Sunday, December 30, 2018

It May Be Time to Start Making Different Choices

This post is mirrored on

I try not to be a fearmongerer (outside of the posts I make during October). There are enough already in the world, and while I don't feel the more mild of them are in the wrong about the mess the world is in, they're doing a good enough job that I don't need to chime in.

But sometimes things feel like they're starting to get worse, and I can't help but want to try to raise awareness about such matters, especially to such people around me who are closer (but not all the way) to the luddite end of the spectrum and further from the technophile end than I am.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with that. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with those people, their choices, et al. (If anything, I might even be a little jealous of their lack of succumbing to this addiction and more still, their ignorance.)

There were two pieces of news that popped up in my news feed recently that I feel I need to address.

1. Facebook
"Facebook gave four companies access to read, write and delete users' messages" - NBC News

I am not a fan of Facebook for reasons that don't need to be aired here, and frankly, aren't relevant to this discussion. And I am well aware that companies like Facebook and Google make much of their money from selling and/or aggregating their personal data.

But there's a big difference between selling your demographics and interests and check-ins versus not merely infringing but wholly interceding into your conversations.

Sure, they read your messages. That comes as no surprise to me and shouldn't to anyone else. But writing and removing data from your account outside the bounds of material that infringes on their Terms of Services?

That's not okay.

2. FCC
"Texts sent through your phone’s default texting app can be monitored, censored, and now blocked" - Gizmodo

Under the guise of protecting you from spam text messages, the FCC has revoked your rights to privacy for the content and nature of your SMS and MMS messages. (SMS is texting; MMS is multimedia)

In other words, the FCC is allowing your service provider to do to your text messages what Facebook is allowing external companies do to your messages.

I'm no lawyer, but this may even affect whether or not a warrant is needed to snoop on your private messages, as is with other less digitally-dependent forms of communication like phone calls and snail mail.


The Gizmodo article suggests Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app that I've probably recommended before as part of the Prism-Break advice. I do use Signal to some extent myself, but it's just text messaging. There's also Tox, which works just as well on computers as it does on mobile devices (last I checked, Signal is mobile-only, but that may have changed).

But there are also decentralized social media platforms intended to draw you away from the monsters that farm your personal data and give you control over your everything, like Manyverse.

What's the line about being the change you want to see in the world? Yeah, I know nobody wants to change because none of their friends are anywhere else, and everyone is self-assuring themselves that "oh, no, they wouldn't waste their time on little ol' me."

And goddess knows nobody follows me, the crazy guy with an account on every platform he can find. You know what? I'm on Tox. I'm on Patchwork and Manyverse. I'm on Aether. I have Signal. If you want to be a part of all these wonderful ideas but don't have anyone to talk to, come talk to me.

If you want to join me on Manyverse, send me an invite via Tox.