Safety Dance

When I came back to Turkey from the Netherlands I first took a flight to İzmir, and from there went to Balıkesir. My father had taken my luggage with him when he left on the Monday, to lighten the load for our car when we were leaving to İstanbul with my mother and my uncle on Wednesday. He had come to drop it off to our house in İstanbul earlier that Friday evening at around 9:30 PM. An hour and a half later he came back to pick me up and take shelter in his office in case a curfew were to be put in place. It was, not that it mattered much in the end.

I spent the whole night watching TV and browsing the internet—seeing buildings getting bombed, helicopters drilling people on the streets, people laying down in front of tanks to stop them, low-flying jets shaking the windows. Whenever there was a silence, it felt like it would all stop, but it didn't until about seven in the morning. I slept an hour later, woke up in the afternoon, and had breakfast with my father.

'Well, that just happened,' was what I semi-humorously posted on Facebook the morning after the 15 July coup attempt. That's the only thing I said about the coup on social media, because given Turkey's track record it would come as no surprise if I were to write anything moderately suggestive about the coup, it would result in legal repercussions. I'm not really into being checked at the airport, y'know?

Am I afraid of anything I write being used against me? Yeah, sort of. Maybe it's a slightly paranoid action, but I am now deleting my Facebook account. Your account contains information that is far beyond what you consciously give Facebook, and information that can be used against you. One thing that a lot of people don't know about is the 'Advert Preferences' on Facebook. The 'Lifestyle and Culture' tab specifically is the one that tells the most about you as a person. I won't lie, some of these are scarily accurate:

Most of these are not difficult to derive. Facebook knows that I like sustainability from my MUN history, democracy and freedom of speech from the news I read, liked, and shared. It knows where my family lives, and where I was born. So seeing that I was in Amsterdam for such a long time, it knows that I'm away from my family and hometown. It knows that my girlfriend lives in a city that's not Amsterdam, so it can easily infer long-distance relationship. It knows by polling my GPS location from my cellphone that I came back from Amsterdam roughly two weeks ago (when I got internet access to use Facebook the first time) and that I came back from Balıkesir a week ago. It knows the brand and model of my cellphone because it's embedded in my requests to the website and the Messenger app.

My point, however, is not just about what it knows though—the really scary thing is that it likely knows much more, and these are only a part of what it knows. Although these are said to be used for displaying adverts, they are updated regardless of whether or not you are opted out of the interest-based adverts program.

I do not urge others to delete their Facebook accounts, but I feel like it is necessary to do so. I have many other reasons to delete my account, but I couldn't until now because of how well it was integrated into my life. It's past the tipping point now. It has provided whatever benefit it could to me over the years, but now the reality I'm living in has made it unnecessary deadweight. If anybody wants to contact me, they should be able to.

You don't need Facebook for that.

— Evrim Öztamur at Tue, 26 July 2016 10:28:30 GMT from İstanbul, TR