I’m so fed up with Facebook. I’m fed up with being part of a billionaire’s hamster maze, where I’m being manipulated left and right, whether by algorithms trying to probe my most inner self for commercially usable data, whether by people who try to sell their image, whether by all the “normal” people participating in this madness.
That’s why I’m going to leave it, a hard resolve, but long overdue. I’m tired of being dependent on this shit. Give me a notebook and a pen for my contacts any given day. And as for those people who will vanish out of my life just because I’m not on this platform anymore, well, in that case, they never really were part of my life anyway.
What broke the camel’s back was the Cambridge Analytica affair.
Cambridge Analytica is a data firm (one of these modern parasites in our glorious information economy that somehow manage to sell themselves to investors and companies and make them believe they need go to through what people had for breakfast on Wednesday morning, what they shat out on Wednesday evening, and whose manicured fingers in a friend circle look the best in order to succeed in the new evonomy) that worked with the Trump campaign and is partly owned by billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer. The firm (if I were the University of Cambridge, I would rename myself, because this name is as toxic as nuclear waste now, especially since one of its employees played a shameful role in this farce) apparently used the data of dozens of millions of Americans on Facebook without their permission in order to manipulate the electorate and create the kind of disinformation, confusion and rage that politicians like Trump (whose campaign, funded by Mercer, employed them) thrive off. The term “fake news” originally referred to this kind of misinformation before Trump craftily appropriated it for his own purposes.
This is only the surface, however. Channel 4, a British TV network, did tremendously important, maybe historically important, work in providing us with a video, in which Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix and other senior executives kindly and unwittingly show us how propaganda in a predatory capitalist (mis)information economy works.
Please watch it here:
Have you watched it? There should now be no more question about the fact that the Internet and particularly sites like Facebook have become infested with lies and manipulations that often can hardly be spotted even if you’re wary. I can’t begin to describe you how much all this disgusts me, especially the calm, well-mannered, smug way in which these people talk about the lowest conduct human beings are capable of. But profit apparently excuses all to the greedy. And apparently, on some level, they know that they are disgusting. Says Alexander Nix in the video: “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.”
But this is ONE company, you say. What does it have to do with Facebook? How could Facebook possibly monitor ALL the platforms advertising on it, building apps and so forth? Well, they can, but do they act on their knowledge? Read this. Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief information security officer (what an Orwellian title) apparently had data on Russian operations on FB, was worried about it, strongly urged for action on this in 2016, but was put down, demoted, neutralized. What should we think of that? It is thinkable, of course, that FB needs to avoid all appearance of being a biased platform. On the other hand, FB has a commercial motive to treat content in a preferred way that generates many clicks and thus becomes advertiser-relevant. This is the crux of the advertisement-based profit model of the Internet. And while you can’t completely blame Facebook – this is how we chose to develop as a culture – I am tired of all the lies, defamations and the screaming for attention.
PS: Oh, and by the way: There is a hero in this story. His name is Christopher Wylie. He was one of the major players at Cambridge Analytica, a young IT specialist who was deeply involved in the project of “weaponizing” information and social media and using this weapon to affect the US electorate.
PPS: As of now, I still am on FB due to obligations as admin of a few groups. I hope to get out by summer.