"the transmutation of information into common myth."
October 14, 2017 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Some Early Facebook Employees Regret The Monster They Created. Not among them, says Max Read, is Mark Zuckerberg, who may not even know what Facebook is
In late September, Zuckerberg apologized for being initially “dismissive” about the problem of misinformation but insisted Facebook’s “broader impact” on politics was more important. He’s probably right, but I’m not sure he should want to be. What happens to politics when what he calls our “social infrastructure” is refashioned by Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook into a behemoth whose power he underestimates

Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook - "A more astute observer of American politics than Mr. Zuckerberg might consider that Mr. Trump’s comments are part of an effort to depict Facebook as anti-conservative, lest outrage about the company’s role in the 2016 election prompt the site to adopt policies that would make a repeat of 2016 more difficult."

Facebook Built Its Vision of Democracy on Bad Math - "But as Facebook has grown, that equation has become less certain. Today, Facebook users perform two very different functions; they are both sources and recipients of information. Zuckerberg’s formulation, that more information is always empowering, may be true when I’m sharing information—I certainly benefit from my ability to say whatever I want and transmit that information to anyone in the world. But it’s not necessarily the case when it comes to receiving information."

Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Reach ‘Jew Haters’
Facebook vows to manually review ad targeting after ‘Jew-Haters’ scandal
Exclusive: Russian-bought Black Lives Matter ad on Facebook targeted Baltimore and Ferguson
Facebook says that it displayed Russia’s divisive election ads to 10 million people, most of whom saw the ads after the election was over.
Russian ads on Facebook targeted Michigan, Wisconsin
Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature

Google and Facebook Failed Us - "In the crucial early hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, it happened again: Hoaxes, completely unverified rumors, failed witch hunts, and blatant falsehoods spread across the internet."

The Fake News Fallacy - "Radio, in its early days, was seen as a means for spreading hysteria and hatred, just as the Internet is today."
The various efforts to fact-check and label and blacklist and sort all the world’s information bring to mind a quote, which appears in David Goodman’s book, from John Grierson, a documentary filmmaker: “Men don’t live by bread alone, nor by fact alone.” In the nineteen-forties, Grierson was on an F.C.C. panel that had been convened to determine how best to encourage a democratic radio, and he was frustrated by a draft report that reflected his fellow-panelists’ obsession with filling the airwaves with rationality and fact. Grierson said, “Much of this entertainment is the folk stuff . . . of our technological time; the patterns of observation, of humor, of fancy, which make a technological society a human society.”
Faceobok Lies about deleting your account, the source of their profitability.
posted by the man of twists and turns (147 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks

- Facebook IMs sent by Zuckerberg during Facebook's early days, reported by Business Insider, 2010.

He's always been this way. Every bit of corporate polish added, every cutesy rural photo op, every glib denial that Facebook has any influence outside itself, does not take away from the fact that Zuckerberg has callously, coldly and deliberately built the largest surveillance system in the world.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:33 PM on October 14, 2017 [94 favorites]


Tourists visiting San Francisco make the hour-long pilgrimage down to Hacker Way to see the sign in person. Some take selfies in front of it, others stand next to it and imitate the ascending digit.

Really? I mean, I have photos of me from 1995 standing in front of the long gone icon garden at One Infinite Plaza, but...it was Apple, I'm from NorCal, and it was 1995.

Also Clarus.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:36 PM on October 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


The only things I still post to Facebook are links to articles that criticize or otherwise undermine its platform. This post will give me several more opportunities to increase my engagement with it. Thanks!
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:45 PM on October 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


The only thing I pretty much post on Facebook is touching base with some friends aand a metahuman media group mainly made of local coworkers.

Want to get a blank stare from me? Tell me about news you read on Facebook.
posted by Samizdata at 11:00 PM on October 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Really? I mean, I have photos of me from 1995 standing in front of the long gone icon garden at One Infinite Plaza, but...it was Apple, I'm from NorCal, and it was 1995.

I’ve seen tour buses bring people to take pictures in front of the 1 Infinite Loop sign at the main (and soon to be former main, I guess ) Apple campus. My team isn’t moving to Apple Park so I haven’t been there yet, but I assume they will get buses as well. A quick search of Instragram shows a bunch people did it today, on a Saturday.
posted by sideshow at 11:00 PM on October 14, 2017


Also, on late breaking stories like Las Vegas, I am entirely unsure how Google and Facebook are supposed to fact check to avoid bad news reports.
posted by Samizdata at 11:01 PM on October 14, 2017


I long for the days when Facebook didn't have political/activist groups that I have to constantly block because friends/family like or reshare their crap.

An option to just see original content from the people I care about would be great, but also destroy their business plan.

"But just delete Facebook, offalark!" you say. Except this is where my family "socializes" pictures of the kids. I have a very large family, and kids are important. Honestly, the whole reason I use Facebook is to post cute pictures and videos of my children to an audience I know wants to see it.

But I remember the day my stepdad re-shared a Milo video, and I wanted to kick Facebook into orbit.

To say nothing of the friends who should know better, but re-shared Louise Mensch's conspiracy theories anyway.

I just...I'm so sick of social media and outrage porn. I'm so tired of it. I just really want to see pictures of cute kids and cute animals and cute house redesigns. Everything else is just so much fucking noise.
posted by offalark at 11:57 PM on October 14, 2017 [18 favorites]


Dear everyone: Please stop using Facebook. Today. Your life will be just fine without it, I promise. And the world will be a better place.
posted by koavf at 12:02 AM on October 15, 2017 [48 favorites]


You can walk into Facebook’s Seattle headquarters and leave with the impression that it is a progressive company, and yet their management happily take money from people who would destroy all progressive ideals of equality and mutual respect and dignity. I started reviewing my use of social media after the election and saw how some outlets contributed to the current situation we are in, including Facebook, this site (yep), and others. I reduced or eliminated entirely my use of these and other poisonous social media in accordance with that evaluation, and I don’t regret it much. There are other ways to keep in touch with people who do not enable monsters.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:08 AM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Dear everyone: Please stop using Facebook. Today. Your life will be just fine without it, I promise. And the world will be a better place.

I tried for about five years, but the only reason my closest family joined g+ was to see my family photos. Yahoo had fucked Flickr up so badly that my family and friends weren't there anymore. And among my family I was the only one sharing stuff on either platform.

FB is the only current common ground for generations of family.
posted by zippy at 12:29 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Interesting overview, I especially liked the essay in the second link, and the "google and facebook failed us" link.

I liked the second because the author talks about the fact that no one really knows what Facebook is, or is doing, or could do, not just Zuckerberg, and that everyone is learning - slowly - as we go. And that doing so could be dangerous, or could be fine.

I did take issue with this line: "in countries with only recently high rates of internet connectivity, like Myanmar and Kenya, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, the whole internet." I think that's kinda racist and ignorant, tbh. It certainly wasn't the case in Kenya when I was there 5 years ago (though Facebook is to be sure popular there too).

I liked the link about how and why Google and Facebook failed - and whilst I'm sure they would pay a price for it, I do believe sites like 4chan and Russian agitprop should be banned. But I also acknowledge where do you draw the line between bullshit and and just shitty. Is Daily Mail online any more factual? Is Breitbart? I'd love to nuke all those sites from orbit and consign them to the dark web. But how do you quantify "truthiness"? "respectability"? I think Google and Facebook both are grappling with that problem currently. It's even harder when the ecosystem is evolving so quickly.

I'm a heavy Facebook user, it is a critical and in some cases the best (even the only) way to keep in contact with people I know and like spread out all over Australia and the world, and I find Facebook snobbery exhausting and irritating - a kind of MySpace snobbery for a new era, I suppose. I get that it's not meaningful for you, but it is for me, and for a whole lot of other people.

This heavy usage shouldn't be used to justify or downplay problems with the platform. But I suppose I agree with Zuckerbeg, I don't think the answer is "burn it all to the ground". Reform is what's needed. In the olden days, something like this might be publicly owned, would that make even more problems I wonder?
posted by smoke at 3:28 AM on October 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


FB is the only current common ground for generations of family.

A middle ground is to post your content somewhere else (dreamwidth?) and then just post a link to it on facebook. You won't get so many likes and comments, but I can live with that.
posted by Lanark at 4:16 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Every parent of an ugly baby thinks it broke the cherub mold.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:30 AM on October 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


Does, The bigger they grow the harder they fall, apply anymore? Looking forward to that well aimed stone, if so.

When links occur inside a social monolith, it has no outward analog and deserves critical attention. Links should occur between each entity for healthy social scaling and preserving agency.
posted by filtergik at 5:03 AM on October 15, 2017


To all of those who consider facebook a necessity of life: It’s not.

Facebook has become the aol of current times. It is a walled garden that way too many people use as their only connection to the world. People say it’s difficult to sort through all of the crap on the web to find what’s of real value. I get that, I really do.

But if you want to share photos with family members, there are other options. If you want to communicate with family and friends, there are other options. If you want truthful information, there are other options. Learn how to use other tools on the web, and share them with others.

If you’re not sure about where to go, we have a valuable tool here called ask.metafilter.com.

A movement starts with one person. If you refuse to be part of the privacy-free, untruthful cesspool that facebook has become, there's something you can do about it. It’s your choice.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:14 AM on October 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


Facebook : people I wish I wasn't related to.
Twitter : people I wish I could hangout with
Mastodon : oh wow, you like volleyball anime?
me too, and I'm also kind of in love with Hinata
posted by Fizz at 5:16 AM on October 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


To all of those who consider facebook a necessity of life: It’s not.

For you, it is not. For me, it is not. But when people in this and every other fb-related post tell us that they need it for personal or business reasons, believe them.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:38 AM on October 15, 2017 [44 favorites]


Is Zuckerberg really ignorant, or just using obfuscating ignorance?

We know he's looking at a presidential run, admitting the actual power of Facebook, and thus the potential for him using that power to fuel his own political ambitions, would be disastrous for him.

It's like his recent "revelation" that atheism is wrong and now, presto, he's a believer. Is it really something that happened, or just a show because he knows America won't elect an atheist?

I don't know. No one but Zuckerberg knows.

Call me cynical, but I'm betting he's perfectly aware of how powerful Facebook is, and his claims to the contrary are mere lies. Same with his recent "discovery" of how important religion and God are.

We see similar things with people who have political ambition all the time. Remember how Obama suddenly stopped supporting same sex marriage the instant he wanted to be President? Did he really have a revelation that marriage was to be only between one man and one woman, or did he have a revelation that his odds of winning in 2008 were lower if he didn't throw LGBT people under the bus? I know which way I'm betting that one.

I'm very reluctant to take all the stories of Zuckerberg as not understanding Facebook or its power at face value is what I'm saying.
posted by sotonohito at 5:41 AM on October 15, 2017 [17 favorites]


Seeing photos of family and friends are part of it, sure...but events are a other huge thing to give up upon leaving. Knowing when friend's bands play, promoting my own band's events...I don't know of another place where there is a parallel usage (and yes I know about songkick and such - not the same).

