Friday, May 18, 2012

About Face(book)

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
Leo Tolstoy
This week, I read an article by Sean Bonner, titled On Leaving Facebook. Bonner was an active user of the social networking site for close to five years but recently, he decided to 'delete' his presence there when a friend, Peter Rojas, co-founder of several technology blogs and the website site gdgt, wrote on Twitter, “Most people disagree, but I think it’s important to not use services that you have issues with, even if they are free.”
I've always been open about my dislike and distrust of FaceBook. But I persisted with a presence there since 2010. After all, it was a good way to connect with new people. I never thought of myself as 'supporting' FaceBook.
Then I began to see a darker side to it. My first account was removed without warning after I posted a photograph of myself embracing another female artist. We were both naked but the image wasn't particularly explicit. I figured that if Playboy was allowed to post photos of non-explicit nudity, so was I. I didn't realise that the company enforced a 'code of conduct' without warning and without a process of appeal. (Later I learned that partial nudity was fine, as long as it wasn't between members of the same sex.) I re-registered using a different email address and begrudgingly self-censored the words and photographs I posted. I couldn't help but despise myself for being so compliant.
The company's ethics have been called into question several times in the wider public arena. They were never a company that held much truck with trust or privacy. FaceBook not only gathers users' private information but also tracks their internet usage after they leave the site. Unsurprisingly, the company also publicly supports CISPA, a bill which threatens individual privacy and freedom online. Bonner notes the company's other dubious actions in his blog entry, with links that substantiate the claims. On a personal, visceral level, everything I've ever read about the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, makes my flesh crawl.
After reading Bonner's article, I realised I couldn't ignore the uncomfortable fact that I walk my talk in every area of my life, except when it comes to Facebook. I no longer wanted anything to do with a corporation – which, today, made an Initial Public Offering to investors, valuing its 500-million-strong user base at more than $US100 billion – that represents (and imposes) ideas I believe are elementally anti-social, oppressive, philistine and unethical.
So, like Bonner, I have abandoned FaceBook. I made my last post there last night. It contained an explanation and a link to Bonner's blog post. In 48 hours, my Facebook account will be deactivated and go 'dark'. It will be deleted. I will continue to update my website, as well as post to Twitter, Tumblr, and this blog. I will look forward to remaining in contact with everyone I've met on FaceBook. Just not via FaceBook. Not anymore.
I'm reassessing how I want to use social media. I'm also re-examining the way I manage my independent career online. The internet has changed radically since my website went live in 2004. I started blogging here six years ago and a couple of years after that I became the first artist in Australia (and one of the very few in the world) to walk away from representation by major galleries to manage my own marketing and sales via the net.
Doing the same thing for a long time gets old and these days, other artists – thousands, in fact – do much of what I pioneered (and a lot more). I still maintain a website and I blog, Tweet, network (on LinkedIn), and archive video on Youtube. I just want to do things – maybe more things – differently.
I began a visual diary, In The Studio, last year to document my work and rather more intimately, the life from which it derives. It was an ambitious, open-ended project that has now accumulated nearly 400 images. This year, I expanded my use of the platform to include art projects that people could watch as they evolved. The first of these was Venus In Hell, a series of 100 photographs taken using an iPhone 3G and $1.99 app'. More recently, I've published The Sex Cantos, a book-like mixture of drawing and sexually explicit prose (with a forward by the famed No Wave film-maker, Amos Poe).
The web has evolved in a way that supports my wildest dreams.There are countless platforms – all more ethical and liberal than Facebook – in which to evolve and communicate new ideas, share information, tell stories, sell work and raise funds for new projects. In other words, there are newer and more exciting ways an artist can fuck with the old ways of making, promoting and selling art – and that's something that never gets old.


C. said...

I agree with you. I have always had a love-hate relationship with facebook. I deactivated my account about a month ago. I have no regrets.

projectgirl said...

So playboy can post nudes....but photos of mums breastfeeding ( or women embracing is in violation?

I left facebook two years ago and so far have yet to regret it. The only people who hassle me to get it are my mum (who uses it to play online pokies) and my emo brother who uses it to whine about his life. So far I don't think I'm missing much.

Anonymous said...

I tried facebook with a fake name, fake date of birth, fake everything. The only real thing was an email account which has been used only for spam since 1992. On my first login, amongst the 5 persons it suggested I might know, there were 3 I actually did. I was so scared I never logged again.

Dominique Gerald Cimafranca said...

I deactivated mine two years ago. Here's why:

Not long after, we had a brouhaha at the school where I teach:

Hydrophidian said...

This makes me happy, gives me hope. Thank you.

Facebook seemed like bad news to me from the start, so I avoided it completely. Imagine my alarm when everyone then started using it.

It's bad enough on its... face... (badabing!)... but that it's become ubiquitous, essentially a monopoly, makes it quite disturbing indeed.

So, thank you for taking it down one more little peg. I hope the trend continues.

James said...

Got it.. Don't use it.. I'll leave it there and waste their server space/electrons.

Marlene Wilkins said...

