I am so spitting mad right now I can’t think straight. How could Facebook not know that Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica were messing with our minds through its website? And why isn’t someone under arrest for this already?
I have loved Facebook. I have loved seeing my friends’ and family’s photos, updates, travels, celebrations, jokes, and yes, even some of the memes. Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch easily and happily, and maybe that’s the problem. It has been too easy.
Now that I know how the US election was railroaded, I have been wondering if my Facebook account was one of those that were being used by these creeps. Was my list of friends high-jacked along with information about their characteristics? There is a good chance it was, and so was yours. It also makes me wonder if the same data mining happened with the British Brexit vote.
The Guardian’s exposé of how this all came about is outstanding journalism, and I am very grateful for it, but it has left me with an awful choice. If I protect myself and my friends by closing my Facebook account, I will at the same time be cutting myself off from my primary connection with a lot of people whom I care about. I will also be cutting this blog off from many of its readers.
On the other hand, if I stay on Facebook I will continue to expose myself and my Facebook friends to algorithms that do not have our best interests at heart. As the whistleblower has explained, we have been fed messages designed to fragment our society, to drive us all further apart. That is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to use Facebook for.
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and I have paid nothing for my use of Facebook—monetarily, anyway. Apparently, I have paid a much higher price without even knowing it. I have paid by being a victim of the polarization of political viewpoints. I have also paid by being a vehicle through which malicious forces were allowed to affect the outcomes of elections.
No more. I’m going to close my Facebook account and find other ways to keep in touch with the people I care about. I may also take a break from writing this blog; I don’t know yet. I just know that I am really, really angry that we have all been abused in this way, and right now leaving Facebook seems like the only means I have to express my dismay.
If enough of us close our Facebook accounts, perhaps its administrators will become more responsible. If this whole thing has taught me anything it is that an individual message shared between friends can have a monumental effect.
It is a betrayal of our (perhaps blind) trust of FB. From what I have read, it sounds like Zuckerberg was slow to admit the part FB played in the debacle.
FB has become the way I stay in touch with a large extended family; we have created private groups that have facilitated communication with people who didn’t have communication patterns established. FB used to have a “groups” app for our mobile devices but discontinued it. If I could have that, I would be pleased and content to stay off of the FB newsfeed.
I still do the dance with FB; I block a TON of sites other people share, to lessen the volume on FB. Most of my childhood acquaintances hold more conservative political views than me. I want to see the pictures of them and their progeny, but blanch at what they share in their political stance. Some I have chosen to “unfollow” because their shared posts are actually assaultive to my sensibilities. I don’t believe they would say such hateful things, but can let someone else’s meme or post do it for them. Weird psychological dynamics with this social media. I don’t have a handle on it yet.
I would be sorry to see your blog go. I don’t know you, but enjoy your particular take on your experiences.
I started blogging and use FB to get my blog to people I know. In my short time doing this, it has been rewarding to get feedback from friends and family, through FB. To untangle from FB and find alternate ways to stay in touch would be a challenge. But maybe it’s time. Your blog today is thought-provoking.
Thank you for this thoughtful response. I share the same concerns and have made similar connections through Facebook. I suspect that there are now many people rethinking how or if to use Facebook.
I completely understand your decision concerning FB. The PollyAnna that I am wishes we could combat the divisive messages with messages of unity and love…but in any case, do not let the bastards silence your wonderful voice. Pause if you must, but please keep speaking, keep writing and keep sharing. You’re thoughts and ideas, your shares and your photos would be sorely missed for many of us.
Thanks, Sally. I will keep writing and sharing, but I won’t be doing it on Facebook for a while.
[…] My first thoughts, when I learned about the data theft, were entirely about the security of my personal data and that of my friends. And, I was really angry about their carelessness and indifference to the impact of the data giveaway and subsequent illegal abuse. Now that I feel (I hope!) I have made my account more secure, I am more inclined to protest. If Facebook and Zuckerberg see my deactivation as a protest, then so be it. Really, though, it was just personal protection. My protestations are just getting started. I still have to figure out how to do that effectively, but it seems pretty clear that Facebook’s data on me will only become secure if I pay them to make it so. Even then, I’m not sure I would trust them. […]