Note: I wrote this post primarily for my Facebook timeline because I felt that was the most critical place to put it. That’s where the most vulnerable audience is.
I reproduce it in full below for posterity, please do comment here on the website if you like. Thanks…
Hi everyone. It’s been awhile! 🙂 I’m sorry, I do miss the connection here a little, but don’t take this as a signal that I have returned. Being as away as I have managed to be has been great and healthy though if we have lost touch please do PM me, or email, or phone or come by the house! I would love to hear from you and see you. However, I felt compelled and decided after much thought, that given that the official start of the Canadian Election is tomorrow (Wednesday), I should write in this space once to deliver a word of caution.
We all know intuitively now how these platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are used to manipulate us. And not just by the people and parties you don’t like, but also by people and parties you do like too. It is equally bad. If you aren’t aware, then I would highly recommend watching “The Great Hack” on Netflix, or “The Facebook Dilemma” on PBS, or “The Creepy Line”.
These things are all a concern in general, however, the concern is even greater at election time when all the bots, misinformation and algorythms are super charged by political money. I believe this puts our ability to make our own choice at risk. Indeed it is well known now not only that our choices are being manipulated by local and national actors, but also by foreign governments who do not have our national interests at heart.
Notice I did not say the “right choice”. This is not about political parties. It doesn’t matter if you vote Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green, or anything else, this is about our collective and fundamental ability to make our own decisions based on our own research and experience and the real national dialogue we are about to have. These platforms *are* manipulating you. Every party, and by extension every candidate (whether they want to or not), is doing the same thing now.
So here is my recommendation. Turn off Facebook. Just do it. Because it doesn’t matter if you are actively looking for political stuff or not, it will come to you, that’s simply how it works. Even if only for the next 5 weeks before election night or at least until you cast your ballot, it will impact how you feel, how you consider your options and the information available, and yes maybe even your vote.
And again, I stress, this isn’t me trying to make you vote one way or another, this about ensuring you, and only you, are in control of your vote. As long as you are active on your Facebook timeline, or Groups, I believe, you are not fully in control.
What are some other ways to limit the influence from bad actors on social media? Below are a few tips, and if you have any more please include them in the comments. Basically though, it all comes down to avoiding algorithms designed to track and manipulate you.
I feel it is the most insidious, that is why my best advice is to completely leave it if you can.
You can also attempt to short circuit the algorithms by making your timeline chronological but the setting cannot be set permanently (afaik) and must be reset often.
Just try cutting your time down scrolling. Scrolling is when the algorythms most influence you!
Use an app or a system like Apple’s parental controls to limit time on social media. I do this and it helps to break the habit (and works across all social media apps)
You can also just try staying out of groups or political pages.
Unlike Facebook, you are *not* beholden to the official Twitter app or website and its algorithms. I use “Tweetbot” on iOS and “Tweeten” on my laptop. There are no algorithms, no ads, no suggested content, everything is chronological by default. You are in near complete control of what you see.
On Instagram: unfortunately I have not found a non-Instagram way to use Instagram. As it is a Facebook property, this is not a big surprise. The facebook recommendations apply.
Use a search alternative to Google like DuckDuckGo that does not track you or store your information.
That’s it, I hope this is helpful. If you have other tips, please share.
Get out there and seek out information from reputable news sources, direct from party platform documents and especially directly from the candidates themselves. That is always the best way to inform yourself and make the best decision possible. It will also make you feel engaged and WANT to vote as a great deal of the manipulation out there is designed to discourage you, or make you angry or sad.
So take this post not as a warning, but as an encouragement to get out there, take control away from these corporations, and then vote.
Take care friends, I miss you!
Love always, Chris.
P.S. I stuck this on my blog too at www.chrisalemany.ca feel free to respond there. I’d prefer it in fact to here. 🙂 Thanks again. Chris.