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The privilege of being able to opt out of Meta

I’ve been writing a post on an online publication strategy called POSSE (Publish On (your own) Site, Syndicate Elsewhere), and how email newsletter publishers could adopt it to avoid using services like Substack or, if they are already using them, easily move elsewhere.

It’s got quite long, which is partly an indication of how complicated the process is. But writing the post also reminded me of the level of privilege some of us enjoy when it comes to making these choices.

It’s not just financial, although the few quid a month it costs to use, say, Fastmail, Buttondown and some cheap hosting for your own website isn’t readily available to everyone. Nor is it just technological or educational – I’d argue it’s actually fairly easy for someone who can publish an email newsletter to set up their own website that pushes posts to email.

No. As Erin Kissane reminds us in this must-read essay on Threads coming to the fediverse, companies like Meta try to become the de facto means of conducting life online, both in countries like the UK and, on a more profound, structural level, in countries developing an internet, such as Myanmar.

It’s unlikely your family members are going to set up a website and start syndicating life updates to Instagram, Facebook etc. Your work or business may depend on access to market places provided by the giant social media companies. The internet might just be Meta in your part of the world because it’s done a deal with your government and a foreign internet provider to make access to Facebook free.

I’m aware I can be preachy about these things, but the decision to engage with the likes of Meta isn’t always black and white. Often you’ll need to make a judgement. But if you do enjoy the privilege of being able to make a personal, ethical decision, then maybe you should.