The Zuckerberg is our Shepherd

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source

Have you ever tried to block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook? If you’re from the student majority of my audience (because, let’s face it, outside of UOW no one really reads these blogs – hi Grandad -), you’re probably already drowning in mountains of essays, blog posts and memes, and don’t have time to waste on a pointless adventure, so I’ll save you the trouble. Spoiler alert: you actually cannot block him.

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I tried 😦

Why, you might ask, is it in the interest of Facebook’s creator to have access to the accounts of every single user on a worldwide scale? The answer lies in a concept known as iFeudalism. Picture a nifty little kingdom, with one divine ruler and a bunch of peasants dressed in rags. These peasants are granted

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the ‘power’ to be nominally free, but under a feudalistic paradigm, the feudal lord controls all aspects of the use of their land, including:

 

  • you cannot leave the land without permission;
  • you cannot sell the land without permission;
  • your feudal lord decides how you may use your land; and
  • you must pay rent to your feudal lord for the right to use that land.

‘What eighteenth century garbage is this?’

What on earth could a feudalist society have in common with Facebook?’

Probably more than you would like, is my answer to the latter.

Facebook is a prime example of iFeudalism. iFeudalism is the application of feudalism society to the internet. Facebook gives us (albeit limited) access to what the internet has to offer, yet the feudal lord (Sir Zuckerberg) has constructed a moat (and a whole heap of watch towers) around the palace he built us.

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Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook: original image source

Metadata is ‘data about data’ (ibid) and is said by many to know more about us than our closest friends. Facebook stores all of our metadata. The level of this data which Facebook has access to is downright scary. Facebook knows what you like, what you dislike, with whom and how often you communicate. It knows where you are, who you are with and what you are doing. For a list of the information Facebook stores about you, try this source. The case of Max Schrems is an example of this. He initiated a lawsuit against Facebook when he discovered they had 1222 pages of data about him, based solely on his online activities. Facebook is what’s known as a “stack”; it’s a stack of feudal kingdoms that kind of continues forever, with no escape.

Did you ever play the game ‘Stack Houses’ ? Picture that as a metaphor for Facebook, but ignore the joyful music and colourful graphics, because ‘the stack’ isn’t a good paradigm. It positions the prosumers of the web (us) as livestock. Think of Messenger, all the websites that offer the ‘convenience’ to sign up via your Facebook account – it provides Facebook with even more access to our metadata, often including the ability to access our browser history and engine searches. Even when Facebook is not open on our browser, it’s collecting information on us. There’s pretty much no escaping it. So embrace the sheep life, or switch to 4chan!

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We are all Zuckerberg’s sheep (source)

Baa.

-Claire

6 thoughts on “The Zuckerberg is our Shepherd

  1. Awesome post! while the lecture did go in depth with the topic, this post essentially got the main parts and summed it up which is great! Interesting how the concept of feudalism, something we wouldn’t expect to be a part of society nowadays, be present in the social media applications we use every single day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is quite disturbing to think about how Facebook uses the human desire for connectedness and self-expression as way of collecting countless amounts valuable data about its users for profit. A lot of the time users still think they are in control of this data by watching what they post but a this study I read proved that easily accessible digital records of behaviour can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes even if a user choses not to disclose them. They studied 58,000 volunteer’s FB likes and were able to figure out things such as intelligence, sexual orientation, drug usage and political views all without that information being willingly disclosed.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.short

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed the fact that you actually tried to block Mark Zuckerberg, it was definitely amusing. I agree with kehteh above – when you put it like that, it is off putting that Facebook is using people and their patterns to collect data in order to make a profit. Last semester I looked at a study conducted by Facebook that adjusted the newsfeed of 700,000 people’s newsfeed in order to see if it would affect their emotions – it is things like this that caused users to loose trust nad resulted in massive backlash. Here’s an article about how they breached ethical guidelines through the way they conducted it: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/30/facebook-emotion-study-breached-ethical-guidelines-researchers-say

    Like

    1. That was an interesting source; the ethics behind Facebook isn’t something most people seem to consider. I think it’s an interesting debate, if we post material online to Facebook’s website and effectively sign over the rights to that material, do they have a right to sell our data?
      – Claire

      Like

  4. Hey Claire, love the post. It’s so true that’s Facebook has a huge amount of information about us. More people need to be aware of this fact for their own security. If Zuckerberg was to really look or turn against Facebook users (just for fun – who knows what he’s like?) he could turn people against each other or just plain ruin lives. He is the Facebook ‘puppet master’ and we are all his ‘puppets’ – he has the power to do anything he likes.

    Liked by 1 person

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