The Social Media Dilemma

Just reposting this here as its seems more relevant than ever… Here’s the post that @Doctorbrowncelray originally posted saying “Not that I personally need convincing but I’m trying with a couple of friends who are absolutely out of control with social media and Lanier is good at this.”

@Apiento “with whatsapp being down this afternoon I must admit I felt a sense of calm I haven’t had for sometime. Definitely massive food for thought. Actually, saying that I am always pretty calm these days, but I felt even more calm than normal : )”

@Casual “When I got rid of Twitter it was quite incredible, felt like I had more time, i was definitely sleeping better and if anything it made me more present. Huge weight off my shoulders.”

@Doctorbrowncelray “I obviously have a very pronounced anti-Facebook and anti-social media ethos but MAN I swear to you try taking that stuff of your phone and I GUARANTEE you won’t put it back on.”

@Nice2CU2CUNice “I never had my space, Facebook, WhatsApp, or anything like them set up an Instagram account just for checking on our youngest when she made an account for our dog with some class mates, she’s 15 next week and can’t even remember having the instagram account… Tik Tok I still have no idea what that is about.”

@Doctorbrowncelray “It’s about letting your brain fall out of your ear and destroying your attention span.”

@apiento “Yes I might do that. I stopped using Facebook a while ago even though we had a lot of people in a group on there as it just became the land of self promo. I like Instagram and the people that you talk to on there seem genuinely into things which is nice but I will turn off the notifications after posting this. WhatsApp I think I’ll turn off my notifications after today and just check in every now and then. Feels like today is a time to rethink how this all works.”

@CobblerBob "In response to this weeks whistleblower a Facebook spokesperson said “To say we turn a blind eye to feedback ignores these investments, including the 40,000 people working on safety and security at Facebook” and tried to position this as a positive.

Any product that requires 40,000 people working on security seems like their shit ain’t right."

@apiento “bang on”

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If you can stomach it because it’s a harsh toke, read this and you’ll be off forever…

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Been off Facebook and Twitter since 2018 ish and never really looked back. I get anxiety even thinking about them now. Twitter used to be such a great space back in 2009 to connect with like minded people but as time went on it got more and more toxic. It’s a shame really because I used to genuinely love being on Twitter and met some great people over the years. Instagram is all I have now and I only follow close friends and family I had to unfollow almost all celebrities and public figures as I was starting to dislike people who’s work and art I loved based on views/ego and trying to influence and endorse absolute shite products they would never use themselves. Luckily I don’t fall for influencers it’s the younger generation who I really feel for. It really is a sad state of affairs the way social media has become.

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Youtube. Recently there my landline went down with a fault at the junction box and I was without internet for 5 days. I have never missed something in my life like Youtube. I haven’t had a TV license for 10 years now because YT does it all for me. I like to learn from it and it’s always comes up trumps when I need something mindless to look at. I also have chronic insomnia and YT on the iPad in bed can be a life saver when there are countless hours to kill.

FB and Twitter. I see harrowing accounts written by people about them but I use them to follow a bunch of music software developers (Ableton etc). I NEVER looks at comments and I probably check them once a week. No probs. Same with Insta… but there’s lot i like to see on there like random record label pics and lots of dance music culturey shiz.

Friends. Nope. Prefer my own company and i’m definetly a loner. I never cause myself any drama or have to worry about other people.

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I do still enjoy YouTube however I have stripped it right back. I have extensions added to my browser that disables all comments and the home page is completely blank so I don’t get any adverts or recommendations based on things I’ve previously watched. All I can see are the uploads from channel’s I have subscribed to and all my own likes and playlists. If I want to watch something I have to physically search for the video it’s a great way of not falling into the never ending rabbit hole. I highly recommend giving it a go… or maybe it’s only an issue for someone with an ADHD brain like myself ha ha

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Facebook going bang would be a huge plus to the world. The amount of damage its done is immeasurable.

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Echoing all of the sentiments here. I read Jaron Laniers book January 2021 and instantly deleted Twitter. I was already off Facebook. Still have Instagram and YouTube.

YouTube I actually think is the worst! Never read the comments. Within five minutes on pretty much any video you can get think of you’ll see racist, sexist and homophobic comments plus a crazy amount of batshit right wing and conspiracist nut jobs.

