Goodbye Facebook | A Failed Social Media Utility That Is Succeeding In Other Ways

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TL:DR Nearly everyone who reads this won’t care (and that’s why Facebook succeeds).

Facebook recently blocked me for the same reason it did nearly ten years ago.

When attempting to log in a couple of months ago to check the TEDxWellington Facebook page, was notified that access has been denied and to rectify the situation a scanned image of a government issued ID was needed (rings any bells?):

Facebook Name Review

As you can see the reason cited was due to someone challenging my name.

I doubt very much that it was a person.

More likely, an algorithm.

One which noticed I wasn’t using the site much and when I did it was via a proxy (to protect my data, more will be explained).

Data accumulation is the only thing Facebook cares about as fuel to stay alive and also thrive. However, the need for more is exposing the hollow brand priorities and weak foundations of this mighty but fickle empire.

Facebook was always intended, not to be a utility for its users, but a mechanism for mining the information it’s users share on it, then leveraging that against other data most doesn’t know it collects, along with other zeros and ones it has about someones friends, what sites they visit, the weather that day, which mobile phone you use, where you bought something online and what and when etc, which all increases the return for shareholders as it maximising eyeballs for their advertisers and other agencies it sells the insights of all its users to.

Simples.

jeff hammerbacher ad quote

Jeff Hammerbacher used to lead the data team at Facebook (citation / image credit).

Now to return to my situation: for a company built on information, not knowing my name has been challenged before and was also rectified seems odd, right? Any human would look at the evidence I gave back then and in response to the most recent enquiry (which included links to this site plus highlighting the previous time they disabled my account for the very same reason nearly a decade a go), then pretty much straight away would have enough details to re-instate the profile and let me on my merry way. Granted, a human would have to click and read and watch a little, maybe, although the outcome would be swift and obvious. And there’s the rub. No human is now involved in making these decisions.

And the ones which are left makes for cringeworthy reading via the recent Guardian expose which deconstructs the platform moderation rules. These guidelines are dangerously naive at best, sickening at worst, and a further example of how misaligned Facebooks principles are against the perceived and current reasoning for users to be on it (all of the Facebook Guardian articles).

Add to that a few things like how Facebook:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

And of course the argument from users is always: they don’t care about little old me, sharing pictures of my cats and kids plus random Star Wars gifs.

You’re right, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about you times 2 billion and the data which is cross-referenced against you based on the evidenced shared above.

Facebook is not a social media platform, it’s a casino. The house always win and of course it will make you feel special with free drinks if you’re playing, showing off all the pretty people in front of faux scenery, but you still have to pay-to-play and the odds (algorithms) are stacked in their very favourable favour.

So I’m out.

I have tried not to be though.

Have sent a few follow up emails and completed forms online asking me to be reinstated:

facebook reinstatement request

…but alas, no reply. Have hit up two Facebook employees I have contacts for as well, no response either. There’s not even a facility to even delete my account. I remain in a virtual limbo.

I’m a tad gutted as some relationships and communications were carried out solely through the platform, plus I set up the TEDxWellington page there which after this years event I’m seriously thinking of not using further (we’ll just direct folks to sign up to our email newsletter / blog). A massive decision as last year we got 250,000 reach just on our event announcement plus we use it to connect with our amazing community—ethics has to trump convenience.

I know nearly all those who digest this will be FB users and I’m intrigued of the reaction when reading through the links provided above which cites credible evidence on why the platform is toxic…

…remember, as a service, they are banking on you not caring. Literally, taking it to the bank.

And if you don’t care, why should they on what they can get away with.

4 Comments

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  • Reply

    Max Blake

    Curious about this. Although as you predict I am struggling to care much. I hope none of these are silly questions… How would you say Twitter is different? I mean with some of the recent changes it seems to me to be trying to be more and more Like Facebook. From my personal experience I would suggest that Twitter was as helpful to Trump and Brexit as FB because the character limit lead to the extremes being amplified and not the moderates. And isn’t the entire web (with obvious exceptions like Wikipedia) based on ‘Pay to Play’? Either Pay walls, which have a very patchy history, or through advertising. Now its perfectly honourable to believe in a socialist Web where nobody is trying to make any money out of it. However its not realistic is it? So Whilst Jeff Hammerbacher quote seems true on the surface what is the alternative? Also haven’t lots of the greatest minds of every generation ended up trying to sell us stuff?

    I hope you don’t have your head in your hands my now! I’m genuinely interested and just digging a little deeper in case I do care after all.

    Hope your all good my Old Friend.

    • Reply

      DK

      Love your honesty fella :-)

      So many questions – here are the ones which I can do justice in terms of an answer and look forward to hearing the outcome of your personal adventures in answering the rest ;-)

      “How would you say Twitter is different?”
      The recent changes are a step in the wrong direction – yet, none of the other articles above and the topics they reveal can be weighed against this platform as of yet – then again maybe I’m not reading the right sources.

      “And isn’t the entire web (with obvious exceptions like Wikipedia) based on ‘Pay to Play’?”
      I use several extensions to block cookies and tracking plus most sites are informational based or service orientated (for my own needs like curated places and blogs etc.), so nope.

      “So Whilst Jeff Hammerbacher quote seems true on the surface what is the alternative?”
      Chunky question – the web just mirrors for society. In inherently value neutral (like all technologies). We have an individual choice (which then turns into a group / community movement) to stop posting / reading about stupid famous people and things then celebrate the humans behind achievements / organisations which help advance humanity. Then more clever folks would start becoming leaders and examples to follow. Simple stuff really ;-)

      “Also haven’t lots of the greatest minds of every generation ended up trying to sell us stuff?”
      Yup. Whether it be a way of life or an idea or their art. I guess the distinction is the why and how. Selling good things with clear intentions and with honesty should be encouraged / championed. There’s a logical and ethical way of doing most things which is why you don’t see bible salesman selling outside churches!

      Keep digging…

  • Reply

    Ruth Croft

    Read. Interesting. If not Fb then what?

    • Reply

      DK

      Don’t know plus not too worried.

      In the last few years when I was using FB, it was on the wain in terms of it’s usefulness. The algorithms were obviously skewing it’s experience on top of the growing weight of evidence regarding its lack of heart.

      I still enjoy and get great value from Twitter as a connecting and sharing platform. Linkedin is used sparingly as just a platform to house a community in one place (a digital / searchable Rolodex if you will).

      Here’s hoping many folks will leave and it dies then others will take its place and so on and so forth – diversity in any market place is only good when there’s an informed base of service users though. Onwards!

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