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? 🙂

Twenty-three years of after-school gigs on the internet

The New York Times has been writing about the internet for at least 31 years—well before “the Internet” became “the internet”. It has likely been writing about kids making money for much longer. I started going down that rabbit hole, but climbed right back out. This isn’t meant to be a long post.

A quote from an article last week on kids using the internet to make money made me terrified enough to do a quick comparison. It probably terrified me because I’m getting farther and farther away from being a kid, but it still worked and it’s my blog.

🗣 Just because you’re terrified doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying….

First, the comparison, from a 1996 piece on making websites as an after-school gig in the business section:

Mr. Franklin-Hodge also runs a popular site on the World Wide Web, called Laughweb, a smorgasbord of jokes plucked off the Internet. That’s for fun, but besides working for the local Internet company he has done contract jobs, for $15 to $25 an hour, that range from computer repairs to sophisticated programming assignments. His tax return for 1995 listed income of $6,000.

– New York Times, May 6, 1996: An After-School Job That’s Not Kids’ Stuff;Wanted: Web Designers and Programmers; $25/hr.; Need Parents’ Consent

Jascha Franklin-Hodge went on to become the CIO of Boston, co-founder of Blue State Digital, and is now executive director of Open Mobility Foundation.

The author interviews several other teens (and their parents) that are all earning money in some way or another from this great new World Wide Web and gosh isn’t it great. (It really was/is)

Fast forward 23 years and flip to the style section.

A 15 year old is making quite a bit of money (sometimes $10k/month) by posting memes on Instagram. But it’s not necessarily about the money…

“The more followers you have, the more voice you have,” he said. “The more clout you have, the more power you have.”

– New York Times, November 29, 2019: Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom

“The more clout you have, the more power you have” is a version of the internet we’ve created.

One last filter

Before deleting my Instagram account, I posted one last hurrah. I’m archiving it here for posterity. I plan on doing this with all of the posts, but it will likely take a bit longer because that’s what happens.

My final post to Instagram, a screenshot of a post written on this site.

It’s the final countdown!

I really enjoy the general experience of Instagram. I really don’t enjoy that Facebook owns the platform and all of the things that come with that.

I really enjoy the open web. I’m much happier when figuring out solutions to things using the open web than I am when using closed platforms that thrive on the sale of information about my friends and family.

So I’m moving on. I’ll be deleting this account by the end of the week. I’m going to archive all of my photos on my personal site, jeremyfelt.com, and I’m going to try out Pixelfed as an alternative to Instagram. If that doesn’t work, I’ll find another.

Thanks for sharing all your photos with me and liking (or not) all of mine. Its been a fun many years.

There’s a link in my bio for more information. It has to go there because Instagram doesn’t like the open web. Feel free to DM me if you want more info or want to keep in touch another way.

See y’all around 👋🏻 #onelastfilter