Facebook and Twitter, well yeah in some ways I miss the groups on Facebook and having an artist page trying to promote music, it’s so much harder off social media. Twitter I do miss the vicarious thrill of some of the pile ons that happen when there is a big story, but it’s just not healthy. I’ll probably ditch Instagram soon also, the adverts absolutely grind my gears…

Oh, and get off Whats App! Use Signal. Whats App whilst they may boast end to end encryption, the fact that when you link to something in a chat, you’ll see adverts start to appear for that link, means they have the keys, without a shadow of a doubt. That doesn’t happen with Signal et al.

If anyone is interested I’ll dig up a post from a security forum I’m on that explains exactly why it’s a big deal.

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I mainly use Twitter to follow strangers I find interesting. Instag for pals. No problems with these now. I swerve politics completely. Met some cool new people via Twitter especially. I stick around on Facebook out of habit. I’d love to bin it completely but never do. Not great for mental wellbeing. I can’t bear the cliques, ads, ambitious DJ types sucking up to other DJs, the political posturing and people adding me just to spam. but FOMO on the events though.

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No dilemma for me anymore. Twitter I tried and didn’t get it, Facebook I deleted many years ago as just plain weird, I even had a stalker who went to all lengths to contact me, not 100% sure who it was to this day. Instagram I set up an account last year for music, interaction is limited but always positive so suits me. WhatsApp I don’t really count as social media just a quick and easy way that I contact my wife, father in law and daughter on and occasionally someone from work when I am having a sickie.

Similar to FireAppleRed I have pretty much ditched friends and shite family as I have aged, people are way too demanding and precious. It’s not social media that is the issue. It is many people.

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Would be interested to read that.

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"WhatsApp remains encrypted end-to-end… but that was never the threat.

The threat is what happens at the ends… on the servers, and on the client. i.e. could WhatsApp access the messages on the server, would they use the client to read them?

We know they could access the messages on the server, as some of their search and sharing functionality reveals the capability, plus encryption requires keys and the fact that you could lose a phone and activate on a new phone shows that if things are encrypted then WhatsApp possessed the keys at their end… which should be freaking obvious to all, of course they hold the keys.

When it comes to encryption, who holds the keys is a question of security vs convenience, and WhatsApp (when owned by Facebook) showed that they now prioritised convenience over security.

What of the client, the other end? Well… the client has the messages decrypted, it must simply by virtue of being able to show them to you in a way that you could read. And did it use this in a way that profited them? Well yes! The most common form was the link preview… if we chatted and I shared a link to a product in that chat, the link typically showed a summary of the web page in question… the client made a web request using the WebView component, thus placing a cookie and leaking some details. If you ever then opened Instagram and got a highly relevant advert and wondered how that could be because you’d only mentioned it once in a private chat in the “encrypted” WhatsApp… well, now you know.

So WhatsApp under Facebook ownership kept end-to-end encryption (govts and 3rd parties couldn’t intercept on the wire) but used their ownership of both ends for their profit.

Now Facebook have come clean… they’re going to fully linked WhatsApp and Facebook accounts, meaning the full advertising force is coming your way. And they’ve already shown you how… by using the fact that they have access to the unencrypted messages at both ends.

This was always obvious despite their many denials that they would. And those who sought refuge in the “but it’s end-to-end encrypted” failed to understand what that implied… it’s encrypted end-to-end, meaning everywhere but the end - all the stuff inbetween. But the ends… the server and the client… can both access messages unencrypted.

My view is simple: For all your private communications with anyone that you care about, you should use Signal https://signal.org .

Signal has drawbacks, but that’s because when the question comes up of security vs convenience they choose security every time. What does this mean? Well if you lose your phone and buy a new phone, you can activate the same Signal account because you own the phone number, but you cannot access old messages because Signal didn’t have ownership of the encryption key, this was on your old phone and if you didn’t make a backup of the chat then nothing could restore it.

Signal is basically perfect from a security perspective, but not so great on the convenience and usability perspective (because security was prioritised)… so what it comes down to:

  • Do you want to have every private chat made available as source data for profile enrichment that can then be sold on to advertisers?

  • Or do you want full privacy and security at the cost of a few rough edges?

