October Unfriends Facebook

This month has been one bad report after another for Facebook, coming to a crescendo this week with an onslaught of unfriendly news for Facebook and its Newsfeed. The clarion call to #DeleteFacebook may be at its loudest ever. Yet shareholders seem content, billions of dollars keep piling up, and billions of people seem stuck on the social media service — myself included.

Mark Zuckerberg may never step down or be ousted, but new regulation from the US, England, and maybe more countries, seems inevitable at this point. If that ultimately is good or bad remains to be seen. Hopefully it’s enough to mitigate the deleterious effects of Facebook and also prevent any other company from reaching similar dubious status.

I’m sure you’ve heard something of the above in the news already. Maybe you’ve deleted your Facebook account. As for me, well yeah, I’ve deleted my Facebook account…many times; I always end up returning to the love/hate relationship. I’ve tried to document that on my blog. Also for the record, I remain active on Twitter, a social media site.

For a long time, amidst whatever Facebook PR crisis, I wasn’t moved. But this month, especially this week, I am seriously considering giving the social network a thumbs down and deleting it again. Unfortunately, I would likely end up creating a new account within a year because that’s been my pattern. The pull of close family and friends who remain on Facebook wears me down until, eventually, I’ve forgotten the ills and miss the “thrills” of cat pix, silly memes, and birthday wishes.

There are a few things I find useful on Facebook, like certain Groups for coordinating events . Marketplace also has utility, though it has degraded in recent years. Otherwise, my use of Facebook is infrequent at best. I do not have the app on my phone or tablet, and I only occasionally check the site for new messages, which are few. So for me, Facebook isn’t an addiction; I actively avoid the Newsfeed. That’s why, despite the site’s general woes, I have not been driven to nuke it from orbit like in times past.

That is, of course, until recently. I think there is a good case on principle to delete Facebook; I’ve stated similar thoughts on my blog before. That the company is, on some level, a threat to US democracy, foreign governments, and other societies, seems more than plausible. It appears to be fact at this point, given all the smoking hints since 2017 and now fiery hard evidence with the Facebook Papers. There’s a lot to be said against Facebook and global-scale social media in general, though I don’t wish to dredge it all up now.

Instead of reiterating Facebook’s problems, here’s a potential solution: one form of government regulation should enact a user count cap. Simply make a rule that says any social media site may not have more than 1 billion registered user accounts, and any social media company may not have more than 1 billion registered users. So in the case of Facebook with its three big apps: Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, all three apps combined cannot have more than 1 billion users. This simple rule would help contain global-scale reach, whether positive or negative. Given the amount of adverse effects worldwide as evidenced from Facebook, a user cap would mititage against such problems.

Surely there are other ideas to help; if you have some, please comment below. In any case, a question I ask is: are the net effects of Facebook more good or more bad? That is tough to answer. When the news media is in an uproar against Facebook’s latest misdeeds, it’s easy to think the company’s net effects are indeed negative; so delete it! When the calm follows the storm — and no elections, riots, coups, insurrections, or pandemics are taking place — the Newsfeed can seem like a happy bit of escapism from the daily grind, full of relevant ads for my favorite coffee and also funny animal videos. Yeah.

Bottom line: for now, I’m keeping my Facebook account, for better or worse, but am very close to deleting it again. Because of the years of repeated privacy problems fueling lack of trust in Facebook and seeing its ill affect on my own family and society in general, I really do think we would all be better off without Facebook. I wish the platform would crumble, not for glee over witnessing the mighty fall, but for the safety and sanity of billions of people, like myself, who can’t seem to escape its reach.

Facebook the company is too big and too powerful, and it still rests in the total control of one man. How does that not sound off more alarms? And where is the US government’s new regulations to rein in Zuckerberg’s reign? Isn’t it time to constrain and restrain social media?

Bokeh Will Soon Be Beta

Way back in 2019, an alternative to Instagram was kick-started. The name: Bokeh. After some delay, it is still inching toward the finish line. In fact, private (beta) testing is almost here. And being a backer, I should be able to soon give it a try – exciting! Will it take off? The potential is there.


What is Bokeh?

I’ve written about it before: here, here, and here.