The only good thing about Facebook besides that is being able to tailor it to your own preferences. That many don't do that is a problem, but my feed isn't full of fake news shit - it's full of the people I care about.
posted by agregoli at 5:47 AM on October 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


What's worrying, I think, is not that Zuckerberg 'doesn't understand' Facebook -- because frankly I don't know that any of us fully understand it yet and I don't believe anyone who claims to. It's too big and complex and we're only just starting to figure out what it is doing, and has done, to us. The issue is that Zuckerberg doesn't care what Facebook is doing, or has done, or is going to do to us. Because he doesn't care about humans who are not him. That's the larger problem here. And because he lacks the necessary empathy, he will always lack the imagination he needs to ask the proper questions and try to understand. He'll never know what he built or what he's done.
posted by halation at 5:50 AM on October 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Dear everyone: Please stop using Facebook. Today. Your life will be just fine without it, I promise. And the world will be a better place.

Do you live near the antipode of where your family are?

Because I do. Facebook is invaluable to me.
posted by Talez at 6:29 AM on October 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


The issue is that Zuckerberg doesn't care what Facebook is doing, or has done, or is going to do to us. Because he doesn't care about humans who are not him.

It's been clear since his 2010 comments that "privacy is no longer a social norm" and "having two identities for yourself is an example of lack of integrity" that he's wilfully ignorant of anything outside his own socio-economic experience. Seven years later I haven't seen much that suggests that he's learnt anything other than to be glib and circumspect about it.
posted by vanar sena at 6:30 AM on October 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


Facebook has corrupted our language, has perverted socialization, has subverted our news, has undermined privacy, and there's STILL not even a suggestion of regulation.
posted by sutt at 6:37 AM on October 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


I miss blogs. And blog networks. And LiveJournal.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:47 AM on October 15, 2017 [38 favorites]


the largest surveillance system in the world

Nice hyperbole, and I get your point, but Five Eyes rather disagrees.
posted by pompomtom at 7:12 AM on October 15, 2017


Some say, their "social network" is indispensable. In another time this form of telecommunication was known by another name, public utility, whether the rate-payer --sending or receiving a call-- had a private line or a party line. The Public Utilities and Holding Company Act (PUHCA) was US federal law that regulated owner/operators' networks, maintenance of effort, delivery, licenses, and pricing. Remember when Congress repealed it instead of updating it to regulate "modern" utilities? Who benefited? ISPs, so-called information service providers that own/operate the servers that connect and route your digital "phone calls."
posted by marycatherine at 7:13 AM on October 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


Recent n-gate satire of HackerNews discussing Facebook:
Hackernews decides "I deleted my Facebook account" is the "I don't own a television" of the 2010s, and the same three comments recur as usual: "I deleted Facebook and now I am Kahlil Gibran ," "I cannot stop using Facebook or else I will be struck dead by a physical God," and "I use Facebook but have been working hard to move my personal information to another surveillance platform instead."
posted by Coventry at 7:25 AM on October 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


QotD: I just...I'm so sick of social media and outrage porn. I'm so tired of it. I just really want to see pictures of cute kids and cute animals and cute house redesigns. Everything else is just so much fucking noise.

My hope is that everyone's hate for Facebook, even as they use it because it's the easiest way, keeps another rich white guy with no civic responsibility and no skills in government and no understanding that, yes, governing is a specific set of professional skills coming from a particular base of knowledge (and not necessarily book learning from harvard) from moving into political office.
posted by crush at 7:39 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Dear everyone: Please stop using Facebook.
To all of those who consider facebook a necessity of life: It’s not.


Apparently Facebook has become what television was during the '90s, when people brandished their sophistication by announcing publicly, "I don't own a TV."

my feed isn't full of fake news shit - it's full of the people I care about.

Exactly so. My Facebook feed is fantastic. No fake news. No dramatic tantrums. I'd be lying if I said there were no memes, but it's rare. I scroll down the page and it's all text and photos, with zero shared videos. So I'll brandish my own sophistication by announcing that all several-hundred of my friends are totally awesome.

Fake news isn't a Facebook problem any more than Bat Boy was a Weekly World News problem. America has a problem with education and a problem with trust, and those two compound each other. That's a very real issue that needs addressing, but the notion that we solve it by getting people off Facebook is idiotic.
posted by cribcage at 8:05 AM on October 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


But if you want to share photos with family members, there are other options. If you want to communicate with family and friends, there are other options.

Maybe when Mastodon adds the ability to make individual posts friends-only, it will be usable for this. But now it is just publicly screaming into a void which the Nazis and griefers haven't found yet (but, presumably, Five Eyes/SORM/&c. are indexing just fine, thank you very much).
posted by acb at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The urban myth of the early '90s (NYC) that I recall most often today is the suspicion that anyone carrying a cell phone had to be a drug dealer. Also, everyone wanted a bigger TV screen and more cable channels.
posted by marycatherine at 8:16 AM on October 15, 2017


America has a problem with education and a problem with trust, and those two compound each other. That's a very real issue that needs addressing, but the notion that we solve it by getting people off Facebook is idiotic.

Yeah, facebook isn't just an American problem. Which is even more of a problem.
posted by pompomtom at 8:17 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Apparently Facebook has become what television was during the '90s, when people brandished their sophistication by announcing publicly, "I don't own a TV."

I don't really care whether you have a TV or not, because (unless it is one of those soon-to-be-ubiquitous IoT TVs) it is not spying on me. And I can choose not to participate in "TV" without detracting from anyone else's enjoyment, or appearing suspicious, because TV does not depend on network effects and social norms of reciprocity to the same extent.

Facebook creates negative externalities even for people not using the service through its use of shadow profiles and gradual assimilation of virtual third places.

Facebook is not the whole of the surveillance economy, but it has become its most visible avatar. Many Facebook skeptics are not always virtue-signalling, but rather reacting to the way social network effects envelop them as well.
posted by Svejk at 8:20 AM on October 15, 2017 [28 favorites]


I'd just like for the media and others to stop proclaiming Zuckerberg a "genius." Like most other people who succeed at this level, it's primarily about luck combined with a ton of privilege (it's no coincidence that this tool was created at Harvard!). I don't personally blame him or harbor resentment for his tremendous luck and privilege but let's not mistake them for genius-level prescience or insight.
posted by ElKevbo at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


I have a Facebook account. At times I don't log into it for a while, but then find myself disconnected from people, missing out on events and such. Abstaining from Facebook seems to be the Ted Kaczynski/Bon Iver option of going to live in a shack in the woods, trapping small animals for food and making underwear from their pelts. My impression is that dropping out of Facebook is OK if you DGAF what others think of you, and don't mind forfeiting relevance and basically becoming a crazy bum as far as people are concerned, but if you want to be considered as a person, a member of society, you need to be on Facebook.
posted by acb at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


it's primarily about luck combined with a ton of privilege (it's no coincidence that this tool was created at Harvard!)

i enjoy this phrasing because it really could apply to either facebook *or* zuckerberg
posted by halation at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


(Infinite LOOP. Sorry, it's been a long time since I've been down there AND I jettisoned my Apple products and love a while ago.)

I defriended all of my family members in January 2016, and two weeks ago I deleted my Facebook account. Both were a relief.

But there are so many people who can't do that. Unfortunately, boycotts are usually for the privileged. Not everyone can stop using a certain platform, or stop shopping at a certain store, or stop eating at a certain fast food restaurant, simply due to the circumstances of their life.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


9 days in after deletion. I had underestimated the impact it was having on my brain. I can feel my attention span creeping back into my life.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:33 AM on October 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


"My impression is that dropping out of Facebook is OK if you DGAF what others think of you, and don't mind forfeiting relevance and basically becoming a crazy bum as far as people are concerned, but if you want to be considered as a person, a member of society, you need to be on Facebook."

I'm a member of society who is not on facebook.

I may be a bit of a crazy bum too. I DGAF.
posted by parki at 8:37 AM on October 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


It shouldn't be surprising that some now hold that not having Facebook is now somehow 'virtue-signalling' or hold that that being critical of Facebook is now 'silencing' or 'shaming,' or hold that only the 'privileged' can leave, I suppose. But... jeez.

I was a very heavy Facebook user. For years. Basically from 2007 onwards. I am geographically very distant from most of my friends, and all my friends were on it. Plus all the old message boards that I'd previously been active with, all the old LiveJournal friends, all the IRL friends. Everything slowly drifted over to Facebook. The functionality was seriously lacking -- as algorithms got tweaked, I'd often totally miss important posts from loved ones, despite being on there for hours each day. And anything like message-board-style interaction was impossible. My communities bent Facebook functionalities in ways they were not intended to be bent, figured out workarounds, tried to set up moderation capabilities. People would get frustrated, but there was really nowhere else to go. All the old boards were ghost towns. And no one really wanted the hassle of dealing with VBulletin or Invision and the like. And even when someone was willing to go to the trouble of setting up a board, people weren't willing to leave, really. All their friends were already there.

But I couldn't take it any more, after a while. And I left. And, yes, I am missing out on baby pictures. And there are friendships I haven't kept. And I miss them. There are potential career impacts. And maybe these are not tradeoffs people are *willing* to make. But anyone *CAN* make them. You may not have the time or spoons to easily replace these functionalities, and that may be why you decide to stay, rather than reallocate the energy from somewhere else. But you're still making that decision. Everyone who stays is making that decision.
posted by halation at 8:44 AM on October 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


I wish I didn't have so many groups on Facebook around podcasts I like and trans issues. I guess I could switch to Reddit, but that feels like moving from a toilet to a dumpster.

Bring back forums.
posted by ikea_femme at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Mastodon, though, shows that if you fail people long enough, they will use a new platform, network effect be damned.

The problem is that Facebook is now not just Myspace, but also Flickr, Reddit, vBulletin, WordPress, Craigslist, and even GrubHub now. They're good at getting local people to use it a lot. Most housing listings that work for me are on Facebook. It's screwed up.
posted by ikea_femme at 8:51 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


it sucks because it's honestly such an awkward platform for so many of the things we now use it for. i so hope we might see a pendulum swing back to other (preferably decentralised) platforms.
posted by halation at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Facebook is fine as long as you keep your friend count lower than your age.
posted by fullerine at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2017


I liked FriendFeed, before Facebook swallowed it up and regurgitated it as a their walled-garden 'wall' interface.

FriendFeed was beautiful as you curated your content, telling it which feeds you wanted to follow. Since it got zucked in the parser, it's become the antithesis of what it represented:

• Control over what you followed and saw
• No aggregation of behavioural data
• No damn 'republishing'
• No targeted advertising

It pulled data in, rather than acted as the single source of data. Facebook really is the AOL of the internet, and horrific performance space where people curate optimised fake identities. And it sits there presenting itself as an unfettered window into reality, whilst hiding behind a common carrier excuse for propagandising, lying, and promoting unfiltered rumour.
posted by davemee at 8:57 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


I guess at the end of the day, Reddit pretends to care less than Facebook, and will do awful stuff kicking and screaming until it's a liability. They will holler that so long as ad revenue comes in, hate speech needs a home and why shouldn't it be Reddit?

