The outcry is huge, but the actual revolution is small. We wail against the evils of Facebook, and then when we consider the loss of interaction and cat memes, we whimper.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Facebook for a long time. (And I love saying the Facebook. My kids and millennial cringe and smirk behind my back as if I don’t know it’s not the Facebook. It’s also fun saying “the Tweeter” and “the ‘Gram.” When they respond and say, “Uh, ‘the Gram’ is not a thing,” it makes my heart glow.)
So here’s the dilemma – and let’s have an honest conversation about this: should I “stick it to the man” and delete my Facebook account?
Three reasons Facebook is not trustworthy
I believe Faceboook has shown itself to be untrustworthy. There is a preponderance of evidence to prove that. Here’s three reasons why I think so:
- It has shamelessly used my personal information for its own advantages. Granted, I don’t pay for Facebook, so most would say I don’t have a leg to stand on. However, it was never my intent or consent to allow Facebook to use my information to make money. I don’t mind that they use the fact that I’m on their website to market things to me. But let me choose. If I click on an ad, then that’s my decision.
It’s maddening to see that their 2017 last quarter revenue was $12.97 billion. In a quarter. Their revenue. was. almost. 13. billion. dollars. Think about that. Their 2017 revenue was $40 BILLION dollars. It’s a website, folks.
We post our content for free, and FB gets paid through advertising. Genius. Truly genius.
- When Facebook was initially created, you were relatively assured of seeing whatever had just been posted. It was a mess, but it was a glorious mess. Then Facebook began curating our content, and it introduced algorithms to impact what we see (or don’t see). This was a mistake, in my book.
Slate described how FB algorithms serve up what you see as “surprisingly inelegant, maddeningly mercurial, and stubbornly opaque.” No one really knows how their formulas work. I think we can all agree however simply by saying they stink.
These days, I only really see 15-25 people on a regular basis. The majority of “friends” – I don’t ever see their updates/posts because of what FB has done. While there are articles saying that FB is NOT limiting who I see in my feed, I have a very difficult time believing that from just a regular viewing of the last 15-20 posts each time I log in. Anecdotally, I dispute that.A recent NY Times article quotes Adam Mosseri, the head of the News Feed team at FB saying, “..we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed.”So, while FB may claim it’s not limiting what friends’ posts I see on its site, it IS admitting to burying most of my friends’ posts so far into my feed, that I lose interest after I scroll for a while?
Granted, I don’t want to track all of my “friends” on FB all of the time. But please, leave that up to me and my own filtering. Don’t do it for me.
- Facebook has moderated information (I say censored) and attempted to influence me in a number of ways. The content that FB serves up to me these days – articles and links – seem to be done to only expose me to certain viewpoints. Whether it’s a conservative viewpoint or not is beside the point. I don’t want them filtering what I see. A recent Times magazine article revealed:
The end goal for the world’s largest social network isn’t just to guess what you’ll click on when you’re bored. The company wants to show you the things you care about most in your life, both online and off. “If you could rate everything that happened on Earth today that was published anywhere by any of your friends, any of your family, any news source…and then pick the 10 that were the most meaningful to know today, that would be a really cool service for us to build,” says Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer. “That is really what we aspire to have News Feed become.” The company, it turns out, has a plan for doing just that.
Doug Rushkoff wrote an opinion piece for CNN which I quoted in this post back in 2011. He compared the trust consumers have with Apple with that of Facebook:
Ultimately, they don’t trust Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and are suspicious of his every move. By contrast, Apple founder Steve Jobs took away his customers’ hard drives, Flash movies, keyboards and Firewire ports — and yet consumers put up with the inconvenience and discomfort every step of the way because they believed that Steve knew best, and trusted that he was taking them somewhere better.
Apple users pay handsomely for the privilege of putting themselves in the company’s hands. Facebook does not enjoy this same level of trust with its nonpaying subscribers.
That’s because on Facebook we’re not the customers. We are the product.
Let’s admit this. Facebook was novel and fun at first. Those of us who remember what it was like being “left out” of Facebook because we weren’t a college student remember those early days of FB. In September 2006, FB opened its digital doors to everyone. It was interesting, fun, and amazing to be able to reconnect with people.
And then we got inundated. 1.39 billion people log into FB monthly to check their news feeds! With that population, Facebook is bigger than China! It’s overwhelming. It’s impossible to keep up with if you more than 200 “friends.”
But here’s the main “other reason:” it’s poorly designed. We may have enjoyed FB “back in the day” as its novel approach served up posts and pictures from our friends in a sequential “feed.” As new people posted, the feed got bumped down. But today, with that amount of information – from friends, from pages we’ve “liked,” etc, a single, linear column of constantly moving information is essentially USELESS. You cannot keep up.
Facebook doesn’t just need better ethics. It needs a design overhaul.
Think of how useful a tabbed approach would be – a Family tab, a Friends tab, a Local tab, a Pages tab, etc. Facebook thinks it’s offered this to us with the column on the left, but editing these columns is difficult to figure out. The website as a whole has become visually unappealing.
You may scoff, but I alway thought Google+ was much more visually appealing, simple and uncluttered. And Google+’s ability to create “Circles” and drag and drop friends into circles was helpful for viewing. On the contrary, organizing a Friends List on FB is anything but easy or intuitive. It’s TIME consuming (which is why most people don’t bother).
Why to keep your Facebook account
In 2013, I posed the question:
“If you hate Facebook so much, why haven’t you deleted your account?”
Here’s what I said then, and I am still stuck at… for now:
- Strategy. It’s a place of influence. I’m hesitant to withdraw from a sphere that I can speak into. God still hits straight licks with crooked sticks, in other words.
- Relationships. I am in touch with people on Facebook that I wouldn’t be here on my blog or on other social mediums.
- Reach. Facebook is an immense tool for promotion.
Seeing as how I’ve been thinking about whether to delete my Facebook account for nine years now is an indictment on my inability to pull the trigger, or it’s a confirmation on my commitment to be strategically present in the digital world community.
Even if I did delete my personal account, the next question is: Could I lead my church/organization to delete their “Page?” Why and why not?
I think the important thing here is for each of us to be able to articulate why we are keeping Facebook (for now).
One disturbing reality: with over a billion users, if I were to delete my account… I wouldn’t be missed? There’s just too much noise, distractions, videos and rants on FB for any of us to notice when another one of “us” drops off the scene, right?
By the way, I started blogging in 2004 – the same year Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook out of his dorm room. To make up for lost revenues, I need each of you who reads this to donate, oh, say $50 billion? Also, when I refer to “the Facebook” and the young ‘uns make fun of me, that’s actually what Zuckerberg originally named the website.
- When I left a comment on Mark Zuckerburg’s page (2009) – I was making suggestions then about design too!
- Which image best represents you on Facebook? – drawings by a Polish artist are great conversation starters for how you use FB
- Still using Facebook… (2013) – a post for ministry and social implications of using FB regularly