Bookmark: "Is it possible to opt out of social networking?"

Sebastian Greger


Here’s an interesting blog post bringing together questions of technology non-use (or more accurately: its apparent impossibility in certain circumstances) and privacy:

My friends did not ask my permission before giving Facebook all this information about me. Why would they? There is no UI warning, no legal terms, no moral or cultural expectation that they should do so. They just typed in their own email password and clicked “Find Friends”.

These “tell us all your contacts’ email address” tools that social networks commonly employ to provide a smooth onboarding experience (that’s the UX designer’s excuse) and build a monetizeable social graph (the business perspective) are actually massive violation of non-users’ sovereignity over their personal data:

I want to be able to choose what information about myself I make available on the Internet. I want to be able to control how that information is used. And if I make a choice not to participate in an organization or do business with a company, then I don’t want that organization or company storing information about me.

Is asking users to make personal information of non-users available to a (in most cases even commercial) computer database actually ethically sound conduct? Who thinks of the “user experience” of those subjected to this privacy violation? The “non-user experience”, so to say?

Where do we draw the line between my right to control my data, and the right of other people to exchange information about me? The right of social network developers to innovate?

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

My occasionally sent email newsletter has all of the above, and there is of course also an RSS feed or my Mastodon/Fediverse profile.