Facebook will have a slick, polished response they prepared in case this scandal ever came to the surface. They know what their platform does, they just worry more about optics and staying within everyone's breaking point.

Remember when Glenn Beck said Facebook silenced conservative voices and Facebook freaked out and modified the news feed to show more unaudited right wing headlines? They were afraid they were going to break off one audience.

Meanwhile, despite Facebook's company culture and pride react buttons, trans users still get shaken down to use their legal names online. Because there's not enough of us to be worth placating.
posted by ikea_femme at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


You know your family need not join Google+ for you to share photos with them. You can generate email links within Photos that can be viewed by anyone with the link. Create an album, send a link, and Bam, every photo you ever upload in that album is viewable through said link.

Or you can do the same with Dropbox or any number of other sites. Or if you prefer, tell your family they need accounts wherever if they want to see your kids. You don't have to use Facebook. The world got along fine before it, and even before the Internet. If you really have to, you can print pictures for pickup at your parents' nearest Walgreen's. Or have a service mail them. Or print and mail them yourself. Or buy a Synology NAS and set it up so your family can view files from it over the Internet.

There are options out the wazoo to replace nearly everything Facebook does, from things like Facebook but hopefully with marginal better ethics to file sharing sites to email to self hosting to snail mail. Nearly everyone has some alternative.
posted by wierdo at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


The fear of "missing out" seems to be a driving force for not only Facebook users but also incessant cellphone users, internet users, etc. In the case of cellphone users this behavior has led to a lot of deaths and injuries. All Facebook users are the products that Facebook sells to make its fortune. Facebook is the real Matrix where people are wired up to feed the machine while given an artificial world to exist within believing that it is life. It's created a lazy way to believe that you are connected. There are other ways to be connected with actual friends that require a little more effort. Facebook's ease of use has sucked and suckered people into participating in its endless soul mining of the data you provide. Social media has become a tool to manipulate us used by those with the wherewithal to see its actual potential and create the tools that milk its possibilities. "But I need it!" is the cry of the addict. You don't need it. With a little thought and effort you can be really connected but in a way that doesn't feed the machine.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


Oh yeah, its interface does suck, too, as a forum. God help you if you hit page down and want to go back to where you were. Infinite scrolling and reactive design does not guarantee predictable behavior at all.
posted by ikea_femme at 9:00 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Mastodon, though, shows that if you fail people long enough, they will use a new platform, network effect be damned.

Ello, and App.net, and Diaspora and others, however, show the converse.
posted by acb at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


True, but Mastodon is really good, has a pretty active user base of people tired if Twitter harassment.
posted by ikea_femme at 9:06 AM on October 15, 2017


Interface redesigns on a whim. Comment threads might be chronological in the morning, then abruptly shift to a 'top comment' system (whose methodology is impossible to quickly understand). But... not for all users, only some get that rollout! With no announcement! And no way to swap between or change back, or to know what your fellow group members are even seeing!

And then there's the People You May Know 'feature,' which outs sex workers, and others who might have several different identities (since that is not Zuck-approved behaviour). The other day someone told me it suggested their therapist as a potential 'friend,' despite their obviously having no shared contacts, which... no. No no no. Thanks but no.
posted by halation at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


Facebook creates negative externalities even for people not using the service

Sure, and those arguments were also made against television (and plenty of things before it). For example, while some MeFites might be too young to remember TV's heyday, there are today still examples of "must-see TV"—like Game of Thrones, shows that cause people to feel left out of collective social experiences because those people either don't or can't watch.

And maybe these are not tradeoffs people are *willing* to make. But anyone *CAN* make them.

I don't think anyone is denying that. There may be a few exceptions, like people who feel their income relies on Facebook's networking (realtors, MLM participants, etc), but mostly that point is beyond dispute. I think the pushback is against the chorus that other people *should* make those trade-offs and are bad for not doing so.
posted by cribcage at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ello had a user base for a while as well. The question is whether the user base is self-sustaining, or will it evaporate once the novelty/initial interest wears off.
posted by acb at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2017


Facebook bothers me only in the way Apple and Goigle and Microsoft do. It’s a kind of street. Understand the traffic and the market. Blame the deal ivers and the pushers, not the street, even if some are better than others. Blame the shit, not the series of tunes, etc.

But Russia, you creepy. Looking at how specifically and diversively targeted this stuff is and how much design and art goes into it, this isn’t espionage, this is sick obsession. These are love letters from a stalker. Deranged love letters with glued on mice hearts and artfully arranged bits of our discarded receipts. Russia, you need a healthy relationship in your life. And that thing with Krimea doesn’t count.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: YOU'RE the crazy bum, asshole!
posted by Coventry at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2017


Facebook is so dangerous because it does so many things just barely well enough. We're seeing replacements emerge for the different features, but the combination will take a while to erode.

Mastodon is a replacement for twitter, not Facebook. Also, if I understand, Mastodon is purely to avoid twitter control and censorship. It does not, and really cannot, offer any substantive privacy features, due to being a fundamentally broadcast-like public channel. I suppose Mastodon could be replaced with even more censorship resistant broadcast-like channels though.

I think Signal, Wire, WhatsApp, etc. provide the real private replacement for the "fake private" side of Facebook. In fact, I rarely see friends post photos to Facebook anymore, but instead the share them via encrypted messages on WhatsApp.

We need to build "sharing applications" that run on top of Signal, Wire, etc. where you post your photo, uploading an cryptographic capability-based storage system similar to Tahoe-LAFS or IPFS, and can passively make it available to friend groups. Under the hood, this requires sending messages sharing the locations and keys, but those messages need not create notifications and could be bundled with unrelated messages. And you'd share any file type you want through the same process, not just images.

We need to accept that public channels like Mastodon should not pretend to provide private channels like WhatsApp, etc., but that real private channels can provide some benefits of public channels using cryptographic capability-based storage systems.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:17 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Abstaining from Facebook seems to be the Ted Kaczynski/Bon Iver option of going to live in a shack in the woods, trapping small animals for food and making underwear from their pelts.

And participating in Facebook seems to be the Axe Man of New Orleans option where a bunch of busybodies go around peeking in people's windows and policing their media consumption.

That kind of reflexive, hostile defensiveness is just kind of weird. It is very much like "I don't have a TV," at least in the sense that people who abstain from certain supposedly optional consumer products are subject to a bunch of kneejerk hostility and insulting stereotypes.

I've never had a Facebook account, and I didn't have a TV for much of my adult life. Both at least in part for ideological reasons. I generally avoid bringing those things up in casual contexts unless I get backed into a corner, but it's weird how often that happens. And when it does, a lot of people do that. Get reflexively mad and start hurling insults and strawmen around.

These are optional things. Plenty of people get by just fine without them, they're not hurting you by opting out of them personally, and it's seriously creepy how many people seem somehow threatened by it, or even confused as to how one might function in society without those, again, optional consumer products.

I mean, I do wish Facebook weren't a thing at all, because I think it's a horrible influence, but I don't think individual people who use it are weird monsters or anything. The only thing I really judge people harshly for is how they are lazy and ignorant with other people's personal information, running contact scrapers and things like that. But I don't personally give a shit if you use Facebook. I don't think weird shit about you just because of that. So: What the fuck?
posted by ernielundquist at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think Signal, Wire, WhatsApp, etc. provide the real private replacement for the "fake private" side of Facebook. In fact, I rarely see friends post photos to Facebook anymore, but instead the share them via encrypted messages on WhatsApp.

Yes and no. Messaging people individually on IM services has different nuances than posting something on Facebook. It's at once more intense and furtive, and can slide into “being weird” territory, causing people to back away.
posted by acb at 9:21 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think the pushback is against the chorus that other people *should* make those trade-offs and are bad for not doing so.

Saying they are 'bad' is unfair. But they are deciding that they're willing to further entrench and support a company which is radically refashioning everyday life and social interaction. Comparing what Facebook is doing to television doesn't seem quite apt. We didn't really have this situation with television, or at the height of radio, or with any other previous form of media.

Addressing climate change also involves tradeoffs, and it's hard for me not to see Facebook as a similarly serious threat to human wellbeing.
posted by halation at 9:21 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


The climate change comparison still works with the "Go live in a shack in the woods" metaphor, though - if I really was doing all I could to prevent climate change, that would involve reconfiguring my life almost totally. If I were to quit Facebook, there would be pretty clear, direct consequences as far as my ability to talk to my friends and to keep track of events.

There are always going to be tradeoffs, and people have to figure out where they're comfortable. I'm just not willing to cut people off like I'd be required to do.
posted by sagc at 9:27 AM on October 15, 2017


And, to go further - what I really hope for with both climate change and Facebook is less about individual actions and more about government regulation.
posted by sagc at 9:28 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]




If Facebook has so completely reworked the ability to socialise with loved ones in the ten-odd years it's been a major platform that just deciding not to use it is the equivalent of 'living in a shack in the woods,' how is it not a very big problem to be taken very seriously?
posted by halation at 9:30 AM on October 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


The climate change comparison still works with the "Go live in a shack in the woods" metaphor, though - if I really was doing all I could to prevent climate change, that would involve reconfiguring my life almost totally.

Though given that self-sufficiency is inherently expensive, living in a shack in the woods is the opposite of what one should do to fully commit to tackling climate change. Living in a coffin-sized apartment with shared facilities and subsisting entirely on genetically-engineered algae protein would probably be the equivalent.
posted by acb at 9:30 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Outside the U.S. “...an individual who claim[s] to have more than 50 friends... [might even be] considered ‘naïve’ and ‘foolish.’

Facebook (and Instagram, and so on) “friends” are not really friends (though some of them are); they're a weak social tie. People you can keep minimally up to date with at minimal cost. A problem is that nature abhors a vacuum, and the time and effort budgets people used to spend connecting manually with people, which social media has freed up, have been consumed with other things (whether that's carrying on one's hobbies, or just hustling extra hard to pay the rent/keep one's head above water in a time of precarity), so a “Facebook detox” would mean severing one's connections with 90% of the people one is connected to. Granted, one could rationalise much of that as “good riddance” (do you really need to be in touch with your brother-in-law's coworkers, or the guy you met at a party who works somewhere in media, or whoever?), but that doesn't apply to all of them; nuking one's Facebook account would take out a lot of ties which are a net positive, though not enough of one to justify blocking off time to maintain them the old-fashioned way.

Though, perhaps, that is necessary; perhaps it's a social decluttering. Or, perhaps, given how people tend to shed friends as they age, a social döstädning.
posted by acb at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this is a generational thing, but it's never been about "loved ones" for me - it's that, where I am and for my peer group, Facebook is still where acquaintanceship happens, and where you can develop commonalities with people without what would be considered - again, in my peer group - strange overtures into unwarranted intimacy.

Of course it's a problem! But, just like climate change, individuals opting out really doesn't have much of an impact, especially when most of the arguments for opting out require a heck of a lot of explanation, and not a little bit of politicization.

