Peter Hunter

@peterhunter

Movement was my way out of addiction. Open minded plant lover, BJJ novice, Acro intermediate, advanced rebel spirit.

5,751 words

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1. How to control your Facebook use

When was the last time you thought of something to do on Facebook, where you actually ended up checking Facebook for solely that purpose before exiting?

Well, I can't think of think of when either.
 

Of course, even if you are of this feat of concentration, the point is that Facebook makes sure that your probability of succeeding is as low as possible. HOW has Facebook been designed to optimize Time On Screen? This post (UPCOMING LINK) concerns Facebooks tools of distraction. WHY has FACEBOOK been designed for that purpose? This post (UPCOMING LINK) concerns Facebooks business model.

 

The goal of this post is to share useful methods for improving your probability of using Facebook intentionally like the powerful tool it is, instead of letting Facebook use you to make a powerful profit (UPCOMING LINK). This is the level of your behavior.

 

I also adresse the level of your data, covering some simple steps to reduce what Facebook knows about you (which Facebook uses against you to spend more time on the platform, besides clicking on and buying things).

 

If you want to take things further, here is a guide (not mine) to deleting Facebook all together.

 

All the same ideas apply directly to Google and other companies as well, so if you notice an anti-google bias, that's not a coincidence. I haven't used Google services exept Docs and Sheets and Youtube since 2018.

_______________

 

I’ve organized suggestions for action by whether the change occurs superficially to the Facebook you see and use or deeply in what happens behind the user interface. The table gives synonyms for these two levels and level-specific action-lists:

 

Deep

Superficial

Algorithms

User interface

Backstage

Stage

Subtext

Text

 

 

    1. Switch to Firefox Quantum internet browser on all devices
    1. Switch to Firefox Quantum internet browser on all devices
    1. Add-ons:
      1. Facebook Container by Mozilla
      2. Go Rando
    1. Add-ons:
      1. Friction for Facebook
      2. Newsfeed Eradicator
      3. Facebook Demetricator

     

    1. Uninstall Facebook app, use browser instead (mobile)
    1. Block notifications from Facebook on all devices
    1. Subscribe to quality journalism
    1. Seperate different functions on Facebook
    1. Tweek your FB settings
    1. Quantify your time spent on Facebook

 

The Deep Level

 

I begin with the deep level, because the power Facebook has over you relies entirely on the data they have about you, besides the addicting design of the platform itself. The smaller data-stream you deliver to Facebook, the better. 

 

  1. Switch to Firefox (internet browser) on all devices

 

Around 65% of people use Chrome to browse. The Chrome browser is Really Good, as most reviews agree if you do a quick Ecosia search. But Firefox is a competitive alternative (1, 2), even if you have don't care about privacy or the politics of Big Data.

 

But you're probably reading this because you do.

 

If these issues are important to you, you can listen to the Firefox podcast IRL, compare Firefox's privacy statement with Chrome's or read Mozilla's Manifesto (the organization behind Firefox).

 

If you want more selfish reasons, Firefox synchronizes seemlessly between devices through a Firefox Account, is completely customizable, on par with Chrome on speed with the new Quantum update, offers free file sharing as big as 2,5 GB, and switching to Firefox from Chrome (incl. passwords, bookmarks, everything) is literally a 2 minute task.

 

  1.  Install Specific Facebook add-ons

These add-ons mess with or prevent your data from being processed by Facebook.

 

  1. Facebook Container (Link)
    • Prevents Facebook from tracking you around the web.
  2. Go Rando (Link)
    • This randomly picks which emoji is used when you click "Like" to on average make your emotional profile "balanced" Watch the video through the link, it gives some great reasons to do this.

 

  1. Uninstall Facebook app, use browser instead

 

This prevents the Facebook app from harvesting basically your entire phone in their thirst for your data. It also makes using Facebook slightly less convenient, and the more friction, the better.

 

  1. Subscribe to quality journalism


Facebook is a marketplace for your attention and data, NOT a reliable source of information. You don't know why you're presented with anything on Facebook, news included, because you don't understand the algorithm choosing that. If you want to be in control, and be a knowledgable and responsible person, you have to realize that high-quality content cost time and effort for someone to make - nobody is going to do it for free as it is hard work, and we have to reward quality journalists for this. Would you spend your time writing long, critical, edited and referenced articles while living on a rock?

