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Maybe I Should Just Give In to the Facebook Juggernaut January 13, 2017

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture.
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Despite the fact that Facebook keeps active a live stream of a 12-year old committing suicide, yet pulls down a Pulitzer Prize winning historical photograph, the vast majority of the US, and the world in general, seem copasetic with the decisions that Facebook makes about our lives.

I have serious reservations about Facebook, but even more about founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is reported to be looking into a run for the US Presidency in the next election. Someone who publically says that we don’t want privacy in our lives, yet spends millions of dollars in property and legal fees to attempt build a wall around his house, clearly talks out of both sides of his mouth.  It is a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do.”  I’ll actually take that one step further.  Zuckerberg is telling the world that “I want my privacy.  And I can afford it.  You don’t, and you can’t.”

I have yet to ever sign up for Facebook, even though an increasing number of web properties are requiring Facebook user IDs to access their content. And of course, an increasing amount of interesting content is being posted exclusively on Facebook, available only to members.  I still decline, but who am I against two billion other people?

I confess that my flabber is ghasted. Is it just me?  Does no one else see what a heinous effect that Facebook is having on our interactions with other people?  What is it, really?  I am starting to doubt my own judgment that Facebook is something that I can rail against, and achieve some modicum of, well, at least acknowledgement.

I’m asking, no begging. Can someone please explain the almost universal fascination with Facebook?  And if we are concerned about Donald Trump as the US President, we should be horrified at the prospect that Mark Zuckerberg may succeed him.  Imagine a world where we are all required to have Facebook accounts, and to post required information about ourselves.

I would like to think that I have many more years of my life in front of me. Yet I cannot see value in them in the world of Facebook.

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Comments»

1. Shari - January 13, 2017

How is the FB fascination different than blogging or tweeting fascination?

2. Peter Varhol - January 16, 2017

That’s a fair question. I’m not sure that blogging is a fascination, but I’m happy to have that discussion. But you’re right, there are other social applications that also seem to engage people, sometimes to obsession. And Twitter in particular is subject to misuse for less than legitimate purposes.

I will say that some of the things that Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying and what Facebook has enabled and disabled over the last few years have made me angry, and perhaps I’m in part responding to that.

But in general I think that most people simply don’t think through the implications of giving up personal information in order to have a level of “social” presence. Facebook may or may not be the worst offender, but they are by far the largest one. And moreover, despite Zuckerberg’s explicit denial, Facebook has also become the world’s largest publisher. I am a strong believer that increasing power necessitates increasing responsibility, and I don’t think that Zuckerberg has stepped up to anything except his own ends.


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