The year is 2021. The world is a very different place. The #deleteFacebook campaign of 2018 changed the way humanity communicates, the way people relate to each other, the very way we think about life itself.
As the groundswell of public opinion grew into an irresistible wave, governments around the world had no choice but to respond.
It was determined the Cambridge Analytica scandal was an unforgivable breach of privacy and a savage blow against freedom itself, despite nobody being able to explain what had actually happened.
Authorities moved swiftly to ban Facebook and exile Mark Zuckerberg to the Kamchatka Peninsula, where he now works as a crab farmer. Finally, the world’s data, and the privacy of millions, was safe.
But since the abolition of Facebook, we have faced a few problems, to which we have had to find increasingly creative solutions.
Life outside the newsfeed
In the early days, there was a sense of disorientation, as we struggled to figure out how to navigate the world without the assistance of a global social network.
Many families drifted apart, parents losing touch with children, siblings losing touch with siblings, uncles losing touch with nieces and old school friends losing touch with people they hadn’t seen in 30 years but had just last week sent an emoji to.
It took a while to figure out how to maintain connectivity with each other in the brave new safe-data world, but the natural ingenuity of the human race won out in the end, with the introduction of FaceSmoke, the smoke signal solution for the 21st century.
FaceSmoke is a subscription service which allows you to transmit messages via modulated smoke signal to people in your personal network.
For $9.99 a month you can sign up to FaceSmoke Basic, which permits up to 15 messages each month; but for $24.99 you can get FaceSmoke Premium, which features unlimited messages sent and received between FaceSmoke members.
The possibility of non-members accidentally seeing your private messages is obviated by the black shrouds that the FaceSmoke corporation placed over all non-members’ houses.
The beauty of FaceSmoke is that there is no risk of your personal information being passed on to third parties. Once you provide that information to FaceSmoke, it is burnt to provide fuel for the smoke.
After the heady days of his Facebook success, Mark Zuckerberg had to quickly adjust to an unconnected life in exile. (Reuters: Brian Snyder, file photo)
The market to the rescue
But of course, Facebook wasn’t just about communication with friends — it was also about sharing interesting and informative content about the government’s free housing program for immigrants and the fatal consequence of vaccines.
How to facilitate this in the post-Facebook world, with smoke so sadly inadequate for the purpose of hyperlinks?
As always, the market filled the gap, with FaceFolder, a service which delivers a manila folder to your house each week containing printouts of all the online articles you might be interested in, as determined by the survey you took when you signed up.
There were fears, obviously, when FaceFolder launched, that the results of that survey would be used in the same nefarious way as in the Cambridge Analytica affair, whatever that might be.
These were assuaged when FaceFolder signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations committing the company to supply its clients’ personal information exclusively to government agencies, and never commercial enterprises.
This put all our minds at ease, as you’ll recall.
The new GFC: Great Facebook crash
However, there remained a pressing issue.
After Facebook went offline, the global economy went into a sharp downturn, as businesses found themselves unable to effectively market their products, while consumers, unaware of the amazing offers that were out there, sat placidly in their homes, staring non-capitalistically at the walls.
The challenge became how to get the corporate message to the target market without the huge Orwellian engine of Zuckerberg’s grand edifice?
Just as it seemed the global depression would become a permanent state of being, the business community came up with the perfect solution: FaceShop.
With FaceShop, any company could pay a monthly fee, supply a list of people they considered potential consumers, and FaceShop would build a small store outside each of their houses, selling the company’s goods and services.
The beauty of FaceShop is it requires no input from consumers.
No need to provide any personal information; the corporate customers of FaceShop simply take the best guess they can as to who might like their products, and whoever they choose gets a shop, or several shops, in their front yard.
Privacy is protected, and the basic human right to shop is upheld.
It’s been a wild few years, but we can all be grateful we’ve arrived at a place where we can live our lives as before, enjoying all the fruits of modernity without worrying about the spectre of corporate surveillance.
The online world is finally safe for all, and now the only threats to our freedom are the rogue self-driving cars stalking our streets, the roving bands of unemployed ex-Facebook employees and Twitter’s recent purchase of the world’s largest motion-sensor camera firm.
Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian.