mike elgan

On the ethics of using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

Nobody wants to hear this, but by using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger you are enabling, supporting and participating in:

Everyone complains about all this. But every Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger user is enabling, supporting and participating in the spread of these things.

Maybe it’s time to stop using Facebook services.

Merry Christmas from Mexico City

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Where they really know how to deck the halls.

How to optimize notifications for Google Photos

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I’m deleting Facebook. I’m replacing it with the “Sharing” tab on Google Photos. I think you should, too.

And if you do try this, here’s what you need to know about Google Photos notifications.

When you create a shared folder, you invite people to Join that folder. You can also get a URL so that anyone — including those who don’t Join, and also those who aren’t even logged into Google.

Other people may invite you to Join their albums, or they may send you a link to their albums.

The act of Joining an album simply means that you’ll be connected to that album in potentially three ways:

  1. Mobile phone notifications

  2. Email notifications

  3. You’ll see any album you’ve joined in the “Sharing” tab of Google Photos listed in order of most recent activity first.

If you’re annoyed by mobile phone notifications, you don’t have to “un-Join” albums. You can simply turn them off. Likewise for email notifications.

If you turn off both mobile phone and email notifications, you’ll see activity on the shared albums you’ve joined in your “Sharing” tab of Google Photos whenever you happen to open it. For many, this is the preferred approach.

Anytime you’re in Google Photos, you’ll see what’s called a “hamburger menu icon” in the upper left corner. This looks like three horizontal lines. Click on the “hamburger menu icon,” then click on the “Settings” option.

In a desktop or laptop browser, you’ll see the option for “Browser notifications” with a switch for turning those on or off.

In the Android Google Photos app, you’ll see under “Settings” “Notifications.” Tap on “Notifications.” Now tap on “Notification settings on this device.” At the top you’ll see “On” with a switch for turning on or off all Google Photos notifications. If this is on, you’ll see at the bottom a “Sharing” switch for turning “Sharing” notifications on or off.

In the iPhone Google Photos, you’ll see under “Settings” “Notifications.” Tap on “Notifications.,” then on “System notification settings.” Tap on “Notifications.” Now you can toggle the switch for “Allow notifications” on or off for Google Photos.

(Personally I keep mobile phone notifications off, but keep email notifications on.)

How to replace Facebook with "Nicebook"

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Many people would like to leave Facebook, but fear that leaving Facebook means losing connection with family and friends.

But that’s not true. You CAN leave Facebook and still stay in touch with your loved ones.

I call my replacement a “Nicebook” because if gives you all the nice things about Facebook (photo sharing, connection, liking, comments, etc.) without all the not-so-nice things about Facebook.

It’s just a shared album on Google Photos.

A shared album on Google Photos not only gives you the good things about Facebook without the bad things, it gives you other things Facebook cannot give you:

  • Photos are full quality, not made low-resolution like Facebook makes them

  • Share and connect with all the people in your life who are not on Facebook

  • Photos go to everyone, not just the 7% or so of the people Facebook decides should get them

  • No ads

  • No contributing to the massive harm that Facebook does to the world

The idea is: I create my “Nicebook,” and you create yours. By “joining” each others’ shared albums, we are connected exactly as we would be connected as “friends” on Facebook.

Here’s my Nicebook. Click on the link to join.

Here’s how to set up YOUR Nicebook:

  1. Go to the “Albums” tab of Google Photos, then click on the “Create Album” box.

  2. Give your album a name (I recommend your name, or something like “My Nicebook.”

  3. Click “Select Photos,” click once on one photo (just to get it started), then click on the “Done” button.

  4. Click on the “Share” button in the upper right corner, then invite your family and friends to join. (you can also click on the Facebook button to invite everyone from Facebook)

  5. In the future, you can just use the “Share” button on any photo in Google Photos. Click on “Shared Album,” then choose your specific folder.

  6. Add a caption by clicking on the “i” button on a photo, then typing in your caption under “Add a description.”

  7. I recommend changing the order of photos to show newest ones first. With your album open choose “Edit Album” from the options menu, then click on the up-down arrows to change the sort order.

From now on, just use your shared “Nicebook” album like you used to use Facebook — share photos and comments, interact with people’s comments, and keep inviting people to join. Also: Encourage others to do the same.

Let’s get off Facebook, everyone, and share our photos in a space we control, without ads, filtering, fake news or other abuses.