I am one of the those “weird” people who stopped using Facebook. The truth is found the excuse of moving to another place as a reason to actually stop using the social media platform when others would do the opposite. I quit Facebook because I just didn’t feel comfortable with one company owning that much personal information about me. It’s one thing to know someone’s name, phone number, and address but social media platforms such as Facebook are more concerned about “knowing” you in a way that goes beyond the superficial details of your driver’s license. Facebook probably knows more about some people more than actual people with personal relationships know people. Facebook can predict life events, predict your politics, and can surround you with media that it knows you will like.
Collecting data from users is like a modern gold rush for companies of the internet. It’s so valuable that the common currency that we pay companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and many others for their “free” services that collectively cost billions in development and upkeep is with the nebulous thing called personal data. The selling of personal information at this point in time is technically illegal depending on which country you live in and even now the legality of having personal data being kept private either through laws protecting data from being taken from companies for government organizations use and personal private internet use is an ongoing battle. Specifically, the legality of ISP’s in the US being able to sell internet browsing data will set the precedence for many other countries including our own and is in the process of being passed and repealed. That’s not even mentioning the government surveillance programs within government organizations like the NSA in the US where unhinged gluttony of data collecting uses the excuses of “if you’ve got nothing to hide, why hide your personal data?” or “it’s for the greater good of everyone” or even “it’s inevitable so embrace it”. Many other western countries also have their NSA equivalents combing through everyone’s personal browsing and communication data looking for the boogeyman of a terrorist threat.
Maybe total surveillance is an inevitability and maybe I’m just a paranoid person whose precaution with keeping some details of my life offline is a feeble and useless attempt considering companies like Amazon, Netflix and Reddit already know every interest I have in hobbies, entertainment, and products and maybe every government surveillance government in the world has a mountain of data on me confirming that yes, indeed, I’m not a terrorist but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. That also doesn’t mean that I have to live like a caveman (or pre 1990, same thing right?) but it does mean that we should support some semblance of privacy because allowing one entity to have all the data you can provide is something worth taking precautions for and even fighting against. At this moment in time, we are at a tipping point where the dystopian reality of total surveillance is possible but not entirely realized. We should do this for the simple reason that we shouldn’t put complete trust in people who would buy, sell, and collect personal data to have everyone’s best interest at heart.