Basically, what acb said.
posted by sagc at 9:41 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


I left Facebook a few years ago and while I don't regret having done so, I definitely miss out on some big life announcements and event invites from friends (along, yes, with all the noise). Whether I like it or not, that's how people communicate now. I rely on email, mostly, which is to say I might as well be using pneumatic tubes or the Pony Express.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


My concern is mainly that Zuckerberg has said in interviews he believes the broad/shallow model of human networking to be superior and that personal philosophy is reflected implicitly in design choices affecting the platform. Problem is, it’s not the best networking strategy for everyone. In fact, it’s the opposite of the networking style you’re advised to take in counseling for traumatic anxiety disorders like complex abandonment PTSD, for which the therapeutic guidance is typically to focus on strengthening and deepening your closest relationships to build a stronger sense of trust and personal security. The best therapy for an abandonment complex is the opposite of the model of social networking embodied in and encouraged by social media platforms like Facebook. With it becoming increasingly indispensible (and I agree it is for many of us now), that’s a problem, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 AM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


cribcage: I think the pushback is against the chorus that other people *should* make those trade-offs and are bad for not doing so.

I don't think people are bad for using Facebook.
I do think using Facebook is bad for people.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Full disclosure: I left facebook in 2015, and it was the single best decision I ever made for my social skills, and one of the best choices I made for my mental health.


We need to build "sharing applications" that run on top of Signal, Wire, etc. where you post your photo, uploading an cryptographic capability-based storage system similar to Tahoe-LAFS or IPFS, and can passively make it available to friend groups. Under the hood, this requires sending messages sharing the locations and keys, but those messages need not create notifications and could be bundled with unrelated messages. And you'd share any file type you want through the same process, not just images.


You mean ... like Telegram does? Telegram even allows you to create blog posts that can be shared with the outside world, so you can just slap a link into an email and viola! All the web can see those cute baby pictures.

My beef with Facebook is that it is designed to capture the reward of social interaction without ANY of the intimacy associated with it. I compare it to everyone you know, being in a room, shouting their life news at everyone without rewording it for any one person in particular. If you examine how we share news with people in the real world ... we don't share news that way at all. People share news with me (their friend) differently than with me (their LMT), different than with me (their coworker). So context is stripped away from it as someone words a post on their wall to appease EVERYONE - to get as many people to view it as possible.

This is a mild form of censorship. Combined with lack of encryption + a business model built on creating profiles for advertising, Facebook is, as someone said above, the most visible symbol of the panopticon (and certainly one of the key ingredients). It is the enabler of so many of the systemic problems we see, from echo chambers to Russian propaganda to people believing privacy is a thing they will never have again.

Google+ is not much better, as again, its platform is built on creating a profile of you, to be datamined for advertisers.

All of those reasons are why I made it clear to everyone in my life (and yes, this cost me some relationships) - I won't talk to you unless what we say is encrypted. End of discussion. My mom is still reeling from it and trying to get me into Facebook/SMS communications, and I just have ceased to exist for those mediums. For me, the tipping point is that I value privacy - I value it enough to structure my life so I have it. Not everyone values privacy, and that's okay - they and I will pass one another by.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


> There are potential career impacts. And maybe these are not tradeoffs people are *willing* to make. But anyone *CAN* make them. You may not have the time or spoons to easily replace these functionalities, and that may be why you decide to stay, rather than reallocate the energy from somewhere else. But you're still making that decision. Everyone who stays is making that decision.

Yeah, it's also a choice when you hand your wallet over to the mugger at gunpoint. How much difference is there between a choice with severe negative consequences to you and not having the choice at all?

I don't Facebook, and never have, but I can only make that choice because my professional and personal life is not significantly harmed by not having one. My wife doesn't have that same luxury -- her job requires her to have an account and make active use of it. She hates it with a passion, but without it she would have to work in a totally different field than the one she got her degrees in, for far less pay, and with no relevant experience.

It's just tiresome to read so many comments telling people they have a choice. Many do. Many don't, at least not one that doesn't harm them. This is a classic collective action / tragedy of the commons situation where the only answer is to regulate the hell out of these platforms to rein in their abuses. Asking people to choose better isn't going to work, and it's blaming the victims instead of the perpetrators.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


When it comes to tools for doing journalism work, I look at Facebook the same way I look at dictaphone apps: I could do my job without them, and have, but they really make it much easier. It's nuts how much easier it is to reach contacts for quotes or interviews via Facebook than the phone directory.

Even so, the two most useful tools Facebook has given me are "turn off notifications for this post" and "unfollow". The former has made it easier to walk away from untenable conversations, and the latter has given me an option for "OK I know dude is generally nice but I am sick of his lonely boy sadposting".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:43 AM on October 15, 2017


In my experience, most of my friends don't use Facebook to "share news" - most people who actually post status updates these days are a good ~10 years older than I am, while folks my age - early 20s - use it pretty much exclusively for chat/events/maybe photos, although the photos have mostly moved to the slightly-different silo that is Instagram.
posted by sagc at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


acb is correct about this stuff.

I maintain a minimal Facebook presence: I haven't posted in years, I don't read my feed because it is fucking depressing, and I disabled posting to my wall because nobody got the hint and dozens of people used to post 'Happy Birthday' every year, ruining my birthday dinners with the prospect of having to go to goddamn Facebook and be polite.

I don't just shut the stupid thing down because it's where my family talks, period. That's where Easter dinner is coordinated. That's where I find out who's in the hospital. None of my moves to be less present on Facebook encouraged them, (or anyone else), to follow me: I'm just less informed. And it's because Facebook is still where they talk to everyone else. That's their entire social circle versus just keeping in touch with me. They're great, they love me, they do fall back on e-mail if I'm too scarce, (Facebook sometimes doesn't ping me when messages go to Messenger because they're fucking incompetent and keep changing settings), but at the end of the day, nobody else in my little corner of the world is going to follow me off it or maintain an entire second network of some sort on my behalf.

Upon preview:
For me, the tipping point is that I value privacy - I value it enough to structure my life so I have it. Not everyone values privacy, and that's okay - they and I will pass one another by.

This is the consequence, yeah: dropping Facebook means losing people, period. Some of us are fine with that, some aren't, but that's absolutely the choice in play.
posted by mordax at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's just really sad that we've come to the point where people need/MUST participate in this surveillance apparatus OR ELSE they will lose their friends/family/job and become enemies of the state... reminds me of this book i read once, long ago:

"The telescreen recieved and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever the wanted to. You had to live- did live, from habit that became instinct- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

-1984, Book 1, Chapter One, George Orwell
posted by some loser at 10:50 AM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


My impression is that dropping out of Facebook is OK if you DGAF what others think of you, and don't mind forfeiting relevance and basically becoming a crazy bum as far as people are concerned, but if you want to be considered as a person, a member of society, you need to be on Facebook.

Huh. So I've been a crazy bum since... basically as long as Facebook has existed?

If this comes off as blamey of the people who do get something out of it that's not my point. Just - I was squarely in the cohort for which Facebook was a big thing, and simply never got one, and while I think there was a period where people would look at you like a weirdo if you said you didn't have one that era feels like it's well past its peak.
posted by atoxyl at 10:53 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


There is no one to 'regulate the hell' out of these platforms. At least, not in the US. Not any time soon, at any rate. Obviously leaving has personal and professional consequences of varying severity. Staying has consequences too. I'm leaving the field I've trained in because I cannot stand what 'social media' has become, what it's doing to people. People who stay aren't 'bad,' but they're complicit, to varying degrees. They are not mugging victims.
posted by halation at 10:54 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


the latter has given me an option for "OK I know dude is generally nice but I am sick of his lonely boy sadposting".

Sad thing is, now with algorithmic limits on post reach, it’s possible “lonely boy sadposting” is really not only sadposting, but posting a balanced, realistic picture of their life with both positive and negative aspects highlighted equally and you personally might only ever be exposed to their most negative posts, giving you a false impression they’re the tedious problem when really it’s Facebook’s algorithms. See also “corrupt personalization.

Not to mention that it has the potential to accelerate empathy exhaustion for people going through and dealing with real personal problems and seeking support when they need it most.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


You mean ... like Telegram does? Telegram even allows you to create blog posts that can be shared with the outside world, so you can just slap a link into an email and viola! All the web can see those cute baby pictures.

Telegram is itself problematic. For one, its security protocols are not quite Signal/OWS-grade, and security researchers are worried about them. Secondly, Pavel Durov's statements about it being completely independent of Russia and its security apparatus are not entirely convincing, given that it shares a building in St. Petersburg with VKontakte (the Facebook clone he founded, which he was obliged to sell to a pro-Putin oligarch some years ago, after which he decamped to Berlin and set up Telegram). Unless Durov is hiding in an undisclosed location, avoiding trips to Russia and checking his meals for polonium, it's not unlikely that he has some sort of understanding with the Russian state, where they leave him and his massively popular messaging company alone. What his side of the bargain is is the question: can SORM ingest and decrypt Telegram traffic in bulk, or can FSB hackers do so individually at considerable expense? Perhaps it's to look the other way and maintain plausible deniability, à la Kaspersky.
posted by acb at 11:02 AM on October 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


I installed telegram, and I don't see any of my contacts on it. My address book has programmers, other queer people. I wonder if the app is just bad at searching for contacts.
posted by ikea_femme at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2017


You really can't opt out of the privacy invasions, not on Facebook and not in person, and it's largely because of people who insist on normalizing those privacy invasions to the point that they think there's something nefarious about people who don't participate.

I've had a few people try to force me onto Facebook various ways, including one person I barely knew who followed me around taking pictures of me after I asked her to stop, then posted the most unflattering ones on Facebook trying to tag me.

And I'm going to quote this fuckery again:

I have a Facebook account. At times I don't log into it for a while, but then find myself disconnected from people, missing out on events and such. Abstaining from Facebook seems to be the Ted Kaczynski/Bon Iver option of going to live in a shack in the woods, trapping small animals for food and making underwear from their pelts. My impression is that dropping out of Facebook is OK if you DGAF what others think of you, and don't mind forfeiting relevance and basically becoming a crazy bum as far as people are concerned, but if you want to be considered as a person, a member of society, you need to be on Facebook.


Look at that. Obviously it's meant to be hyperbole, but how much and why? If you don't use Facebook, you're like a serial killer living in the woods and making underwear from animal pelts. You're a crazy bum who doesn't give a fuck about others. You're irrelevant and not considered a person or a member of society. Where does any of that repulsive stuff come from at all? Those are all horrific things to say and toxic attitudes to normalize.

There are plenty of reasons people might not use Facebook besides being an antisocial and unhygienic serial killer.

Some people boycott it because it's an unethical company and they don't want to patronize it. (And most of them probably realize that their nonparticipation is not going to take the whole company down.)
Some people value their privacy and don't want Facebook digging around in their lives.
Some people find it damaging to their productivity, their social lives, and even their health.
Some people value their social boundaries and don't like the way social media blurs them.
Some people have stalkers or other people they're laying low from.
Some people just don't see a real benefit to it and don't want to be in constant communication with a bunch of different people every day.

