Seriously. I’m not even kidding.
That’s all small potatoes, though. The feudal consolidation of the web isn’t inevitable, but the only thing that will break it up is the rigorous application of government regulation. It’s happened before in other sectors (e.g. telecommunications, rail) so there’s no reason it couldn’t happen online. Well, “no reason” except for the fact that decades of ideological collusion—backed up by big lobbying dollars—from tech companies and right-wing politicians alike has conspired to gut both the ability of governments to regulate, as well as the public expectation that governments should…
So most of you probably know Facebook is currently facing down new privacy regulation in the EU, called the GDPR. In essence, its introduction means that, a) Facebook can no long shadily sell off European users’ data to the highest bidder, and b) there are hefty fines for any company caught doing the dodgy.1
What most of you might not know, however, is that all Facebook users outside of the US and Canada are considered “European users”, since Facebook runs its non-North American operations out of Ireland.2 What that means is that, technically, the GDPR should protect the data of all of those users too. That’s 1.5 billion user accounts, i.e. the majority of Facebook’s userbase, including all Australian users.
So, naturally, Facebook is working to immediately exempt them from the law. Because it literally has no other way of surviving other than selling your data off to spy agencies both government and private.
So, yanno. About that…
Dave Rupert is trying to bring back RSS (as an alternative to social media), by providing RSS-only content.
For me, RSS never went away; I’ve been using a self-hosted RSS reading solution since, like, before Google Reader died, and while the UI is kinda janky and it stopped syncing with my thick client reader when I migrated to CloudFlare, it’s still how I consume like 90% of all my stuff on the web.1 All those links I post? Yeah, they come through my feed reader.2
RSS in the modern web can be a bit crap, but most major blogging platforms and news sites support it in some fashion even if a lot of content isn’t as well-optimized for it as it used to be. Hell, even Tumblr supports RSS, and Tumblr is probably the social media platform least suited to it, so go figure.
The point of all of which is to say RSS is still great and was, in its day, the cornerstone of the oldskool open web. And anyone chafing at the confines of their digital feudal lord’s walled garden3 could do a lot worse than rediscovering the technology…
Apparently Twitter is killing third-party apps:
After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:
- Push notifications will no longer arrive
- Timelines won’t refresh automatically
If you use an app like Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, or Twitterrific, there is no way for its developer to fix these issues.
So much WTFery but, let’s face it, this has been coming for a while now; Twitter has no way of monetizing other than by serving ads, and the reason people use third-party Twitter clients is they don’t serve ads. See also: every decision Twitter has made re. “algorithmic feeds” and the like.1
But, yanno hey. Whenever Twitter is a trashfire just remember, there’s always Mastodon…
A quick guide on how to exorcise Facebook from your computer and send it back to the data privacy hell from when it came… permanently.
This is a guide for macOS, but it’s about editing
hosts, so it will work under any operating system. For Windows users, your hosts file lives in
C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc (it’s the file in there literally just called
hosts, no file extension, but it’s just a text file). Just copy-paste the list of domain from page two of the Mac guide into that file. Note you’ll probably need to open a text editor as Administrator first (right click on it, then find the “Run as Administrator” option).
Because the hosts file works at the OS network layer, making changes here will impact everything on the computer. If you block Facebook in
hosts, no app or browser will ever be able to resolve it ever again. Also note that this technique works for literally any domain, and also means you can redirect arbitrary domains to arbitrary IP addresses so, like… I’m not saying that the opportunities to prank people by editing their hosts file exists, but…
Like a lot of people, this morning I woke up to That Email from Tumblr:
As part of our commitment to transparency, we want you to know that we uncovered and terminated 84 accounts linked to Internet Research Agency or IRA (a group closely tied to the the Russian government) posing as members of the Tumblr community.
The IRA engages in electronic disinformation and propaganda campaigns around the world using phony social media accounts. When we uncovered these accounts, we notified law enforcement, terminated the accounts, and deleted their original posts.
The email goes on to list the names of the banned accounts, and some of them were… familiar.1 So, like a lot of people, I decided to go do some digging to see what, exactly, I may have liked/reblogged from a Russian propaganda house. The original accounts are gone, of course, but Tumblr helpfully “decided to leave up any reblog chains so that you can curate your own Tumblr to reflect your own personal views and perspectives.” Meaning recovering at least some of the more popular posts was a simple Google search away.2
Here, capped for posterity, is what I found. There are quite a lot of images here, so I’ve categorized them into their broad content areas. Note that in a handful of instances, I’ve also capped the Google result, when I felt the post text was interesting in itself and where I couldn’t easily find a reblog. In these instances, it’s the bolded Tumblr name that’s the bot, not necessarily the URL.