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Facebook's scandals and outage test users' frenemy relationship

5 Comments
By Elizabeth Stoycheff

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People need to learn not to vest themselves so much into social media sites. Facebook is a product you can choose to use or not use. If you get tired of it or don't like what you're seeing on it, then take time away from it or block people or adjust your feed.

When I hear of people going into meltdowns or had this extreme reaction or that one, then it mean they've lost the plot and are consumed by a product. Control yourself and get a hold of yourself like an adult.

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Bright light is the best disinfectant, and is a good thing when it comes to the public welfare.

And the public deserves much more public inquiry and testimony into social media; to understand the reach of social media and all of its uses and abuses of the public trust. Particularly when it comes to any evidence that a platform may have configured or manipulated its algorithms to affect the outcome of an election. If a company wants x,y, and z candidates to win or lose, and then manipulates users intentionally to try to make that happen, then everyone loses. But everyone deserves to know about it.

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For me I've wanted to quit Facebook completely for years, but can't.

As the article says, Facebook used to be a really good site. When I joined in 2007 it was amazing, I was able to re-connect with people - high school friends, distant relatives, etc - that I hadn't seen in years and that made me genuinely happy. And most people were pretty engaged with it then so it was a great way to keep updated on what all those friends dispersed around the world were doing.

Today though its just a shadow of its former self to me. Most of those friends just don't post stuff anymore (and I rarely do), and the feed is clogged with ads and promoted content so its become useless as a means of re-connecting or keeping up to date on what your friends are doing. I don't think I've added a new "friend" on there in years.

So I've come to hate it, and I don't use it much anymore. But I can't quit because one of the legacies of its former, useful self is that it became the only means of communication I have with a lot of people, who even though they don't engage much on it do at least check their accounts for messages from time to time. If I cut that cord it might mean completely losing my only means of connecting with them. So it just sort of lingers on as this little thing in my life that I hate because it morphed from being a positive and useful thing to being an evil, cancerous plague on our society that its difficult to completely remove because its so embedded in our lives like that.

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Facebook does need to cut down on so many sponsored and suggested ads. The article and the poster above mentioned it was a good site at the beginning and I totally agree. FB doesn't have to be as money hungry as they are now. They should go back to making it more personal friend-to-friend communication and sharing like it used to be, then they'd get a lot more people back on board instead of sitting idle.

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Facebook does need to cut down on so many sponsored and suggested ads. The article and the poster above mentioned it was a good site at the beginning and I totally agree. FB doesn't have to be as money hungry as they are now. They should go back to making it more personal friend-to-friend communication and sharing like it used to be, then they'd get a lot more people back on board instead of sitting idle.

This seems like a no-brainer to me too, but its from the fact that what makes sense to me obviously doesn't make sense to Facebook (because if it did, they would have done it already) that makes me fundamentally not trust them.

What worries me is that when I look at my Facebook feed, its basically all benign, boring stuff. My aunt's pictures of her dog, an old friend posting memes, a variety of blooper compilation videos recommended by Facebook because its algorithms know I have a weakness for them, etc. On its face, there doesn't seem to be anything at all objectionable going on there.

In other words, its completely different from the bad stuff you see reported in the media. I'm not seeing conspiracy theories, I'm not seeing racist posts, I'm not seeing anti-vax disinformation, I'm not seeing stuff that body-shames teenage girls, etc etc. If I had to judge it solely based on what I see, I'd think this garbage didn't exist on Facebook.

But it does. Facebook's algorithms just know that I'm not interested in that garbage so it doesn't bother showing it to me.

So when I wonder "Gee, Facebook used to be such a great place for me to connect with people, why don't they make it like it used to be" I think the answer is that their business model is no longer centred around making the site useful for people like me. Instead its been turned into a site that feeds garbage like the above to people who like garbage. Since I'm looking for a place to communicate with people rather than a place to be fed garbage, the way they run the site makes no sense to me.

If there were more people like me on Facebook, they'd probably have a less garbage-focused business model. That they stick with the garbage model suggests that their target audience is people who mainly go their to be fed garbage, and thus they've redesigned the whole thing to serve that end - feeding people garbage. Its fundamentally different from what it used to be and I think society as a whole is left a lot worse off as a result.

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