 

  1. Tweek your Facebook settings.

 

Turn off the following:

  1. Location history
  2. Apps, Websites Games

 

Generally, take a goooood long look at your settings and actively chose which settings you want turned on. Turn off everything else.

 

The Superficial Level

 

  1. Switch to Firefox (internet browser) on all devices

See above.

 

  1. Install Specific Facebook add-ons

 

These add-ons make powerful changes to your Facebook experience:

 

  1. Friction for Facebook (Link)
  2. News Feed Eradicator (Link)
  3. Facebook demetricator (Link)

 

  1. Block notifications from Facebook on all devices

 

This almost explains itself, but if you let notifications dictate when you look at Facebook, you are NOT in control of how YOU choose to use Facebook. For Messenger, you need to block notifications via Android settings, not the app itself.

 

  1. Seperate different functions on Facebook

 

  • MESSAGES: Use https://messenger.com to message people, you will be distracted if you use facebook.com for this purpose. See if you can limit yourself to one (or less?!) daily facebook-scroll by switching to messenger.com for your messages.
  • CALENDAR: Use a calendar and write down events you'll actually attend. Also, let organizers know that you will actually attend (doesn't have to be by clicking "attending") - don't expect to be spoonfed reminders 6 times randomly on Facebook, if you are an organizer you understand why this behavior sucks.
  • FRIENDS: If you want Facebook to update you on your friends, change your Facebook bookmark to go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/?sk=friends

 

  1. Quantify your time spent on Facebook

Use an app like AntiSocial, QualityTime or some of the myriad other app usage, productivity or digital detox apps.

 

The goal is increased awareness of how much time you spend pr day, pr week and pr month on your individual apps and your phone in general. Lots of these apps also set reminders or impose limitations on your phone use to help you control your device addiction.

 

If you have an apple device with iOS 12 or later, there are now built-in features to this end. 

My Privacy Timeline

  • 2016.05 -    Started using Firefox
  • 2016 total: 0$
  • 2017.11 -    Protonmail 2 years (79$)
  • 2017 total: 79$
  • 2018.10 -    1Password 1 year (75$)
  • 2018.10 -    Deleted Gmail/Google account of 13 years 
  • 2018 total: 75$
  • 2019.06 -    1Password 1 year (75$)
  • 2019.03 -    Deleted Facebook account of 11 years
  • 2019.04 -    Started using Pocket by Mozilla
  • 2019.05 -    Created new Facebook account for promoting my teaching
  • 2019.05 -    Spent 450kr on Facebook adds
  • 2019.07 -    Created new Gmail/Google for writing thesis
  • 2019.09 -    Mozilla Donation 100$
  • 2019.10 -    Mailbox Office 1 year 35€ (Replacing ProtonMail)
  • 2019.10 -    Standard Notes 5 years (105$) (Replacing OneNote)
  • 2019.11 -    1TB SSD External Harddrive (1429kr) (Replacing OneDrive)
  • 2019.11 -    BitWarden Family 1 year (12$) (Replacing 1Password)
  • 2019.11 -    ExpressVPN 15 months (99$) (After reading restoreprivacy.com/whatisvpn)
  • 2019 total: 
  • 2020.01 -    First time joining Cryptohagen's monthly meeting
  • 2020.01 -    Data.coop stud. medlemsskab 1 år 50kr

Surveillance Capitalism Ressources

You can contribute to this list. Your input can be sent to peterhunter.dk@mailbox.org. Thank you for your attention.

Books & Education

Quality Journalism

PAY. REAL. MONEY. FOR. IT. Don't use Facebook or other surveillance capitalism coorporations for getting informed. 

    Books (EN)

            Books (DK)

              Novels:

              Privacy Tools

              Privacy guides

              Privacy Tools

              • Firefox Internet Browser
              • Telephone-settings:
                • Use flight-mode often
                • Turn off location sharing 
                • Turn of notifications except calls and maybe text
                • Install apps to measure your time spent on your phone
                  • Anti-Social
                  • Quality Time 

              Facebook Tools 

              Plugins for Firefox

              • Friction for Facebook
              • Newsfeed Eradicator 
              • Facebook Demetricator
              • Go Rando (randomizes emoji's for you likes)

              Andet

              • Wired guide to Privacy on Facebook
              • How to download your Facebook data (LINK)
              • How to delete your Facebook account (LINK)
                • How to download your Google data (LINK)
                • How to delete your Google account (LINK)

                Fighter Mindset 

                Make it your personal goal to develop more tolerance for inconvenience in your quest to take control over your digital life. To hurt surveillance capitalism companies economically and reduce their predictive power over you, begin minimizing your dataflow on their platforms today. 

