- If you believe in democracy, Facebook is increasingly incompatible with that desire. As you’ve likely seen in the revelations that continue to unfold, Facebook has created a model where very smart people use very smart machine intelligence to selectively filter the information it feeds to you, some of it false, so as to use what they know about you to influence your choices on, say, who should be the next president. Facebook has hidden this misuse of your data and the identities and agendas of those who misuse it. And they’ve done it for money – because the well-targeted lies generate traffic and the traffic boosts revenue. Enjoyers of Facebook – as I once was – shrug at this at our peril. But its reality rivals any nightmare George Orwell might have predicted – because Facebook’s silent commands about what is real feel to us like free choices as we click our way, personally monitored by algorithms at our every turn, through the filtered world it creates for each one of us.
- CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting that you’re too stuck on Facebook to leave, or that you’ll buy the “why bother? It won’t help” line. Zuckerberg and Facebook have been lackadaisical for years about urgent policy changes and improvements in how they handle the veracity and privacy of data. And Zuckerberg, with unbelievable arrogance, has repeatedly refused to testify before a committee of the British Parliament (he has offered instead to send underlings) in the momentous formal investigation into Facebook’s role in spreading disinformation in the run-up to the epic Brexit vote. Facebook could, if it chose to, do plenty to aggressively confront systems that reward false content, abuse user data, and impair transparency. But Zuckerberg seems to feel entitled to duck the unprecedented public crisis of information his company has created. True, this is what we get when we allow a private company to become, in effect, a public utility for our information. But now that we see the result – including its role in who now occupies the White House – are we willing to tolerate that? If you now remain on Facebook, you’re telling Zuckerberg, “Sure.”
- You can always go back to Facebook if you decide to. Facebook makes it hard to quit and easy to return. Their only proof that you’re willing to leave is when you do. So the one way to ensure that Facebook gives a damn about you and your wishes is to remove yourself from their profit base and tell them why. That, you can bet – as Facebook’s value has fallen amid mistrust from investors and users – will get tech zillionaire Zuckerberg’s attention.
Given the stakes for your personal information and your society, are you really not willing to send Facebook that message?