Monday, 24 February 2014

A possible future of social networking

There is a way - a bad way - that social networking online could go. It might look something like this.

In an effort to fight back against heavy-handed NSA surveillance and over-sharing on Facebook, ISPs are forced to take action to protect their customers. Rather than paying Facebook for access and not being sure that they really are protecting the privacy of their users, ISPs set up their own social networks as an opt-in extra. Users pay to have an account, but the ISPs, in a move designed to encourage more business, make these new networks walled gardens, exclusive to their own customers. If you want to network with your friends, better convince them to switch ISPs.

These buggy, awful, too-closed networks will, however, eventually win out, because they don't sell user data to third parties. At first. Then the allure of bringing back the Big Data economy will tug longingly at the wallet-strings of the ISPs and they will cave in. After all, someone else must already be doing that, right?

So, in order to save ourselves from government surveillance, we will sell our social data to our internet service providers instead, who will, in turn, behave exactly like little Facebooks, selling user data and, eventually, collaborating with government spy agencies anyway. We don't get a say. We never did. We are the product. The cow doesn't get a vote on the way to the abbatoir.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I know it's bleak.
PPS - Some futures, especially with little corporate responsibility, are just that way.


Anonymous said...

I have thought about this also. Encrypted communications (standardized format) with the member running their own software on a secure operating environment. I don't believe computer or operating system currently being built could not be compromised. Open source software and hardware with verification/security/integity. What I am describing is a darknet style social network. With multiple levels of access for people for each object in the system. A small portion of your site could be in a off system cache encrypted for time your server is offline. If everyone encrypts it makes the spy work unprofitable. When the copyright wars, chasing boogeyman, etc slows down (?) maybe there will be a bit of personal peace, but I am afraid it will be a dark age.

John said...

The problem with security like that is the trade-off with convenience. People could run software like that, with encryption keys exchanged with their friends, but they can't access it everywhere or use it as easily as Facebook, so they won't.