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Back to the ‘Book

BY Lyle Stewart Aug 30, 2019

We all have our Facebook face. You know what I mean. It’s the same expression we make when we know a photo (or a selfie) is going to be posted on social media.

Looking back over a dozen years of tagged photos of my aging mug on my Facebook page recently, I found myself getting bored. I was obviously more concerned about putting forward what I believed to be my good side rather than letting the real emotion of a moment show through. I’m pretty sure most of us have that face.

I was perusing my page recently because I had been locked out of my account for almost a full year. I had been among the 90 million accounts that Facebook had “reset” last September – logged out – because of a password breach. Unfortunately, to regain access to my account I needed to also access my old Hotmail account I used to set up my page way back in March 2007. And I have long forgotten the password to that email address, which had become clogged with spam.

I went through a short period of withdrawal, and tried to jump through the many hoops required to regain access to both accounts. But, as time went by, I found that taking a Facebook sabbatical was a healthy thing. And, in a process of mostly intentional procrastination, I put off the effort to get back on the ’Book.

Sure, I mourned the lost access to the years of personal history stored on the page. Like most people, I relied on it to remind me when a birthday or public event I wanted to attend occurred. I missed out on personal stories from people I love who live hundreds or thousands of kilometres away.

I also gained time. I didn’t lose time checking to see how many likes or comments a post had garnered. I didn’t lose time engaging in fruitless debates over public issues – debates on social media only serve to push us farther apart now, rather than bringing us closer to a compromise. I didn’t lose time mindlessly scrolling over posts that held no interest for me.

Facebook has an inordinate amount of control over our lives. As an example, just look at the websites of the band councils of Eeyou Istchee that haven’t been updated in a decade because they now use the filter of Facebook for their public announcements. It’s a strange thing to hand over control of our personal and public communications to a massive, multi-billion-dollar corporation that has been proven time and again to exploit that control for private profit and political manipulation.

All of our personal data that we store on the site is at great risk. Just last spring, Facebook confirmed that as many as 600 million passwords were left unprotected before they closed the loophole. Imagine your bank leaving your online account information and password open for anyone to access. Actually, you can, as customers at Caisse Desjardins discovered recently.

Nonetheless, I recently discovered that Facebook had made it easier to recover one’s account. I had to scan a piece of government-issued photo identification, create another email account and answer a few revealing personal questions and, voila! For better or worse, I was back to the ’Book.

At last count, my status update announcing my return had 56 likes.

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Lyle Stewart has been working as a journalist for over 30 years. He believes that information is the ultimate check on the abuse of power and that independent media outlets such as the Nation are crucial to democratic governance.