Failing to Bring the World Closer Together
A little over two years ago, Facebook updated its mission statement to, “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Since the update, though, Facebook has pushed the world further apart. The data they’ve collected on their users have been exploited to the extent they’ve influenced multiple elections across the globe. Most notably, a data analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica used Facebook’s data to create a profile of voters that were susceptible to advertisements. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was covered at length in Netflix’s latest hit, The Great Hack. I highly recommend you watch it.
Facebook has been shown to have become capable of compromising our very democracy. Moreover, studies have shown that Facebook can make its users more depressed. With such negative consequences associated with Facebook’s existence, I find Facebook’s efforts to further interweave themselves in our lives completely arrogant. Rather than focusing on how Facebook can become more integrated with our community, I’m going to instead share what a world without Facebook could look like.
Fewer Targeted Advertisements
Facebook is an advertising juggernaut. In 2017, 89% of Facebook’s $40 billion of revenue came from digital advertisements. Companies advertise on Facebook due to Facebook’s unrivaled ability to identify consumers most willing to buy specific products. As an example, if a cosmetics company wants to launch a line of ethically manufactured cosmetics, it may partner with Facebook to identify those that most strongly consider ethics when making buying decisions. Facebook would then serve advertisements to the targeted list of users as a means of selling cosmetics on behalf of their client.
Without Facebook, we wouldn’t be bombarded with advertisements at the same rate we are today. Companies would have less information about us. Furthermore, they’d have to work harder to sell to us. This isn’t a bad thing, because it means we’d have more privacy. Facebook has made billions in exchange for its users data. It’s time we’re no longer monetized.
Happier and More Social People
As I stated above, studies have shown that Facebook can cause its users to grow depressed. Paradoxically, the social network can make its users become less social. Facebook and other social media companies like it design their products in ways that maximize the length of time you spend using them. YouTube has recently come under fire for its autoplay feature, which experts suggest can cause users to go down an increasingly radicalized “rabbit holes.” While a YouTube executive denies this, minutes can quickly turn into hours spent on social media. Facebook similarly has an autoplay feature on the videos it displays within the news feed. Without Facebook, people can actually gain back time in their days to socialize with real people. They’ll no longer spend time mindlessly scrolling through their news feeds.
Fewer Opportunistic, Malicious Actors
Russia was able to target Facebook users in advance of the 2016 election, which ultimately had an enormous impact on the outcome. That said, who is more to blame? Is Russia the worse actor, having intentionally used a social media platform to undermine American democracy? Or is Facebook the worse actor, having given Russia the opportunity to exploit Facebook’s users? Irrespective of the answer, a world without Facebook would provide malicious actors with fewer opportunities to capitalize on treasure troves of data to serve their own ends. We know that Russia is planning on disrupting the election in 2020. I only wish Facebook isn’t around in 2020 to make it any easier for them to do so.
A World Without Facebook is a Better World
I find it horrifying that in a way, Facebook has successfully brought the world closer together. Cambridge Analytics, Russia, and other malicious actors have been able to have unprecedented influences over our elections. It no longer matters that oceans separate us. If an entity has Facebook user data, financing, and an internet connection, they can sway the political opinions of those among the US voting population. Why, then, is Facebook permitted to stay in business? They have not proven that they’re truly capable of stopping another election disruption. While the world with Facebook is undoubtedly closer together, a world without Facebook would see its inhabitants grow closer together. After contributing to so much turmoil in the last US election, we need to repair the social fabric of our society. The first step in doing so is by shutting down Facebook.
Do you think the world without Facebook would be a better world? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.