Facebook is the most popular social media network on the planet. This article explains why you should stop using Facebook.
For a growing number of people, Facebook has become more trouble than it’s worth. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users are ditching Facebook in droves.
This article makes a case for abandoning Facebook and explores alternatives:
- Facebook Violates Individual Privacy
- Facebook is Attempting to Replace the World Wide Web
- Facebook is an Echo Chamber
- Facebook is a Poor Source for News
- Facebook Exposes Users to Criminals and Bullies
- Facebook is a Massive Waste of Time
- Facebook has a Negative Impact on Society
- Mark Zuckerberg is Probably a Sociopath
- Real Developers Don’t Use Facebook
- Facebook Does Not Benefit Small Independent Publishers
- Facebook Uses Click Farms to Engage With Promoted Content
- Facebook’s “Download Your Information” Feature is Incomplete
- Facebook’s AI Hype
- Richard Stallman Hates Facebook More Than Any Other Tech Company
- Facebook is Doomed to Failure
- Google+ as an Alternative to Facebook
- Alternatives to Facebook Advertising
- Apple Ecosystem as an Alternative to Facebook
- Social Media Should Be an Open Source Protocol
Facebook Violates Individual Privacy
Facebook’s business model is all about violating personal privacy. This is their core business model. Without it, they couldn’t be the almost $500 billion corporation that they are today.
Although the social media service is free to use, there’s a cost involved. Facebook uses your personal data to enable targeted marketing. They don’t sell your data outright. Instead, they sell you to advertisers.
As you use Facebook, your activities are recorded. Their data stores build an electronic profile based on what you do on Facebook as well as on other sites.
They collect everything about you, even down to the battery level on your smartphone.Their Open Graph and Facebook Login technology can track you across millions of websites.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal sheds light on the most nefarious of Facebook’s actions. They allow third-party developers to access your personal data.
While it’s true that you have to opt in to allowing data sharing, it’s all too easy to believe this is harmless. That e-commerce site you buy from may have good deals. You may decide to share your data with them. As it stands today, this also shares your friends’ data with the third-party entity.
Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Chris Wylie confirms what Mark Zuckerberg continues to deny — Facebook eavesdrops on users. According to Wylie, “there’s audio that could be useful just in terms of, are you in an office environment, are you outside, are you watching TV, what are you doing right now?”
Given that Zuckerberg is clearly unfamiliar about Facebook’s features and operations, the validity of his denial is dubious. He claims that users have to enable audio recording on their device, but this doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t listening. Evasive, as usual, he didn’t really answer the question.
It’s obvious that Facebook goes far beyond any other tech corporation when it comes to spying on individuals. Their massive scale makes this power all the more ominous.
Facebook doesn’t allow most individuals to create an anonymous account. Anonymity is only granted to users who may be harassed, such as transgender individuals. This was only done because Ello, a similar social network geared toward the LGBT community, allowed anonymity.
Facebook didn’t do this to be socially responsible. After all, knowing who you really are is at the core of their business model. They will not grant anonymity based on political views or a desire for safety.
Knowing your real name is not essential for advertisers. Google’s advertising platform doesn’t care if you use a pseudonym. You can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), browse in private mode, and most Google services will still work.
Facebook’s real name requirement makes the data they gather all the more lucrative. You can only experience a small facet of Facebook without giving up everything about yourself.
Having developed electronic prescribing software, I am well aware of how user data can be kept anonymous. We had to do this, by law (HIPAA). It’s not rocket science. Facebook could greatly enhance privacy and still be quite profitable. Unfortunately, they’re all about squeezing every last dime out of you, even though you don’t pay for it in cash.
They do make more money by knowing your true identity. It has nothing to do with forcing people to behave online. Facebook is chock full o’ trolls. Trolls tend to be narcissists. They actually prefer to be known.
I signed up for Facebook using the name “Apple Dystopia”. My main motivation was to reinforce my site’s brand. I used the same name on Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and other networks, without issue.
Secondarily, anonymity allows my writing to be honest. I operate a site with reader comments, and about 1% of commenters are abusive. I don’t want anyone to know my real name. They can easily find out where I live.
Commenters on Facebook have had real world altercations around the world. People have been tracked down and shot due to interactions on Facebook.
Social media garners a lot of undeserved credit for the Arab Spring and the Syrian uprising. Any student of history knows that the world was much more unstable before computers even existed.
The other side of the story is that police and military operatives have used Facebook to track down, arrest, torture and even kill dissidents. It’s not something Facebook likes to take credit for.
Employers often use Facebook to research potential hires or current staff. That photo of you doing a keg stand 10 years ago may mean the difference between a job and moving back in with your parents. Perhaps your employer doesn’t like your political views. Maybe you like a product that competes with your employer’s offering? People have been fired for what they post on social media.
It seems like there’s a tremendous cost to using Facebook. Some users have even paid with their lives. Is it really that great?
Facebook is Attempting to Replace the World Wide Web
Facebook wants to keep you on their platform. As you have read, Facebook’s Open Graph and Facebook Login technologies can track users throughout the web. The platform extends far beyond their apps and website.
Beyond tracking users, Facebook is trying to become the next World Wide Web. The problem is that Facebook is a corporation, whereas no one owns the WWW. The Web is just a protocol. Anyone can use it.
