In 2013, Facebook data scientist Adam Kremer and intern Sauvik Das published “Self-Censorship on Facebook,” a paper which was to spark some controversy. Not only did the authors repeatedly make the confounding assertion that “the act of preventing oneself from speaking” — i.e., starting to write a Facebook post but then not posting it — was “censorship,” a kind of self-imposed masochistic tyranny rather than privacy, reticence, or good sense; but their methodology also revealed that Facebook retained the data that users input but never posted. Anything typed into a box on Facebook was fair game for the company to do whatever they wanted with, regardless of whether the user ultimately intended to share it with others. Thus while one’s privacy settings may apply to other users, they didn’t apply to the platform itself, which tracked and stored whatever user behavior it could, wherever it could. Nothing a user could do could get anything removed from that database, and their intuitions about what was included in it were likely to be insufficient.
Just a word of encouragement - keep up the good work. These essays are incredibly insightful. Regularly reading them is almost a liturgical process, through which I am reminded at regular intervals how these forces are shaping my mind and body.
The capture of drafted, never posted messages is mind-boggling. Do other companies do this? Google, MS Outlook? (Stocking up on scratch paper for a friend...).
greetings, M. Ferguson. I am too lost in the machine to know where you are, let alone where I am in relation to you. But wherever you are, you must have understood, in some context or other, ouroborous. Our ouroborus, how's that? Greetings across time and space!
Hi Rob, I'm a big fan of your work. Would you ever consider writing for the NYTimes op-ed section? If so, I would love to connect. On Twitter I'm romaissaa_b.