My Perspective on Social Media
This page is primarily for my friends and family, from Alaska to Florida and points in between, who may wonder why I haven't been active on most social media, other than Flickr, since 2019. My explanation follows.
Social Media Today (News, Privacy, Surveillance Capitalism, Legislation)
I try to stay informed about public interest subjects, but I don't rely on social media. I like well-written long-form journalism. I maintain a curated list of sources on Apple News+, Apple Podcasts, Medium, and Substack.
I have digital subscriptions to The Oregonian and BikePortland. I also read Willamette Week and the Portland Tribune.
I subscribe to Oregon Public Broadcasting, which I stream along with a few other local TV stations.
In addition to the sources above, I also subscribe to a few WordPress blogs and newsletters from different agencies and bureaus at the City of Portland and Multnomah and Washington Counties.
I try to maintain a balance across all of my sources that have political perspectives.
I don't like to subscribe to any internet source where I know I'll be tracked. See my reasons below.
I disregard national and regional publications that I think exhibit strong media bias. I disregard journalists who do the same.
I try to avoid social media bubbles.When needed, I tap into scholarly resources (academic libraries) and not-so-scholarly resources (Wikipedia) to learn about a subject and add reference information to my photos on Flickr.
I think Google's privacy practices are intrusive, so I now use DuckDuckGo for web searches.
I don't understand why people continue to use social media platforms that monetize their data at the expense of their privacy. However, I understand why people want to be “liked” and have many followers. It's human nature.
When the dopamine hits become the primary reason for being extremely online, however, it can become an addiction. There is now a large body of behavioral health research on this subject.
I also don't understand how people with thousands of followers, regardless of the social media platform, can genuinely keep up with their engagement. I explain more under Flickr Followers, Faves & Comments on my Flickr About page.
I'm concerned about the adverse effects of platforms such as Instagram and TikTok on our youth. I recommend watching the docudrama film The Social Dilemma (2020) or the documentary film TikTok, Boom (2022) to understand why.
My professional work experience and education also led to my decision to unplug from most social media. During my career in IT, information management, data management, and metadata management were my specialized domains. In my University of Oregon MS graduate program, information design and information architecture were core focus areas.
In my work and my graduate studies, I saw the coupling of big data, artificial intelligence, mobile computing, and the Internet of Things leading to surveillance capitalism. The films I referenced above provide more information.
To my knowledge, none of my former employers ever exploited the data or metadata of individuals (patients, customers, consumers, or citizens) in this manner.
I encourage people to critically read the Terms of Service Agreements (TOS) for their service providers (social media platforms, search engines, web browsers, etc.). I still need to write a TOS agreement for this website, as I mention on my Future Plans page.
While the USA has industry-specific and state-level data privacy and security laws, such as FISMA, HIPAA, SOX, and CCPA, I think we should also enact federal legislation similar to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). I tip my hat to the whistleblowers and legislators in the USA who are finally addressing this important matter.
In Oregon, I'm encouraged when I read HB 4017. If adopted in 2023, this legislation will require data brokers to register with the State of Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services. I think it's a positive incremental step in addressing digital privacy.
Finally, although I understand the appeal, I will not “sell” my DNA data to brokers.
My Social Media Timeline
Beyond CompuServe and AOL, my first use of social media started in 2008 with Facebook. For the next 10 years, I enjoyed interacting with my family and friends and participating in a few groups.
In 2009, I joined Flickr. For the next 10 years, I used Flickr primarily to back up my photos online. I now regret I wasn't more engaged early on.
In 2013, I joined Instagram @WalksInPortland and started posting my walks photos there. When Instagram introduced albums, I began posting nine photos with an album cover collage. I enjoyed creating the collages.
In 2014, I joined Twitter @WalksInPortland and started posting photos during my walks. I likely tweeted too often. In 2017, I appreciated the new capability to include four photos per tweet. I changed my handle in 2019 to @PNWPhotoWalks to recognize the cities other than Portland where I was walking.
In 2018, when Facebook modified their News Feed to use a Managed Social Interaction (MSI) engagement model, I became concerned for the reasons mentioned earlier. I also grew weary of the data breaches, misinformation, disinformation, narcissism, vitriol, generalizations, labeling, doxing, snark, signaling, faux outrage, and performative [fill in blank].
In 2019, when I saw that Facebook and Instagram were employing methods to leverage negative emotions such as anger, fear, jealousy, and shame, I decided it was finally time for me to jump out of the Meta Platforms ship.
In 2020, after I retired, I rebooted my LinkedIn as a read-only account.
In 2021, I rebooted my Twitter as a private read-only account.
In 2022, I began using lists on Twitter to follow different individuals and organizations that reflect my current interests.
Over the years, I've had other social media accounts on platforms such as Reddit, Pinterest, and Ello, but I never stayed active.
Although TikTok is intriguing, I think I'm a few generations removed. As I noted above, I also don't want to potentially donate my privacy and personal data to the Chinese government.
I have new (11/2022) accounts on Mastodon, WT.Social and Tribel. I'm considering using one or more to promote my virtual walks. However, to mix metaphors, I don't want to fall down rabbit holes and enter echo chambers again. I also want to ensure that the platforms have appropriate data security and privacy controls.
Last updated: 11/6/2022