Reasons to Leave Facebook…

As promised, here is my non-exclusive list of reasons for quitting Facebook.  Feel free to share this (irony intended).

  • Private Dossiers on All Users

    Facebook buys and aggregates private information from 90+ known sources to create detailed profiles for individual users. In turn, Facebook uses and sells these “dossiers” to create ad revenue and refine its targeted Newsfeed (see below). I don’t know about you, but that amount of information in private or public hands—with no oversight or transparency—is deeply disturbing.

  • Your Newsfeed is Hijacked

    We already know that search engines try to use predictive algorithms to speed up searches and anticipate the data we might request. Those predictive models are being refined almost constantly. They are problematic in terms of race, gender, religion, sexuality, political leanings, nationality, region, etc. The net result is that the more an information provider collects about you, the more it tries to give you information that falls within the known parameters.

This self-reinforcing business activity creates a “bubble” of information that tends to EXCLUDE data that challenges your “beliefs” and ALLOWS only that data that tends to reinforce your “beliefs”.

Facts and critical thinking are out-the-window.

Facebook is a master at creating and maintaining these bubbles. Remember when your newsfeed had ALL of your friends’ posts? It was subsequently pared down (seemingly) arbitrarily by Facebook? Did you ever stop to wonder why or contemplate the long-term effect of that control over your newsfeed? It’s time that you ask these questions.

  • A Lack of Privacy

    I guess I could just say “see above”, but this one goes deeper. Privacy is an illusive thing as technology grows more powerful and sophisticated. The dreams and nightmares to be realized keep me awake at night. Facebook is particularly cagey about how it handles your data and its so-called privacy policy.

  • Envy & the “Constructed Self”

There are two well-studied effects of Facebook on human behavior: (1) envy and (2) only posting “highlights” of one’s life. If we believe what we see on Facebook, our lives are a highlight reel: vacations, travels, fun family time, babies being born, graduations, birthdays, etc. Sure, sometimes people die, and we use the medium to mourn as well as we might, but the messages coming through Facebook don’t show you the whole picture. This false presentation has been called the “Constructed Self” which, in a quick and dirty way, means that we spend a considerable amount of time weeding through our experiences and only posting the ones that put us in the best light. I am not saying this is evil—it is simply human. We do not want to confront the truth about our shortcomings.

For example, after becoming tired of lectures from non-lawyers about Constitutional Law and history, I posted my reading list for this year. It contained 30 entries. It has since grown. When I think back on WHY I posted that, I wanted to elicit responses from friends to satisfy my curiosity, but a darker side of me wanted to drive home the fact that I read more than almost anybody I know (except for maybe Melissa or Chris). So, when someone tells me that they “know” something, I am doubtful that their body of information is as substantial as mine. This is ego—out-of-control ego—in its most negative form. Why is it so important to seize the high intellectual ground from strangers OR friends? What does the construction of this ethos say about me and my insecurities? Needless to say, nothing good.

And envy. If people are presented with a newsfeed of highlights of other people’s lives, they begin to feel badly about their own. This is keeping-up-with-the-Joneses on steroids and crack! Soon, Facebook users will have an app that is simply called “My Life is Better Than Yours”. Actually, I call trademark on that!

  • No Right to be Forgotten

    Facebook in the USA no longer has the option of being forgotten. In other words, they keep your data forever or for as long as they deem it useful. The implications for corporate abuse and government overreach are overwhelming.

  • No Accountability

    Other than being a publicly traded company, Facebook has very few internal or external controls for its activities. It operates behind a veil of secrecy that is truly frightening. The EU has been the only group that has created some tentative regulations that might restrict Facebook’s business practices. Beyond that, it is a company without a country, without a moral compass and without a vision for a future that benefits the human race. It is a business, and by definition, amoral. It exists to make money. Period.

  • Pollution

    Facebook’s newest data center in Oregon is powered by coal (estimates are around 60%). There are no plans to recapture the CO2 or re-use the heat generated in the data center. It is not making any known strides to become “green” or to help save the planet.

  • Propaganda & Fake News

Prior to November, the running joke within Facebook purportedly was whom they should pick for the next President of the United States. There is also the troubling revelation that Facebook has NEVER done anything to stem hate groups from spreading lies like Holocaust Denial or similar propaganda.

I see tons of people re-posting memes, and, when I ask them where that meme came from and what purpose it might serve (in terms of misinformation), they invariably deflect by saying, “I don’t know, but I agree with it” or ‘I believe it is true” or “It is simply my opinion, and I’m entitled to it”. In a democracy that can only thrive if the people governing themselves possess critical thinking skills and literacy, these are unacceptable answers.

What it worse? The fallacy of false equivalency is spread over Facebook like Nutella. It is meant to make palatable statements of hate that are clearly beyond the pale of polite discourse. The “they do it, too” line is old. So is “they started it”.  Someone actually accused me of HATE SPEECH when I said that I hated the KKK and white supremacists.  This level of ignorance is, again, unacceptable.  Dumb people say dumb things, and we are supposed to accept their statements as deserving equal air time and consideration.

