An end to Social Media’s privacy compromises.

Posted on December 28, 2013


As predicted, and I suspect hindsight would see the point being an obvious inevitable, Facebook’s star is continuing to dim. I doubt heading for any supernova event of total elimination, one can but hope, but a gradual decline in the Social Media psyche, ‘Facebook losing teen users to Snapchat, Twitter’.

Despite the $ BILLIONS and second round fund raising it is now seeking, Facebook has materially failed to do anything innovative, simply to churn old ideas and dress them up as their own. As I have said before, Facebook’s IPO secured its future simply through pumped up marketing and crooked financial advisors who are still awaiting their turn in court, and the prostitution, harvesting and abuse of their membership’s data with absolutely no regard for privacy.

This loss of users is not a new theme and goes back across 2013 and well into 2012 and continues as we read above, and grows as we face 2014:

Most credibly is the study done by Professor Daniel Miller helped produce the European-based Social Media Impact Study (SMIS), quoted saying “What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried,”. It is worth also reading his blog on the subject, ‘Scholarship, integrity and going viral’.

But out of the 800million registered users Facebook says it has, the 16-18 use group still leaves a sizable audience, and as correctly pointed out Facebook Is Losing Teens, But Not Dead Yet’. So hold the champagne for a while.

Looking across the social media landscape at Twitter, and its recent IPO, there is an interesting dynamic appearing. It is almost like a retrospective error check and sanity milestone, as investors reel back their initial enthusiasm. ‘Twitter Shares Drop Most in Three Weeks on Downgrades’. One can only hope this means a realisation of the short term lifespans of these entities and the fact that they offer little proven sustainable business revenue models outside of advertising. As users get sick and tired of being used as advertisers fodder and marketers puppets, and privacy concerns grow, these IPO’s will look less and less attractive.

These are software platforms with large numbers of users, which have failed to achieve the seismic evolutions they have sold to the markets for their economic gravity defying IPO valuations. I wrote about this over 18 months ago in my piece ‘Facebook and the ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Little has happened to change my view other than realities starting to echo across the social media scape that would reinforce it.

What has happened however is these platforms have ‘trained’ vast numbers of users to the way of the mobile application and digital dynamics of real time non-vocal communication and collective journaling AND a wakeup call, largely through the Snowden (NSA) hacking scandals that rumble on, to the abuse these platforms have meant to individual privacy as honeypots for invasive Government scrutinizing and surveillance.

What I would hope for in 2014 is a move by these newly empowered users to re-deploy their new found IT confidence and desire for privacy in their online engagements. I would champion the re-deployment and adoption of FREE in the Open Source community spirit of the word, not the divisive context that Google, Facebook and the like apply it, Peer 2 Peer (P2P) based solutions such as ‘Freenet, big in the China and the Middle East for obvious independence, privacy and security reasons.

Why? The beauty being these P2P solutions that deliver Facebook, Twitter etc like functionality are decentralised. Decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack and therefore robust, but also designed with privacy built in. For example if used in “darknet” mode, where users only connect to their friends, they are very difficult to detect. Bye Bye data abusers like Facebook and Google etc and no pesky adverts or auto play videos to hog bandwidth. With a fraction of the Facebook user base on such community solutions they would be able to quickly surpass the functionality of popular social media platforms, operating on a community feature priority focused model and provide a glimpse of a new age, that of autonomous Social Media platforms that could exist out of reach from the prying eyes of Governments or abuse by corporate entities.

After all that is how the Internet came into being, is it not time for the global application platforms that we now socialise on to adopt the same agenda? Albeit this time with built in trust models and encryption.

For more on P2P referenced above go to Pastry an initiative supported by Microsoft Research amongst many other educational and independent entities.