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.