To Facebook Or Not To Facebook
I watched the beginning of a mass exodus from Facebook. It includes many very smart and very connected people who live across the United States. The exodus comes as the New York Times and The Guardian released articles about how Cambridge Analytica abused the distribution of Facebook user data. If you're overwhelmed by the incredibly details explanation about how 500,000 profiles were used in an abusive manner leading up to the 2016 election, check out this video that was posted on Facebook.
I knew there were ways brands can abuse access to Facebook demographics. That page that has a million likes for cheese? That fake Walt Disney World page that includes a period next to the name? The people who like those fake pages can be used to clone audience demographics for actual pages if the admin of the real brand is also the admin of the fake page. Brands wouldn't do that. But I know consultants can do that.
Does that sound terrible and twisted? That's nothing compared to what Cambridge Analytica did thanks to those quizzes and tiny little apps you allowed to connect to your Facebook account.
All of this sounds terrible. So, should we all exit? Is it time to say, thanks but no thanks to the simplicity of connecting with friends and families from around the world on one platform? I can't say. I knew the information I gave Facebook was used for marketing. I use Facebook for free and brands of all types spend MILLIONS to reach me. Cambridge Analytica's data harvesting helped the Trump campaign focus its campaign targeting based on that data. Facebook knew about this tactic *before* the 2016 campaign ended. Facebook didn't fix it until March 16, 2018, when the company banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform. (The day before the news broke.)
Facebook exists to make money for its shareholders. It doesn't exist to protect the general population from making bad choices in the voting booth. I wish I wasn't so cold-hearted about this fact. Social media is based on us sharing life details to grow relationships. It's personal. We have built true relationships through Facebook and Twitter. Are these well-oiled friend and family connection tools worth giving up personal information? It's up to you.
Should you stay or should you go?
Before you decide to just close it all down, I recommend checking settings on what you share. If you've ever used Facebook to sign into another website or connected your account to quizzes and games, you may want to check what kind of information you're giving away. You can remove these connections by going into your settings and clicking on the "apps" section. Or you could just disable all API connections to Facebook - which may make things a little less convenient. But it also allows you to avoid the process of sifting through dozens and dozens of API settings.
For now, I'm going to stay. But this Facebook exodus motivates me to write more once again. Blog comments are a great way to converse with friends. I built online relationships and maintained them through my blogs back years ago. I know I can do it again. I will continue to use Facebook as a touchpoint for most family and friends, former students, former co-workers, and so many others. But I'm rebuilding alternatives just in case.