                  Don't fall for the false dichotomies and rhetoric:

                  • Perfect / Failed
                    • You will never be a perfect activist. Nor will you be a complete failure. (Unless you stop caring).
                  • Optimist / Pessimist
                    •     Ask yourself: What can I do about this? And go do it! It doesn't matter very much if your an optimist or a pessimist! (Well, maybe if your voice influences other people alot...) It matters whether you're an activist or an inactivist
                  • Idealist / Realist 
                    • The rhetoric used to describe your current position or values remains less important than the direction of you're actions: Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?

                  Fighters toolkit:

                  • Most important factors of resistance to persuasion
                    • Ability to premeditate 
                      • self-awareness to think through consequences
                    • Commitment 
                      • manifested goals
                      • tracking progress
                      • principles and habbits
                  • Education
                    • Know your why's 
                    • Avoid misinformation and don't be a sucker

                  Alternatives to Google's functions (WIP)

                  You can contribute to this list. Your input can be sent to peterhunter.dk@mailbox.org. Thank you for your attention.

                  First, let me introduce you to a beautiful framework to be aware of as you read the list below of alternatives to Google's functions. It's Cal Newport's divide-and-conquor approach to handeling Social Media and other technologies described in his newest book Digital Minimalism (2019). He lays out a plan to reboot your digital life according to your values in three steps:

                  The Digital Declutter

                  1. Define specific technology rules for a 30 day period, where you stop using "optional technologies".
                  1. Take the 30 day break from optional technologies and follow the rules
                  1. Reintroduce selected technologies

                  This recipe should help you use digital technology to serve your needs. However, to avoid overuse, distraction and wasted time, he suggests a stringent set of criteria for which technologies to reintroduce. Here they are verbatim (p. 77): 

                  The Minimalist Technology Screen

                  To allow an optional technology back into your life at the end of the digitial declutter, it must:

                  1. Serve something you deeply value (offering some value is not enough)
                  1. Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it's not, replace it with something better)
                  1. Have a role in your life that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how you use it

                  Regardless of whether you try Newport's digital declutter, you can immediately stop using or replace certain technologies today, if you sense they are not the best way of serving your values. With this in mind,  know that Facebook wants you to think binarily: Either you use Facebook or you don't. 

                  This allows the to entice you into their ecosystem with some feature you find important, and then, once you're a "user", deploy attention engineering to overwhelm you with integrated options, trying to keep you engaging with their service well beyond your original purpose

                  - Digital Minimalism, p. 76 

                  But you don't have to fall for that. Google is a conglomeration of different functions, which you use to different degrees and that you can use or stop using consciously. With this in mind, it can be useful to know alternatives to specific functions. 

                  This list consists of my own research, but is mainly copied from Restore Privacy's guide to Google alternatives. I also found Wired's guide to the ways Google tracks us and how to opt out highly informative.

                  Gmail

                • Tutanota – based in Germany; very secure and private; free accounts up to 1 GB
                • Mailfence – based in Belgium; lots of features; free accounts up to 500 MB
                • Posteo – based in Germany; €1/mo with 14 day refund window
                • (The Guardian on Posteo)
                • StartMail – based in Netherlands; $5.00/mo with 7 day free trial
                • Runbox – based in Norway; lots of storage and features; $1.66/mo with 30 day free trial
                • Mailbox.org – based in Germany; €1/mo with 30 day free trial

                • Google Search

                  • Searx – A very privacy-friendly and versatile metasearch engine.
                  • Qwant – A private search engine based in France.
                  • DuckDuckGo – This is a great privacy-friendly Google alternative that doesn’t utilize tracking or targeted ads. They also have a zero-sharing policy with other features, but they do record search terms.
                  • StartPage – StartPage gives you Google search results, but without the tracking.
                  • Metager – A private search engine based in Germany.

                  (From Restore Privacy)

                  Other nice search engines:

                    Google Maps

                    Peter's liste:

                    A map alternative for PCs isOpenStreetMap.