In short, it’s a privacy respecting, ad-free, social-photo-network like Instagram. You know, before IG was bought by Facebook.

How does Bokeh work?

Simple. You pay for it! The monthly cost, I think, is relatively low, something like $3 a month (don’t quote me on that though – it could be different).

Since it’s a paid app/service, there is no ad-based monetization scheme. That means no “Sponsored Posts” in your feed. Also, it keeps your privacy – get this – private! I think that’s worth a monthly fee.

Bokeh, like other social networks, connects you to other people on the service. You share photos and can comment and do the things you’d expect, such as view a feed/stream.

The developers have been hard at work coding and such to bring Bokeh to life. I’m eager to see the fruits of their labor.

Yes, the question remains, will Bokeh survive or grow? What level of success would be considered good? The answer remains open, and I’m open to Bokeh’s potential.

Of course, some start-ups fail. But other networks find success. SnapChat and TikTok come to mind. So yeah, Bokeh can succeed.

In fact, since Instagram’s experience suffers under a bloat of copy-cat features, and Facebook’s reputation is forever tarnished, Bokeh stands a good chance to find those seeking a good alternative. It’s delayed release may be ideal timing.

One thing must never happen though. Bokeh can’t eventually sell-out to Facebook. If it proves popular, even competitive, it should keep standing on its own two feet like SnapChat, for example. Let Facebook try to copy Bokeh’s success; I doubt it could pull it off. Facebook would need to drop its whole ad-based privacy-compromising revenue model. So it fundamentally can’t copy Bokeh! And that gives Bokeh a chance to thrive.

Even if Bokeh turns out to be an experiment, I support it. I want to see what a paid-for social-network can be like. Whatever good points it shows, they can be honed into what eventually might be the future of social-media beyond Facebook. Seriously? Yeah!

Would Bokeh compete with Twitter? Or could Bokeh complement it (as in complete it)? I’m not sure. That’s why we need to wait and see. I’m welcoming Bokeh to the stage to share its talent. It’ll be worth watching.

Oh, by the way, if/when the service opens up to the public, you’ll want to hop on it fast. Why? The sooner you do, the more likely you’ll be able to score your preferred user-name!

Will you join Bokeh when it goes live? Would you be more likely to try a paid social-media service if it has a free trial period? Sound off below!


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A Social Network For Movies

The other day, I wondered, “There should be a goodreads for movies.” You know, a niche site that lets you catalog and discover movies. It would also have a social media like aspect. I didn’t think IMDb was the right thing. So I searched…and found it!


Social Movia

The site, called Letterboxd, is exactly what I was lookin’ for; I joined quickly!

Its look and feel are designed nicely, a dark background with elegant lines and fonts. Things are neatly organized. The interface is nicer than goodreads.

You create your own profile with a Bio, which other members of the site may follow. Then you start adding movies you’ve seen or want to see.

With all the movies you’ve seen, you can take several actions:

  • Like
  • Favorite
  • Tag
  • Rate
  • Log
  • Review

Of course, you can add movies you haven’t seen to your Watchlist. Speaking of, you can create your own custom lists too.

There are reviews of movies by other people on the site. And you can find folks who have similar movie tastes as yourself and connect with them by clicking, “Follow.”

I’m still new to Letterboxd and have only started building my movie catalog. But so far it’s cool.

There are cinephiles or movie buffs there, people who are really into the art of cinema and theater. This makes me feel a bit like an outsider since I’m more like the guy who just wants a good popcorn flick most of the time. Think Blockbuster. Oh well.

If you’re looking for the “goodreads for movies,” Letterboxd is it!


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It’s Easy To Quit Facebook

Hi there, web peoples. Recently, there’s been more negative chatter online about Facebook and WhatsApp and social media in general, even Big Tech. As usual, my use of Facebook in particular waxes and wanes. Lately, I’ve been re-evaluating my account. Will I keep it, or delete it for the Nth time?


One thought is, well, I could delete my Facebook account – again. It’s easy! I’ve done it like 4 or 5 times in the past 12 years! Seriously. I have.

It’s like the infamous joke about quitting smoking – it’s easy and you can quit anytime. It’s true!

Using Facebook is like smoking. Let that sink in.