And another one for me is that weird out of the blue anger and defensiveness--the fact that people consider abstaining to be a personal attack against them somehow. The fact that some people get so wrapped up in a commercial product that they cannot even imagine how anyone can be human without it really speaks to what a pernicious influence it can be.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2017 [38 favorites]


Any hostility there is here seems to be directed at the people saying that your life will be better, no matter what, if you quit Facebook, or that it's an absolute moral imperative to do so - not at the still-vast number of people who quietly don't use it.
posted by sagc at 11:40 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


> Any hostility there is here seems to be directed at the people saying that your life will be better, no matter what, if you quit Facebook, or that it's an absolute moral imperative to do so - not at the still-vast number of people who quietly don't use it.

Yeah, this. Calling people who are forced to use it "complicit" is akin to calling iPhone users "complicit" in labor abuses inside Chinese factories. Correct in the most narrow, literal sense, absurd when the scale of the problem is large enough to make one, a thousand, or even a million people opting out completely insufficient to change anything.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:42 AM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Correct in the most narrow, literal sense, absurd when the scale of the problem is large enough to make one, a thousand, or even a million people opting out completely insufficient to change anything.

I completely, thoroughly disagree with this. We *are* complicit, and we're fooling ourselves if we believe otherwise.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:45 AM on October 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


I guess it would be almost a sine qua non for online marketing, but what other career fields require a FB account?
posted by Coventry at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2017


Is Facebook Blocking Access to Data for Reporters Seeking To Probe Russian Infiltration in 2016 Election?
Facebook has said 470 Russian-controlled pages were read 10 million times, but an investigative reporter found six pages were "shared" 340 million times.
posted by adamvasco at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Dear everyone: Please stop using Facebook. Today. Your life will be just fine without it, I promise. And the world will be a better place.

Yeah but you see my situation is unique and this isn’t an option for me.
posted by paulcole at 11:53 AM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


How about everyone spend less time on Facebook, take a step back, decouple other online apps from it?

I think it's similar to advocating for eating less meat rather than becoming vegetarian or vegan.
posted by FJT at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


There are plenty of reasons people might not use Facebook besides being an antisocial and unhygienic serial killer.

I feel like among people my age - again, prime Facebook adoption age - it just isn't that well-liked anymore. That's not enough to make folks leave if they have connections they maintain through Facebook, but these days when I say "you know I kinda just missed that boat" a lot of them seem envious.
posted by atoxyl at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


How about everyone spend less time on Facebook, take a step back, decouple other online apps from it?

I think it's similar to advocating for eating less meat rather than becoming vegetarian or vegan.


I also think that's a kinder, more realistic way to interact with others around their Facebook use. Facebook users (myself included) probably do not want to give it up because there is some perceived benefit to them. Posts above have mentioned being invited to/keeping track of/planning events, sharing photos, and easier staying in touch with relatives. I don't think these actions, in particular, are hurting Facebook users.

On the other hand, I think lots of Facebook users (myself included) do find it a negative force in their lives in other ways--a way to procrastinate, a trigger of stress regarding politics/clickbait/grarness, and a panopticon that allows one to find a million and one ways to think worse of oneself compared to others.

A discussion about how to avoid the latter while not sacrificing the former might get more Facebook users to follow along, even though it's probably still conceding a lot of power to Facebook, Inc.

None of this is to suggest that regulatory action is not needed, or that broader societal norms around social media don't need to change. But shaming users of Facebook, who don't have all that much power in this situation, while as per tonycpsu above, is technically correct, isn't likely to achieve a whole lot other than have people double-down on their current behavior.
posted by thegears at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Calling people who are forced to use it "complicit" is akin to calling iPhone users "complicit" in labor abuses inside Chinese factories. Correct

Correct! I'll just stop you there. We are complicit. Yes, it s an issue of how we organize ourselves in response--both as consumers of a product, but also as free labor for zuckerberg. but we are complicit, although many of us seek to stop participating and resist in other ways.
posted by eustatic at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


If you don't use Facebook, you're like a serial killer living in the woods and making underwear from animal pelts. You're a crazy bum who doesn't give a fuck about others. You're irrelevant and not considered a person or a member of society. Where does any of that repulsive stuff come from at all? Those are all horrific things to say and toxic attitudes to normalize.

I get the feeling that most of the people taking this stand (here and elsewhere) aren't concerned about their privacy as it relates to their safety or their safety as it relates to their privacy.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I completely, thoroughly disagree with this. We *are* complicit, and we're fooling ourselves if we believe otherwise.

Yes. Of course we're complicit. Pretty much everyone is complicit in something because it'd be almost impossible to opt out of every corrupt and damaging system out there.

I'm not currently vegetarian. That makes me complicit. I acknowledge that, and I don't go around talking shit about vegetarians and trying to sneak meat into their food.

I drive places, too, often unnecessarily. Sometimes because I'm lazy, sometimes because my feet hurt, whatever. I don't go out rolling coal at cyclists and pedestrians to get them back for doing the right thing when I'm not, though.

There are lots of people doing better than I am at lots of things. I don't feel a need to deny that.

Of course I'm complicit. I do try to minimize the harm I do, but I can't do that without acknowledging that complicity in the first place.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


And another one for me is that weird out of the blue anger and defensiveness--the fact that people consider abstaining to be a personal attack against them somehow.

Maybe this is your experience in your personal life. If so, then I'm sorry about that. But it's diametrically opposed to the conversation in this thread—where people are pressuring others to stop using Facebook, and analogizing Facebook use to spraying CFCs—so your experience doesn't seem relevant here. Also, while I try not to deny folks' lived experiences, you're claiming to mostly avoid these discussions, yet this thread was clearly marked and you seem relatively enthusiastic and conversant about it, so I'm wondering whether your self-perception is accurate.
posted by cribcage at 1:18 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


If Facebook is so valuable to you that not using it is unacceptable, then it should be equally unacceptable that this much value is owned by and mediated through a single, unaccountable company, which can fail, sell out, or just start blackmailing you.
posted by dmh at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


In addition to using Facebook less, be sure to reduce Facebook's use ofyou by logging out everytime you use it. Hmm, I wonder if a plug-in can be written to log out when the tab is closed.
posted by rhizome at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2017


Hah, previously!
posted by rhizome at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2017


Outside the U.S. “...an individual who claim[s] to have more than 50 friends... [might even be] considered ‘naïve’ and ‘foolish.’

That's a misleading quote really. The summary of the study was people [who] are residentially stable but economically challenged were happier if they had a narrow but deep social network, whereas in other socioeconomic conditions, people were generally happier if they had a broad but shallow networking strategy. Together, our studies demonstrate that the optimal social-networking strategy varies as a function of socioeconomic conditions.

(My uninformed impression is that Ghana is experiencing a lot of migration from rural areas to the cities, and I'm curious how that is affecting the quoted opinion of wider social networks, but not curious enough to buy the full study text).
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:55 PM on October 15, 2017


I just find this insistance that people MUST be on Facebook or face dire consequences to be really weird. I was on Facebook for about two weeks when it started, got bored, and forgot my account password. I hadn't never fenced any problems careerwise, or had problems interacting with my relatives. I mean, it's like I'm someone in San Francisco listening to people talk about how they MUST own a jacked-up 4x4 truck, because otherwise, how are they going to navigate the dirt roads and haul hay bales?

I've got email and text and phone for relatives. G+ and Twitter and WordPress for knowing what the webcomic artists and novelists I follow are doing. File 770 and Metafilter for community interest. I don't have time for Facebook.
posted by happyroach at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


I am reluctantly on Facebook, mostly in acknowledgement of the reality that not being so is a way of cutting off my nose to spite my face.

To make it halfway tolerable I use both an ad-blocker and a browser plugin called social media fixer that forces posts to display in order, removes "friend liked this irrelevant post from someone you don't know", allows you to mark posts as read and hide them, and generally does a fair job of bending Facebook to your will. I recommend it.

If everyone did this their business model would implode and we'd have to find another way to do connect on the internet. I view this as a side bonus.
posted by deadwax at 2:12 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Maybe this is your experience in your personal life. If so, then I'm sorry about that. But it's diametrically opposed to the conversation in this thread—where people are pressuring others to stop using Facebook, and analogizing Facebook use to spraying CFCs—so your experience doesn't seem relevant here.

Go back and read that again. I was responding to a post in this thread. I quoted it and everything, so it's weird that you missed that somehow.

Also, while I try not to deny folks' lived experiences, you're claiming to mostly avoid these discussions, yet this thread was clearly marked and you seem relatively enthusiastic and conversant about it, so I'm wondering whether your self-perception is accurate.

Go back and read that again. That is not at all what I said, and it's really not cool to be going around rephrasing things people said when you weren't paying attention. I said, "I generally avoid bringing those things up in casual contexts[...]"

I neither said nor implied that I studiously avoid any discussions about those topics. I said I avoid bringing those things up in casual contexts. Completely different thing.

It's actually kind of funny how I was talking about people being reflexively defensive and hostile about people who don't use Facebook, and you respond with a bunch of hostile, defensive mischaracterizations of what I said about that.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:17 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is a silly website where a bunch of us paid five bucks to chitchat. Welcome to "casual."
posted by cribcage at 2:19 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can see how for some people it would cease to be casual when someone casually implies that you're a crazy-bum serial killer Luddite on the basis of a minor life choice they don't comprehend. Personally I just find it funny, though.
posted by Coventry at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't begrudge anyone for being or not being on Facebook for whatever reason they choose to cite. For me this conversation goes well beyond individual choices made by people to use/not use Facebook. Most people remain on Facebook because of one primary reason (that has been repeated here several times): "everyone" uses it.

The system operates at such a scale that individual choices to not use Facebook mean statistically nothing. FB hit 2 billion monthly users in June this year.

Facebook is and will continue to be a huge influence on world events and public discourse. New platforms are a symptom, not a cure.

This issue has moved from the theoretical 'should anyone have that much power?' to the fact that Zuckerberg controls that power. So the question for me is less about my own individual choice (which appears to be a moral one with no real practical meaning to the overall health of the platform) and more about how we collectively put more pressure on these platform owners to be accountable to something more than the whims of their own morals and/or corporate interests. Twitter and its love of 'free speech' and issues with harassment is a similar situation but on a smaller scale.

I don't know how you moderate 2 billion people. I don't know how you stay neutral in running a platform for that many people. I don't know how you use that platform for the betterment of the lives of all those people and a net positive for the world. I don't know who should be in charge of making those decisions.

Clearly neither does Zuckerberg.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:01 PM on October 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


I don't know how you use that platform for the betterment of the lives of all those people and a net positive for the world. I

They built it to make money, of course. not to save the world or bring about the new Age Of Connection or whatever PR they feel obliged to slather on top of the machine, when the cameras are rolling.
posted by thelonius at 3:41 PM on October 15, 2017


I actually do know quite a lot of completely normal people who are not on Facebook, or who have accounts but are not active.

It also seems to me that a lot of my friends and family are backing away from Facebook, and not posting as much, especially since the election.

I used to really enjoy it. I made some great connections with people I'd lost touch with. Once, while traveling in Vietnam, it turned out that the Danish exchange student from my high school days was also there and we met up in Hanoi for dinner after 40 frickin' years! That connection was made entirely through Facebook and I'm grateful.