Facebook allows anyone with an account to create a page. This is analogous to a home page on the Web. The problem is that only Facebook users can engage with these pages.
Some businesses have even forgone the traditional web page and have opted to exist within the confines of social media, particularly Facebook. After all, marketing people tend to be highly susceptible to hype. Facebook positioned themselves as the new Web, and a lot of people fell for it, often to their business’s detriment.
Free “web pages” are great, but they aren’t free. They collect your visitors’ data, far beyond any other tech corporation.
Facebook page authors have limited control over the look and behavior of their page. Par for the course, Facebook users are often willing to trade convenience for autonomy and quality.
Facebook’s attempts to monopolize the web peaked a few years ago. It seemed as though every product, from soup to nuts, brandished a “Like Us on Facebook” logo. That ship has sailed. It was a fad. “Look, we’re hip, we’re into Facebook. Buy our products.” Facebook’s growing stigma will further reduce business’ reliance on the social media giant.
Although Facebook failed at monopolizing the web, it’s the thought that counts. It demonstrates, one again, their monopolistic tendencies.
Facebook is an Echo Chamber
Most major, corporate, network news is highly biased. While many people point fingers at FOX News, outlets like CNN and MSNBC are just as flawed. They’re just two sides of the same coin. All of these networks are partisan echo chambers, but compared to Facebook, they’re actually somewhat truthful.
Facebook learns what you like and gives you more of it. This, by definition, is an echo chamber. Unlike FOX, CNN and MSNBC, Facebook is much more targeted. Instead of being a Democratic or Republican echo chamber, Facebook can appeal to more complicated political orientations on an international level.
This cavernous echo chamber extends far beyond politics. Music, film, TV, food and every aspect of life and culture is curated based on past activity. This isn’t a good thing.
For many people, the Internet has broadened horizons and delivered a more enlightened world view. Facebook squashes curiosity by populating your feed with more of the same.
I like barbecued ribs, but I wouldn’t want to eat them every day. Unfortunately, Facebook has a very cynical view of humanity. They think we are all creatures of habit who want more of the same. At best, you get a slightly different version of the same. It’s just like their founder’s wardrobe.
If you spend most of your time on Facebook, you’re really missing out on all that the world has to offer.
Facebook is a Poor Source for News
Facebook is so synonymous with fake news, I prefer to call it “Fakebook”. The social media platform is notorious for targeting its users with fake news and keeping them in this perpetual echo chamber.
While it is possible to get real news on Facebook, by liking real news outlets, Facebook will still jam fake news into your feed. Anything that’s been paid for and fits your interest will get jammed into your feed. Are they advertisements? Is it news? Who knows?
The best way to get accurate news is to only read and watch trusted sources. I am not talking about CNN, MSNBC or FOX News. These channels are 10% news, 90% conjecture and 100% echo chamber. Fake news is all around us, because it is profitable. All of the trashy distractions keep us from seeing what’s really happening.
Real news is not profitable, and the best news comes from non-profit organizations, such as PBS. I highly recommend watching the PBS NewsHour. They have a YouTube channel offering more NewsHour content than they actually show on TV. You can watch live Congressional testimony without having to endure breaking news about Stormy Daniels. I know, so important. Look over here while the billionaires gobble up all the tax revenues.
Other highly regarded news outlets are: The Economist, Reuters, BBC, NPR. For a complete list, please visit the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s website.
One of the best and easiest sources for news is Google News. Simply open Google in your browser and tap on Google News from the App menu. They also have a mobile app.
Google News is impressively neutral and guided only by algorithms. I see Android-bashing news all the time on Google News. They’re clearly not manipulating news for their own ends, which is almost unheard of. Billionaires usually buy news outlets to manipulate the masses (cough, cough, Bezos, Bloomberg…). For Google, the ad revenue is enough.
Facebook Exposes Users to Criminals and Bullies
Cyber bullying is notorious and Facebook seems to be a haven for anti-social activity. Countless news stories depict teens and tweens who have ended their lives because of social media bullies.
As a society, we place too much value on social media. The problem is, when a youngster is bullied on Facebook, they take it seriously. After all, Facebook is the cornerstone of civilization, as far as they are concerned. The bullying goes beyond the classroom or school yard. The victim often becomes an international laughing-stock.
Facebook fosters an environment where anything, including bullying, can go viral. All too often, this heavy burden of humiliation is too much for a developing mind. In the moment, it is easy to forget that it’s just some data on a server. The impacts are too real.
Bullying doesn’t just happen to youngsters. Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame, ended his own life, mainly due to Facebook bullying. A number of fans were taunting him on Facebook, claiming that he was no longer talented. Shortly before he embarked on his final tour, he shot himself in his Santa Monica home.
One of the greatest rock keyboardists of all time killed himself because of cyber bullying on Facebook. This was not the only cause. He had carpel tunnel syndrome and suffered from depression. Cyber bullying pushed him over the edge:
“It appears that for all his rock dinosaur image, he was the victim of a very modern fate — ‘trolled to death’ by heartless fans who had attacked him online over the quality of his recent music, even suggesting he gave up.”
