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).

Stalemate.

social media stalemate, or why I will never use Spotify

17 thoughts on “social media stalemate, or why I will never use Spotify

  • 6 July 2012 at 9:04 am
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    There is not much chance that I will ever use Spotify either. I don’t even use Facebook (with a real identity, at least) I can certainly understand where you are coming from when you use the term “stalemate” in the context of the internet, social media, and personal privacy.

    Like you I am also protective of my online privacy. Unfortunately as an Adsense publisher I have had to provide Google with my post box address and mobile phone number. I do have a Webmaster Tools account which I am starting to regret using and I refuse to use Analytics. Forget Google+, Gmail or anything to do with personalised search. I take a few other measures with regards to surfing as invisibly as possible, especially where Google is concerned, as it is Google which is in the unique position to track anyone form the initial search, browsing the target site, hopping from that site to site, by mail etc etc and link all that to any data which is provided within a Google account.

    These days I am using search engines like Iquix, Bing, Yahoo and a few others on a rotating basis for most searches and Google for checking my website ranking. I don’t want to use my Google accounts via my Android phone or register with anything Google via the phone and like you, I find that I am constantly switching off the GPS when it’s not needed.

    It is very easy for someone to piece together a profile of an individual using the net, even when that information is scattered. I am to be found on Linkedin using a skeleton profile which relates back only to my commercial website which does have my ABN and post box address and no other identifying information of a personal nature. My home phone number will never be found on the net but even that is blocked and unlisted.

    My regret is that recently I have been submitting my personal details for job applications and it some cases it has required my to provide physical address and landline phone number.

    Reply
  • 6 July 2012 at 1:52 pm
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    I just want to say “me too” to this whole post.

    I too refuse to sign up to Spotify and also another interesting start-up Posse because of the need to use a facebook login. I too try very hard to limit my information on facebook, am only friends with irl friends and don’t allow apps at all. But I find that facebook/google/twitter are so all pervasive with these new cool technologies/start ups. I don’t want to share my bloody music choices, more of my personal information with facebook/google/twitter.

    Reply
  • 6 July 2012 at 2:52 pm
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    I don’t really understand the hate.

    It may be because initially you couldn’t disable those annoying App posts on Facebook but these days anything that asks for access to your Facebook can be hidden away.

    Spotify for example will ask to post on your wall by default. You can disable this setting. You can also lock all apps that do post on your wall to only be visible to you and not your friends.

    Let me clarify. There is a setting with every app that requires access to Facebook now titles “Posts on your behalf” which you can set to “only me” which means no one else will ever see them.

    You could also create a secondary Facebook account just for these sort of apps if you really wanted to.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should use Spotify. But if it’s a service that you enjoy/like and you don’t use it purely because it requires Facebook login, it just seems a bit silly to me.

    Reply
    • 6 July 2012 at 3:48 pm
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      You simply don’t get it. Spotify expects me to use a third party product (Facebook) in order to use their product. This is illogical and is going to lose them business. While what you say may be correct, none of this is obvious when you go to sign up for Spotify. They don’t tell you how they integrate with Facebook or what they are going to do on Facebook in your name. This is unacceptable.

      Reply
      • 11 July 2012 at 12:21 pm
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        Hi Brian, you can actually create an account with Spotify without having to use facebook for your login. There was a lot of uproar about this in the USA when it first launched there and since coming to Australia it has never been the only method of creating a Spotify account. Spotify do however have the preference that you login with your Facebook account.

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        • 11 July 2012 at 12:35 pm
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          Yes I eventually learned that, but it is so well hidden that I did not discover the link to where to sign up without Facebook when I first tried. I find this so dishonest and unethical that I will never use it.

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  • 6 July 2012 at 9:59 pm
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    “This is illogical and is going to lose them business”

    It will generate them more business (from people who learn about Spotify from their friends Facebook walls) than it will lose them (from people like you and I who either refuse to use it, or use it and hide the advertising on their wall)

    “none of this is obvious when you go to sign up for Spotify”

    I agree completely. To be honest one of the only reasons I posted this in the first place was to hopefully make more people aware how simple it is to block these ‘apps’ that require facebook from actually interacting with your friends, and your wall.

