Reflections on being digitally erased

Published: Sat, 01/06/24

In my last post I reported that I was deleted from Facebook. I have since created a new account and have started building up my ‘friends’ network once again and have rejoined a couple of groups including the Ice and Fire Stav group which I created several years ago and have been a major contributor of the material posted there. The group still exists. However, all trace of my original involvement and contributions have vanished. I was the original admin and I am no longer in the list of admins. All my posts and comments have gone. I was puzzled for a while why the title picture had disappeared too. Then I realised that I would have originally uploaded the image and so it has gone along with the rest of my erasure.
Does Facebook matter that much? I do find it useful for organising and communicating about some camps and events. It is a nice way of keeping in touch with people, albeit at a distance, which was of course its original purpose. However, it is clearly Facebook’s policy not to allow any discussion of a ‘controversial’ nature. In 2016 there was a lot of generally intelligent discussion about Brexit. Talking about Covid on Facebook became more problematic, with lots of so called ‘fact checking’. There was very little discussion about the Ukraine conflict. I am fairly sure that posting links to my articles which discussed the situation in the Middle East got me deleted from Facebook. The decision to close my account may not even have been made by a human being. The algorithms can monitor all posts, check out the links, and then decide to eliminate anyone who promotes key words and phrases which are deemed ‘unacceptable’. Maybe a
human being made the final decision, I have read that Facebook employs more than 15,000 ‘content moderators’ as censors and they must do something to justify their pay. However, it doesn’t really matter, it is AI which makes such a level of surveillance possible. The same situation existed on Twitter until Elon Musk took over. Apparently he sacked about 80% of the staff who were mainly employed to monitor and censor content. I imagine Twitter (now called X) investigates and responds to actual complaints, but otherwise Musk likes to claim that his network is committed to free speech. When I get time I will see what I can do with X. As far as I can tell Gab is genuinely committed to free speech and the content is radically different to the innocuous stuff you find on Facebook.
Facebook itself may be of little consequence and some of the most sensible people I know have never gone near the network. However, social networking has been a major part of the process of moving our lives on line and digitizing our experiences and transactions. For the first half of my life there was no internet or mobile phones, so, I remember a non-digital world. My daughter will know nothing else. So, where are we going with digitization and governance?
There are three priorities for those who would like to control the world. 1. Digital identity, without which it will be impossible to do anything which requires a verified identity. 2. Central Bank digital currency, which will not be money as such, just credit controlled by algorithms. 3. Carbon usage, the controlling of which will be justified as ‘saving the planet from climate change’ and enforced using digital identity and credit. You can investigate these plans for yourself if you are interested.
What I would like to consider here is what my Facebook experience suggests for our future. Social media is a development tool and test bed for creating digital identity systems. Have you ever paid for social media? Yes, they can make some money from advertising, but for the first ten years Facebook was hardly monetised at all. Amazon didn’t return any profit either for a similar period of time. So, why the massive investments? Because these were all part of an early stage of digitising the world. For thousands of years human beings based their identity on their physical existence as a personal presence within a human body. Essential information such as citizenship, qualifications, driving permission, property ownership where all confirmed with physical passports, certificates, licenses, and deeds of ownership. Yet, on Facebook my existence was strictly digital and within a server owned and controlled by Meta. When Meta decided
to eliminate my Facebook life I was terminated as if I had never existed.
Once our lives are based on digital identity everything will depend upon that identity. Your digital credit will only exist as long as your digital identity is in order. Your carbon usage will be carefully monitored and rationed. You simply won’t be able to spend your credit on more than your ration of transport, heating, or anything else. As far as behavior is concerned every word you write, or even say, through digital means (including your phone), or image you take, can be monitored by AI. Your credit and freedom of action online can be restricted until you behave a required. Even your real world experience will be severely limited if you cannot board public transport, enter a public building, or drive a vehicle because your digital ID forbids it. The Chinese have lived under such a system for several years now.
If the system decides you deserve it then you could be eliminated completely. All records that you ever existed along with your identity erased, anything you ever wrote or posted deleted, even any image of you held on a digital device or on a server could be found by AI and removed.
Alarmist? Digital erasure has just happened to me and thousands of other people have had similar experiences. Digital communication and information storage does have its uses. However, mix in AI and a desire to control the world and the dangers are immense We must hang on to reality at all costs.
PS Real life training opportunities in the spring:
Salisbury 9th March
Tickton, East Yorkshire 6th of April
The 2024 Stavcamp will be a real experience too in time space, sunshine and trees and maybe even some mud and rain. As well as Stav training it will be a chance to discuss the issue of freedom where the algorithms cannot listen in and no one can delete you without a fight. Take the opportunity while we still can.

Graham Butcher
21 Beaver Road
Beverley East Yorkshire HU17 0QN

To unsubscribe or change subscriber options, visit: