No more traffic to Facebook

Way back in May, I initiated the process to delete my Facebook account. That went through in June and I retroactively ceased to exist—in Facebookland.

A couple weeks ago, I deleted my account on Instagram and I retroactively ceased to exist—in Instaland.

I’m still using WhatsApp on my phone, but am very close to finalizing the switch to something else.

Now that I don’t actually need to use any of these services from my laptop, I can disable the ability of the laptop to do so. For this, I look back to an excellent series of articles by Kashmir Hill—”Goodby Big Five“.

During that experiment, Hill worked with a colleague, Dhruv Mehrotra, to block any outgoing traffic to various services so that she could report on how it felt to use the internet without them. A byproduct of that is a GitHub repository with scripts that can be used by anyone using MacOS.

A cool thing that I learned through all the above is that the large internet companies are all big enough to operate their own autonomous system (AS) that tracks all of the IP addresses that have been allocated to it. This means that rather than looking for any connection in a browser to a facebook.com-ish URL and blocking them in a Whac-A-Mole manner, we can get a list of all registered IPs in an instant and block them all at once.

So tonight I ran the script: sudo ./block.sh --facebook, and traffic to 122 IPv4 subnets owned by Facebook was blocked on my machine. If I try to access facebook.com, instagram.com, or if any other webpage attempts to load a script from those places, it just doesn’t work.

This likely won’t have any actual adverse effect on day to day browsing. I can imagine the two scenarios I’ll run across are looking at a one-off Instagram post someone refers to elsewhere and wanting to check the snow and grooming conditions at our favorite snowshoe spot, which are really only available through a Facebook group. For both, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a hacky way to grab the info. Maybe that fits with adversarial interoperability? 🙂

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