Facebook is an excellent tool for intimidation and they do little to thwart it. Even disturbing posts that encourage genocide persist on the platform for 24 or more hours. Bullying that only affects one child is often ignored.
Facebook’s platform is poorly developed. They have almost no control over content. They shrug this off, claiming that they are a platform, not a media company. The new mantra is that AI will fix everything.
Beyond bullies, Facebook is used by hardened criminals to stalk victims. Burglars use Facebook to find out when potential targets will be on vacation. People come home to a crime scene, because they happened to mention that they’re vacationing in paradise.
Losing your possessions is one thing, but criminals with far more nefarious ends are enabled by Facebook. The social media company even hosted a live video where a young girl was sexually assaulted by multiple teenagers.
As previously mentioned, despots often use Facebook to pursue political dissidents. When faced with these realities, Facebook sickens me to the core. It enables the worst elements of society to victimize the innocent, and they do virtually nothing to stop this.
Facebook is a Massive Waste of Time
Time flies as one endlessly scrolls their Facebook feed. Facebook, by design, is addictive. Sean Parker has openly admitted this. (He’s the Wozniak of Facebook.)
A Facebook addiction probably won’t lead to incarceration or destitution. More likely, it will result in an unfulfilled life.
I’m no stranger to social media. Long before Facebook or even MySpace, I spent countless hours participating in online forums. I was using dial-up bulletin board systems way back in middle school. Wasting time on social media is nothing new. Facebook just brought this sickness to the masses.
Wasting time on social media is akin to eating junk food. It feels good at the time, but you eventually feel sick and guilty. It’s downright destructive to hardcore procrastinators.
It took me a long time to realize that social media is a massive waste of time. It also took me a few decades to figure out that binge drinking is not healthy. I’m a slow learner. Learn from my mistakes.
There are so many better ways to spend your time than on social media. Even if it is just leisure time, you could be doing something better. We’re living in the golden age of television. Are cat memes really better than Game of Thrones? There are amazing video games — true marvels of software engineering. Facebook is an amoeba compared to most video games.
Facebook enables time thieves. These are people who show up to work, yet don’t do much for their employer. Instead, they waste countless hours on social media, only to do a last-minute rush job on their actual project or assignment.
In my experience, these people resort to sociopathy to tread water. They blame others for their lack of productivity or claim credit for other’s work. You know who I’m talking about. There’s a few of them in every workplace. (I started my own business to avoid these reptiles.)
Facebook has a massive, detrimental impact on productivity. By some estimates, Facebook has cost $3.5 trillion in lost productivity.
Let me reiterate that — FACEBOOK HAS COST SOCIETY $3.5 TRILLION IN LOST PRODUCTIVITY.
Facebook has done far more damage to the planet than just violating privacy. Indeed, they’re as big of a threat as climate change or nuclear war. Ah, but that thumbs up logo is so cute and Mark seems so innocent.
Facebook has a Negative Impact on Society
Tavis McGinn, a former Facebook pollster, recently conducted a survey regarding technology corporations’ impacts on society. The poll revealed that Facebook is overwhelmingly viewed as having a negative impact on society. Other corporations, such as Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Netflix were viewed as having no negative impacts on society.
Unfortunately, the study didn’t collect any qualitative data, and the author could only speculate on the subjects’ perceptions. Fake news and the echo chamber effect, resulting in upsetting political outcomes, is considered to be the main problem with Facebook. If you like fake news, Facebook will give you more of it. Their solution is “we’re working on it”. AI will save the day — a great feat of Deus ex Machina.
We’ll take a look at how Facebook hypes AI more than any other tech company later in the article.
Most people are unaware that Facebook has cost society $3.5 trillion in lost productivity. Mark Zuckerberg dangles a carrot of philanthropy, distracting us with his false generosity. Unfortunately, he’s not as generous as one may think. So far, it’s just a hollow pledge. Zuckerberg also made sure to create plenty of non-voting class C shares that he could sell to help finance this initiative, without giving up control.
The biggest slap in the face was when the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donated a meager $3 million to help with San Francisco’s gentrification crisis. You can’t even buy a two bedroom condo in San Francisco for $3 million. It’s overwhelming evidence of how tone-deaf they are. Their employees are displacing San Francisco residents, and they do the equivalent of buying Smithers a Coke.
The sad thing is that Facebook isn’t even located in San Francisco. They are headquartered in Menlo Park, which is quite a commute. People who actually work in San Francisco have to move elsewhere, because they can no longer afford it. All of this commuting exacerbates climate change, congests freeways and makes life miserable, mostly for “middle class” people. The reality is, thanks in part to Facebook, even a six figure salary is low income in San Francisco.
Facebook, along with most tech companies, hasn’t made a single appeal to their employees to live near work. This is not just about gentrification. Excessive and unnecessary commuting creates pollution and traffic jams. Traffic in the Bay Area is a nightmare, because people feel compelled to live in San Francisco, even if they work in Menlo Park, Mountain View or Cupertino.
Most of their employees don’t even enjoy living in San Francisco. It is a status symbol. They spend most of their time at work or commuting, leaving no time to enjoy the city.
One problem with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is that it is just a promise from someone who isn’t very honest. Beyond honesty, it’s most likely that Facebook will join the Silicon Valley graveyard.
