Facebook is the new Microsoft

Facebook, these days, reminds me of Microsoft: big necessarily evil that is very difficult to avoid altogether. The irony of the situation is that it is easier to stop using Google than it is to stop using Facebook. Here is why.

Getting rid of Google

Search

There is plenty of web search alternatives out there, and you don’t have to use Google.

Email

Google scans your email to create advertisements for you. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives out there. I recommend ProtonMail.

File sharing

Google scans your drive contents to personalize ads. There are lots of alternatives to cloud storage out there, including Dropbox, Amazon Drive, and iCloud.

Documents

Google scans your documents too. Office365 is much better than Google Docs anyway, and so are the Apple products on iCloud.

News

Google creates an echo chamber for you by pushing you news tailored to you. What’s worse they don’t even filter the stories out from dubious sources like RT. They leave it up to you to use your brain cycles to figure out what’s real and what’s propaganda.

I strongly recommend switching to The Skimm or Axios for daily news and subscribing to something like New York Times or The Economist for well thought out expert opinions.

Getting rid of Facebook is much harder

I am not surprised that Facebook scans the data I post there and sells it to third parties as well. Facebook was very clear about it for ages.

Family, groups, and marketplace

The difficulty with leaving the central Facebook platform is the network effect— and what I call the “family effect.” I’d love to stop using it, but after years of convincing my parents to use Facebook, it is going to be hard to convince them to switch.

My town has a Facebook group for residents helping one another, announcing garage sales, etc. This group is useful and necessary and requires one to use Facebook. These groups don’t exist anywhere else.

Facebook is new Microsoft

Facebook is quickly becoming new Microsoft— big, slow-moving, necessary evil fighting for relevance.

I remember Microsoft in the 1990s and early 2000s. You couldn’t convince people to drop Windows for the life of them. Just like my parents today don’t want to learn to use a different social network, people used to Windows didn’t want to learn a new OS.

Even if you did get rid of Windows, somehow, there were Microsoft products that you had to keep around— things like Microsoft Office, for example, or various other productivity tools they make. Microsoft knew that Windows couldn’t maintain dominance forever and they invested in Office as a separate product.

Facebook already split Messenger out of the primary platform. I can see them breaking Groups and Marketplace out as well, which would be a wise decision. I would love to stop using the central platform but continue using Messenger, Groups, and Marketplace. I am sure I am not the only one.

Final thoughts

With all the attention on Zuckerberg testimony this week, let’s not forget that other services monetized via advertising (i.e., Google, Twitter, LinkedIn) are just as “bad” for privacy as Facebook. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, as long as one is aware that anything posted on such services could be made public.

 

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