My newborn son will not be online

My newborn son will not be online

This is a sensitive subject. What I've written is entirely autobiographical. It's just my opinion and I judge no one for doing otherwise.

Kayleigh and I had our first child recently. We've decided not to put his face online. I don’t think it’s right to put someone online without their permission. He’ll put himself online when he’s ready.

I won't chronicle his life, publicly, without his permission.

If a family member created a social media account in your name and filled it with hundreds of photos, videos and posts, without your permission, how would it make you feel?

The lack of control.

When you add a photo or video to Facebook, they automatically get a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to them. Which means they're free to use them however they like, wherever they like and whenever they like without paying a penny or asking permission. And they can sub-license it (give it to someone else to use) without your permission. They can also remove them without a reason.

Most people are unaware of the lack of control they have over photos of their own family when they upload to Facebook.

Some people store ALL of their photos on Facebook as if it were a personal photo album. This is called digital sharecropping. And it's a real problem. Billions of people are giving away their most precious visual memories to a destructive corporation that's proven it can't be trusted with our data.

Anytime you share a photo on social media assume that it's no longer in your control.

Manipulation at scale

In 2012, right before Facebook IPO'd, the shareholders realised a major issue with their revenue model. Back in the late 2000s, we stuck to our small social network of friends and family. We logged in, looked at what our friends did without us last night, and then logged out. That version of Facebook was a beautiful thing.

But it wasn't making the big bucks.

To fix this, Facebook invented something called the infinite scrolling newsfeed and filled it with advertising. Shareholder pressure forced this decision. That was the hammer blow that kickstarted a generation of manipulated social media users, extreme polarisation and an epidemic of inferiority complexes, as keeping up with the Jones's went global, at scale, from the comfort of your own bed.

The infinite scroll created another problem. One of privacy and security. Our Facebook network, once confined to friends and family, is now open to all 2.7 Billion users. When you post a photo of your child and a friend shares it, your photo enters their entire network. Another share, another network. And so on.

The negative non-linear outcomes of this include digital kidnapping (a sort of digital identity theft, abduction, abuse, pedophilia, black-mail, and fraud.

To put my son on social media is making the decision for him to be on a platform that is net-negative for society. We've had to create new diagnoses and treatment for social media addiction. I'm not allowing Facebook to start collecting data on him now so that they know him so well by the time he's 13 (shockingly adverts can be targeted at 13 year olds) that unethical advertisers will be able to bend him and shape him to become who they need him to be to sell him more of their harmful products.

He has to learn this for himself and then make his own decision.

But, as I said, these extreme examples, of fraud and blackmail, are non-linear - the chances of them happening are low but the impact is catastrophic and potentially irrecoverable. Surprisingly, they're not the main reasons I don't want him online.

The main reason is that by putting him online today I'm taking away his right to choose later. And I don't think that's fair at all.

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