On the other hand, the idiotic memes do get to me, and it can be a bit overwhelming, so I've stepped back as well. I used to enjoy the crazy cacophany of people I knew all over the world going about their lives, the parade of dog, flower and baby pictures (yes). I mostly go to Instagram for that now, though I know Facebook owns Instagram.

It absolutely sucks that Facebook is entirely a money-making enterprise and not some open-source project. That means to me that it will never get better, but will just continue to get worse.
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2017


The best thing I ever did for my Facebook feed's useability was to block the source of every link I saw. If I saw an article on Facebook that really resonated with me, I'd read it, nod in agreement, thoroughly enjoy it, then make absolutely sure to hit "hide all from whateverdomainthiscamefrom.com" and never see any of that stuff again. It wasn't put there to make me think,to educate me, or even to entertain me - it was 'it there to keep me in the same morphine-like state that slot machine manufacturers want to induce, to keep me scrolling and generating data for spammers. I don't need to get my news from Facebook - that's like getting sandwiches from a gas station. Sure, it's possible, but there's an actual sandwich shop right next door.

I started doing this round about February this year, and it's restored my Facebook feed to a simple list of what my friends and family are doing. Facebook's original promise has been restored, by removing the crap that's been added to it. Using Friendly on Android instead of the official spyware app, I can sort stories chronologically instead of quasi-randomly. Using Disa instead of Messenger has made my phone run like it was two years newer.

The best thing I ever did for my Twitter account was to shut it down and go to Mastodon.
posted by FeatherWatt at 4:33 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Previous generations had to learn big important, society-changing lessons like "not everything on TV is true" or "people in authority positions can abuse the trust put in them". A big lesson that hasn't sunk in yet is that social media isn't real or authentic and lacks perspective. Your relatives' pictures are real but beyond that, comments on articles, the articles themselves, they're all either astroturfed or put out or dominated by extremists.

Circa 2010 I deleted facebook. I hated how I ended up comparing all my life to the highlights of 100+ people of whom all but half a dozen were inconsequential to me. The other thing is you can't be authentic on it. I used to do lastfm where it keeps track of all the songs you play. It was pretty neat to see but after a while I realized I was listening and not listening to music to shape what I wanted my play count to look like rather than listening to what I actually wanted to listen to. Who was I doing this for? This was nuts! I was doing it all wrong.

You end up doing the same thing with facebook, putting stuff there or not depending on what effect you want or how you want to portray yourself--all sorts of things to virtue-signal in all sorts of ways to various groups. You're supposed to do stuff because you want to or enjoy doing it, not because you want to be seen doing it. Doing social media means you have to be your own PR person, even being there but leaving it empty is making choices in how you present yourself. Or if you choose to not filter yourself then you end up putting any random meaningless, inane tidbits that cross your mind (like the current president). A decade+ ago I blogged with friends and then ran out of things to say after a couple of years. Anything that wasn't my own original researched material felt like it wasn't adding anything of value, even in a medium that is free.

Lucky for me I'm 30 and I had old-school baby boomer parents who stressed valuing your privacy and how anything you make public could be used against you.

I work for a large organization. Do you know what the fastest way to get a message to the highest levels is? Tweet a complaint at the official twitter account. Then the president will hear it within 1-2 hours. It could be any random yahoo making stuff up, the person relaying only the most favorable details for their case. (I have siblings, when we were kids do you know how thoroughly we could twist any minor event into a Shakespearean story?) Is the company afraid of a single negative comment about it? When did social media get this power? (If you don't have a twitter account they can't tweet you complaints, duh! Thanks, marketing department!) Social media is a torrent of sewage the size of a thousand Niagra Falls. Don't wade into that pool!

It's getting to the point where I want to make "delete facebook!" signs and stand on busy corners in my town. But I feel like if I did that sort of thing, I should follow it up by going home and folding a snazzy tin-foil hat. Back in the day, myspace seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut. I'm hoping facebook goes the same way, either surpassed by other things, or continues to become full of old people and hence "un-cool" to new users, or fizzles out due to typical corporate entropy.
posted by Blue Tsunami at 4:53 PM on October 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


On the topic of "just don't use Facebook", I suggest you direct your energies to a more productive strategy.

Yes, if people would just stop giving Facebook so much it wouldn't have so much. But they won't quit even if they know they should.

It's like traffic problems. If only people would keep more space between their cars and learn to zipper merge properly the biggest cause of traffic slowdowns on interstate highways would vanish and traffic throughput would increase significantly! It'd save billions in lost time and possibly billions in lost fuel.

And it'll never happen.

Neither will getting people to stop using Facebook.

It's a nice thought, it'd solve a lot of problems, and most people simply will not do it. So let's focus our attention on trying things that might work.

Regulating social media and electronic collection of personal information, while a massive uphill battle and a huge complex problem, is vastly more likely to happen than people just quitting Facebook.
posted by sotonohito at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I guess it would be almost a sine qua non for online marketing, but what other career fields require a FB account?

Performing arts, particularly if you're not toward the very traditional/high brow end.
posted by Dysk at 5:24 PM on October 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well, it depends on how into FB your social peers are. My exwife for example officially let me know we were separating on FB and then started using FB to taunt me with pics of herself out dating and living it up around town in the aftermath, to the point I gladly respected her request for space and unfollowed her to give her space and maintain my sanity. All my former social connections from married life organize their entire extended social lives on and using FB. If I quit FB completely, I would be conspicuously othering myself at a time when I’m already extremely vulnerable to self isolation and social predation. I mean, I literally wouldn’t have any social contact other than work and my kids on the weekends I have custody if not for FB. I wish I could quit because seeing all my old friends still happily enjoying their middle class family lives is painful and frustrating as hell, but as awful as it is, it’s all I’ve got right now.

Serious question follows because I want to understand your social group's culture: what would happen if you dropped off Facebook and just individually contacted all the same people you still stay in touch with, but in pre-Facebook ways? That is, call them regularly, write them emails, invite them out for a drink, etc.
posted by value of information at 5:37 PM on October 15, 2017


I don't know how you moderate 2 billion people.

You do it by not incorporating features that will require it. We already know people need to be moderated, in real life this is called the law, but online it's up to whatever FB et al wants to do. So, "I guess we have to think about this," is going to have to be the strategy on the provider side. However, if they didn't allow stuff you didn't know about to make it to you so easily the power (FB income) would be greatly reduced and the cost of propaganda or whatever would skyrocket.
posted by rhizome at 5:40 PM on October 15, 2017


I abandoned Facebook AND Twitter years ago, but I don't have anybody I need to keep up with via such media. All my IRLs are neighbors and all my webneighbors are connected to specific sites (mostly meFi). But then, I'm also approaching the age where this applies.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:47 PM on October 15, 2017


Betty White has the best quotes.

@acb, do you have a source for the headquarters thing? As far as I know, Pavel never visits Russia and his 'office' (the core devs) lead a nomadic lifestyle using AirBnB across Europe. This Baffler article also talks about some of the security issues surrounding other security protocols, but I'm not an expert so all I have is the journalists word about that.

It's also a slight derail from the topic at hand, so mods please delete if it's too far off topic.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 6:40 PM on October 15, 2017


What Facebook Did to American Democracy from The Atlantic should also be in this list.

Thank you to ernielundquist for voicing that comparing FB optouts to backwoods murderers is just absolutely beyond the pale.

Put me in the camp of those having an account but rarely using it and wanting to get rid of it altogether. Just a bit of fomo I guess is the problem. For me there is little of value on it. Between the shares of right wing garbage from relatives, low res have a great day memes and endless selfies and still more selfiies, there are far better ways to spend my time.
posted by blue shadows at 7:43 PM on October 15, 2017


As acb said, Telegram is insecure, thebotanyofsouls. I'm fine with cipherpunks being sketchy people, or so paranoid that you cannot tell that they are not sketchy, but not when it comes to cryptography. Pavel oozes slim when he talks about cryptography.

Moxie (Signal) has this weird hate for federation, but you know how he got there. He drew flack for "trusting Intel" recently, but again he explained it clearly and his unstated reasons make sense: If the FBI comes to him with an NSL to install a metadata backdoor, then they would likely first get it signed by Intel, so later when his lawyers eventually own them Intel will loose billions in oversees sales.

There is no shortage of Tor project developers who live under fake names, do not travel to the U.S., etc. And their paychecks all come from those bastion of honesty knows as the State Dept., DoD, etc. It's always reassuring to speak to them about cryptography though. If you catch anything fixable then they fix it. If you ask about a "can't / won't fix", of which tor has many, then they can give a good reason. And they recently finished the hidden service redesign that government funding delayed for half a decade.

Pavel can live in AirBnBs all he likes. It means nothing because he avoided communicating honestly about the cryptography. Avoid Telegram. At least for anything you want kept secure.

I agree that "messaging people individually .. has different nuances than posting something", acb, but posting into Signal or WhatsApp groups hits about the right level of privacy for many people.. except the notifications for group messages remain way too aggressive.

There needs to be a facility to "share" with many of your contacts, but more conveniently and not so aggressively, so zero notifications. Instead, the update message could come with the next time you actually message them and just add to the chat that more stuff from you exists, which they can browse later.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:44 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well, even though my facebook was theoretically locked to a very small group of people, it took zero fucking time for gamergate trolls to figure out how to initially get me banned for having a fake name, because I never use my legal name online ever, and then from someone in Facebook, gave them access to my private th data, they got access to what town I lived in, and who my husband is, and before long I got a picture of my kid's school with the suggestion that maybe I should just shut the fuck up. And i did. In America, you don't know who's armed and crazy. And if you're a woman, there is nobody official who will help you.

So no, I'm not on facebook. And I've lost contact with almost everyone because of it. But, I am a loner by nature, and thus don't spend a lot of spoons inserting myself into social situations anyway, so...

And I do understand that it has become ubiquitous. But I suggest that it is malevolent. Intentionally.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:05 PM on October 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


Some people value their privacy and don't want Facebook digging around in their lives.

The problem with this is that closing your account, or not having any account, is not sufficient to keep Facebook from doing this. They're digging into the accounts of your friends, the phones on which they've installed the Facebook app, etc to create shadow profiles.

Maybe when Mastodon adds the ability to make individual posts friends-only, it will be usable for this. But now it is just publicly screaming into a void which the Nazis and griefers haven't found yet (but, presumably, Five Eyes/SORM/&c. are indexing just fine, thank you very much).

However, as Mastodon instances are privately run, you can join an instance that formally bans nazis and harrassers (for example). You aren't locked into Jack's abominable policies which actively verify white nationalists. You can lock your account (forcing followers to be approved manually by you), you can make your posts only visible to followers. It is another social network likely being scraped by NSA, but it is much more friendly to privacy concerns, and not an actively monetized advertising data harvester.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:10 PM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Blue Tsunami: You end up doing the same thing with facebook, putting stuff there or not depending on what effect you want or how you want to portray yourself--all sorts of things to virtue-signal in all sorts of ways to various groups.

