Between a Rock and a Facebook

We’ve probably all heard by now about how Mark Zuckerberg, founder and head of Facebook, admitted to a US Congressional committee that Facebook will not fact-check political ads, opening the floodgates for smear campaigns that will stagger the imagination. It is a decision born of greed, and – dare I say it? – evil.

Couple this with the fact that Facebook’s algorithms are designed to limit the number of your friends that you interact with, and Facebook is no longer something I can support in good conscience. It’s a vicious circle: you see posts from people with whom you regularly like or comment on their posts. Facebook shows you more of those, even going so far as to show you the same posts over again as you scroll farther down the page. People you don’t interact with as often drop out of sight, practically guaranteeing you’ll not hear from them on Facebook again.

I’ve mentioned before that I am leery of Facebook: that I don’t trust them, and that I hope to move away from the platform as much as possible. That time is now: I’m preparing to make my exit. Oh, not all at once, surely, but I fully intend to limit my use of it from now on, gradually weaning myself off it altogether. I hope to have everything in order for that to happen by the end of the year: we’ll see how things go…

This isn’t an easy choice in many ways: 90% of my blog traffic comes from Facebook, and I expect my that traffic will take a big hit when I pull the plug. However, I cannot sit idly by while people actively do evil things. I can’t do much to challenge the dictators and demagogues of the world, but I can do this, and by so doing take money generated by my account out of the hands of someone who has proven time and again that he will misuse the power of the Facebook platform. If you read my blog regularly, I HIGHLY recommend you sign up for email alerts next time you visit (like now, maybe?) If you have already done so, thank you. You’ll get an email when I put up a new blog post, and as always, you have the choice whether or not to read it, and when. I do not harvest those emails for any reason: at some future date I may produce a newsletter on a much less frequent basis than my blog for those who are only interested in my fiction and gaming writing. At that time, I will solicit for people to sign up for that mailing list on a purely voluntary basis.

I also keep in touch with many friends and a large portion of my extended family through Facebook. Losing contact with those folks will be painful, so I hope to have that sorted out before I leave. A large number of groups and organizations I interact with also chose to use Facebook as their sole or primary source of disseminating information about the group’s activities. I hope they will reconsider this tactic, but the choice is theirs.

A wise person once said: if you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product. Facebook is free to use, but information harvested from our accounts means that the creepy predictive ads know what web sites we’ve looked at, and even which particular items in an attempt to sell us anything and everything. By sticking around, we are consenting to let Facebook do whatever they chose with the tremendous power they wield. Maybe by leaving en masse, Facebook will start to get he hint. Maybe not.

While there may not be a good substitute for Facebook yet, I have no doubt that more than a few entrepreneurs will line up to provide a similar service. With luck, they won’t be as unscrupulous as Mark Zuckerberg has proven to be.

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