I’ll keep my WhatsApp account, but I pressed “Not Now” and am currently in the process of manually deleting every chat, all media, and exiting all groups on WhatsApp and instigating the chats anew on Signal. WhatsApp will exist only so that those who try and reach me can do so… but I’ll only actually chat on Signal."

" There’s more stuff about the Whatsapp backups on HN recently (in a thread about a Telegram backdoor).

It confirms that if you enable the cloud backup then the Whatsapp client uploads them to Google Drive encrypted with a key derived from your phone number. That’s how you’re able to restore messages on a new phone without needing anything else, but only if you have cloud backup enabled.

Whatsapp’s servers don’t have the unencrypted messages, but they do have everything they need to get it if you have cloud backups enabled.

(I wouldn’t enable cloud backup of my whatsapp messages based on that. Whatsapp will have written the key derivation function and so they could retrieve and decrypt any of the backups. Most likely this is so they can give access to Government agencies who probably already have access to arbitrary Google Drive data stores at will. They just need the key derivation function details from Whatsapp.)
Personally I just rely on periodic local backups of my phone (which will backup all of the data) and knowing that I may lose the few days data since my most recent backup. I wouldn’t touch the cloud backup with someone else’s stick. "

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So much to unpack. I was inspired to rethink by that Jarod Lanier book and by the attitude of A. Weatherall who said something like ‘every minute spent on social media is a minute I could be spending reading a book or listening to music.’

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NB here’s the link to buy that Jaron Lanier book
Second hand
New
Avoiding Amazon for obvious reasons

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I had a big digital detox about 6 years ago. Ditched Facebook (just got a moody account to admininister my business page), I started reading the news online with breakfast just once a day and stopped reading the comments on articles and got ride of all phone apps.

I now just check Instagram once a day on my desktop (with an an adblocker (ublock origin) so no ads) when I do my daily music post. If I have to kill some time on my mobile I’ve got all my favourite blogs and news sources loaded onto Feedly so at least I’m consuming information I’m interested in and switched my personal email from Google to Protonmail. There’s a bit of inconvenience and initial anxiety as with any addiction addressing or detox but I now feel a whole lot better for doing all these things, although I still stare at screens for too long!

I think most of us are lucky in that we remember a time before social media and mobile phones and so we can make a better judgement on their effects. Obviously it’s not all bad, but as with most things, just in moderation.

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Been dodging Amazon too, for books I’ve been using Bookshop.org You have the option to nominate an independent bookshop and when you order they get a slice too

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I use them all. Mainly for work and for taking the piss/having a laugh/discovering music.

Far too many folk take it all far too seriously and lockdown has exacerbated that. Some truly awful people out there who now have a platform to spout their idiocy that sadly, some buy in to.

I rarely get any toxicity on my feeds. Mainly because I don’t have fucking arseholes as friends.

That said, I definitely use them all far less than I used to. Primarily because I think they’re all a bit shit these days.

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I’ve not really used (posted) to Insta since George Floyd and all the ‘White lives matter too’ bs, really showed how toxic people are, quite surprising or not really.

Tried to get our daughter onto Signal but she’s so invested into WhatsApp with work and friends, she’s of a generation that never really used FB, hence why they bought into WA and Insta I guess. WA was great during lockdown talking to her as a family when she had Covid though.

It really is a shitstorm and can’t be long before the triumvirate of FB, WA and Insta are broken up.

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I used Hive for that link, they do the same thing, it’s a great model :+1:

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I agree with Howler that it is supposed to just be a laugh but I think if you’re not seeing people around IRL a lot of second-guessing enters the picture when you don’t always know if people are serious or taking the piss and sometimes there’s misunderstandings and things magnify in your head + I’m now a long way from everyone I knew in London and have lost touch a bit with the injokes and stuff. One thing the lockdown also brought home to me was that a few people I previously liked turned out to be proper dicks esp re vax and stuff and I kind of wish I could get back to when I only knew people in clubs and didn’t know anything about their opinions or real lives or anything.

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This is super interesting thank you. It’s almost like I can’t think about this stuff too much as, well my head would cave in, but I am thinking that I want to reclaim my brain, and hands, from reaching for that phone or having it to hand all the time. I am starting to realise its just like having your front door wide open all the time and anyone can walk in. It’s weirdly taking practice to be without the phone but I am enjoying the times I do.

@TheSlowMusicMovement - also super interesting. Am on the same path at the moment.

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