or: The Problem of Facebook, and why we should leave it as swiftly as possible
Mark Zuckerberg’s motto explains why and how he has broken so many things we hold to be important (Democracy leaps to mind, but it’s far from the only thing). I’ve spent days peering into the abyss that is Facebook and I strongly suspect that this situation is far worse than anyone even knows.
“Consider the source.” My Mother told me this again and again growing up.
The main difficulty in internet discussions is that people do not argue in good faith.
And as you read this woefully incomplete list of Facebook’s misdeeds below, please understand that they have always acted in bad faith.
# In the beginning, there was Zuckerberg.
Here’s one of his classic exchanges. Zuckerberg confirmed this exchange to the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/20/the-face-of-facebook
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
# Below is a screenshot I took today. It’s still on my wall a week after I posted it. So why am I including it here (beyond the obvious Zuckerberg quote)? It got no ‘Likes’ and only 1 comment. Now, given my 2,587 friends, that seems… improbably low, right? Especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Zuckerberg’s perjured D.C. testimony “I’m the best genius ever. But nope. Can NOT recall. Just can’t. Super sorry.” Well, it would be low, but it turns out no one but me and a single friend can even see this post. I hypothesize that were it not for the speed of my friend’s comment (and maybe my swift reply to her), they’d have been able to wipe it completely. I bet most of you didn’t even know this sort of thing was happening – or even that it could happen. Facebook is just magical, non?
# Just how dishonest has Facebook been? Here’s how the FTC reported it in 2011 before Facebook went public and made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire:
• Facebook represented that third-party apps that users’ installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.
• Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with “Friends Only.” In fact, selecting “Friends Only” did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
• Facebook had a “Verified Apps” program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn’t.
• Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
• Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
• Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn’t.
Facebook knowingly allowed the very sorts of behavior the Mercers and their toadies at Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica, The Kremlin, et al. exploited to steal the US election and further divide the world. Sure, you could (and should) blame other bad actors and there’s no doubt these players acted against the interests of all of us, but the bottom line is simple – without Facebook, the US and the world would be safer and saner.
And as appalling as their abuses in the US are, it’s the whole world they’re damaging. It’s a global disaster:
# You’re kidding me, right? In his excellent reporting in IT World, https://www.itworld.com/article/2735062/it-management/facebook-s-deal-with-the-ftc–more-privacy–fewer-lies.html Dan Tynan talks about Zuckerberg’s response to the FTC comments from 2011 above:
“Zuckerberg on the other hand, issued a statement that starts out with a baldfaced lie and gets worse from there.
‘I founded Facebook on the idea that people want to share and connect with people in their lives, but to do this everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times.
This idea has been the core of Facebook since day one…. We’ve added many new tools since then: sharing photos, creating groups, commenting on and liking your friends’ posts and recently even listening to music or watching videos together. With each new tool, we’ve added new privacy controls to ensure that you continue to have complete control over who sees everything you share. Because of these tools and controls, most people share many more things today than they did a few years ago.
Overall, I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information.’
If the BS piles up any deeper we’ll all have to wear hip boots.”
# Matt McKeon made an astonishing infographic of Facebook’s reach, and its abuse of your data. I recommend clicking through the years at the upper right to see the extent of Zuckerberg’s brazen lies: http://www.mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/
# A New Hope? Nope. Today we find reporters talking again about Facebook ‘reeling’ and ‘vulnerable’ after they finally admitted that they just might have been a teensy bit careless with big bad old Cambridge Analytica. But, as usual, most reporters are ignoring their decision to move their user’s data to where it will perforce be less safe- the good old USA. Not only does the US have lax to non-existent privacy laws, it’s currently in the corrupt hands of those very people Facebook propelled into power and who are hellbent on destroying Net Neutrality. Sure, Ireland is a sweet tax-haven. But why keep people’s data safe? Instead they’ll do all the work they need to do (or at least claim to have done said work) to move 1.5 BILLION users’ data to the US: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/19/facebook-moves-15bn-users-out-of-reach-of-new-european-privacy-law
# The Vast Orwellian Experiment. All the way back in 2014, long before the Brexit vote and the US election, Facebook made a remarkable announcement. Having kept the rest of their experiments into group-control and Newspeak as secret as possible, you might wonder why they announced this at all. If you’re like me, you have to believe the answer can be summed up this way “$$$$$”:
“(Facebook) has published details of a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users’ home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of ’emotional contagion’.” https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds
I feel a little silly posting this trenchant article far into the piece, but damn. There’s just so much bad behavior it’s hard to know where to even begin….
