As an artist and a public facing business, social media has been a wonderful way to share my work online and advertise my services. Facebook has been a large part of that.
In the past, I’ve had to deal with unpleasant parts of putting yourself out for public display online (i.e. stalkers, harassment, etc.) and as annoying as it could be, I considered it all part of the terrain.
While I enjoy sharing, I also enjoy my privacy. As open as I can be, I am also hyper-aware of the permissions I am granting when I sign up for an application or service.
My thought process was that through due diligence and a watchful eye I could avoid most of the pitfalls of social media. Recently though, I feel that it’s hit a tipping point that must be addressed.
Last week I notified that I had 35 accounts linked to Russian state-led activities following me on Tumblr.
Some of the users had names like “no-place-for-homophobia” and would tend to post on social justice related issues. Not your stereotypical spam behavior.
They were nice enough to let me know I didn’t do anything wrong but failed to mention how they became aware of the situation, and what it meant for me other than I wasn’t in trouble.
Then, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco happened and it prompted me to download my Facebook data.
In doing so, I’ve realized that they had THREE PERSONAL VOICEMAILS that weren’t related in any way to their application.
Over the last year via Facebook Live, Periscope and several live-streaming services have shown homicides, rapes, and other horrific incidents that have been broadcast to the general public without censorship, warning or oversight.
If a television network were to exhibit the same behaviors in their broadcast standards, they would be pilloried and held accountable.
Personally, I believe that The First Amendment is our most important document and freedom as Americans. As an individual, I cherish the power and responsibility that comes with being able to speak freely.
I loathe censorship for myself or anyone.
With that said, I’ve recently limited my Twitter activity due to the sheer amount of literal hate speech that is being bandied about without any interference. In most cases, it continues even after calling for a moderator.
Big government isn’t my preferred method of operation, but I firmly believe that social media needs a form of oversite, whether this is via a committee or an ongoing set of guidelines through an organization such as the FCC.
I’ve decided to essentially make my account here inactive due to the alarming realization that Facebook was deliberately and surreptitiously keeping information not related to any activity on their platform that I did not authorize.
If you’re curious about the data Facebook has collected about you, it can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/help/302796099745838 After downloading the archive file. My personal non-FB related voicemails were found under the tabs “Audio”, then “Messages”.
For the time being, if you would like to stay in contact, you can still find me here on other social media sites under the username @shawnhnichols or my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.