Have you ever tried to block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook? If you’re from the student majority of my audience (because, let’s face it, outside of UOW no one really reads these blogs – hi Grandad -), you’re probably already drowning in mountains of essays, blog posts and memes, and don’t have time to waste on a pointless adventure, so I’ll save you the trouble. Spoiler alert: you actually cannot block him.
Why, you might ask, is it in the interest of Facebook’s creator to have access to the accounts of every single user on a worldwide scale? The answer lies in a concept known as iFeudalism. Picture a nifty little kingdom, with one divine ruler and a bunch of peasants dressed in rags. These peasants are granted
the ‘power’ to be nominally free, but under a feudalistic paradigm, the feudal lord controls all aspects of the use of their land, including:
- you cannot leave the land without permission;
- you cannot sell the land without permission;
- your feudal lord decides how you may use your land; and
- you must pay rent to your feudal lord for the right to use that land.
‘What eighteenth century garbage is this?’
‘What on earth could a feudalist society have in common with Facebook?’
Probably more than you would like, is my answer to the latter.
Facebook is a prime example of iFeudalism. iFeudalism is the application of feudalism society to the internet. Facebook gives us (albeit limited) access to what the internet has to offer, yet the feudal lord (Sir Zuckerberg) has constructed a moat (and a whole heap of watch towers) around the palace he built us.
Metadata is ‘data about data’ (ibid) and is said by many to know more about us than our closest friends. Facebook stores all of our metadata. The level of this data which Facebook has access to is downright scary. Facebook knows what you like, what you dislike, with whom and how often you communicate. It knows where you are, who you are with and what you are doing. For a list of the information Facebook stores about you, try this source. The case of Max Schrems is an example of this. He initiated a lawsuit against Facebook when he discovered they had 1222 pages of data about him, based solely on his online activities. Facebook is what’s known as a “stack”; it’s a stack of feudal kingdoms that kind of continues forever, with no escape.
Did you ever play the game ‘Stack Houses’ ? Picture that as a metaphor for Facebook, but ignore the joyful music and colourful graphics, because ‘the stack’ isn’t a good paradigm. It positions the prosumers of the web (us) as livestock. Think of Messenger, all the websites that offer the ‘convenience’ to sign up via your Facebook account – it provides Facebook with even more access to our metadata, often including the ability to access our browser history and engine searches. Even when Facebook is not open on our browser, it’s collecting information on us. There’s pretty much no escaping it. So embrace the sheep life, or switch to 4chan!