My Experience With Facebook in 02021


In January 02021, I decided to get back on Facebook so that, primarily, I could do two things: Firstly, to buy some Magic cards, and secondly so I could see how changes had been made to Facebook's operating model and algorithms since I had last been there.

I had left Facebook in ~02014, at which point it had been fairly well saturated with my friends and family. I was certainly one of the first within my social circles to leave Facebook entirely, and not just use a pseudonym or semipseudonym to give myself a modicum of privacy. At the time, Marketplaces (such as they were) were run on local pages and administered ad-hoc, and Facebook hadn't started to try to vertically and horizontally integrate itself into everything. What complaints there were about it were usually from content creators about Facebook stealing all their traffic and pushing them to pivot to video - remember that era?

Creating an Account

Creating an account was pretty straightforward. I used my standard email address for contacting me through this website and made an account in about 3 minutes. There was the normal verification crap which was relatively unobtrusive - confirming email and I was given an option to provide my phone details for 2-Factor Authentication. Not yet trusting Facebook not to spam me with shit, and being on a focused-information diet, I decided not to install the App, but I did give my phone number for security and 2FA.

Probable Error 1: I edited my privacy settings to near maximum as one of the first things I did in using a new account. Confidence: About 80% that it had a meaningful impact what was to come, if not the sole trigger.

Setting all my privacy settings took a significant amount of clicking effort. The default settings gave a significant amount of network-connecting capabilities, which presupposes a high rate of engagement and trust with the algorithm and a certain level of connection-seeking by default among the user base (assuming Facebook is aligning with the interests of its users).

I decided to buy a few Magic cards, and looked around in the suggested 'Groups' area and found some public facing Magic: The Gathering buy, sell and swap sites. I was after some cards to finish off a casual Magic deck and so I went to join some groups of people selling MTG in Australia. A few I couldn't join because I hadn't added any friends yet. Not to worry, I thought to myself - I'll do that next.' I noticed a few cards that I wanted to buy that were for sale in an auction format, bid on a couple according to the protocols outlined, and was then prompted to upload an avatar to use as an icon. I uploaded my standard avatar pictures, kindly supplied by agreement with Big Doofa Photography.

I had, in hindsight, uploaded a photo without my face on it to represent me as an avatar. I didn't particularly think my lack of face would be a concern at that point, but again this probably rasied my robot-positive-detection-trigger levels a little higher with the local security systems.

To be continued... <