My girlfriend was raving about Spotify the other day. I sheepishly had to admit to hiding her Spotify announcements in Facebook as I find such automated app announcements impersonal and annoying. She said I should try it. I’ve been skeptical, and when I went to sign up my misanthropy was confirmed.
You can only set up a Spotify account with your Facebook account, and you have to have the Facebook Platform turned on too. Fail. I do not accept these terms.
For me, Facebook is simply a way to chat with friends, amuse each other with media trivia and organise social events. It’s private. I only friend people I know, like and trust in the real world, and nothing I say is available to the public. I also have Platform turned off and all apps disabled. I post no photos of myself. I’m as close to invisible as is possible for an active user.
I know enough about online privacy to keep my profiles as separate as possible. I don’t want them to connect to each other, share information or build a profile of me by collating information from multiple sources. It frustrates me that I have to be constantly vigilant to their manipulative attempts to do this.
They claim to do this for my convenience, but I do not find this convenient. I find it intrusive and unhelpful. They are doing it to be be intrusive, to harvest my data to add to their collective. I’ve become very cynical about the GoogleBorg.
I run my own mail server and my main email account is for personal contacts and business. This independence is essential. I own my email archive and can back it up and manage it as I see fit.
For anything potentially spammy, such as signing up for other services and accounts like Spotify, I generally use a Gmail account that I have specifically for this purpose. I don’t use this for social or business purposes. In Google Chat I’m always invisible. I have deleted the Google+ section of my Google account.
I don’t want to merge my personal email contacts and Gmail contacts. I keep them separate for a reason. They don’t overlap. While my personal email contacts and Facebook friends do overlap, I use each platform deliberately for specific purposes and don’t want or need them to be combined.
When I got an Android phone, I was very annoyed to find that it tried to merge my Gmail and Facebook contacts without asking me first, and I had to go to some lengths to keep them separate.
In Twitter, I have disabled location data. I don’t allow Google to access or share my location data. I turn off the GPS before using Facebook on my Android phone so Facebook cannot use it without my permission. I don’t use 4Square or Facebook check-in functions as I don’t want to be tracked or stalked, or advertise to burglers that I am away from home.
My Google and Facebook accounts keep asking me to add my mobile number. I refuse. They know I am using an Android phone as I log into my accounts on those platforms from the phone, but I don’t want Google to merge my phone contacts with my email and Facebook contacts.
Separate people, separate social circles, separate lives. I’d like to keep them that way.
I don’t want Facebook messages sent to me as SMS. When I can access Facebook messages for free via wifi at home and work (and many other places), why pay to send SMS messages? I barely use $10 a month on phone calls and data. I bought the phone outright and use a low cost network reseller so I don’t get ripped off by telcos and their manipulative, deliberately over-complex and anti-competitive phone lease and traffic plans.
A friend who works in the industry is impressed that I am one of the few people, according to his calculations, who does not generate a profit for one of the big telcos. Fortunately for them, he says, it’s so difficult to work out how not to be exploited that very few people manage to achieve it.
Spotify and other content providers use the freemium business model, which gives you so much for free then, once you are assured of the value of the service, upsell you to a paid account. To start with, you have to be able to try the service, and they have made it impossible for me to do that. They have therefore decided that I will never be a paying customer.
I suspect Facebook will go this way eventually. But like pay TV, even though you subscribe you still have to sit through tedious advertisements. That’s why I would never pay for TV. I’d close my Facebook account if it closed off the choices I have made to protect my privacy.
I won’t tolerate a corporate mediated online experience. I pay for access to the network via my ISP subscription, and I run my own mail server to maintain some level of communications autonomy. Instead of encouraging me to use services and potentially become a paying subscriber, Spotify and others are alienating me and ensuring that they lose my trust and my money. I’m not the only one who will never use Spotify for this reason.
The internet began with individuals providing much of their own infrastructure in order to participate. To encourage mass participation (in other words from ignorant amateurs) corporations have provided much simplified tools. The price of using those tools is infinite and incalculable. You have to sell your individuality and personal identity. You have to consent to be assimilated to participate.
I’m increasingly going back to the old ways of doing things. I have my own site, and my own mail server, on hosting I pay for. My communications are not reliant on Facebook and Google. They are useful, but not essential. They won’t give me more of what I want (privacy) and I won’t give them more of what they want (my individuality).