    Reply
  • 9 July 2012 at 2:00 pm
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    There’s one important thing in your post which is quite wrong and it kind of leads your argument down the garden path.

    You don’t actually have to open a Spotify account with your Facebook account.

    You can open a Spotify account completeley independently from any other service, if you choose.

    It just gives you the option to link with your facebook account, to join in with the social aspects of Spotify – and actually I quite like that,the sharing of playlists between friends over different continents.

    I’m with Mark – why the hate? if you don’t want to use it then don’t use it. And if Spotify thinks you and people who think like you are important enough to hurt their business, then they’ll change policy, its the way of the world.

    Me – I love the access to musicians I’ve never heard of before, plus access to the old classics I’ve never bought on CD. It’s opened up so many new artists work to me, and it’s pretty good fun – I am quiet actually intereste idn what my niece in LA is listening to, I am happy to pay the $10 a month for it. You’re a bit grouchy, Indolent Dandy.

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    • 9 July 2012 at 2:09 pm
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      You are wrong. What part of this login process from the Spotify website don’t you understand?

      Spotify login

      Reply
    • 9 July 2012 at 4:28 pm
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      How are you supposed to find this? As a potential user you can’t find that easily. A link here takes you to the guide, which says ‘Alternatively, you can create a Spotify account here on the Spotify website.’ This ‘get’ page has no information or link to creating an account, but clicking on the ‘get’ takes you back to the download page you started with.

      It’s deliberately and completely misleading and deceptive. Where is the openly available link to https://www.spotify.com/au/signup/plain/?

      Reply
      • 9 July 2012 at 5:18 pm
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        I Googled “spotify”, clicked on the first link in the results which is http://www.spotify.com/au/

        I’m used to ignoring big flashy graphics so I just clicked on the signup link on the top right which is https://www.spotify.com/au/signup/open/

        Had an option of using Facebook to signup or “Create an account using my e-mail address”.

        Alternatively, if through your download link, the program downloads, installs and asks if you want to signup. The signup page brings you to https://www.spotify.com/au/signup/ where again you can signup using your email address.

        Not sure how you missed both of these, it’s even included in the image you pasted above.

        Deceptive, not really. Are they pushing the Facebook signin option, most definitely. It’s a social music app and the more members they have the more chance they will stay in business. Without the social aspect, they don’t gain enough members, thus are not able to sustain a viable business.

        It falls in line with their fremium model of giving you x amount of hours per month. Teases you and then reminds you that your friends are using Spotify so you better pay up if you want to use it more.

        Reply
        • 9 July 2012 at 7:45 pm
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          I didn’t look at https://www.spotify.com/au/signup/open/ – I went to download the software, and at that stage there is no option displayed but to sign up by Facebook as the screen shot shows. You evidently only learn you can sign up after this stage, but I quit in disgust. While they may offer an alternate to Facebook sign up, it is hidden and not equally promoted with Facebook sign up. This is unacceptable.

          Reply
  • 11 July 2012 at 6:14 pm
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    No worries, Canberra have our back!

    The government has put suggestions on telecommunication and Australian intelligence reform, both in the one paper.

    You see, ‘In the absence of urgent reform, agencies will lose the ability to effectively access telecommunications.’

    Worrying, right?

    But don’t stress, there are going to be some great reforms, such as increasing the duration of those warrants used to access computers and tracking devices. One lot of search warrant paperwork will give that public servant access to your data for that little bit longer.

    The private sector, who own and operate ‘a significant proportion of Australia’s critical infrastructure’ will be producing ‘intelligence backed reporting’. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act will legislate record keeping standards, so by law more of your data will be collected, it will stored for longer, and your tele com provider will have be legally obliged to assist in decryption of your information. Woot!

    ASIO will be able to partner with other government agencies to use their ‘optical surveillance devices,’ so that one bit of CCTV will go a little bit further.

    So chill about your private data being collected, ‘cos your government is working to ’ensure that any threats to our national security do not materialise.’ And that’s what it’s all about, right?

    It’s here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=pjcis/nsl2012/index.htm

    Reply
  • 11 August 2012 at 12:24 pm
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    Um, ever thought of using Rdio? Better apps than spotify and no facebook integration at all.

    Reply
    • 11 August 2012 at 3:09 pm
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      Never heard of it. I will investigate.

      Reply

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