Twitter is a tremendous and spectacular source of information, entertainment and the easiest platform I know to meet people who live very far away but deal with the same professional issues. While watching tv, you can follow how other people are experiencing tv and in NL you can very easily find ministers of the cabinet on twitter. It gives us the change of an interesting discussion with people who normally have 5 secretaries between you and them.
There were times my smartphone was glued to my hand to learn things at the very moment they happened. I might have been slightly addicted. And if you have to write many pages for a thesis, twitter makes you think for a long time you are busy with useful research while you are actually only procrasting. And of course, since privacy law is my job, I know that governments are monitoring what happens on the internet.
So I knew, twitter could have some things that would challenge me. But, last week I found another ‘challenge’: the Cousteau-ing of all users of twitter out of curiosity. It made me stop using twitter.
Let me explain how it works: companies are crawling social media platforms and use net fishing tools to collect all the data. Then they store it.
This makes it possible for them to answer questions like: how do my clients feel over the last years about product X? But they can dive deeper and zoom in on users, their network and their ‘influence’. And because of their archive, they can built a precise picture of your preferences, whereabouts, friends and opinions.
Why is that such a game spoiler? Twitter is speedy, fluent and in the heath of the moment. It’s like having a drink in a pub with a group of friends and some friends of theirs that you don’t know. You tell a funny joke, or a story that seems to be appropriate for that occasion. If you change the scenery, and would teletransport this group to, let’s say a memorial at a funeral, the tone, the intensity and the stories would be very different. If I would be observed the entire time by strangers, it would be different. Both stories are part of my personality but I know when and where I can say things very blunt or not.
Now picture your online twitter behavior being watched and stored for eternity. Not by governements but by companies that are interested in way more personal things then only searching for terrorists. With no checks and balances. In all secrecy.
These Cousteau-ing activities have one big difference with Cousteau’s real activities: Cousteau was so impressed by this life under the sea-level, that he start protecting this life. He used his admiration and new knowledge in favor of what he was filming.
In my case, and this is not a joke, though very ironic, a company that makes its money out of storing our tweets, asked my employer to put an end to me and my tweets. This is again very secretive, while most companies react by using twitter. It aswell shows that they are not following the great example of Cousteau himself.
It was the last day of my tweets. Twitter told me my messages are deleted. I know they are not.
Maybe I should have known better, but what they say about privacy is so very true: you know what privacy is once you lost it.
I do hope that some one invents a new platform. Until then, farewell dear Twitter and tweeps! It was fun while it lasted!