# Revising your history for fun and profit. Well… profit anyway. Four years ago when I was posting my Small Gods series (one per day) Facebook refused to provide any real metrics over time or any real transparency (rather like it’s cousin Fox News who [unlike the other networks] never record their own programs so that no one can call them on their obvious propaganda [“But!” I hear you cry “We’ve seen tapes on The Daily Show!”. True, but did you know that The Daily Show had to tape them as they are broadcast? Because they do. But I digress… ).
But I believe in metrics, so I took screenshots. Remember that meme I posted above that is only visible to me? This came 4 years earlier. Facebook sent me several sympathetic entreaties: “X piece only got 39 views. You can boost it for a mere X dollars!”?
But it turns out that they were -surprise! – flat out lying. Bad enough to be running a digital protection racket “Nice art ya got here. Be a shame if anything was ta happen to it!”, but to lie about it too? Below is a comparison of my “views” using screenshots taken days apart. Note how those outlined in cyan mystically tanked, even as the rest accrued more looks:
# “Like” something? We can’t have that sort of thing on Facebook!
In this same period, certain users tried for more than a dozen hours to ‘like’ an illustration I had posted, only to find that Facebook did not let them. The next day they kindly tried again, and only then was their ‘like’ registered. Imagine how seldom such communication is conveyed between users, and how seldom either party is perspicacious enough to pay attention to their fiddle.
# “Private” Messaging? Not so much. It turns out that where Facebook is involved, there is no truth to anything they claim, and FB Messenger is pretty poisonous too. Go figure:
# You can Remove Apps! “But. But. It was all Cambridge Analytica! They were the bad ones!”. Zuckerberg’s baldfaced lies in response to the FTC above have now become an exercise in finger-pointing to the credulous and ill-informed. Facebook knew about CA for a damned long time before this ridiculous message was sent to their “users”, and they LOVED selling ads to the Kremlin, CA and anyone else who had money. Here’s there hilarious gaslighting post “A bad thing happened, and YOU need to fix YOUR security. Dumb Fucks.”.
# The really dangerous “App” in question is, of course, Facebook.
“In real-world terms, a part of Facebook still sees itself as the bank that got robbed, rather than the architect who designed a bank with no safes, and no alarms or locks on the doors, and then acted surprised when burglars struck.” (you’ll find the origin of this quote in an article below. It was just too apt to hide). I would add “and sold the plans to the thieves. Oh, and ads too. And gave them snacks and soda to keep them fresh during the robbery”…
That doesn’t matter though, because they’ve got all your data, all your friends, and all your friends’ data. And isn’t that what really counts?
# Oh, yeah… what about all those “fake” accounts from the Kremlin’s information farms?
# But what about all that scrubbing Lady MacBeth? Surely you’re innocent AMIRITE?
Why is it that Zuckerberg felt the need to remove messages he sent from other people’s mailboxes? I’m guessing his earlier use of the phrase “Dumb Fucks” might give us a valuable clue. It’s certainly not the move of an innocent man….
Even Facebook defender David Karpf wrote: ““Any time you lose data,” he said, “I don’t like it, especially when you lose data and you’re right in the middle of public scrutiny.”
