A few weeks ago, I told you how you can lock down your Facebook privacy settings with the promise of a future column about why you should go ahead and delete Facebook altogether. It’s time I fulfill that promise.
To put it plainly, Facebook is a bad company. Now, obviously “bad” is a relative term. So let me break this down a little more, both the “good” and the “bad”.
First of all, I get it, Facebook is hard to quit. Especially for us early social media adopters, the users who migrated from MySpace, or Live Journal or even Friendster. When I first joined Facebook, it was still a fledgling startup built exclusively for college students. These days it is a multi-billion-dollar tech empire and the largest social media platform in the world.
At the end of 2004, the year Facebook launched, the site boasted around 1 million registered users. Today, Facebook is home to over 2 billion users across the globe. If my math checks out, that’s roughly a quarter of the planet’s population. But of course, it isn’t just people that have taken up residence on Facebook. These days, Brands make up a sizable chunk of the social media giant’s userbase.
Of course, it didn’t take long for corporate brands to utilize the reach that Facebook afforded them. These days, you can’t scroll far on Facebook without running across a sponsored post (AKA an advertisement). And that ad revenue has allowed Facebook to grow into the bloated behemoth it is today. In short, Facebook is too big.
The company has absorbed competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp and, sure, we have Twitter, Tik Tok and YouTube but let’s face it, those sites will never be in direct competition with Facebook. Plenty of politicians, on both sides of the aisle, have called for the company to be broken up for fear of it monopolizing the social media space. But their cries came too late.
And let’s not forget about Libra, the yet-to-be-launched cryptocurrency that Facebook announced last year. The company has said that it wants to “revolutionize” the banking word by essentially creating its own financial system. If and when that happens it could create an even deeper divide between the company and any government regulation. That is dangerous.
Speaking of dangerous, Facebook also represents a threat to the democratic process. We all know that Russia used Facebook to spread fake news in the run-up to the 2016 election. But Facebook recently released its new political advertising policies and it seems they learned nothing from 2016. Their new policy explicitly allows politicians to lie in their Facebook advertising.
As we prepare for another presidential election this year Facebook has done little to stop the spread of fake news and has refused to change its policies regarding political advertising. Now, I will give them this, they did label a recent video of Biden appearing to endorse Trump as “partly false” though they still refused to take the video down.
Finally, Facebook doesn’t care about you—you shouldn’t care about it either. I know we all like to think that we have some agency in our online lives, but the truth is we don’t. Facebook could delete your entire digital existence tomorrow and you’d have zero recourse. Facebook has had multiple security breaches and continues to allow scammers to market pyramid schemes and every other kind of snake oil to its users. Frankly, as long as they are getting paid, Facebook doesn’t care what is being posted on its site.
Like I said earlier, I get that it is hard to cut the digital cord with Facebook. If I didn’t have to managed multiple pages on the site for work I would have deleted my own long ago. And many of us still use the site to stay connected to old friends and loved ones—which was Facebook’s original purpose. But let’s face it, it’s 2020, when the site launched way back in the mid-aughts it was the easiest way to stay connected to those folks. But these days there are a million other ways to stay in touch. So, do yourself a favor and purge that little blue icon from your life, you’ll be glad you did.