February 13, 2019

“Today, each new device we purchase is a conscious decision to share an intimate piece of ourselves with a company whose goals may not align with our own. This exchange represents a fundamental shift in our relationship with technology and the companies that produce it…”

Link: Letting Go of Facebook ☍

Marius Masalar:

In truth, I could have given those up more easily had Facebook not also become the steward of Instagram. But leaving one without leaving the other isn’t just pointless from a privacy perspective, it also feels like delaying the inevitable drop of the other shoe. The ghosts that haunt Facebook have already possessed Instagram too, and they’ll leech its lifeblood just as readily.

A couple of years ago, I would have argued that Instagram is among the last bastions of pleasantness in social media. In many ways, it remains so today—the atmosphere is still mostly enjoyable. A focus on visuals makes it easier to maintain a sunny disposition, I suppose. […]

There’s a different sort of toxicity there, and it has to do with the increasing theatricality of the feed.

Aspirational artifice is the name of the game on the Instagram of 2019. Scrolling the feed is like wandering through a maze of motivational posters, humblebrags, and weirdly distorted perspectives on the people we choose to follow.

I feel like there’s been a lot of talk (not just on here) about severing ties with certain social networks. The general feel of Instagram has made it really difficult to completely abandon all Facebook properties. It’s a shame it couldn’t have stayed a standalone product or had been purchased by someone else.

February 7, 2019

“It is not a podcast unless there is a RSS feed.”

Link: Some iOS Apps Secretly Record Your Screen Without Asking ☍

Zack Whittaker for TechCrunch:

Apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com and Singapore Airlines also use Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm, one of a handful of companies that allows developers to embed “session replay” technology into their apps. These session replays let app developers record the screen and play them back to see how its users interacted with the app to figure out if something didn’t work or if there was an error. Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers.

Holy smokes—it’s creepy, and I’m not sure how it’s being done, but the sloppy redacting mentioned in the article makes it even worse (apparently sloppy redacting is a thing). With the feeling of no privacy or any sort of ethics, I’m starting to feel like this is the technology Bad Place. I shouldn’t feel like the only things I can trust are the apps built into iOS.

February 4, 2019

Link: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave ☍

Danny Crichton for TechCrunch:

Privacy advocates will tell you that the lack of a wide boycott against Google and particularly Facebook is symptomatic of a lack of information: if people really understood what was happening with their data, they would galvanize immediately for other platforms. Indeed, this is the very foundation for the GDPR policy in Europe: users should have a choice about how their data is used, and be fully-informed on its uses in order to make the right decision for them.

I don’t believe more information would help, and I reject the mentality behind it. It’s reminiscent of the political policy expert who says that if only voters had more information — if they just understood the issue — they would change their mind about something where they are clearly in the “wrong.” It’s incredibly condescending, and obscures a far more fundamental fact about consumers: people know what they value, they understand it, and they are making an economic choice when they stick with Google or Facebook. […]

One of the lessons I have learned — perhaps the most important you can learn about consumer products — is just how much people are willing to give up for free things. They are willing to give up privacy for free email. They are willing to allow their stock broker to help others actively trade against them for a free stock brokerage account with free trading. People love free stuff, particularly when the harms are difficult to perceive.

Just as there are people who balk at $1 for a good app (or the ones who proclaim “I never pay for apps!”), free always wins, no matter the true cost.