XKCD on the dishonesty implicit in the sharing options in social media


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/02/poisoning-the-well-2.html



And this points out one of the things I really liked about livejournal and G+. The ease of filtering your post to specific audiences.



When tech companies claim that the inconvenient is impossible, they pave the way for future catastrophes in which the policymakers claim that the impossible is do-able and insist that it be done, and hang the consequences.




I actually didn’t care for this comic or it’s implication that anything you share online could be private. I thought it was dishonest. All my social media is public, because anything else is a fantasy. It reminds me not to share unless I’m ok with the whole world seeing it. Every single tech company has proven itself incapable of giving anyone privacy even if that was their stated goal. Regardless of the fact that once you share it with your “private audience” it only takes one of them to share it with the whole world.



I wish I could say Facebook was unique in offering the illusion of choice when it could provide actual choice, but a great deal of corporate America’s business models are built on that shoddy proposition.



Choose your friends wisely.



It could certainly use MORE layers, I suppose, but I would like to once again cautiously raise my hand and say ‘good old Flickr’.

…Because hey, ‘private’, ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘friends and family’, and ‘everyone’ is five layers, at least, and they’ve served me pretty well over the last decade or so.



His interesting topics aside, XKCD is superb at dialogue.



I get the point here, but honestly I think the bigger lie that social media corporations tell us is that option (1) really exists, even for opt-in purposes.



Yeah, on a technical level, the only meaningful degrees of secrecy are (1) tell no one, (2) tell exactly one other person, and (3) irrevocable total disclosure. If you want any other shades in between, all you can do is hope that other people will choose to honor your wishes.

It is annoyingly disingenuous (or just confused) to suggest you can publish something to 300 people, yet still control its disclosure the same as if you’d never told anyone. Both options in this cartoon represent a total surrender of privacy.

I think there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance going on with folx who vocally despise DRM but also want to retain total control of stuff they choose to post online, as if those weren’t the exact same unrealistic ask.



While I broadly agree with your overall point, it wasn’t XKCD or this particular comic that made that implication. It was the tech companies that explicitly stated such for years and years. Sure, some of us always knew it was bullshit, but the vast majority of users did and still do take them at their word.



Yeah, Flickr has great defaults, but it could use custom filters, and it’s future is uncertain.

1 Like


“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1735.



I don’t think I get it. The idea is that there should be options between 300 and 1 billion? I can’t see what they would be. If anything, I see the need for options between 0 and those 300 (cfr. the topic of Context Collapse, and - as much as I despise Facebook - they exist.



Yeah. There’s a limit to how many people you know and have “friended” or “followed” or whatever. Whether that’s 300 or 3000 people doesn’t matter. After that, it’s pretty much “visible to anyone in the world who comes across it in searching the net.” But there’s a huge need for subdividing those 300 or 3000 people into subgroups so you can (for instance) bitch about your boss in one context and chat with your coworkers in another without crossing those two groups. It’s important that you be able to nerd out with your fellow model train enthusiasts without having to expose them to your political rants.

That’s something that the Facebooks and Googles of the world, with their asinine demand for “real names,” are blind to. Google+ had the ability to segregate your friends list into work, play, hobby, relatives, etc… but then it fatally undercut all that by demanding that you use your “real name” in all those contexts. Sorry, but that only makes sense to the marketing assholes who want to make sure they can always precisely identify who they are advertising to.

It’s sad that with the bewildering array of ways to socialize online today, we are still basically stuck in the stone age of the Internet when the only effective and safe way to silo your different hobbies and obsessions was to use different accounts with different names attached.



As nice as this sounds, it does not work. I actually do have quite a lot of accounts, many of them legacy from a digital age long past. However, it is virtually impossible not to have Google, Facebook and Amazon (and several others) connecting the dots between your online personas.

IPs, advertising IDs, device IDs, MACs, referrers, carrier, browser, window size, fonts, add-ons and plugins - of course you are identified by them across your accounts.



It works perfectly for the purpose of keeping your social interactions siloed so you don’t have to get in political arguments with your fellow D&D nerds and the like. Which is what I was talking about.

Of course it doesn’t work for the purpose of keeping advertising and surveillance based corporations from figuring out who you are and what you like to talk about where. Nothing does short of living like a paranoid who is being hunted by the NSA.



[T]hey mean, “I demand that you choose among those two options, because a company with just those two options is more profitable and easier to operate.”

Well, as they are running a business enterprise, I fail to see the problem. There’s always the option of starting your own social media site with all the privacy options you wish, as implausible as that might seem. Or simply opting out, as many have.

Complaining about the manner by which free internet services operate seems akin to accepting an invitation to a banquet and then complaining about the size of the portions.



Facebook is a social media juggernaught that has a firm foothold in national and international civic conversations. This affects the civic life of billions of people. It’s worth complaining about how it operates. It is also worth raising awareness for the userbase about the ways they are being taken in, and what alternatives ways of operating could be. It is also worth signalling to would-be competitors what people desire in an alternative. Finally, it’s worth repeatedly raising concerns about the behavior of an incredibly monopolistic company to add urgency to anti-trust conversations.



Benjamin Franklin is dead, so obviously someone ratted him out.