Feb 28, 2019

Why social networks should not be trusted as easily as they are

Your art should be protected from turns of fortune, data breaches and… social media apocalypse.

Life is ever changing, and you never know what can happen tomorrow. Especially when it comes to the Internet which is the fastest evolving thing in the world.

One day you can wake up and find that everything has changed. You don’t have your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account anymore. You are trying to log in but all the efforts are in vain. Everything is gone. Your best artworks, your deep thoughts, your engaging posts, thousands of your fans and followers, millions of «likes» (sounds terrible, I know!) as well as all the long comment threads. You feel panicky. Everything you’ve built simply disappeared.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? Perhaps such a total apocalypse is not very likely to happen, and yet nothing is eternal. When was the last time you’ve heard of Bebo, Friendster, Yahoo! Buzz and Vine? Once upon a time these were successful social platforms, but they are long gone, with all their content. The truth is that any of the existing social networking services can meet a similar fate although they are being currently used by millions of users. And you should be prepared for something you’re used to just disappearing.

Even a giant like Facebook can sink into oblivion. Do you remember November 2018? Almost half of Facebook users experienced total blackout and 50% reported issues with logging in and picture loading. Facebook blamed a «routine test» for the outages but a week later the situation repeated once again. This time, according to the company, the problem was a result of «a server configuration». In other words, it didn’t seem like the tech firm was in control of what was going on.

It’s much worse when a social media platform experiences a data breach which can fuel movements like ‘#deleteFacebook’. In march 2018 Facebook made headlines after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. Later Facebook disclosed that it had been hit by another data breach, affecting 50 million users.

Such problems can even cause a platform to shut down, as it has happened with Google+. Who could imagine that a giant like Google would hurry to end its social media platform? The company plans to shut it down by April 2019 because of a recent security flaw, which could have exposed private information of 52.5 million Google+ users without their permission because of a “bug” in the software.

A story which is even more relevant for the art-community took place just weeks ago, when the art sales platform Artsy was hacked along with 620 million accounts stolen from 16 hacked websites. The information is currently for sale on the dark web.

The truth is that the platforms which collect data of millions users will always be an attractive target for some malicious users.

O.K., let’s be positive. Maybe your favourite social media platform will continue to be in place forever. The bad scenarios may never come true again. Perhaps in the bright future tech companies will know how to counter all the threats and defend your privacy like a medieval knight defended the honour of his lady (do you believe?). But think of changes in terms of use or algorithms. It happens all the time. So you will always be playing by someone’s rules and never be in full control of your online content and how it’s shown to the others.

The only solution is to be your own art media, get a .ART – don’t trust anything else to store your personal data or work.

It’s like building a house on land you don’t own – how can you ever be sure it won’t get demolished? As long as you are only on social media, your two most valuable assets, portfolio and established audience, are at a constant risk of rule changes or even vanishing with yet another big corporation. With .ART you are completely independent from those turns of cyber fortune.

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