Most tech companies, even the once big ones, fail spectacularly. The bigger they get, the more latent they become. If (or more likely when) Facebook fails, the stock will be worth nothing. Their philanthropy is just a promise backed by massively overvalued stock. Very little money has actually been allocated.
The very structure of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has garnered much criticism. It’s an LLC, and not a non-profit charity. Indeed, even charity is a business for the greediest of society. By being an LLC, they are not obligated to give a dime of charity to any cause. The LLC structure is also works very well as a tax shelter.
Beyond the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook’s Free Basics “charity” is another dubious sign of billionaire “philanthropy”. It promised to give Internet access to developing nations. In practice, it only gives access to a portion of the Internet — Facebook, Wikipedia and other sites and apps that Zuckerberg deems advantageous.
Zuckerberg’s Internet.org charity violates the principles of net neutrality and benefits Facebook. It disguises an aggressive push for market hegemony as charity.
Promises of a better tomorrow give way to a discrete business model that mainly benefits Facebook. A charity structured as an LLC is another way to dodge taxes. If you factor in the $3.5 trillion in lost productivity and fake news echo chambers, Facebook is one of the most destructive corporations on the planet.
It takes a special kind of person to wreak so much havoc on society, all with a “who me?” smirk on his face…
Mark Zuckerberg is Probably a Sociopath
Sociopathy is perhaps one of the most pervasive yet misunderstood psychological conditions. According to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, approximately 4% of the population exhibits symptoms of sociopathy. That’s one in 25 people. I highly recommend her book, “The Sociopath Next Door”.
You definitely know people who are sociopaths, even if you are unfamiliar with the term. It gets thrown around a lot these days. They can be the next door neighbor, in the next cubicle, in government, in your family or even in your home owners’ association. A fair amount of people admire sociopaths and confuse the condition with leadership. Sociopaths love to control people, and flock to positions of power and control.
Wars, economic crises, famines and intolerable workplace conditions are created by sociopaths. The sociopath is the politician, the dictator, the corrupt police officer, the sleazy manager or even the abusive teacher.
There are many characteristics of sociopathy. Sociopaths are pathological liars. They are narcissists. The rules don’t apply to them. They feel bad if they don’t cheat someone, whereas most people would feel guilty. They steal people’s ideas and take credit for others’ work. Blame is shifted onto others, usually the meek.
An average, conservative appearance is often favored by sociopaths, although some strive to appear glamorous. A perfect fictional example would be Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad. He’s a drug lord, but he dresses conservatively and drives a Volvo station wagon. Charity, especially with the police, is mainly about camouflaging sociopathy. A pillar of the community, he hides right in front of you.
Taking the position of moral authority, sociopaths will often point out the debauchery of others, while passing themselves off as wholesome. Indeed, some of the most rotten scoundrels are the most judgmental people. After all, if they assume a position of moral authority, few people will question their behavior.
The Milgram experiment has proven this to be true. People will even “kill” someone because an authority figure told them to. Moral judgement is a means to assume authority, but the rules don’t apply to the sociopath. They happily engage in debauchery, with a select crew, who can later be blackmailed into loyalty.
Sociopaths are impulsive. Many of them do poorly in academics. This is more of the overt bully archetype. They can also do quite well in K-12 academia, because it’s all based on short-term goals.
They get a dopamine hit from getting an A+ on a quiz or exam. They dominate extracurricular activities in order to control others. Teachers and parents enable this behavior. Their son, daughter or pupil is a future leader, after all.
College is much less structured. Most classes don’t even have homework. You are expected to be self motivated and do the reading. No one will quiz you. You have a midterm, a final and some research papers to write. Science and engineering is much more structured, and in my experience, one finds less sociopathy amongst their ranks.
Sociopaths who do well in K-12 schooling will often flounder in college. Beyond the lack of structure, there are so many temptations for the impulsive.
Contrary to popular belief, some of the top universities are actually not very challenging. With a student body composed of wealthy elites, prized athletes and students who peaked in high school, there are many paths for those who want to breeze through the best universities.
I won’t mention names, but I know quite a few graduates from a top university in the San Francisco Bay Area who aren’t very bright or hard-working. They’re not necessarily sociopaths. Many of them peaked in high school and coast through college because they’re burnt out. They finally discovered that there’s more to life than school.
The top school sociopath usually coasts through college taking easy courses. They often drop out, because they are impulsive and easily bored. Some college classes are three hours long! Does this remind you of anyone?
I don’t know Mark Zuckerberg personally, but from what I have witnessed, he appears to be a sociopath. This is not shocking. Many of society’s elites are sociopaths. When you have no conscience nagging you, it’s much easier to generate wealth and acquire power.
It is generally accepted that Facebook was not Zuckerberg’s idea. He stole the idea from the Winklevoss twins. Stealing ideas from people and passing them off as original is one aspect of sociopathy.
Mark Zuckerberg values his own privacy, but has little value for yours. The rules don’t apply to him. He buys up houses in Palo Alto to create a privacy buffer. He built a huge wall around his Hawaiian estate in order to enhance his privacy. Yet, he forces users to give up their true identity such that they become the product.
Some believe Zuckerberg is a sweet, innocent man-child. His boyish face masks a visceral contempt for users.