The bottom line is that a foreign government used Facebook to swing an election to an inexperienced fraud. And the people chanting “Jail Hillary” and “Drain the Swamp” are now watching as every so-called campaign promise has been broken. The entire administration is composed of billionaire cronies (except Ben Carson) who know almost nothing about their new jobs (except Ben Carson who knows EXACTLY nothing). To comfort themselves, people duped by Trump repost memes about “giving the guy a chance”. Yeah, I was done with it that line when he picked Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. White supremacists and anti-Semites don’t belong in the Whitehouse in the 21st Century.

I come from humble origins. I cannot begin to fathom HOW anybody in the working class would believe the lies Trump spewed before the election and how they stomach it now. The only explanation is that Facebook is contributing to their feelings of isolation and economic disparity. Constantly. How many times will people fall for this? I have no idea, but they haven’t stopped yet.

  • Lab Rats

    Did you know that Facebook has used—without your knowledge and permission—your account and newsfeed to manipulate your emotions to see how that manipulation might change your behaviors? You didn’t know that? Maybe you should look into it. It was a huge scandal that seemed to disappear overnight.It is impossible for us to know what experiments our data and our emotions are being subject to as I write this. Until a whistleblower steps forward, the experiments will continue.

  • Sharing Data – The Facebook Profit Model

It’s easier in Facebook than other platforms to “share” information, but there is little thought to how that “sharing” has spread into other apps. Have you stopped to think about how many times you have used your Facebook account to sign up for a new app/service?

I have intentionally avoided this. The benefit is that I can now move away from Facebook and not worry about the impact on other accounts. If you have used the convenience of having a single account (Facebook) to sign into other apps/services, did you know that Facebook is now in possession of that information? How about your DropCam or Nest accounts? DropBox? FlipBoard? You name it. It’s a real problem. And the deeper you sink, the harder it is to unbridle yourself.

This is an intentional (read “devious”) attempt to place Facebook at the center of your entire online experience and to further refine its ability to target your newsfeed and email inbox with ads. It is also intended to keep you from quitting—the more inconvenient it is to leave, the less likely you are to do so.

  • “Friends” of Friends

I have a lot of people I care about on Facebook. Most of them are from K-12. I have always worked hard to bridge the gap between factions of people. I have been, for the most part, civil in my responses to my friends so-called “Friends”.

However, I have been the subject of more name-calling and verbal abuse in the last 12 months than MY ENTIRE LIFE. And THAT isn’t the part that bothers me. It’s the people who just sat by and let it happen. Not a peep of disapproval. The closest analogy is being in the middle of a bar fight and your “friend” ducks out the back door. After the stitches, you know where you stand with that person.

I can think of two people: Lisa Manolios and Chris Georgian who actively tried to step up for their friends and keep things civil. They are most admirable, kind and intelligent. I wish more people followed their example, but few do. Whether they fear confrontation or secretly agree with the abuse, it makes little difference. Intentions mean nothing. Actions are everything.

And action was taken. A small number of people ACTUALLY stopped abuse on their newsfeeds. I even issued a challenge to everyone to stop re-posting political memes for 30 days. Nobody joined me.

Finally, Facebook is a weird space for rational discourse. Most of the abusive “friends” of my real friends wouldn’t dare to speak to anybody rudely outside of Facebook, so why do they do it on this particular social media site? What makes them feel free to hurl abuse and start hate groups against individuals? In my own high school, a guy started a group specifically targeting a female classmate. It turns my stomach.

Beyond that, the men who puff out their chests and let the testosterone flow by threatening ME with physical violence have clearly never met me. I hope someone clues them in before they seek out an actual confrontation.

  • My Reason for Micro-Blogging

Maybe most importantly, I have had to re-examine why I am writing anything on Facebook. For the most part, it is therapy and an attempt to be understood by people I care about. However, my posts appear unbidden on people’s newsfeeds.

Maybe they don’t want to read my posts today. Maybe they aren’t interested or don’t have the time.They don’t get to decide—Facebook decides. Their only choice is to either (a) “unfollow” me or (b) “unfriend” me. Keep in mind that nobody really stops being your friend in real life when you are “unfriended”, but the perception of shunning remains.

Even I get tired of re-reading my posts, especially where I bleed all over the page with my grief and pain. And, although that phase of my life is soon to pass (I hope), I would rather write light-hearted, thought-provoking, autobiographical stuff that is inspired by the raw honesty of Ghandi’s “Experiments in Truth”. I am also interested in OWNING my writing, not handing it over to Facebook to monetize.

So, my blogging will continue, as will the man, as long as the technology allows and my body and mind are capable. I will be on the following spaces:

stephenportell.com

Legal Issues: 520-585-5544

SnapChat

Twitter

stportell@cox.net

www.portelllaw.com

Peace & Love,

STP

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