My Remaining Social Media Accounts
My first blog post describes deleting my Facebook account. After that, I moved from WhatsApp to Signal, briefly explored alternative Fediverse social media platforms, learned how to curate my own news feeds using RSS (instead of relying on social media algorithms) and most recently, I quit Instagram, which had been a mostly positive experience for connecting to a music-interested audience, but, like Facebook, is also owned by Meta.
I use Twitter for promoting this blog, but had thankfully never had a personal account. I use Reddit sporadically under varying pseudonyms which I then delete after a few months. I never had any interest in Snapchat or TikTok.
In this post, I will go over the remaining decisions I took about my social media use. There are a some compromises, but I think these are justified.
I joined a neighbourhood app for a time. There must be thousands of these, internationally. They work similar to a neighbourhood WhatsApp group, but with additional extra features useful for neighbourly communication, such as a resale section, tools for offering services (free and paid), and special interest threads. The app I used looked like a combination between a forum with and a central news feed, all focused on a small, local community.
I probably joined to complain about something—ongoing construction works or poor management of public parks—, and this is one of the downsides of the neighbourhood app: they can become toxic, narrowly-focused discussion groups.
In my experience, there was also a bit of class and racial bias within the group, where the assumed target audience seems to be middle class, non-immigrant families.
There were positives too. Having missed out on the entire Facebook re- and free cycling trend, I discovered I was able to sell or give away items I no longer needed, and seek help regarding services like garbage collection, incident reporting, and so on.
The unpredictable nature of the daily feed was as addictive as any, and I found myself logging in more than I should. I got involved in a couple of debates that seemed to just never end, because no one, including myself, is willing to let the other side have the last documented say.
As I began learning more about privacy and started writing this blog, I realised that staying on this neighbourhood app just didn't sit well with the rest of my decisions. User make a large amount of personal identifiers public (some even gave their exact address in posts!) and the privacy policies of these apps read more like an after-thought. So I deleted that account, and it wasn't hard to do.
Linked in presumes to be about professional interaction and engagement—a good thing—but anyone who has read the LinkedIn news feed for more than a week knows that LinkedIn contains some of the most thinly veiled, vile virtue signalling you've ever read or seen in your life. It seems like people don't worry about tying their professional lives to political causes, and the sound bite truly is king.
I was revolted by posts showing videos that showed very young children doing household work due to poverty, with inane, smug comments about how we can learn from inventiveness and entrepreneurship of these kids. Remarkably, these videos are followed by literally hundreds on glowing comments like this with a notable absence of any critical thinking. Not one commenter will wonder why the children aren't in school, for example.
People seem to get particularly bold about embracing superficiality when these posts are tied to their professional network. LinkedIn helps people reach new heights of grandstanding, and I have no idea what the thinking is there.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is a fantastic professional networking tool. Your resume is always live and updated, and any extra online course you take or workshop you attended can be formally verified and added to your profile. Colleagues and ex-colleagues can write positive comments about your work ethics, and you can post links to media you have created relevant to your current work, or to the type of job you are hoping to get, such as a blog, website or other project. If you take away the newsfeed, LinkedIn is a pretty good tool.
Specific to my career, I asked every senior class I taught to feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Being able to follow the further studies and career trajectories of people I taught when they were in their awkward teenage years has been eye-opening and has greatly changed my views on the potential young people may have, even when it doesn't yet show in high school. Of course I do sometimes wonder about those graduates who are not on my radar, and in that sense, LinkedIn is a narrow lens.
Similar to Facebook and Instagram, a user can suspend (or 'hybernate') their LinkedIn account. I did this for a while, to see if I could do without, but in the end, I decided to reboot my profile for the professional networking value. I'm still in two minds as to whether having your Curriculum Vitae on LinkedIn actually helps with job searches, but I have noticed that some recruiters now ask for a link to this in their own online forms.
I'm not entirely happy with this compromise, because the potential for addiction is always there, especially as I have so little else to turn to in terms of social media. Similar to smoking an old, dry cigarette you've found in your kitchen drawer, I sometimes dip into the feed, telling myself (rather arrogantly), I'm only doing it to see how bad the posts can get. But it is time waste and addiction nonetheless, and I would rather not have the feed. Any thoughts on this from readers would be very welcome here.
Socials for The Privacy Dad Blog
While it's fun to write and publish your thoughts on a topic, you need an audience as a motivator to keep going. I love the feedback and interactions I have had with readers, even if my readership isn't massive. I've even made a few new online friends here.
I cannot see another way to connect with your potential readers other than through social media type networks. I learned how Mastodon works, and started up a profile for this blog there, and I created a Pixelfed account for hosting images. Federated sites are great, but you're not engaging with as big an audience as you would on 'X' or Instagram. I created a Reddit specifically for blog comments, as Bear Blog's developer has deliberately chosen not to have comments tool, a decision I respect and am now very grateful for. I learned how to join a Matrix chat group using Element. I've made a TPD gmail account so I can interact on YouTube, and I have had to create a Zoom account for the few times I was interviewed.
With some trepidation, I created my very first Twitter handle, and discovered what the fuss was all about. It's a very addictive platform. I felt lucky in that I wanted to present The Privacy Dad as neutrally as possible, and that kept me from joining in on any political, controversial discussions, of which I found there are plenty. Soon after I joined, Elon Musk took over, turned it into 'X' and seemingly has started giving more visibility to verified accounts, which mine is not.
X has been a great place to have very immediate interaction with the privacy community, and discussions started there can migrate to to more private platforms. So for now, X will stay.
My current social media use looks like this:
- LinkedIn for work and following past students I taught (once a week)
- Reddit under temporary pseudonyms (rare)
- forums related to privacy or other interests (regular)
- socials (Mastodon, Pixelfed, Reddit, X) for this blog (after each post)
Being present on social media under a pseudonym that represents work you care about (i.e. this blog) is a good safeguard against getting pulled into unconstructive online debates on these platforms. However, if I am being totally honest, I've found you can still be addicted to your feeds even under a pseudonym and as a passive reader. There are times I catch myself checking my blog socials more than I need to.
Without a doubt, the readership for this blog would be nearly non-existent if it were not for these very platforms and a few key boosts from other privacy advocates with large audiences there. That may seem like a contradiction for a privacy blogger, but without readers, your blog is just a personal diary.
Temporarily disable account LinkedIn
Mastodon and the Fediverse: A Social Media Revolution Gunther's Guides
Choosing a Mastodon Instance Gunther's Guides
A beginner's guide to Mastodon
Stop Using Social Media Apps. The Web Version Is Often Better Wired
What Is Big Tech?
Deleting my Facebook Account
From WhatsApp to Signal
Exploring Social Media Alternatives: Pixelfed and Odysee
Why I Still Use Reddit
Control Your Own Content with RSS and AntennaPod
From Goodreads to The StoryGraph
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