He infamously called his users, then Harvard students, “dumb f—s”. If he has such contempt for Harvard students, imagine how he feels about the majority of Americans.
Why did he insult his users? Because they willingly handed over their personal data. He thinks you are an idiot for doing so, which reinforces his own narcissism. He’s so clever, he’s making billions out of all of you “dumb f—s”.
Even Zuckerberg’s attire smacks of sociopathy. He wears the same, modest, unassuming wardrobe. Sociopaths tend to don conservative attire, which enhances their moral authority. If he had tattoos, multicolored hair, flashy clothes and ear stretchers, the public would be more suspect of his motives.
He drives an Acura TSX, which is a good car. I own one myself. That said, it fits my pay grade. Some billionaires drive reasonable cars to put forth a more humble image. It’s harder to believe that they’re ripping you off when they drive an affordable automobile. It’s another form of sociopath camouflage.
One of his first engineering endeavors was to create FaceMash, a site where users judge women based on their looks. The site presents two photos of female Harvard students. Users select the more attractive of the two.
Sociopaths objectify women. The idea wasn’t even original, as the “hot or not” game was developed by UC Berkeley students three years prior to FaceMash. Sociopaths steal from others and pass it off as their own. They lack originality.
Zuckerberg seems to suffer from delusions of grandeur. In Congressional testimony, he was infamously ignorant of Facebook’s design and operations. He didn’t know much about the product at all, even though he was coached. The truth is, Mark Zuckerberg is not a genius engineer. He tries to pass himself off as one, but he’s a poseur.
The version of Facebook that Zuckerberg created is nothing special. In fact, for 2004, it was really nothing impressive at all. It was just a simple, data driven PHP website. I started my programming career in 1996 and created far more impressive data driven websites with archaic technology. Instead of ripping people off or pawing off mediocrity as billion-dollar-genius, I was happy with a decent salary.
The impressive thing about Facebook is its scalability. You can thank Adam D’Angelo for that, and also teaching Mark how to code properly.
Zuckerberg didn’t create Facebook as we know it today. He created a bare bones, inefficient, non-scalable, simplistic web app. But you don’t hear much about D’Angelo. Zuckerberg does little to dispel the myth that he is a programming prodigy. He’s not. He’s an opportunist with slightly above average technical skills. He has no clue what goes into the Facebook sausage these days.
But wait, there’s more…
He’s a horrible CEO. Zuckerberg famously hoards class-B stock because it allows him to control the board. He is well aware, if he lost control of the board, he would be replaced in a heartbeat. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, even journalists suggested that he may not be the right person to lead the company.
His ignorance of Facebook’s platform and operations is staggering. He’s a figurehead. Even Colonel Sanders was more hands on and aware of corporate operations.
Developers Don’t Use Facebook
Before I started this site, I had a 15 year career developing software for some of the best Silicon Valley corporations. I started with Cold Fusion, Microsoft technologies such as ASP and moved on to enterprise Java. Over the span of my career, I’ve written millions of lines of code and worked on projects so complicated, it took over an hour just to compile them. In fact, I had to ditch the IDE and use a simple text editor and build scripts, because the platform kept getting bigger. It was so big, I could no longer manage the code in an IDE.
I know, all too well, that the 1.0 product is easy. I worked on one product for ten years, and it just kept getting more difficult. Product managers required increasingly complicated features and, after several rounds of layoffs, I was part of a skeleton crew.
Through all the years, I worked with a wide range of software developers. Most of them don’t use Facebook or any social media, for that matter. One big reason is that Facebook isn’t really that amazing. Developers don’t marvel over Facebook. Instead, we wonder why anyone would use it, let alone, think it is great.
Most developers know that Facebook isn’t really free. You’re trading off privacy for poor quality entertainment — cat memes and photos of your friends’ kids and what they had for lunch. Personally, I’d rather watch paint dry than waste my time on Facebook. Most of my engineering colleagues agree.
Developers also aren’t fooled by Zuckerberg’s mantra — “we’re working on it”. Facebook has been around for 14 years. They can’t play the “new” card anymore. Their inability to fix serious issues and moderate content is inexcusable. It’s all the more reason for developers to lack interest in using Facebook. If we have to integrate our product with Facebook, it’s only because a product manager wants it.
There seems to be an inverse relationship between software development skills and Facebook usage. Developers who create simple content apps and marvel over “touch this, show that” behavior seem to be dazzled by social media. They only got into weak, poseur software development because of mobile app hype. Similarly, their love of Facebook is driven by hype and the fear of missing out on the next big thing.
Decent developers are constantly hounded by recruiters. A Facebook presence simply opens developers to even more harassment from recruiters. It is harassment. They just want their finder’s fee, after all. I know a lot of developers, including me, who go dark on LinkedIn, because we’re sick of being harassed by recruiters. All of this turnover is part of the reason why software is so buggy these days.
You may notice that the social media sharing bar on this site features Facebook. This isn’t ironic. I realize that people use Facebook and may want to share an article. I notice from my site stats that a few of my readers do this using Facebook. Most of them use Twitter.
