but it’s going to be a long time before that dust settles and the common person’s everyday speech will once again be free.
UPDATE!!!! Facebook has decided to extend my suspension to three days, which means I won’t be able to thank anyone for all the birthday wishes I’m sure to receive on Monday. If you’re reading this, thanks in advance. Also, my MeWe profile is at https://mewe.com/i/robertbodine1. Just sayin’. No reason.
Side note: I tried to use the back door that used to work but apparently no longer does. I posted to Instagram, which shares to Facebook automatically. Unfortunately, my post violated community standards over there. I’m going to try again but with a picture of a kitten. We’ll see what happens.
Facebook should be ashamed of itself, but it isn’t.
I’ve seen this and similar Facebook groups cited a lot recently: “This group is not an airport, no need to announce your departure.” I know it’s nothing new, but they’re cited even when people are very polite in their announcement.
Do you know what else you don’t need to announce?
What you had for dinner last night.
What you think of voter ID.
Why you bought the car you just bought (this one’s mine!).
Why you quit your job.
Whether you prefer hot or cold climates.
Where you’re going for vacation next month.
Storms: Scary or fun?
Whether you think you have too many keys on your keychain.
How great your new bed is (also mine!).
Why you don’t care that the person is leaving the group.
You don’t have to announce any of those things, but you do. Why? Because that’s probably the most important use of social media. Sure, except for Elvis, it would be awkward to announce your departure, whereas the rest of the list is common party fodder. That said, Facebook isn’t a party. It’s a social media platform. We’re communicating our thoughts, often to strangers and sometimes mundane, in a medium designed for that very purpose. Most of what you say means nothing to most of the people to whom you say it (even at a party of strangers), but the means to say it is a primary reason why these platforms are so popular.
I’ve only once had people do that to me, and surprisingly it wasn’t when I told everyone I was forming an exit strategy for Facebook (so far unsuccessfully). I left an XFL group and said I was giving up on the league because of a tremendous lack of integrity they showed. Officials at headquarters allowed a game to end when it shouldn’t have. The members laid into me. I laughed it off, but some take it more personally, and I thought we were all supposed to be nice to one another.
Instead of telling everyone, “Bye, Felicia,” or posting snarky animated GIFs (pronounced gif, not jif, obviously), how about you just be honest and say, “I don’t care about anyone else’s opinions but my own and those that agree with me.” Someone saying they’re leaving, and especially when they say why, can have value, but only to the open-minded. The rest may continue citing those groups. Which group are you in?
By all means, add a comment that you’re never going to read my blog again, but if you do, please tell me why.
I’ve seen a lot of (private) censorship going on by Facebook, and now it’s hit me right in the nuts. My “posting and replying privileges” were suspended for 24 hours because I made two jokes over the course of thirteen days that “violated community standards.”
RJS: “I have a long list of things I’d like to see improved with the coming administration, but one thing on that list, and I’m not going to say where it falls, is the decriminalization of a certain substance. Can’t. Wait.”
JD: “Okay now for sure if you and I ever both make the insane decision to attend a con in person, and it happens to be the same con at the same time…. Yeah, that.”
Calling people hippies is something I’m known to do whenever someone disagrees with me (a la Eric Cartman), but it seemed particularly appropriate here. Continuing . . .
RJS: “Frog enthusiasts.”
This, of course, meant that RJS and JD licked toads. Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and thought he was referring to me as a frog enthusiast, and that I was missing some sort of reference. Mea culpa. So, not knowing what he was talking about, I responded, “Mais je deteste les Francais” (“But I hate the French.”). Get it? The French are frogs. Not my best work, I know, but it was just a goofy response to something I didn’t immediately understand.
That was deemed hate speech. Here’s some discussion on it from a subsequent post, again if you have access.
First concert – Billy Joel Last concert – 38 Special (with Erik Nowak) Best Concert – Iron Maiden Worst concert – Jimmy Buffett Loudest concert – Iron Maiden (I was on the floor) Seen the most – Billy Joel (twice) Most surprising – Cowboy Mouth (soooo good) Next concert – It’ll be a while. I’m not a huge concertgoer. Wish I could have seen – Fleetwood Mac, RUSH, Genesis, George Benson
Someone responded “’Last’ sounds so final. Perhaps ‘most recent’?” I replied, “I plan to kill everyone who responds.” I assume that was deemed terroristic threatening.
Basically, Facebook’s algorithm (and apparently the humans that perform the follow up review) can’t distinguish obvious humor from actual hate speech or terrorism. Of course, neither can many people nowadays, so I guess there’s always going to be a market for Facebook’s humorless bubble. However, if you’re in that group, you’re a tiny minority. Most people get it, and the only way Facebook will learn to stop catering to such a small minority is for people to either reduce their presence or leave altogether.
