On the podcast, I spoke with Larry Williams Jr, the founder of Unionbase, the first social media network designed for the Labor movement. With over 30,000 union profiles in its database, unions and workers can create public and private posts, share information, organize, and get all of the latest news from your local.
Anyone in the United States and Canada may create a Unionbase profile, and it’s free to join. Users must be verified in order to view messages.. The verification process is slightly different depending on who you are. To create a verified profile for your union, union leadership must submit a signed letter on company letterhead along with the name and email address that they designate to be the profile administrator.
When a union member creates a user profile on Unionbase, a request is sent to the Union they have chosen to associate with for verification. Using the admin dashboard, the union’s administrator will confirm that they are a member of that union and verify their profile. Non-union users can also create a profile and view public messages, but they cannot view the private messages of unions and other union members.
It is important to note that Unionbase is NOT Facebook. Facebook is a business. The Facebook end user is not you or me or even us creating a user profile. Facebook is all about its advertisers and the companies who want access to your data, so they can sell their products or market to you. In this clip from Unionbase and Organizing the Next Generation, Larry Williams Jr was quick to point out one of the key differences between Unionbase and Facebook:
Data Mining and Facebook
Data mining is a process used by companies to turn your raw data into beneficial information. By analyzing large chunks of raw data, businesses can discern patterns about your interests, sentiments, and spending habits. This information is used to create more effective, personalized marketing campaigns, detect fraud, evaluate credit risk, filter out spam emails, or assess consumers’ opinions.
Facebook has been plagued with a long history of scandals about how it handles our data. Many of us remember the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2014 when the company harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users without their consent for political advertising.
The New York Times analyzed hundreds of pages of documents and discovered that Facebook arranged to share your personal data with over 150 companies. Apple was able to access contact numbers and calendar entries of users including those who had disabled their sharing settings on Facebook. Netflix, Spotify, and the Royal Bank of Canada were able to read, write, and even delete users’ private messages and view participants in their private chat threads. Sony, Microsoft, and Amazon were permitted to access users’ email addresses through their friends. These are just a small smattering of privacy abuses by Facebook.
However, complaints about user privacy have not been confined to the United States. In May 2008, the director of Canada’s Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic found “a minefield of privacy invasion” and filed a 35-page complaint against Facebook.
In November 2015, Belgium ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-members who viewed publicly posted content on Facebook. The Belgian Privacy Commissioner cited European privacy laws, or Facebook would risk heavy fines. Rather than take down this cookie feature, Facebook responded by banning non-members in Belgium from looking at anything on Facebook unless they signed in and created a profile.
If you’re in the labor world, and you’re trying to organize, and you don’t care if your data is secure, join Facebook. Otherwise, if you want peace of mind that your activities are not being tracked or monitored, then go on over to Unionbase, create a profile, and start organizing.
If you’d like to create your own Unionbase profile or if you’re interested in reading a little bit more about the Unionbase social network, please visit the Unionbase website.
BBC News – Facebook’s Data-Sharing Deals Exposed
Full podcast episodes of The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds with union and client advocate, Traci Dority-Shanklin, are available on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, Pandora, or check out our full library HERE on our website.