                    A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:

                    • OsmAnd is a free and open-source mobile maps app for both Android and iOS (based on OpenStreetMap data).
                    • Maps (F Droid) uses OpenStreetMap data (offline).
                    • Here WeGo provides good mapping solutions for both PCs and mobile devices with their app.
                    • Maps.Me is another option that is free on both Android and iOS, but there is a fair amount of data collection with this alternative, as explained in their privacy policy.
                    • MapHub is also based on OpenStreeMap data and it does not collect locations or user IP addresses.

                    Note: Waze is not an “alternative” as it is now owned by Google.

                    Google Chrome (browser)

                    Google Drive

                    I personally use Mailbox.org and pay for extra cloud storage, which is then integrated with my email. 

                    • Tresorit – A user-friendly cloud storage option based in Switzerland.
                    • ownCloud – An open source and self-hosted cloud platform developed in Germany.
                    • Nextcloud – Nextcloud is also an open source, self-hosted file sharing and collaboration platform, based in Germany.
                    • Sync – Based in Canada, Sync offers a secure, encrypted cloud storage solution for businesses and individuals.
                    • Syncthing – Here we have a decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer cloud storage platform.

                    Of course, Dropbox is another popular Google drive alternative, but it’s not the best in terms of privacy.

                    Google Calendar

                    Here are some Google Calendar alternatives:

                    • Lightening Calendar is an open source calendar option developed by Mozilla, and it’s compatible with Thunderbird and Seamonkey.
                    • Etar, an open source, basic calendar option.
                    • Fruux, an open source calendar with good features and support for many operating systems.

                    For those wanting a combined solution for both email and calendar functionality, these providers offer that:

                    Google Docs / Sheets / Slides alternative

                    There are many solid Google Docs alternatives available. The largest offline document editing suite is, of course, Microsoft Office. As most people know, however, Microsoft is not the best company for privacy. Nonetheless, there are a few other good Google Docs alternatives:

                    • CryptPad – CryptPad is a privacy-focused alternative with strong encryption, and it’s free.
                    • Etherpad – A self-hosted collaborative online editor that’s also open source.
                    • Mailfence Documents – From the Mailfence team, this is a secure file sharing, storage, and collaboration tool.
                    • Zoho Docs – This is another good Google Docs alternative with a clean interface and good functionality, although it may not be the best for privacy.
                    • OnlyOffice – OnlyOffice feels a bit more restricted than some of the other options in terms of features.
                    • Cryptee – This is a privacy-focused platform for photo and document storage and editing. It’s open source and based in Estonia.
                    • LibreOffice (offline) – You can use LibreOffice which is free and open source.
                    • Apache OpenOffice (offline) – Another good open source office suite.

                    Google Photos alternative

                    Here are a few good Google Photos alternatives:

                    • Piwigo – Piwigo is a great option that you can self-host. It is also free and open source.
                    • Lychee – Lychee is another self-hosted, open source photo management platform.
                    • Cryptee – Mentioned already above, Cyrptee is also a great option for securely storing photos.

                    Shoebox was another alternative, but it closed operations in June 2019.

                    YouTube alternatives

                    Unfortunately, YouTube alternatives can really be hit or miss, with most struggling to gain popularity.

                    Tip: Invidio.us is a great Youtube proxy that allows you to watch any Youtube video without logging in, even if the video is somehow restricted. To do this, simply replace [www.youtube.com] with [invidio.us] in the URL you want to view.

                    Google translate alternative

                    Here are a few Google translate alternatives I have come across:

                    • DeepL – DeepL is a solid Google Translate alternative that seems to give great results. Like Google Translate, DeepL allows you to post up to 5,000 characters at a time (but the pro version is unlimited). The user interface is good and there is also a built-in dictionary feature.
                    • Linguee – Linguee does not allow you to post large blocks of text like DeepL. However, Linguee will give you very accurate translations for single words or phrases, along with context examples.
                    • dict.cc – This Google Translate alternative seems to do a decent job on single-world lookups, but it also feels a bit outdated.
                    • Swisscows Translate – A good translation service supporting many languages.

                    If you want to translate blocks of text, check out DeepL. If you want in-depth translations for single words or phrases, then Linguee is a good choice.