# Standards! But what sorts of things did Facebook – who continue to brag about their “Standards” and won’t deign to show a mastectomy scar or nursing child – openly condone and allow to proliferate? How did they assist in electoral theft? Here’s a prime example for those who might have missed it:
# Leaks are a feature, not a bug. Facebook has always been leakier than any sieve known to man. How strange that they profited so enormously by their laziness, incompetence, and/or sociopathy. Given Zuckerberg’s remarks at the inception of this thing, I think one must presume that sociopathy was the key…. There have been countless (and no doubt many still undiscovered) leaks. And Facebook has repeatedly lied about them. Here’s one of the many. This one from 2010: https://www.itworld.com/article/2750130/networking-hardware/facebook-s–id-gate–privacy-breach–why-it-matters.html There are more listed in the 7 Steps link at the end. And no doubt many many others.
# You surely wouldn’t want to leave would you? Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX did, closing some 4+ MILLION followers down in the process:
Note: Musk still using the owned-by-Facebook but much-lower-context Instagram. We’ll all want to watch out for FB messenger and WhatsApp as they are also owned and run by Facebook whose methods have been well-demonstrated.
# Thinking of leaving Facebook? Well, even if you want to stay, I strongly recommend you follow as many of the steps outlined in this excellent article as you can. It’s hugely informative about how to maneuver through Facebook, archiving your data, downloading your photos and email exchanges with your friends:
That said, I hope you’ll practice self-compassion as you realize that Facebook has sold you out to Homeland Security (paying for your surveillance with your tax dollars – it’s straight out of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.), Walmart, or… well, really anyone with money.
# I’M OUT OF THERE! But in my final week of Facebook use I’ve winnowed out a lot of chaff, hoping to focus my “wall” on the stories that I feel are most important. If you’re still there, I would be honored if you would give it a scan. If there’s something newsworthy there that is unknown to you, please check it out. And better? Please share it if you feel it would educate anyone else.
# In Summary: Our relationship with Facebook is uncannily like abusive relationships in the real world. When you met they had things to offer. They cared about YOU. So so much! They wanted you to see all your friends, and to reconnect with old friends. And to talk about important things. They were the best! You could post art or writing and get it in front of people you’d never otherwise meet. Things could go viral! It was so cool. It really was. But then the abuse started. Oh, it was little things at first, like the way you got slowly… well, isolated from your friends. “But look,” Facebook replied.”Is it MY fault that you have so many friends? I just need to limit your friends a little. You know… for my sake. After all, look at all I’ve done for you:. Then it was their bragging to their shareholders about how EXCITED they were “There is zero organic reach, we are now a media platform.” https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4075682.html They became too big for you. And they wanted you to know your place. Poor? Well, of course they knew that. But now it matters. The NRA can buy them a yacht. The Kremlin can by ads. And Cambridge Analytica? Wow. What those guys can do!” And meanwhile, you just want things to be like they were… in the good old days. Back when Facebook offered you value, instead of them offering you AS value to those so much richer and more important.
# “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Farmville anymore!”
Facebook have spent years running experiments on you and me. We are not just cattle, no no. They can turn us into any flavor of Soylent Green they want. They’ve honed the perfect machine for delivering the intermittent rewards that mammalian brains simply love. It’s like The Matrix, but friendlier looking… Facebook is holding hostages and they believe there is nothing they can do so evil that you will ever leave them (though to be on the safe side, they’ll remove any meme they dislike, shut down anyone’s feed, prevent anyone getting or giving “likes” to anything that might harm their unspeakably lucrative stream of ad revenue, and – this just in – Blocking any links (like this one) that criticize them. Here’s two screenshots (taken just now from the same computer). Both are valid URLs here on WordPress. But somehow Facebook has chosen to covertly double the “wordpress.com” programmatically in my link so that it “cannot be found” while letting the inoffensive link from WordPress pass through. Oh Facebook, you’re so cute when you’re angry and try to ensure no one can see me….
At this point, we cannot be surprised, can we? But Facebook just won’t stop lying. Here’s Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of news feed:
# Where am I going now that Facebook is dead to me? Good question.
But in the arena of “Social Media”, I’m bringing back Small Gods (with text by the incredible Seanan McGuire). You can find it here, or at:
Wow. Concealed carry eh?
What an ad to show someone who’s beloved Mom had her foot shot off…
Oh Facebook, It’s not me. It’s you.