N Touch
Saturday 21 July 2018
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Commentary

Bye FB

JEAN ANTOINE-DUNNE

I HAVE pressed delete. My Facebook page is gone. I did it cold turkey. No dithering. No gradual weaning off the stuff. Just one plug pulled, and it was gone (well almost). FB holds on to data for 14 days after “deactivation” prior to deletion since, apparently, it is so difficult to break up and I might just break down in the process.

How am I going to know what is happening in the world, I keep on asking myself. How will I navigate all those countries that I love to cruise in my musings as a long-distance commuter or perhaps time traveller?

And on the following Monday morning, as if by astral divination, the Metro newspaper in Britain cited a report from the BBC which claimed that a parent company of Cambridge Analytica, called SCL Elections, published a brochure prior to 2014 detailing its involvement in election manipulation.

Cambridge Analytica, as readers will know, has been accused of using personal data illegally obtained from Facebook users to influence political outcomes, specifically elections. This has set off an international investigation into Facebook’s use of its clients’ data.

The report by the BBC quotes extensively from the brochure in which SCL claims that it interfered in elections on an international scale. Apart from “organised rallies in Nigeria in order to weaken support for the opposition in 2007,” and “the exploitation of ethnic tensions in Latvia in the 2006 national elections,” SCL also “claims that ahead of the elections in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, it orchestrated an ‘ambitious campaign of political graffiti’ that ‘ostensibly came from the youth’ so the ‘client party could claim credit for listening to a ‘united youth’” (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43528219).

Imagine all those yellow ribbons waving and all that talk about the mother of the nation and female power finally. And now to hear that it might really have been FB or one of its family. Well, since my FB account is gone, I can’t rant to my virtual audience, even though FB keeps on sending me messages asking me to input my password, like a rejected lover who doesn’t understand the word “no.”

I was sure that TT would be going mad after the news broke of being manipulated by a relative of Cambridge Analytica. But, the papers didn’t even blink. Not even a front-page headline. Imagine. But then, it is a bank holiday weekend, and the chaos at the docks persists.

Forget elections and data harvesting and the fact that TT voters might have been the guinea pigs that proved that you could win an American presidential election or get people to vote for divorce from Europe just by manipulating their personal data.

The scary truth is that we do not really know what triggers information in that data collecting virtual cyber world that we increasingly occupy. We are all, nonetheless, aware that data migrates. A search on google for a cheap flight elicits countless ads on travel sites and an approaching birthday could mean invitations to over-fifties dating sites. I have to look on the bright side. At least now I can keep my information to myself (as long as I don’t go on Amazon or Google). Now that I am not connected to so many friends via FB, many of whom I have never met, I will no longer have to bear the embarrassment of family (children in particular) posting information on their FB pages that makes me squirm and wish that I could delete them.

At any rate that old familiar click and remorse will no longer happen. No. Oops! That is not FB. That is actually e-mail.

It is possible, after all, as I discovered quite late in the game, to go back and edit on FB.

E-mails, however, are forever and create infinite reverberations. Who ever invented e-mails anyway? Did that person even contemplate how many meanings a sentence without intonation might have? And how does one write a sentence and infuse irony or even make a joke by e-mail?

I know those little things with funny faces are meant to emote. But we all know they don’t.

And am I the only person who has attached the wrong file to an e-mail and discovered that really private material had gone to a perfect stranger? Simply by a wrong click? And then had to e-mail and beg the recipient to delete it without reading? As if!

And has anyone else out there caught that virus that takes all your e-mails and sends them to everyone on your e-mail list? Or what about forwarding an e-mail and forgetting that there is a thread.

So, Mark, we at least have signed the final papers and the separation is complete. In parting, I hope you live up to your new promises, and that the arrogance you displayed a few days ago in refusing to go before the British parliamentary committee is no indication of your overweening ego and future intentions.

All I can say at this point is, “Good riddance.”

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