Why Facebook is a criminal enterprise run by sociopaths, why am I deleting it, and why you should consider it too
Year after year this global behemoth shows no interest in correcting its flaws, so I’ve decided to delete my profile altogether. Here’s a list of problems I have with it, and maybe they can make you reconsider your presence there too. Mind you, in the 18 months without it I haven’t noticed missing out on any good events, or losing contact with people in my life that matter. If anything I had more time not wasted here, and more conversation topics in real life because I didn’t know everything from lurking on profiles there.
I. Polarizing Society
Facebook’s ability to create filter bubbles, promote divisive content, and accelerate political polarization is no surprise to users who’ve kept up with the platform's many scandals. “Filter bubbles” means that Facebook knows what your [political] preferences are, and serves you only content that reinforces your beliefs. So if you fall into fake news and conspiracies trap, it is ready to serve you countless other conspiracies, and proactively prevents you from seeing correct information.
What’s worse, the impacts we’re seeing are by design. Facebook knows what's going on with its platform. If it wanted to change it, it could. Facebook knowingly pushes polarizing misinformation, particularly to conservatives, because it’s addictive and despite knowing exactly what they’re doing and why it’s wrong and that it’s making the world worse.
Read more: It's Hard to Escape Facebook's Vortex of Polarization
II. Mental Health
Taking a break from Facebook can boost emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction, with the effects particularly pronounced among people who “lurk” on the social network without actively engaging with others, a study suggests.
Again, probably no news here, especially in the year when the term “doom-scrolling” is a thing. What is doom-scrolling? You wake up and you reach for your phone. It's instinctive. On unlocking it, you start to check your social media apps almost subconsciously, scrolling, scrolling, bad news, pandemics, global catastrophes. The world feels like its ending and you haven't even had your first cup of coffee. Put it down. The few good memes aren’t worth it.
Read more: Facebook break can boost wellbeing, study suggests
The old internet wisdom goes “If the product is free, you are the product”. It’s especially true in the digital space and in the age of surveilance capitalism. Facebook wants to know everything about you, and sell that data to serve you relevant ads. We all know that feeling when we think about buying something and the ad is right there, waiting for us.
The algorithm is so good at it that it freaks us out - are they even listening to me or reading my mind? They don’t have to. Facebook tracks you across the whole internet, predicting your behavior based on calculated patterns. See that Facebook share button? It’s a nice tracker, isn’t it? Say hey, Zuck is watching.
Read more: How Facebook Tracks You, Even When You're Not on Facebook
III. Community? What Community?!
Facebook takes its pride in “fostering communities”, but in fact it does the exact opposite. The only communities Facebook fosters, are -again- hurting democracy. Facebook’s vague “community standards” and hesitance to moderate its content has lead to major organizations that undermine the fabric of society, most recently QAnon, which is a group that -besides other horrible BS- claims that Hilary Clinton eats babies. The number of followers? Around 5 million people. 5,000,000 people.
While true that connecting with your friends and family through social media can be a wonderful thing, it might be also true that we supplement real-life interactions with digital ones. Checking someone’s profile obsessively, staring at the infinite feeds even when we are at community places with our community, or spreading fake news which lead to real-life civil wars or premature deaths.
Read more: Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart
V. Threat to democracy and society
I don’t even know where to begin here. Which from the previously mentioned issues is the most appalling, or if it is some of the unmentioned ones - like Facebook’s documented anti-competitive behavior best illustrated by offers to buying Instagram which escalated into threats.
I think it is best if the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, tells you that himself - go ahead and read these terrific (and beautifully done) articles from The Verge
Read more: “Instagram can hurt us”: Mark Zuckerberg emails outline plan to neutralize competitors