BAN #65: Goodbye, Facebook
November 26, 2018 Issue #65
Subscribers help me face my books.
Yeah, but not too personal
Yesterday, just after lunch, I deleted my Facebook accounts.
I don’t do this lightly. I had two accounts; my personal one and my pro/fan one. I had nearly 4,000 friends and 17,600 followers on the former and 42,000 likes on the latter. That’s a wide reach. I’d built up a pretty decent audience over the years I’ve been on Facebook.
Why? Well, if you haven’t been following the news, a lot of very, very bad press has been aired about Facebook. And the response from the FB admin has been really, truly sickening. Denial, coy “who, us?” statements, and really skeevy crap like releasing bad news on the eve of a major holiday to reduce exposure.
You can read all about it in a major New York Times article. It really exposes the fetid underside of this company.
[Sounds ominous. But they’re referring to my page.]
Mind you, my disgust with the company has grown over the years. I started on FB back when it was practically brand new (when I did, you needed a .edu email address to sign up) and quite liked it; MySpace wasn’t very useful to me, and a lot of other startup social media died practically before they started. FB seemed to have legs, and it was fun.
Then it started getting less fun. Every update made the interface worse, and harder to use. I felt the true evil really started when they suddenly made it so that you could no longer reach your audience. I had thousands of followers, but they throttled my reach back so that only a fraction got a notification when I posted unless I wanted to pay to promote my own stuff. This is evil for two reasons; one is that it’s essentially extortion, and the other is that people who in good faith follow some feed they like might not hear from that feed. It shows a complete disdain on the part of Facebook for its users, and really damages people with small businesses.
My friend Zach Weiner just mentioned this very fact on Twitter, and he also linked to this Sheldon comic about it.
[Credit: Sheldon comic by Dave Kellett. Click that link to see the whole thing.]
Then we all found out that Facebook has been polarizing its audience, promoting actual fake news (as opposed to what Trump thinks is fake) because it gets more clicks — and this had an effect on the 2016 election.
And now, as the New York Times also reported, we see they hired an opposition research team which attacked people like billionaire and philanthropist George Soros… who happens to be Jewish, and who has been savagely attacked by racist and anti-Semitic right-wingers for quite some time, though of course that volume has been hugely ramped up since Trump took office.
Does that make Facebook anti-Semitic? No, but it certainly means they don’t care that he’s been the bogeyman of the alt-right for years. That’s a very, very bad look.
So I’m done.
There is some personal toll to this, of course. It was nice to keep up with family members and old friends online, and even throttled I was still able to get my voice heard by a lot of folks. It also means my online social status takes a hit, too, but I can live with that. This is an important ethical decision for me, and there are times those hurt. In some sense that’s telling me I’m doing the right thing as well.
I am not saying you should do this, too. I’m saying that I have had enough, and screw them. If you want or need to stay with them, that’s up to you, and I won’t hold it against you. Heck, I should’ve done this years ago, or at least months ago, so what’s my excuse? Inertia, mostly.
Everyone has a different limit. I’ve reached mine.
If you do decide to stop with Facebook, you can deactivate your account, which puts it on hold, or you can delete it, which gets rid of it. There are a lot of tutorials online on how to do both. I pretty much followed the one on Mashable. I’ll note I downloaded all my info first in a pair of zip files, one for each account, for backup. Once I was sure I had those, I pushed the button.
So is that it?
Maybe. If Facebook has a Road to Damascus moment and realizes they have well and truly screwed up their morals, and then take positive action to fix things (and not just make lame excuses as they have done for years), then and only then I’ll consider signing back up.
Until then, you can find me on Twitter, at about.me, and of course here on my newsletter.
And you know what? Thank you for paying attention. I love astronomy, I love my planet, and I’m even proud my country when it actually lives up to its ideals (which can be damn tough to find examples of these days). If it weren’t for all of you, I’d be shouting this into the void.
I’ll just have to find new and better ways to make sure my voice is heard. I’m up for it.
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
Monday Nov. 19, 2018: Is this cosmic sprinkler surrounding galaxy’s next gamma-ray burst?
Tuesday Nov. 20, 2018: Observing galaxy cluster collisions is quite the… enterprise
Wednesday Nov. 21, 2018: The Sun's long-lost sibling found in our own backyard
Thursday Nov. 22, 2018: I'm thankful for a little space. 20 years' worth, in fact.
Friday Nov. 23, 2018: Amazing time-lapse video of a rocket launch… seen from space!
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!
A big reason I subscribed to this newsletter was so I could follow your work after my own planned departure from Facebook and social media in general. After extricating my business from it by the end of the year, I'm also pulling the plug. It's not a healthy thing for individuals or for society.
Yes. All of this. I went dark on FB several months ago and, though I miss a few friends and relatives there, the feeling is far milder and far narrower than I expected. The time I gained back has more than outweighed that, even without the sense that I have clambered out of a democracy-undermining cesspool.