It’s difficult to leave Facebook because, like you, I have so many relationships here. Many with old friends that only social media could have helped bring us back together. We share our lives, our pictures and our humor. Honestly, Facebook connections bring me mostly smiles.
You may think my progressive political stance is the reason but it is not really. The fact is we often forget that social media platforms like Facebooks are for profit businesses and Facebook is the largest by far. They are not a free services although we freely share our information so Facebook can provide this to advertisers to capture your eyes. The algorithms within shape the story we are told and the ones we believe. In 2016 the Russian government used Facebook. They didn’t hack it. They understood how companies push their messages to make sales and leveraged this to pump the platform with Fake News, created fake groups and helped organize people by preying on racist beliefs and fears. The goal of Fake News is not to convince you that it is real news, the goal is to get you to doubt any news is real. It worked. We are arguably more polarized today in the US than we were at the start of the Civil War.
If you are pro-Trump or against him this is NOT the issue. And if Trump colluded with these Russians that is not my point. My point is We The People we’re manipulated by a foreign government. Another nation has successfully contributed to pitting Americans against each other to create a divided house (which according to Abe Lincoln, cannot stand). Facebook allows companies and foreign governments alike to play to our emotions of anger and fear knowing full well 60+% of Americans use only Facebook to get their “news”. This is a sad truth because we as a people struggle to undertake the real work of critically thinking about the information we consume.
As I said, Facebook is a for profit company and their efforts to rectify the situation in my opinion amount to lip service. In the real world if we know someone is more bad than good, someone is playing us, benefits from us and manipulates us we get away from that person. You may say TV does this, radio does this, billboards do this… media has historically been about persuasion and you are right. But when we realize this we turn away. Social media, like Facebook, is different for many because walking away is walking away from friends and loved ones. It’s walking away from a convenient, personal portal to distant relationships and support. I get it, and Facebook gets it too and uses this reality to its benefit.
So I’m done… with the feed. I am not closing Facebook completely as I belong to a handful of professional groups that have value. Here, away from the onslaught of manipulation efforts, I will remain (for now) as these are exclusively focused on my profession. My public feed will go quiet on March 1. I will not be posting, sharing or commenting. I won’t see you there and you won’t see me. Could I return? Maybe. It depends on what changes. But for now, my conscience says to go.
If you remain, I don’t blame you. Social tech is amazing. The connections and the content are invaluable for many. Stay. I won’t criticize (well, I can’t actually) but I just ask that you take my words here to heart and are more discriminating in what you read and that you share with equal pause to evaluate – what is driving your action? And I believe too that the greatest gift we can give our children in the digital era is to remind them and model for them and encourage them to question everything.
As I mentioned, I engage in many places. Two I’m very active on are Twitter where you can find me @britz, I appear on LinkedIn and will be putting more effort into Mastodon (Mastodon.xyz and Mastodon.social) as well.
I hope to see you around.