Sunday, May 21, 2017

How Facebook Is Making Membership a Prerequisite to Everyday Existence

In mid-February, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published his “Building Global Community” manifesto, in which he called for “supportive,” “safe,” “informed,” “civically engaged” and “inclusive” communities.

Which sounds lofty and benevolent, yet if you read between the lines, the message is: we want to own all the data of all the interpersonal/community interactions in the world and profit off of them through advertising and other as-yet-unveiled value-added propositions. (Facebook Bucks, anyone?)

Facebook launched a few years after I graduated from college, so I guess this makes me an old fuddy-duddy—an old fuddy-duddy who doesn’t want a corporation like Facebook owning my most sensitive personal info. Somehow, this sentiment not only puts me in the minority of the connected world, but also it increasingly marginalizes me in my everyday interactions.

I was OK with missing the occasional baby announcement. I was fine with missing the occasional warehouse party. But last month the Zuckerberg Mafia finally hit me where it hurts: I got kicked off of car sharing because I don’t have (and won’t have) a Facebook account.
If you haven’t and/or won’t join Facebook, you might end up left, like me, in a peculiar situation: the price of “sharing” a car equals money plus forking over a huge trove of personal data. Personal information is supplanting money as a form of currency.

Paradise Lost

One of the most glorious things about living in the Bay Area is that I don’t have to own a car. For nearly 10 years, I’ve been a member of City CarShare, a local nonprofit car-sharing service with vehicle stations all around the Bay Area. I built my life around the service. I love biking to a Prius parked in some random garage, tossing my bike into the hatch and launching off to my next adventure. I’m a believer in the vision of the Internet and smartphones helping us share stuff and get the most value out of our assets. City CarShare was an early real-world example of how technology might help facilitate/streamline people living together better and more efficiently.

However, City CarShare was recently bought by a corporation, Getaround. And Getaround built its platform on top of Facebook. So when I went to migrate my account over to them, I found that there’s literally no way to do it as a non-Facebook user. If I want to share cars with my fellow city dwellers, I’m compelled to strike a Faustian bargain.

To access the services of Getaround, one must authenticate their identity through Facebook.

For comparison: Airbnb allows multiple verification options — including, but not limited to, Facebook. If I’m going to share my car or house with someone, I sure as heck want to know if that person is who they say they are. But saying that Facebook is the sole conduit toward this goal is treading into scary, Black Mirror–esque territory.

I know that for you Facebook-having people, this is no big deal. You have resigned yourself to the idea of Facebook owning your data. But if you don’t, haven’t and/or won’t resign to this fate, you might end up left, like me, in a peculiar situation: the price of “sharing” a car equals money plus forking over a huge trove of personal data. Personal information is supplanting money as a form of currency.

Customer Disservice

I wrote to the nice folks at Getaround to let them know that I’ve been a loyal customer for over 10+ years and said I’d happily verify myself in any manner they see fit besides Facebook. But since the very architecture of their site is integrated unto Facebook, technically, they have no way to do this (short of redesigning the entire service). And there doesn’t seem to be any awareness of why this might even be an issue. It would take me just a minute to open an account, so why shouldn’t I do it?

A careful reading of Getaround’s privacy statement makes it clear that the data they are compiling will be shared with other companies. In the case of car sharing, that includes GPS tracking of where and when I’m driving (OMG, Facebook would love to get their tentacles on those juicy profile nodes). (...)

Social Credit

You have a credit score if you want to get a mortgage—soon you’ll have a social-credit score that people can check to see if you fit the bill for their service/community/etc.

Potential landlords, employers, car-share companies and dates will scan your social-credit score to see if you fit the bill. We’re facing a world in which you’ll be a social outcast if you don’t regularly grant access to your Facebook profile. Facebook is becoming our de facto social-credit system.

by Jason Ditzian, The Bold Italic | Read more:
Image: Netflix
[ed. I've run into the same problem (with other apps). It's an irritant. But if businesses want to alienate a segment of their potential customer base, that's up to them. See also: Facebook wants to use your brain activity as an input device.]