TL;DR I am taking a break from Facebook and I encourage all of you reading this to do the same. #BoycottFacebook
I have been in a love/hate relationship with Facebook for quite a while now. On the one hand, I love how Facebook allows me to remain connected with my social network. I also love the positive aspects of the Facebook filter bubble: because my friends are interested in, care about, and share the same kinds of things as I do, Facebook gives me a continuous, tailored feed of news about the world.
A few years ago, that filter bubble was what everybody was afraid of on Facebook. We were concerned that it was causing people to become more isolated from points of view different from theirs, more polarized, and more intolerant. I shared those concerns, but frankly, I think it is clear at this point that we were worrying about the wrong thing.
Filter bubbles are a problem, but they are by far not the biggest problem with Facebook. The biggest problem is that it is being successfully used to spread disinformation and propaganda and to actively promote the disintegration of belief in objective truth and facts, endangering not only our democracy but the very future of the human race. This is all for the benefit a few powerful people who believe that their money will protect them when life falls apart for everyone else on the planet.
The last straw for me was this: https://twitter.com/drewharwell/status/1131632150401429505. In a nutshell, two days ago, doctored videos of Nancy Pelosi intended to make her appear cognitively impaired were posted on a number of social media platforms. The video has been viewed more than two million times on Facebook. After more than 24 hours of refusing to take any action at all about the video, Facebook refused to take it down because “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true.” Later, being interviewed about the situation, a Facebook executive stated, “We’re not in the news business. We’re in the social media business.”
Facebook’s handling of this video is consistent with how Facebook has dealt all along with the people using their platform to destroy the world: deny and deflect, do as little as possible, and take as long as possible to do it. Why? Because Facebook cares about one thing and one thing only, profit, and viral content — the more controversial the better — drives profit.
Facebook users don’t pay for the service. So, how does Facebook make money? From ads. The more time people spend on Facebook, the more ads they see. Controversial content makes people stay on Facebook longer.
Facebook keeps apologizing. Facebook keeps saying that they understand there is a problem and they’re doing everything they can to fix it. But their handling of this incident proves, yet again, that the apologies are false, and that whatever measures they’re actually taking to stop Facebook from being used to dismantle society are not enough.
I have no faith that Facebook wants to do the right thing. I have no faith that Facebook is going to do the right thing. I have no faith that Facebook, at the highest level where these decisions are made, cares about doing the right thing. At best, they are in denial. At worst, they don’t care as long as they get theirs.
Facebook is not all bad. It gives a platform to the underrepresented, the discriminated against, and the downtrodden that they’ve never had before. It amplifies voices that deserve to be heard. But the cost outweighs the benefit, and that won’t change until enough people say, “Enough!”
There is only one way we can do that. We are not the customer, so we are the product. Facebook makes its money by showing us ads, and money is the only language Facebook understands. The only tool we, as individuals, have to force Facebook to change is to take money out of its pockets.
I will not continue to subsidize the destruction of civilization, so I’m signing off. I hope you will join me.
P.S. I’m also signing off of the other apps owned by Facebook — Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
P.P.S. I’m moving to MeWe, and I’d be delighted to have you join me there. You can find me at https://mewe.com/i/jonathankamens.