I've NEVER trusted, or even gone near Facebook. Just something on the 'gut' level...then all the crap started. Also, along with all the issues you mention, you can add in that Zuckerberg is an anti-ethical creature of dubious morality and shouldn't be called 'Human'...not to mention a thief.
Frankly, I, hubby and many others we know would like to see it shut-down, and when we get our solar-power company started there will screens on the network keeping employees away from facebook for the simple reason that Facebook CANNOT be trusted on ANY level and we won't risk company data in any way smacking of that parasite-nest worming into our systems or tracking purchase orders on equipment.

Anonymous said...

I left Facebook two years ago, because I didn't feel it offered me anything of value, and the novelty had quickly died out.

In regards to this case, here's my two cents:

I think it boils down to "Playboy is a corporation that has mutual business interests with Facebook" vs. "One user out of over 900 million registered users, that are all just products to be sold to advertisers". They simply have no real reason to care about the single user.

To try to find any kind of reason or logic in this is probably a wild goose chase. I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with the nature of the photographs, or the type of sexuality that is seen to be displayed. I think it just boils down to "Money talks".

Anonymous said...

Remember that deactivating doesn't equal deleting. You have to dig around to delete your account and data entirely. Do that otherwise if you ever just go back there, it will magically deactivate.

seanbonner said...

Thanks for the props! Two quick notes, I'd been on Facebook for probably close to 5 years now (not 2) and I actually deleted my account, not just deactivated it. As some other commenters noted there's actually a big difference, which is just kind of the icing on the cake when you are trying to quit...

Discounted Cellular Phones said...

Facebook is kinda like a big festering boil on all of humanity. It is the beacon for all that is wrong in the world.

Marlene Wilkins said...

There's a reason we didn't open-source the Blackwinter technology on facebook...if we had, by certain things in their terms, it would have become their property.
Which would have totally defeated the principle of open-sourcing it.

Anonymous said...

they banned someone today for posting newborn baby photos see this

facebook? fascistbook


Anonymous said...

your account isn't active now but your name with f/book image is still there, do they own it now? I know it can be deleted and am sure hazel will soon attend to it.


FID said...

Facebook Independence Day: Log off and move on by July 4th

Graciella said...

Good for you. I signed up for it, used it for about 10 minutes and left. I then signed up for it again for a website I owned. Same thing -- lasted only a few minutes and deleted my account.

Zuckerberg is one of the slimiest people on the planet. Why so many are so enamoured of him and his sleazy company is really beyond me.

Millions of us live without Facebook. It's really not necessary. I will, however, definitely be signing up for FoWL. :)

Anonymous said...

Besides the fact that there is more than a couple holes in the logical portion of this argument, facebook happens to simply be a good communication tool, thats why I've continued to use it despite knowing full well the price I am paying. The dark side of facebook is that the corporation has access to the information of 500 million users. But the bright side to facebook is that I have access to 500 million users. If you want anonymity, fb isn't the tool for that. If you want light-hearted, fast communication with potentially 500 million people, it is the best tool to use, and there is no other tool that is close to being as effective as this one for the very useful and specific task it performs. Just like any tool, there are social impacts and political implications, limitations to its function, and even dangers to yourself and others when used improperly. But where else can you tell the 500 or so people you've connected with in your lifetime, instantly and simultaneously, with the click of a button, that you think they are wonderful human beings, who make this world a better place just by being in it, and have them all actually receive the message and read it? and respond in kind, if they choose?

The fact of the matter is, when you signed up for facebook, you did have to agree to the terms of use, did you not? I know I did. And I read them, and that's why none of my content has ever been flagged or removed. It's called editing for a particular audience. Any decent artist should understand that concept.

I do find it interesting all the references in this article to other corporations that this person does support and even act as an agent for their proliferation. corporations and entities such as Apple, Twitter, ect., who in some ways have just as much influence and have been proven to have just as much vested interest in your information as facebook. In fact, apple and facebook happen to be very collaborative.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a consumer, you are supporting a corporation, which has power and influence. The only way to truly escape that is to escape society, and live off of your own goods and services. Corporation or not, whenever you rely on others to provide something for you, because it makes your life easier or better, you are at the mercy of their will to a certain extent, and are required to either accept or reject the method they used to arrive at that exchange. You have the right to reject facebook, as a consumer. You have the right as an individual to be a competitor as well. But will it matter if you exercise that right or not? I doubt it, because you probably use the search engine, so all your information is still being siphoned off just as quickly and effectively. In the end all you are doing is handicapping yourself and denying yourself the use of a good tool and new form of technology.

Hazel Dooney said...

I'm not interested in being a "decent artist". And "editing for a particular audience" is simply self-censorship.

Your argument is bullshit. But I'm not going to waste any more of my time on a poster who doesn't have the guts to put their name to their point of view.

samos said...

I've been thinking a lot about my social networking too. Love your input. Thanks!

ned said...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I've read most of the comments on this blog, most of them give you a thumbs up, which is what I'd like to do, except that one anon user.

It is an interesting point they make how it does give you access to a whole shit load of people. I think you can appreciate this since you've yourself boasted at the importance and effectiveness of having created your maillist, but he also mentions how it's "light hearted, fast communication." Now, who the hell wants that kind of communication? To me, that's for the people who like to waste their time.

I've written more direct train of my thoughts here: if it interests you to read about them.

I think I will be saying goodbye to Facebook very soon.

Keep up the good work Hazel.