I think I’m going to do my part. I’ve been looking for an excuse to part ways with Facebook, and they just handed me one. My presence is going to be greatly reduced until I settle on another option. I’ll refocus my efforts towards Twitter and my blogs, so if you want to connect on Twitter, just send me a Facebook private message. I have several different handles that deal with different subject matter (geekdom, sports, politics, and law) in order to reduce the noise. As long as I’m still on Facebook, if I see something interesting there, I’ll respond via my Twitter feeds (quick responses) and blog sites (verbose responses). I’ll link to my posts via the Facebook news feed but won’t engage in discussions there, relying only on my posts’ comments sections. I don’t mind discussion on my Facebook wall; I’m just saying I won’t be part of that discussion or even follow it. Will you really miss me though?
This Isn’t the End of the World, but It’s No Small Matter
I’m an attorney. I’m well aware of the distinction between private and public censorship. Private censorship is almost always legal, and public censorship is almost always illegal. Facebook, Twitter, and other “microblogging platforms” are private entities largely permitted to suppress speech, but they’re clearly heading for (if not already there) an oligopoly (i.e., a monopoly, but where there are a tiny number of providers rather than just one), which means antitrust law applies.
While many of you hate the people who joined Parler, don’t you still find it troublesome that, the moment a competitor started to gain a serious foothold in the market, one of Twitter’s companions, Amazon Web Services, effectively bankrupted them by cutting off their access with a 30-hour notice? If MeWe gets too popular, they could be next. Facebook and Twitter could cut out all competition, leaving you no other options, and once that happens, who knows what rules they’ll impose? The fact that one’s access to the primary avenue to communicate with others (i.e., speech), in a pandemic no less, is the precise service being suppressed makes this even more troublesome regardless of whether the government is doing it.
Each of these cases turn on their facts, so I’m not going to condemn or complement the Court’s denial of an injunction in Parler’s suit. Also, this one incident isn’t the end of the world. I’m simply pointing out the immense market power these companies have and how they’re making sure they never lose it. Sooner or later, that will result in an antitrust violation, and the violation will be to everyone’s primary means to connect in the Internet Age. Everyone thinks they’re virtuous, but these giants could easily come for you next. Whether they’re destined to throw you out, or you’re destined to get sick of it and leave by own free will, maybe it’s time to form an exit plan just in case. While doing so, don’t be your own worst enemy by letting these guys off the hook.
My exit plan is under construction. The fact that one is even necessary is evidence advancing my argument.
Don’t worry. This isn’t as heavy-handed a moral lecture as the title makes it sound.
MeWe keeps coming up in my social media feeds. Everyone is asking whether it’s a good platform. Here’s my take on it. MeWe is an attempt to remove the privacy concerns of Facebook, and they absolutely succeed as far as I can tell. However, that’s actually the problem with MeWe. This is a tough pill to swallow, but the truth is that I, and probably many of you, don’t actually want the level of privacy that we demand from Facebook, at least not initially.
One of Facebook’s strengths was allowing us to reconnect with former friends and acquaintances. The privacy protections of MeWe prevent me from doing that. The last I checked, I couldn’t find my friends unless I already had their email addresses. That’s quite an impediment to connecting with lost friends, in which case, what’s the point of MeWe?
But that brings us back to the our own issues. We criticize Facebook’s lack of privacy, but the level of privacy we demand from Facebook would have prevented Facebook from generating its current value to us. I think we are again missing the big picture. The only reason we’re in a position to make such demands from Facebook is because we’ve already used their lack of protections for years to accomplish what we’ve wanted. That is, because we already have found our old friends on Facebook, now we want them to secure the platform. Though there are far greater sins, that’s a bit hypocritical, but the point is this: For new competitors without those existing connections, it’s nearly impossible form them to enter the market, so we’re stuck with Facebook unless we change.
As a result, I have a MeWe account but have no idea what to do with it.
We all know how humans argue. We don’t listen; we just wait for our turn to speak so we can claim our opponent is wrong. As a result, we hear maybe a sentence or two of an argument, then fill in the missing pieces with our own assumptions and prejudgments about what we think our opponent is arguing. The result is that we hear only a portion of what they say, and even worse interpret their argument in the opposite way in which it was intended.
But it’s not completely our fault. Twitter gives us only 280 characters per tweet, and even if we chain them together, people will usually see only a single tweet in that chain. This reinforces our tendency to address only a portion of our opponent’s argument. As the conversation continues and others contribute, the effect snowballs into a real mess, and you don’t always remember to whom you’ve already clarified your points, meaning you make assumptions about what they understand.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Twitter is so popular and that it’s effect on dialogue mirrors the way we choose to discuss politics and religion. We choose to use Twitter because it’s how we argue. The cure to this social disease is to address only those topics that can be covered in 280 characters. If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to write a PhD dissertation, go back to school. Then it’s not your fault when people choose to miss the point. Otherwise, it is your fault.