Tijmen Schep, a Dutch technology critic, calls this process 'Social Cooling'.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:25 AM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


That is, call them regularly, write them emails, invite them out for a drink, etc.

Can't speak for anyone else, but personally, the emails and texts of whatever would get ignored (likely because they'd be not seen until "oh whoops, too late" or "I'll deal with this later - [forgets]"), phone calls without an obvious motive (such as an invitation) would not be gladly received, and ones with, well, see above about invites. Not that I could meaningfully go for a quick drink with people who don't live in my town, area, country, or continent. The people I can easily interact with IRL, I do so, and they're consequently not the people I talk to on Facebook. I'd also certainly not be getting as many bookings for my bands (one band has no Facebook presence. Number of randomers contacting by email for bookings? Zero. For any band. Occasional bookings via Facebook though, for the bands that are on there), or hear about as many gigs that my friends are playing in the area.

And like, I'm way less dependent on it than any of my friends trying to make a living as a visual artist, or drag performer, performance artist, poet, etc, etc. I *can* just stop doing music and not starve (though why the fuck would I want to?) but a lot of people I know are reliant on the income, interest,commissions, and bookings that having a public Facebook presence generates.

"Anyone can choose to leave" is only true in the narrowest sense, and holding people on Facebook as complicit for whatever ills fake news causes (which is somehow exclusively the fault of Facebook, nor the websites creating the bullshit or the people sharing it?) is on a level with holding everyone living in the US responsible for continually endorsing Trump by not choosing to leave the country. Not everyone meaningfully has that choice.
posted by Dysk at 3:38 AM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I actually lost a friend because she was a Facebook early adopter and I'm a Facebook never adopter (I do actually have an account, which I only started using after the election because suddenly that's where all the political organizing was, but I do not have any real-life contacts there--it's not under anything even resembling my real name--just a couple groups that take the place of the discussion fora I vastly prefer but which are now all dead) and the "why not just email?" question was answered quite frankly with "you will never get invited to a social gathering by this person ever again."

I don't blame that on the platform, I blame that on the person. That said something pretty loud and clear about the nature of our friendship, that she was willing to straight up ignore someone who had been an extremely close friend for a number of years because she couldn't be bothered to spend an extra 30 seconds to text or send an email to invite me to whatever it was she just posted on Facebook. It hurt. A lot. But it didn't make me want to join Facebook, it made me not consider her a friend anymore.

I'm an introvert, though. The thought of reconnecting with people I was friends with 20 years ago doesn't excite me, it horrifies me. I share plenty of pictures of my (frankly adorable, y'all) kid with family by SMS, occasional email, and I've recently set up a password-protected WordPress site for him. It's pretty easy to upload pictures there and sit with him to write a few captions for them and I figure it's a good first lesson on using the internet responsibly. Voila, now the grandparents can see what he's up to, no Facebooking required.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:02 AM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I haven't been on Facebook for 4 years now. I'm not a recluse.
- I use Whatsapp for one to one messaging. I'm in a couple of WhatsApp groups of around four people and it's mainly for us to coordinate when to hang out in the physical world. I don't really need to see my friends and and their kids constantly to feel connected to them. I send the people I actually give a shit about a Whatsapp once in a while and they send me plenty of pictures. That's enough for me.
- I use Kakao Talk to keep in touch with my parents (kind of like WhatsApp but for some reason popular with my Korean parents' crowd?)
- I use Instagram to post pictures of my cat and see pictures of friends' pets and kids. Yes, I know it's owned by Facebook but it's not Facebook (yet). It's harder for people to 're-post' stupid crap and it's also impossible to link to stupid crap. I've noticed that the people who would usually post that kind of crap are on Facebook and on Instagram they stay mainly silent because they have nothing original to share.
- Email still works great! SMS still works great! You can send gifs!

I really don't understand the point of Facebook except receiving entertainment in exchange for advertising and as an entertainment medium it really sucks compared to Netflix, YouTube, Amazon TV, Spotify, Buzzfeed etc. Same with Twitter. I've cut them off for the second time this year and I think this time it's gonna stick.
posted by like_neon at 7:07 AM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just...I'm so sick of social media and outrage porn. I'm so tired of it. I just really want to see pictures of cute kids and cute animals and cute house redesigns. Everything else is just so much fucking noise.

it's funny that, of all days for this round robin dismissal of social media as a platform, particularly Facebook, today would be the day. I say this because today is the second day of the #metoo campaign where literally a quarter of all the women/femme/non-binary folks on my friends list are posting in their feed 'me too' in reference to whether or not they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed

it is horrid that it takes people reliving traumas, recounting these experiences publicly, to get the word bout. but without a space for this campaign, without the socioculturally normative platform that is the Facebook that your mom, uncle, racist high school friend, now sexist redpill college fuckboy friend, etc all use, these folks would not be able to make as powerful as statement to as wide and diverse an audience without going through another gatekeeping institution such as the media. as much as some of us don't want to admit it, Facebook is a social institution already - and it's one of the more populist ones

there's a big difference between pushing for a better institution and just saying you outright won't participate in it - one is practically fighting for a better world, the other is to count on your privilege of not needing the institution and backing out all while white supremacists / alt-righters / etc are organizing in the vacuum you and all the people like you have left

I'm also saying this from the perspective of one of those local organizers legitimizing the Facebook platform. a great many of the folks who are coming out to our anti-racist organizing events are finding their way to us via Facebook - I ask a wide swathe of people who show up 'how'd you find out about this event' and it's the default answer I get. a lot of the way we were able to reach out to and drive people to events and donations pages is through Facebook - without that platform, our unfunded, volunteer only group would have no way of engaging our now 2000+ membership (of which a good 25%+ show up on a regular basis)

of course you can choose your battles - the internet does not have to be the place you make your stand. but for those of us who do use it that way and who use it positively to impact the other aspects of our own lives, respect that and stop telling us that it's pitiful or meaningless. not everybody uses social media for their own benefit and esteem - that you do so is more a reflection of you than it is of the platform. the criticisms leveraged at Facebook, like the lead article, are more to do with making sure that this social institution is run better and more ethically - it says nothing about doing away with the whole thing. that's just you

as a side note, calling something 'outrage porn' is one of the most disgusting ways of condemning public indignation against injustice. some of us don't get to be objective, unaffected observers of oppression - that you're mildly tired of viewing other people's pain is a repulsive kind of privilege
posted by runt at 7:11 AM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also weird to me how do much of this discussion treats reposted outrage fake news crap or FOMO-induced news feed addiction as just an inherent and unavoidable part of Facebook. They're not. You can be on Facebook and not have your racist uncle on your friends list, not follow the dickhead constantly posting minions or Canary links, not have a habit of endlessly scrolling newsfeeds or constant checking. Your experience of Facebook is, to a large extent, what you make it. You don't have to have the worst possible experience of it.
posted by Dysk at 7:22 AM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


if you want to be considered as a person, a member of society, you need to be on Facebook.

If your consumption of a product leads you to characterize those who choose not to consume that product as nonentities or to liken them to terrorists, you might want to consider whether your relationship to that product is entirely healthy.
posted by multics at 7:52 AM on October 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


The problem with this is that closing your account, or not having any account, is not sufficient to keep Facebook from doing this. They're digging into the accounts of your friends, the phones on which they've installed the Facebook app, etc to create shadow profiles.

Yes, exactly. I'm sure I have a shadow profile already. In fact, I've had to create some kind of at least stub presence on a couple of social media sites just to get them to stop sending me "invitations" to join every time someone with my information scraped their contacts. I think Facebook was one of them.

But way back when, before everyone started getting Facebook accounts, a couple of my cousins I hadn't seen since I was a kid sent me an Evite to some thing, entering by hand my email address, my phone number, my full legal name, and address, into the Evite database. I made myself cool down a little bit first, then emailed them, asking politely that they not give out my personal information to companies like that.

They argued with me, said I was being silly, and that of course this respectable corporation wasn't going to do anything else with that information, and ha ha, what a ridiculous thing to ask!

I mean, I kind of get it. They did something pretty thoughtlessly, and they either had to acknowledge that, or find some way to justify it to themselves, so they went with the latter. They made it pretty clear that they'd adjudicated the issue, decided that I was crazy and/or stupid, and denied my request to stop giving randos my personal information.

And it's all so so much worse now. People run contact scrapers without realizing or really thinking about it all the time. But think for a second about what an egregious thing that is to do to someone. To hand over all the information you know about them to these big nefarious corporations to do whatever they choose.

Before Facebook, would you have handed over your little black address book to a door to door salesperson or proselytizer so they could target your friends and family? Of course not. And that would be much less dangerous, much less centralized and automated than what they're doing now. But people do it all the time out of ignorance and laziness.

And when you point that out, when you ask them not to do that anymore, rather than acknowledging or making any effort at all to stop, they Cassandra you, call you crazy and antisocial and stupid, and use that as an excuse to continue doing whatever they like. It's normal to overshare like that, so people who don't like it are abnormal and don't deserve to have their boundaries respected.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:51 AM on October 16, 2017 [11 favorites]


The thing that bugs me the most about the contact scrapers is that I never have any idea if the invites I'm getting to things are actually because someone was like, "You know, I'd really like to be more in touch with Soren, specifically" or just clicked a thing and now every person that ever emailed them is getting the same invite. Mainly in the context of LinkedIn. Is ignoring this invite going to offend someone I have a professional relationship with, or did they not even realize that they clicked a thing that sent this and I am free to ignore forever?
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:56 AM on October 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


So here's something I don't understand about the whole delete-Facebook debate: It is possible to be on Facebook and not use it very much.

I have considered deleting Facebook, but haven't mainly because it makes it easier to keep in touch with certain people I'd like to remain in touch with. I realize it is a cheap method of interaction, but it's helpful in some circumstances.

But my friends list isn't very extensive, and I seldom make or even accept friend-requests these days. I'm not shy about unfollowing people if they post a lot of crap.* I check it almost every day, often more than once, but for seconds at a time. I probably average a grand total of two minutes per day on the site, maybe less. I also hardly ever check it when I'm on vacation, and will take breaks from time to time if it's impacting my mental health. I post very occasionally.

Here's the biggest thing, though, and it's something I've urged people who complain about Facebook but can't leave it to try: I don't use the mobile app. I've never even had it, and don't want it.

So I'm going to urge you, dear readers, to consider this option. If you find that Facebook is bothering you but you can't/don't want to leave it for whatever reason, just delete the mobile app. Don't use it on your phone. I am continually surprised by how few people think of this. It creates a barrier to entry to Facebook-land that makes it much easier to control, and makes Facebook seem much less pervasive. Delete the mobile app.

You can also just delete your account, and that's fine, I know lots of people who've done it. But I can understand being reluctant. Deleting the mobile app is a nice way to get started on limiting your Facebook usage without foregoing it completely.

*I'd like to note that I think it's important to engage with ideas that you disagree with. Facebook is, by and large, not the place to do this.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


If your consumption of a product leads you to characterize those who choose not to consume that product as nonentities or to liken them to terrorists, you might want to consider whether your relationship to that product is entirely healthy.