As much as I detest Facebook and social media in general, it’s what some users want. I didn’t spend much time implementing social media sharing. It’s a plugin. In hindsight, the 10 minutes I spent installing and configuring it should have been directed at content creation. Removing it would take a few minutes, but it’s just not worth it.
Publishers know that social media is not the key to success. Organic traffic (from search engines) is much more important.
Facebook Does Not Benefit Small Independent Publishers
Transitioning from software development to Internet publishing was a humbling experience. At first, I approached it with hubris. After all, I’ve created complicated web applications. Internet publishing must be easy!
Technology is not the challenge with Internet publishing. One must master SEO, which is a hybrid of technology (understanding how search engines work) and marketing psychology (understanding how people search for information). All too often, publishers look for shortcuts, and I fell into that trap.
Social media is seen as a panacea for publishers and marketers alike. We’ve all heard stories of websites going viral due to social media. With monetization, all that traffic can generate significant wealth. If this is your goal, let me save you some time — just buy lottery tickets.
Going viral on social media is like winning the lottery. You can’t expect it to happen. Publishers who rely on this usually fail and give up.
If you really want traffic, focus on search engine rankings. Don’t waste time on social media. Spend that time creating great content. There are no shortcuts.
I made the mistake of using Facebook to promote my site. I really didn’t spend much time on Facebook. For a social media app, it’s actually bad for networking.
I write an Apple-centric site, so I looked for people who were into Apple products and asked to be their friends. Within a day, Facebook blocked my ability to make friends.
Facebook is about connecting to people you already know. That’s redundant. They’re already in my contacts list. I can email or text people I know, and it’s easier. What value does this provide? Not much. It’s driven by hype and fear of not fitting in.
Even worse, anything you publish on your Facebook page has very little reach, unless you pay to promote it. Most of your friends won’t even see it, unless you pay up.
If you engage in paid promotion, Facebook may be using click farms to boost engagement. They try to deny this, but it’s painfully obvious that publishers and advertisers are being ripped off. This may be how they can almost guarantee a certain level of engagement, without assessing the actual content.
Don’t worry. They’re working on it. AI will fix everything!
The fake accounts, bots and Cambridge Analytica scandal are just the tip of the Zuckerberg. When marketing people finally feel the Facebook hangover, their business model will evaporate. Who wants to advertise when the engagement is completely faked?
Advertisers are finding that Facebook offers the worst value of any other opportunity. The best option is to simply create a website with on-site ratings and reviews.
As ad revenues decline, Facebook will most likely leverage your personal information even more. They will need to squeeze out additional profits to compensate for declining ad revenue.
You’re the product.
Facebook’s “Download Your Information” Feature is Incomplete
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook promoted the “Download Your Information” (DYI) feature. Most people who used the feature were shocked at just how much data Facebook has aggregated.
They store everything, because you are the product.
Developing, testing and deploying code costs money. Data storage and operations are also expensive. Facebook stores everything about you because it is profitable. They make more money using your personal information than it costs to store it.
Unfortunately, the DYI feature is half-baked. Facebook actually stores much more data than one is led to believe. They only give users an incomplete and jumbled archive, which may be intentional. It prevents users from moving to competitors.
Again, it’s the tip of the Zuckerberg. Was he lying or does he not know this? Either possibility is disturbing. The end result is that you don’t really know what Facebook knows about you. It’s fake transparency from a corporation that uses dishonesty as a business model.
Facebook’s AI Hype
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are often hyped to boost stock prices. Facebook is not the only tech company that does this. They just take it to whole new level of absurdity.
Facebook famously shut down an AI chat bot experiment, because the two artificially intelligent entities developed their own language. They positioned this as being so advanced, it threatened humanity. Scared? This is what their genius AI chat bots had to say:
Bob: i can i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
Bob: you i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me
Bob: i i can i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me
Bob: i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
Bob: you i i i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have 0 to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
Bob: you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
Facebook is built on hype. It pervades the company. Hype recruited billions of users. It is part of their culture. The problem with hype is that the bubble always bursts!
Richard Stallman Hates Facebook More Than Any Other Tech Company
Richard Stallman is the Noam Chomsky of technology. He has very strong, anti-corporate, pro-end user views. His work has benefited humanity and even reduced the cost of products that we use every day.
It’s a real shame that Zuckerberg is a household name, and most people don’t even know who Stallman is.
Stallman pioneered GNU and its General Public License which makes much of the software you and I use free or at least affordable. If you look at the manual for your flat screen TV, you will most likely see a General Public License.
Most electronic gadgets run some type of free operating system and use free software. I used the GNU operating system and compiler in college, when I was learning to write code.
Most famously, the GNU/Linux operating system is the backbone of the Internet. Most servers run some type of GNU/Linux.
Whether you agree or disagree with Stallman, you benefit from his hard work. Unlike Zuckerberg, he’s a brilliant software engineer and has benefited the public far more than Facebook. (As previously mentioned, Facebook has a net negative impact on society.)
Stallman is a bit too extreme for my tastes. He feels that people should not patronize any of the top tech corporations — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, etc. I like Apple and Google products. I occasionally shop on Amazon. I have a few Linux machines, but I prefer Apple devices.
It appears that Stallman has the most disdain for Facebook, the “free” service that “connects humanity”. He has written far more about the harms of Facebook than any other tech corporation. This is amazing, considering that Facebook has far less to offer than Apple, Google or Amazon.
