Quitting social media is an ongoing theme of this blog with posts discussing various aspects:
- Arguing against particular social media services, e.g., Be Seeing You, Facebook.
- Describing new technologies major Internet companies employ for surveillance, e.g., Facebook & Facial Recognition.
- Describing how third parties use these platforms in the service of both advertising product and manipulating public opinion, e.g., Information Operations & Facebook.
There are some people who believe that the solution is a matter of individuals understanding the problem, transforming the design of social platforms, and changing the business incentives. In other words, the solution is either government regulation or a major company of the feudal internet — Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — redefining the landscape to put user’s interests first.
I think a better solution is to redecentralize the Internet. But, these efforts will need support in their early stages, and they will take time to mature. In the meantime, the best solution is to avoid the feudal Internet as much as possible and seek out other, decentralized options that can serve your needs.
But, decentralized options come with costs. Users pay for the service themselves rather than advertisers paying the cost in exchange for targeted advertising based on information about users.
What options are there? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Email: Protonmail.com (easiest, but currently with no export options) Kolabnow.com, Posteo.de, and Lavabit.com. ($0-60 / year)
- Files: Owncloud / Nextcloud, easiest through third party providers. ($0-$60 / year)
- Photos: Keenai, Smugmug.com (~$60 / year)
- Bookmarking: Wallabag, easiest to use their hosting service (€12 / year)
- Publishing: WordPress.com (easiest to use thier hosting service, personal blog, $0, $35.88 / year)
So, people with minimum space requirements can substitute these alternatives for the feudal internet services for less than $100 / year. For $200 / year, most people can get enough space for their needs. Further, alternative services often have additional functionality “free” feudal services do not provide.
By making the choice to get away from feudal internet services, we are investing in an economic and software development environment that puts the user back in control because the user is the client, not the product. It may be that government intervention can fix some of the problems of social media and reign in the power of the feudal internet companies in the public interest. A company like Apple might do the right thing for the people using their services. But, the best option is for more people to seek out alternatives, which will give those options the opportunity to develop into viable competitors to the major Internet players.