                    Google Keep (Notes)

                    • Standard Notes is a great alternative for a note-taking service. It is secure, encrypted, and free with apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android (web-based also available).
                    • Joplin is another great option that is open source and works on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

                    Google analytics alternative

                    For website admins, there are many reasons to use an alternative to Google analytics. Aside from privacy concerns, there are also faster and more user-friendly alternatives that also respect your visitors’ privacy.

                    • Clicky is a great alternative to Google Analytics that truncates and anonymizes visitor IP addresses by default. It is lightweight, user-friendly, and fully compliant with GDPR regulations, while also being certified by Privacy Shield.
                    • Matomo (formerly Piwik) is an open-source analytics platform that respects the privacy of visitors by anonymizing and truncating visitor IP addresses (if enabled by the website admin). It is also certified to respect user privacy.
                    • Fathom Analytics is an open source alternative to Google Analytics that’s available on Github here. It’s minimal, fast, and lightweight.
                    • Get Insights – Another privacy-focused analytics platform, with a full analytics suite. The front-end client is open source and available here.
                    • AT Internet is a France-based analytics provider that is fully GDPR compliant, with all data stored on French servers, and a good track record going back to 1996.

                    Many websites host Google Analytics because they run Google Adsense campaigns. Without Google Analytics, tracking performance of these campaigns would be difficult. Nonetheless, there are still better options for privacy.

                    Alternatives to Facebook's Functions (WIP)

                    You can contribute to this list. Your input can be sent to peterhunter.dk@mailbox.org. Thank you for your attention.

                    First, let me introduce you to a beautiful framework to be aware of as you read the list below of alternatives to Facebook's functions. It's Cal Newport's divide-and-conquor approach to handeling Social Media and other technologies described in his newest book Digital Minimalism (2019). He lays out a plan to reboot your digital life according to your values in three steps:

                    The Digital Declutter

                    1. Define specific technology rules for a 30 day period, where you stop using "optional technologies".
                    1. Take the 30 day break from optional technologies and follow the rules
                    1. Reintroduce selected technologies

                    This recipe should help you use digital technology to serve your needs. However, to avoid overuse, distraction and wasted time, he suggests a stringent set of criteria for which technologies to reintroduce. Here they are verbatim (p. 77): 

                    The Minimalist Technology Screen

                    To allow an optional technology back into your life at the end of the digitial declutter, it must:

                    1. Serve something you deeply value (offering some value is not enough)
                    1. Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it's not, replace it with something better)
                    1. Have a role in your life that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how you use it

                    Regardless of whether you try Newport's digital declutter, you can immediately stop using or replace certain technologies today, if you sense they are not the best way of serving your values. With this in mind,  know that Facebook wants you to think binarily: Either you use Facebook or you don't. 

                    This allows the to entice you into their ecosystem with some feature you find important, and then, once you're a "user", deploy attention engineering to overwhelm you with integrated options, trying to keep you engaging with their service well beyond your original purpose

                    - Digital Minimalism, p. 76

                    But you don't have to fall for that. Facebook is a conglomeration of different functions, which you use to different degrees and that you can use or stop using consciously. With this in mind, it can be useful to know alternatives to specific functions. 

                    Facebook in general

                    Guides to Facebook Alternatives:

                    Selected alternative social networks:

                    Messenger

                    Please read Restore Privacy's review of private messenger apps)

                    Events

                    • (local) websites
                    • Talk to people
                    • Doodle - For smart scheduling 
                    • JotForm - Forms 
                    • TypeForm - Forms and questionaires

                    Groups

                    Buying Selling

                    Birthdays

                    • Contact people via text or email when you congratulate their birthday. 

                    • Sounds laborious? Consider not congratulating as many people on their birthday.

                    Recommendations & Tips

                    • Ask friends
                    • Search the internet, read books, research yourself 
                    • Yelp

                    Jobs / CV

                    Niche cultures / Subcultures / Activism

                    See groups, events etc. Many movements, grassroots and subcultures have been built through FB, this is a hard one

                    Far away or old friends and family

                    • Save your friend's contact details! when finishing educations, jobs, projects etc 
                    • Consider if someone is important enough to worry about if you are not willing to spend the time to write them personally 

                    News 

                    Facebook is NOT a news service. Pay journalists for quality work. 

                    • The Guardian
                    • Information (DK)

                    • Weekendavisen (DK)

                    • Zetland (DK)