Jaco du Plessis

Don't Use Facebook

google facebook privacy freedom internet

Earlier this week I wrote about the control that Google is establishing over the internet – they are just about the internet market leaders in all areas but one: social. They couldn't crack the social media market, even though they have made more than one attempt. That is the domain of Facebook.

This week I read three articles on Facebook, and about the danger of relying on that platform.

Really, do yourself a favour and read those articles. They are well written.

I also read that many businesses are now killing their own websites, opting instead to create Facebook Pages. This is a terrible idea, because if Facebook or Google decides that they don't want you on their platform, you are left high and dry. Good luck even reaching a human on their side to state your case. Your just not very important to them – a mere drop in their ocean of ad revenue.

Here is an account of someone who's Google account was suddenly suspended and the personal cost he suffered because of it.

Both Google and Facebook are publicly traded and have many shareholders, so we cannot fault their self-enriching actions, not should we be surprised by them. The solution is to not rely on these companies for crucial business or personal parts of our life. Either pay a company that provides Software as a Service (SAAS), or host an open source solution yourself.

Have you ever wondered why Google offers to save all of your photos on their servers, for ever and for free? It makes the cost of abandoning their services much, much higher. Unlike most other online services, they don't give you a way to access these photos programmatically (using an API), so there even if you wanted to move your photos, there is no easy way to do so.

I don't think these companies are evil – they are just normal companies in a capitalist world. They have useful products and services, publish open source code, and do other good things. But just don't put yourself in a position where they are everything to you, and you are nothing to them.

The problem with stating "Don't use Facebook" is that there are, right now, no real alternatives for online social interaction. Yes, there are other platforms that offer similar functionality to Facebook, but none of your friends or contacts are on it, which limits its usefulness. I've been thinking recently: there might be an opportunity to create a type of social network that if build around physical communities – ad revenue can be used for local projects, voted on in a democratic way. I might explore the concept a bit more in the following weeks.

Have a comment? Email me at jaco@jacoduplessis.co.za.