I think the implication was that other people who have no knowledge of your character (new acquaintances, potential employers, etc) would think those things about you if your presence in the new social structure is a big blank.

I mean I get why people don't use Facebook. But at this point it seems like old-man-yells-at-cloud. Or more appropriately, old man refuses to use telephone because he doesn't like new social conventions. Should I invite Marie with us? Probably not, you can't call her because she objects to the telephone. She'd probably just lecture us on how we don't interact in person while we're trying to invite her to interact in person.
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I'd have shared everyone's belief that Facebook is critical for maintaining relationships, but I think that's changing. It's much less relevant to my social circle than it was a decade ago - most of my millennial peers (and all my younger relatives) have moved to Instagram for photo sharing/daily life posts. And at least in my experience, parents and older relatives follow their kids to social platforms, so I think that trend will spread. I know plenty of social groups still rely on Facebook, and I do find it super useful for events, but I can easily picture a Facebookless internet in a way that I couldn't 5 years ago.
posted by Emily's Fist at 9:13 AM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


But at this point it seems like old-man-yells-at-cloud. Or more appropriately, old man refuses to use telephone because he doesn't like new social conventions.

C'mon, can we not do this where we paint someone who doesn't use Facebook as out of touch, old, or a luddite? It's really weird and condescending.
posted by FJT at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


I deleted my Facebook account about four months ago after being a regular user for years and am very happy I did so. It's amazing how deeply the company is woven into the day-to-day existence of so many of us.

Another of FB's exploitative actions that I haven't seen mentioned here is the unavoidable use of their messaging service if you have an account. This requires either access to a computer, another fucking application on your phone, or jumping through hoops to get the desktop FB site to show on your phone's browser to see in order to see messages and then trying to respond in a portion of the scree. (A few of my friends never got the hint not to use FB to message me — perhaps I should have been more direct.)

While I miss seeing posts from some people, I don't miss the frequent gigantic app updates in the hundreds of megabytes, nor seeing/not seeing updates from friends based on some secret algorithm designed to line Zuck's pockets. Everyone on the fence about it should try deleting their Facebook account: maybe it will make you happier.
posted by exogenous at 11:53 AM on October 16, 2017


okay but
the telephone company didn't literally record all your conversations and store them indefinitely and sift through them and sell extracts to advertisers so they could sell things at you through your telephone and through every other medium you use and build a profile tracing out all your social contacts, all your friends and family and coworkers and your dentist too, and also conduct psychological experiments on you?
so maybe that's not the best analogy?
posted by halation at 12:04 PM on October 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


Speaking as an extremely reluctant facebook user (I create a new account when I'm organizing things, sometimes, then delete it when I'm done), I think the telephone analogy is meant to reflect how we potentially come across to some people, rather than how we actually are. It's definitely a quirky characteristic, and there's always a social cost to quirks, unfortunately.
posted by Coventry at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2017


C'mon, can we not do this where we paint someone who doesn't use Facebook as out of touch, old, or a luddite? It's really weird and condescending.

Yeah. I'm a software developer who mostly creates web applications at this point, so I don't think it's fair to characterize me as a luddite because I deleted my FB account after recognizing that, for me anyway, it was a major distraction and source of angst.

Just about everyone I know who uses it heavily are older people (like my mom) who have no idea how computers work. Anecdotally, most of the tech-savvy people I know barely use it.
posted by JeffL at 2:46 PM on October 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I work in tech too (although I am probably in that "mom" demographic), and the reason I don't use Facebook and a lot of other tools like that isn't because I don't understand them. It's because I do.

But the age demographics, I dunno. It's true, the older people I know (by which I mean people my age) do seem to spend more time on Facebook than younger people, but the younger people use other equally simple tools, and overall don't have that much better grasp of how things actually work.

From what I've seen, younger people are "digital natives" in the sense that they are less critical of adopting new technologies, but they mostly don't understand or care how things work any better than older people. So they may be less likely to be heavy Facebook users, but they're not necessarily smarter about what they do. They're just signing up for different services, and they also seem more willing to do things like install apps with absolutely pointless and ridiculous permissions. I saw a FLASHLIGHT app on some young person's phone that required permissions for pretty much everything, including contacts and location.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I miss blogs. And blog networks. And LiveJournal.

See, back when these things were popular, we were warned by Very Serious People that putting all that information on the open internet was a bad idea. Why would you be stupid enough to post about your life (because all kinds of blogging, in popular media portrayals, were generally conflated with personal/autobiographical blogging) where just anyone could come along and read it? Wouldn't it be better, if you insisted on writing online yourself rather than leaving it to the professionals, just to share with a small group of your friends on a platform like Facebook?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:14 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's what was so great about LiveJournal. I could have my own blog, but I could lock it down so that only the people I let in could read it. And then they introduced the groups thing where I could dial in on a post-by-post basis which groups of people saw what. LiveJournal is, alas, now basically owned by Vladimir Putin. Dreamwidth still exists, but most of my fandom friends went to Tumblr, which baffles me.

they mostly don't understand or care how things work any better than older people.

I work in technology in higher education and this is absolutely my experience. The older folks think that the youngsters are all coding apps all the livelong day and I frequently have to lay it on them that nope. For the majority of young people a computer is just a magic box that Netflix comes out of. The "digital natives" thing is maximum hogwash
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:05 PM on October 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


@soren_lorensen: There's probably a couple of different factors, generally speaking (I don't know about your fandom friends in particular). First, DW was invite-only for quite a while, whereas (as far as I know) Tumblr signups were open. Second, I think LJ was still going pretty strong in 2009 (the year that DW launched, according to Wikipedia). And third, the public tag system is just something that LJ clones don't have -- as a way of exploring and participating in particular fannish spaces, it's much more casual than joining a comm (and therefore more expansive even for a purely passive lurker -- you get to see the fannish output of people who wouldn't have done the equivalent of joining a comm). That's a double-edged sword, of course.

I definitely have seen people -- even middle-aged people who had formerly spent time on LJ -- flat-out refuse to move off Tumblr in favor of DW or whatever even after Tumblr royally screwed them over. To them, Tumblr is The Only Social Blogging Platform. And I don't know how much of that is "all my friends are there" and how much is other factors. I definitely wish some of my fannish friends would have come over to DW, but hey, what are you gonna do.
posted by inconstant at 11:44 AM on October 17, 2017


I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this. On one hand, I really want to delete Facebook, because I feel like it'd be interesting to see what my life is like without it. A lot of people talk about all the positives of not having Facebook, and it seems interesting to attempt. On the other hand, I am definitely an addict, and I'm worried about the potential negative affects that going "cold turkey" from Facebook would have on me, which again makes me want to delete it even more. So now I exist in this feedback loop of wanting to delete it, getting worried, then thinking "I shouldn't be worried about getting rid of it", wanting to delete it even more, and then repeating the cycle.

The big issues with Facebook are the data mining, the ad stuff, and the dissemination of fake news as well as the ad-buys by a foreign government with the aim of manipulating our election. The algorithms all involved in this sort of stuff are part of the system that's been created, and need to be changed, or totally dismantled and reconfigured.

You shouldn't need Facebook in order to keep in touch with family, but it's now to the point where people (especially in this thread) are talking about having to pick one or the other. This sounds like a breakdown in predominantly normal human interactions: where you use to send a letter or call somebody, you now have Facebook. You can still send emails, call, send letters, or text people, but people still want to use Facebook. Why? And are the stories about Facebook having the same affects as cocaine or gambling on our reward centers really true? Because if so, that would help explain a lot.

Most of my Facebook usage these days is spent sending articles to friends that I know they'll find interesting, so you can definitely lodge me in with the groups of people who get news and such from Facebook. I actually get almost all of my news here first before Facebook, but music news and such is almost entirely through Facebook. I also require Facebook for events, whether those are big concerts or underground house shows, or exclusive movie showings. Facebook for me isn't contained to necessary interaction with family members. I primarily utilize it like a community board. I can see who is interested in going to what shows, I can RSVP to those shows, and I basically have an interactive board at my disposal. I also get my music news from there as well. For example, FACT will say that so-and-so is releasing a new album, here's a link to the single, oh and they're going on tour, then I can easily find what date they're playing Portland and what venue and a link to tickets, all in one sitting. I think that's neat.

But it doesn't change the fact that there is definitely a weird feeling when it comes to using it for other things. If I want to post a long political diatribe, I'm mostly going to be preaching to the choir thanks to the filter bubble. It seems disruptive in a negative manner for protests to be on a platform that is being readily co-opted by a foreign adversary. The Russians have already created events to get people to show up en masse with armed weapons, and it worked. How long until something like that happens again and people die, or a leftist protest has armed counter-protesters show up and they decide to finally shoot? Or what if a "false flag" is created by manipulating leftist activists into doing something that would screw up future protests and leftist movements?

That's all speculative, of course (except the Russians actually creating events to get right-wing protesters out with armed weaponry), but it's highlighting the issue at hand: the centralization of Facebook as a place for these things to be happening. It's weird, too, because it's like Facebook has all these useful components, like the one I was talking about above, but you really have to hammer in and tailor your experience for those in order for them to be useful, or to drown out the other things.

As a platform for sharing family photos and such, Facebook should be able to do that without being totally evil, but there is still an issue behind people wanting to forsake other forms of communication in order to exist on Facebook predominantly.
posted by gucci mane at 3:45 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just download your data and rip the bandaid off and delete it. If you don't like it, you can always create a new account. I've done so at least four times.
posted by Coventry at 7:36 PM on October 17, 2017


Facebook and Google Helped Anti-Refugee Campaign in Swing States "Unlike Russian efforts to secretly influence the 2016 election via social media, this American-led campaign was aided by direct collaboration with employees of Facebook and Google. They helped target the ads to more efficiently reach the intended audiences, according to internal reports from the ad agency that ran the campaign, as well as five people involved with the efforts."
posted by exogenous at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, I am definitely an addict, and I'm worried about the potential negative affects that going "cold turkey" from Facebook would have on me, which again makes me want to delete it even more.

After trying three or four times to deactivate my account, and then returning to it after a few weeks each time, I finally just downloaded my stuff and permanently deleted my account a year and a half ago.

It was a huge relief, and I'm a lot more productive and happy. I experienced no negative effects from quitting it "cold turkey". I only wish I'd never used FB at all. It's an evil time-suck.
posted by JeffL at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


Appears Pavel Durov gave the FSB too much confidence that he'd always help them out:
Telegram Founder Durov Puts Out Call for Lawyers to Fight Encryption Fine

Just a hint, if you want to write a messaging protocol then it should (a) use strong end-to-end encryption like the Axolotl ratchet from the beginning, so that you never have any keys to hand over, and (b) be distributed as reproducible builds of open source software, so that you never have anything to backdoor.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:54 AM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]




Relevant TED talk : We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

Also, there is a much darker future for AI in China where they full well intend to deploy it for social control

As an aside, WikiLeaks just started publishing "Vault 8" containing "Source code and analysis for CIA software projects including those described in the Vault7 series.", with part1 being their Hive program that helps do CnC without malware being attributable to the CIA (via)
posted by jeffburdges at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


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