On Facebook

A colleague at work today asked about my disdain for Facebook. This was my response.

I would start by saying that I recognize that it is possible for Facebook to be evil and at the same time for you to get a lot of benefit from it. My problem with Facebook isn’t that it’s just crap, and has had no positive side effects of any kind, but rather that Facebook consistently demonstrates a shameless disregard for the well being of humans, while seeming to believe it is doing the opposite.

Here are some things Facebook has done that are Wrong:

At the core, Facebook just has too much power and influence. Their goal isn’t to “connect” people, their goal is to get users to spend as much time as possible in the Facebook app. That means selling out to the most basic attractors like sensational posts (truth be damned), FOMO moments, and the like.

They spend 25 billion dollars a year investing in data analysis to attract the eyeballs of as many human beings as possible, by whatever means are effective. The job is literally, “how can we get Carol to spend 3 more minutes per day on Facebook?” They don’t care if those 3 minutes are good for you or bad for you, just so long as you spend them looking at that news feed.

Facebook is like a massive, mechanized Foie gras farm. Every day the cages get a little smaller, the amount of food to be force-fed a little larger. “We can leave any time we want,” the ducks say. And all the while they sit contentedly, arguing about whether the earth is round or flat, and laughing at cat videos.