Rather than rehash Stallman’s critique of Facebook, I encourage you to read it. You may not agree with everything he writes. Linus Torvalds accused him of “black and white thinking”. He’s extreme and polemical, much like Noam Chomsky. But he does have a point and lots of facts.
Facebook is even worse than I thought! The section on political censorship is enlightening. If you’re looking for Russian collusion, Facebook sucks up to Putin more than any politician. This is exactly why we can’t let Facebook dominate news and interpersonal communications.
Facebook is Doomed to Failure
Investors are throwing money at Facebook because they feel technology is the future. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that Facebook is the future.
The Silicon Valley (and beyond) is littered with the corpses of once-massive technology giants:
- Silicon Graphics
- Sun Microsystems
- Research in Motion
- Alta Vista
- Ask Jeeves
Although some of these companies still exist in some capacity, they are a mere shadow of their former grandeur.
I could go on and on. There are myriad startups few have heard of that have failed. Most tech companies fail. Even most large tech companies fail. With the exception of IBM and Apple, there aren’t many tech companies that have survived in the long term. Google is relatively new, and I think they have a bright future.
Some may take exception to Twitter being on the list of failed tech corporations. Their stock is abysmal (even in an overvalued market), and their organization is slower than frozen molasses. It took them over 10 years to modestly increase the length of Tweets. Users had to hack longer Tweets into multiple messages, making them harder to interact with as a whole. They will most likely join the Silicon Valley graveyard. The next recession will deal a major blow to Twitter, Facebook and a few other massively hyped corporations.
Investors are not going to throw money at social media forever. It’s the .com bubble, all over again.
But the notion that a company is too big to fail is simply a ridiculous platitude. When I first moved to the SF Bay Area, I lived in Mountain View. Silicon Graphics owned the town. They had so many buildings, it wasn’t even funny. Now they are based in a small office suite.
Indeed, the large, latent organization is almost paralyzed. This is why it takes Facebook over 24 hours to delete or remove offensive or dangerous video. “We’re working on it” is the mantra of this large, latent organization. They have no agility. Their platform seems to be unmaintainable, due to poor design and organizational latency.
Social media will evolve and change, but Facebook’s latency will retard product development. Smaller competitors will be able to offer better features and enhanced privacy. Not all of them will sell out to Facebook.
Facebook relies on massive amounts of users to realize profitability. The #DeleteFacebook movement will hurt them, but most users will likely stick around. The problem is, they need to grow their user base.
Even though most people won’t delete their Facebook accounts, engagement will most likely decline. More people will only use Facebook when they have to. They’ll use it to contact people, but fewer people will trust its content.
Facebook is a public company. If they can’t continually grow or increase profitability, their stock will tank. They will likely make false claims about the number of users, active users and user engagement, but advertisers will see even less effective campaigns.
The other problem is that advertising on Facebook is not as effective as other platforms. We covered the strong possibility that Facebook user engagement is propped up by click farms. The next recession will force advertisers to invest in ad spend more wisely. I predict that they will avoid Facebook.
I already see developers removing Facebook logins from their apps and websites.
Social media is a fad. People will get sick of looking at photos of cats and what their friends had for lunch. Users will get burned by trolls, criminals and fake news. It will go the way of the glockenspiel and ukulele — still exist, but not be so prominent.
Facebook isn’t a diversified company. Other than Oculus, everything they do revolves around the fad of social media. Acquired companies will run at frozen-molasses speed once they’re pulled into Facebook’s corporate mire.
Given that Facebook will probably implode in the next few years, maybe it’s time to try another social network?
Google+ as an Alternative to Facebook
Some people will do a spit take when I claim that Google+ is exponentially better than Facebook. It might not be exponentially better, but it fares much better in the App Store. At the time of this writing, Google+ has an almost 5 star rating. Facebook doesn’t even have 3 stars.
Facebook is the social network everyone uses, despite how bad it is. Why? Because just about everyone is on Facebook.
People tell me they use Facebook to connect with people, because “everyone” is on it. Facebook has grown mainly due to hype. What happens when people leave Facebook?
This is already happening. People are deleting Facebook and moving to other social networks, such as Google+. I am seeing far more activity on Google+, with new Facebook refugees popping up every day.
My favorite thing about Google+ is that there’s an abundance of intelligent people. I’ve been able to discuss my developing interests in theoretical physics with mathematicians and physicists. Many of these people fled Facebook because there are too many trolls and idiots.
It’s a bit more high brow than Facebook and Twitter, but there are plenty of numbskulls too. If you believe that the Earth is flat, Google+ has you covered.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t force you into an echo chamber. You can choose to exist in one, but I am impressed that they resist this. I see posts from all sorts of political positions, many of which I disagree with.
Beyond politics, Google+ doesn’t force its users into technology ghettos. I’m an Apple fan, yet I see news about Android. The opposite is also true, as Android fans engage with Apple-centric posts.
Most importantly, Google+ doesn’t care if you prefer to be anonymous. Most social media companies don’t care. It’s only Facebook that requires your true identity.
