Leaving Social Media

This post was originally about leaving Facebook. You can still read about my reasons, but I’ve also left all social media after reading several of Cal Newport’s books. Bye!

Did you see the recent Motherboard article on replacing Facebook (FB) with personal websites? I really like this idea, and since I have a website and hate FB, I’m doing it!

I’ll keep this short. Yes, this is another “I’m leaving Facebook” post. My reasons for doing so this time — the third since 2014 — are mostly ethical and personal ones. That said, I shan’t return.

Yeah, I know, they re-started that universe a lot more than three times.

For me, FB is an unprofessional professional network. 90% of my ‘friends’ are academics. It is strange that so many of these folks are so supportive of FB. We know its algorithms reward like-minded thinking (my conference paper here discusses filter bubbles and similar things). It is not a good platform for understanding difference. Of course,

Your results with FB may vary, but probably not

For me, FB is a maze of soapboxes manned by street preachers arguing with one another. The platform rarely generates authentic conversation, but does allow for the stringing together of poorly-connected pronouncements.

Yes, I do think that bit about street preachers is clever. Why?
We all know FB is a massive surveillance tool. Big business and state actors monitor us, but most tragically individuals who should be allies are policing one another. I see FB used to divide social activists. I know others whose posts are used against them by friends and colleagues. FB will never be an ethical platform. I know there are calls to reform it, and most of them are pretty weak. This is partly because of the ways folks use it. For instance, Memphis Police Allegedly Use FB to Spy on Black Activists. That said, FB is still pretty bad, Facebook Didn’t Sell Your Data: It Gave It Away.

There’s lots of things about FB that bother me. Their influence is off the charts. Zuckerberg uses that money to buy other companies. Back in 2014 he paid $2bn to Palmer Luckey for Oculus Rift. So what? Well, Palmer used that money to launch another company, Anduril which is working to “build a border wall” using the latest surveillance tech. It’ll only be a matter of time before other agencies grab that tech, like police departments (Orlando will, I’m sure). Is that what my clicking supports?

Does participating in FB implicate me?

Okay, you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re using it for good, you just don’t give a shit. Well, I’ll let the fine folks at McSweeney’s offer another perspective.

“when our privacy is stolen, so is our right to control our own narrative. We no longer get to choose what we share of ourselves and with whom. Next to go will be our rights to speak truth to power and to express our uncensored selves, anonymously or otherwise… even if we feel we ourselves have “nothing to hide,” even if we don’t mind the DEA listening while we tell our herbalists we’ve recently been having more heartburn than usual, the journalists and activists we depend upon have much at stake — and so, therefore, do we.” – The End of Trust

I wrote this post less to change your mind and more to cement my resolve. I’ll remain on other social media (find me on Twitter). I’m going to spend more time working on my website and blog. If you want to stay in touch, visit my contact page. I’ll keep that updated as well.


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