I’m giving notice: I’m abandoning Facebook in two weeks, on the 25th of January. I usually put a link to anything I write here (including this post!) on Facebook, but I won’t be doing that anymore. I’ve maintained my Facebook account mainly to keep in touch with family and friends, but even that has been poisoned with saturating levels of targeted ads and stupid paid ads. Facebook is the Fox News of social media, leeching off my interest in social contact to sell soap and provide a platform for bots and trolls to thrive.
Then I read about how Facebook lies to drain money out of the people that use its services.
“In order to beat YouTube, Facebook faked incredible viewership numbers, so [CollegeHumor] pivoted to FB,” former CollegeHumor writer Adam Conover presciently tweeted last October. “So did Funny or Die, many others. The result: A once-thriving online comedy industry was decimated.”
Facebook agreed to pay $40 million last year to settle a lawsuit after advertisers sued the social media giant for inflating video metrics by up to 900 percent. But many former CollegeHumor staffers blamed the pivot to Facebook, which couldn’t deliver on its advertising promises, for the previously successful company’s collapse. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Thursday.
“The slow (and then quick) death of CollegeHumor, Funny or Die, and your other favorite online comedy sites was not an accident,” Conover tweeted Wednesday. “It was the result of Facebook’s deliberate effort to kill the indie video industry, in part by massively falsifying viewer data.”
Or this, from 2018.
Comedian Luisa Omielan thinks so. “Facebook, to me, is becoming unusable as an artist or a creative,” she says. Three years ago, a video of Omielan’s standup went viral on the social platform, and has now racked up 41m views. “The algorithm wasn’t as intense as it is now,” she says. “When I first started standup, I created a page for comedy, and initially it was fine, I’d post about a gig and it would reach my audiences. Now, they [Facebook] limit any post of mine about anything comedy-related, so it might be seen by, like, 100 people when I’ve got over 200,000 people following my page.”
With a post’s reach being stifled, users are encouraged to “boost” their content, with Facebook charging the creator to show their post to more fans of their page. “That video that got 45m views? I don’t get any revenue from that,” says Omielan. “Yet Facebook gets revenue from me because I have to boost things to promote it within my own page.”
Nothing against Omielan personally, but Facebook is charging people to have their stuff shoved in my face? Not interested. The Holy Algorithm is just plain bad, too — I once looked up some microscopy gear that I couldn’t afford out of curiosity, and for months I was constantly dunned with ads for stuff there was no way I’d ever buy, that I was aware of after I’d already looked it up, and had dismissed long ago. Also, don’t look up PVC elbow joints or the Internet will decide you’re a plumber. None of that helps me at all, but it does allow Facebook to turn to microscopy companies or plumbing supply houses and promise oodles of eyeballs if only they’d pony up some cash. It’s a scam, and we’re all contributing to it. So I’m out.
The change is not because I’m a grumpy misanthrope who hates interacting with people online, but because Facebook is such a crappy medium for doing that. If you want to keep in touch, there are still plenty of ways to do that:
I’m @pzmyers on Mastodon.
I’m pzmyers on MeWe.
I’m pzmyers on Instagram.
I’m @pzmyers on Twitter.
I’m pzmyers#2563 on Discord.
(I sense a pattern here.)
We’re also beginning to set up a Discord server for Freethoughtblogs as a whole.
And of course, Freethoughtblogs is not going away.