Has the lack of anonymity reduced trolling on Facebook? Not at all. Keith Emerson was trolled to death on Facebook. I’ve found Facebook to be the home of the most vicious trolls, and now they know who you are and where you live.
Conflicts on Facebook often evolve into real world violence, exactly because the trolls, sociopaths and criminals know who you are and where you live. All the while, Zuckerberg buys expensive Palo Alto homes as a privacy buffer. He builds walls on his Hawaiian estate so that no one can even see him.
Google+ is the best alternative to Facebook. I don’t always use social media, but when I do, I prefer Google+.
Alternatives to Facebook Advertising
It’s abundantly clear that Facebook is bad for advertisers. Between the click farms and lack of engagement, advertisers are throwing their money away when they use Facebook.
Websites are still the best way to promote a product or service on the Internet. Simply hire a competent Internet marketing firm that knows SEO. Your site will have high rankings, and you won’t need to pay for impressions or ad campaigns. The costs are actually quite reasonable, especially considering that Facebook wastes advertising budgets.
Google’s AdWords is a great way to build awareness of your product or service. I personally haven’t used AdWords, but I am on the other side of the equation. I use AdSense to generate revenues on this site.
I am well aware that Google isn’t doing anything creepy with your personal data. After all, you are free to be anonymous in the Google ecosystem.
All of the reports in AdSense, Search Console and Google Analytics reveal nothing about individual users. I can only see aggregated data. I don’t know who you are and I don’t care. You can even post comments anonymously on this site. That’s a rarity these days.
Apple Ecosystem as an Alternative to Facebook
Facebook’s publicized mission is to connect people. Their true mission is to make billions of dollars at the expense of your personal privacy. With Facebook, you’re the product.
Some tech pundits complain that Apple is just as bad as Facebook. After all, they know your location! They know who you are! The problem is, I have never experienced creepy “coincidences” with Apple. They simply don’t have the parts in place to exploit user data, because it’s not their business model.
Apple’s profits come mainly from selling the iPhone. It still accounts for roughly 2/3’s of their profits. Remaining profits are earned by selling devices, and to a much lesser extent, services and content (Apple Music, iTunes, App Store).
Facebook makes 100% of their profits by exploiting their users’ personal data.
When it comes to connecting people, Apple does a much better job than Facebook. I am well aware that Facebook has acquired chat capabilities, but they pale in comparison to FaceTime. It’s the best and most robust video calling system I have used.
Apple also dominates instant messaging. Their iMessage platform outperforms Facebook and Snapchat, particularly amongst young people. This is important, as they define the future of technology. In the US, 10-19 year olds send an average of 25 iMessages a day. This blows away Facebook, with a mere 14 messages per day.
The “problem” with Apple is that they are unwilling to open individuals up to being search results. You can’t use Apple technology to find your old college roommate, and that’s a good thing.
I don’t use Facebook and I have little problem finding people who have drifted out of my life. No, I don’t find them on Facebook. I just do a Google search. If they want to be found, you can usually find them. Since many of the people I know work in technology, a fair number of them don’t use Facebook.
People in the industry know that Facebook is garbage. For all the possible positives, there are too many negatives.
Social Media Should Be an Open Protocol
What do email and the World Wide Web have in common? They’re open protocols. They’re not owned by any corporation. No one is forcing you to use one brand of email client or server over another. Myriad web browsers offer differing features to browse the same World Wide Web.
Social media came to fruition at a time of monumental greed. The thought of creating and open protocol actually exists. It’s called the Distributed Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) and it is so marginalized, it barely even has a Wikipedia page and the project has been discontinued. Why work on an open protocol that no one will use, when Facebook has monopolized the industry?
If someone proposed the idea of a library today, it would get shot down in a heartbeat. Lend people books and media, for free?!?
Facebook could still exist in a world with the DSNP. They could do quite well if they allowed anonymous users or private browsing.
Some level of greed is acceptable. Yelp is a perfect example. You don’t even need an account to use Yelp. You can create an anonymous account. In fact, if you use your real name, they will show other users your last initial, by default. They have designed their reviewing system to prevent trolling and abusive cross-talk.
Yelp is a profitable corporation, but nothing even close to the scale of Facebook. Facebook became huge precisely by being ridiculously creepy and hypocritical. Zuckerberg wants you to give up your personal information, but he is unwilling to do so himself.
The rules don’t apply to Mark Zuckerberg. He feels that he is superior to all of us. Some people believe he is better than us, as they have been indoctrinated with ridiculous ideals like Objectivism. (Ayn Rand spent her last years on welfare, living in public housing. Ironic, considering her life’s work was sewing the seeds of unfettered greed and elitist sociopathy. Her prize pupil, Alan Greenspan, did more to destroy the global economy than anyone. He even admitted he was wrong, in a tear-laden apology — sorry for destroying the global economy!)
Zuckerberg is not a great man. He did work hard, but I personally know people who are far more intelligent and work much harder. He was at the right place at the right time. His greed and narcissism had him clinging on to Facebook, which ended up working out for him.
Has it worked out for you? Are the costs of using Facebook worth the benefits?
Most people would have much better lives if they ditched Facebook and started living a real, well-examined life. All of that time wasted on Facebook could be better spent on improving lives in the real world, not the virtual delusions of social media.