But it sure isn’t easy to stay quit for good. I always end up being drawn back to Facebook, to those connections, to family, to relationships, and even the Marketplace. After a few months being totally free from the Book of Faces, I forget the bad parts and miss the good parts. Then I rejoin.

I know that if I delete my Facebook account, then I will likely end up returning. So I will not nuke it from orbit at this time.

But this doesn’t mean I must remain a Facebook User. For a while, I’ve mostly been ignoring or avoiding it. So I’m more of a Facebook Account Holder. A non-active user. I also won’t Deactivate it. It’s there when I want to check in.

The thing that has helped me is that I deleted the Facebook app and the Messenger app from my phone last Fall. And I have no desire to reinstall. I recommend keeping the app off your phone.


All that said, there’s still a chance I will delete my Facebook account in the future. I have no qualms about pulling the plug. Things about Facebook would have to get worse. And frankly, I think things will do just that. Facebook will likely deteriorate…

If more people leave Facebook for other alternatives, then the network effect will weaken to the point where being on Facebook will be pointless. Then I could shake the dust off my feet as I too exit Zuckerburg’s social network.

For now, I’ll just keep social distancing from Facebook.


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Hatching Twitter Reviewed

Ah, Twitter. A cultural centerpiece for controversial “conversation.” Or a minuscule micro-blog masquerading as major social-media. Whichever. Don’t “@” me. #justsayin

But really, Twitter is something. You weigh its intrinsic pros and cons, you evaluate how it affects you personally, you see its impact on society, and you decide to use it or you don’t.

After reading The Social Media Upheaval, I felt like deleting Twitter! Then I read the book on how it started, Hatching Twitter, and felt like joining the conversation! #feelings #lovehate

No matter how I feel or think about Twitter, I can tell you that I loved reading its origin story! #goodread

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you’re intrigued by how something so big started off so small, discovering behind-the-scene details, then you’ll no doubt enjoy Hatching Twitter, written by Nick Bilton. Simply put, it’s the nitty gritty of the circumstances that gave birth and growth to the online grapevine where anyone can say what kind of donut they’re eating or share breaking news of global importance. #whatever

While Twitter is borne of nerdy internet wizardry, this book is less about technology and much more about people and their relationships. And the resulting drama in Twitter’s formative years is like some grand Shakespearean legend. #gripping

You’ll read about humanity’s greatest traits: use, abuse, trust, betrayal, back-stabbing, coveting, greed, manipulation, generosity, talent, creativity, loneliness, friendship, ambition, serendipity, hustle, careers, unemployment, stress, and also stress, and then some more stress. #life

The writing is straight-forward, the pacing is fast, and the facts are eye-opening.


Okay, so this book was easy for me to get into because it begins with one of the founders of Twitter, Ev Williams. It starts when he helped create a popular web service before social networking was even a thing, Blogger. And I happen to really like blogging, so, you know… #blogging

One thing that stands out about Ev Williams is his idealism (e.g. #freespeech), which inspires his noble ventures. The problem is that ideals are corrupted by competing realities. This is…less than ideal…but it sure does make for some good drama!

Another noteworthy item about Hatching Twitter is the classic truth that success in life is often based not just on what you know but who you know. It’s one thing to be a coder; that will get you into Silicon Valley. But to get into one of the tech companies, especially a start-up, it helps to rub elbows with the elite tech-savvy.

Social-networking online, after all, begins with networking offline.

But what makes the creation of Twitter so dramatic is the fact that the nerds are more than professional co-workers, they’re friends. Much more is on the line.

The historical narrative account in Hatching Twitter overflows with tech details and little stories that are surprising and remarkable, like when Snoop Dogg got Twitter employees to smoke weed during work hours in the office. #forreal

Despite the chaotic nature of Twitter’s story, Nick Bilton laid out all the parts neatly and then wrapped up the book with nice closure of all the founders’ lives along with some life lessons learned.

The attraction of this story is a feeling of connection to the people as you are swept up in their drama, turmoil, resolve, success, and failures. You share all the same feelings, but theirs are amplified because of their elevated status in the public sphere. So you are drawn into a book that’s hard to put down. #unputdownable

I highly recommend this book and gave it a 5-star rating on goodreads!


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