On the topic of identity farming: Is Facebook’s “Safety Check” an authentic attempt to assist communities reeling from disaster ? Or is this merely another way of corporations to intrude into every aspect of contemporary social existence and to continue to turn a monumentally accelerating profit margin ? The core motivation of Safety Check (at least superficially) appears to be honest and of good character but the inevitability of the privileged and “enlightened self-interests” of corporate reality can never be fully extracted from a mega-company’s behaviour.

Is our identity and social or cultural extension and existence always already and purely a marketable quantity ? Or, are the interdependent shared spaces of social media the inevitable and healthy projections of a personal story into the shared narrative in which mutual assistance and disaster recovery are of intrinsic high-value ? Perhaps it is both for our benefit and for the benefit of the shared social and cultural (or entrepeneurially opportunistic corporate) world simultaneously, perhaps not. There may be a false dichotomy here between what is notionally for ourselves, for our own social and participatory benefit and what is for the collective and shared cultural identity embodied in the motivations and profits directed towards the corporations. The corporate world had managed to capitalise on these digitally-mediated participatory subjectivities so very, very well. The contemporary situation remains in any case fluid and as such – concrete axioms of identity, motivation or purpose are not plausibly simple to define.

I suspect that, as may perhaps always be the case, it is just as likely that whatever patterns, symmetries or system dynamics are actually at play here may only become (at least partially) transparent to some future historical survey and that whatever we believe Facebook’s ultimate motivations to be, much like our own assertions and self-justifications for personal behaviour, these may actually be something other than what we believe them to be. Realities often reveal themselves in hindsight to be radically other than that which they were initially believed to be. Social realities have always been culturally-mediated spaces but when these spaces are themselves aligned to corporate financial gain, where the parameters and boundaries of admissible, intelligible reality are written by the axioms of a corporate self-interest – even genuinely or potentially useful post-disaster communications and humanitarian tools seem hollow and superficial.

Context: Checking the Safety Check
Related: Facebook apologizes for mistaken Safety Check messages after Pakistan blast

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