Death to Facebook!


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.

Comments

  1. hemidactylus says

    Don’t mess with Conover. He’s got a TV platform (still I hope). Love Adam Ruins. Can’t find anything on a 4th season, but I assume he will be back. Admittedly I need to catch up on the 3rd.

    Never had a Facebook. Saw the proverbial writing on the wall in that corporate trainwreck. Didn’t you guys pay attention to Zuck’s behavior at Harvard? Tsk, tsk.

  2. Randide, "Fools admire everything in an author of reputation" says

    Potentially ironic question: Can I post this to Facebook? I’ve been leaning heavily towards ditching it for a while now.

    Less ironic question: How have you found MeWe to work out? That’s where I’m going once I work up the strength to ditch Bookface.

  3. microraptor says

    I hope Discord works out for FTB. My experience is that it’s a fantastic platform for a couple dozen people to interact and an absolute mess for anything larger.

  4. nomdeplume says

    You say “I’m a grumpy misanthrope who hates interacting with people” as if this is a BAD thing?

  5. Tinjoe says

    I think boosting is even shittier than shoving stuff in user’s faces. It’s also the only way to reach a sizeable fraction of the people who have liked/followed your page. The people who have told the system “More of this please”

  6. numerobis says

    PZ, you misunderstood this bit:

    Nothing against Omielan personally, but Facebook is charging people to have their stuff shoved in my face?

    Facebook is charging Omielan to post videos to her fans who have indicated they want to hear more.

    Similarly, unless you boost your posts your followers won’t see them in their feeds.

  7. Artor says

    I’m glad I occasionally have instances of far-seeing. I knew long ago that I wasn’t interested in joining FaceBook, but it helped that every time I started to bend to peer pressure and get an account “just to keep in touch,” or “to advertise my work,” FB had yet another huge privacy scandal, or exploitative change to their TOS. Every. Single. Time.
    Also, I am another cranky, anti-social hermit, so there’s that too.

  8. says

    You had me at “Death”.

    I quit Facebook years ago, and I have never missed it. IIRC it was the third friendship invitation from a friends girlfriends fucking DOG! That’s when I realized that this place will never improve.

    I do keep an anonymous account, but I rarely use it more than a few times a year.

  9. F.O. says

    Try as I might with Mastodon, I can’t find anything interesting on it and the UI has me very confused.
    Am I doing something wrong?

  10. us3r1d says

    Aww; don’t go to MeWe, that just another closed corporate platform.

    I chose diaspora when I started moving off facebook. Like Mastodon, you can run your own server for that; it’d be neat to see a FTB diaspora server go online; I bet it’d get a fair number of users.

  11. shelldigger says

    I shit canned FB again, yep Ive done it twice, about a month ago. All I needed was the fact they let the Russians run their swaybot campaigns in the last election, and then they decided to forego fact checking political ads for this election.

    They are raking in millions and millions by being slimy, greedy, and malicious asshats. I want no part of it. Ill go a step further and say Congress needs to get a handle on this sort of societal influence campaign/s. Facts matter.

    It has gone way beyond keeping in touch with family. Don’t we still have phones and e-mail for that anyway?

  12. robro says

    On the verge of killing my FB account, but yeah, there’s staying in touch with a few people. I was off for a while (July to September) per doctor’s orders. It was good for me. Plus I waste too much time on it.

    My motivation is FB exec, Andrew Bosworth, saying they got Trump elected, and probably will again this year because Team Trump runs such a good program…barf! Oh, and they’re not going to do anything about ads that contain lies or misinformation. I’m loath to give them any attention.

    Also, it’s a swamp pit of vipers, trolls, and troll-bots. Don’t need that.

    Instagram is still FaceBook, right?

    I don’t follow PZ on FB, so no loss there. I’ll be checking out some of these, tho, cause I’m looking for an FB altenative.

  13. gijoel says

    I keep getting ads for bitcoin scams supposedly ‘endorsed’ by Australian business people or celebrities.

  14. schweinhundt says

    I find PZ’s microscopy gear search experience interesting because FB’s attempts to target me with ads are nearly always comically off the mark.

  15. Marissa van Eck says

    Discord is…well, it’s IRC meets Web 2.0, so not ideal, but good enough for small hangouts. I really ought to do what PZ did and ditch FB, as virtually no one I need to speak to remains on it any longer and they really are shady and evil. Will come by and check it out sometime soon :)

    Diaspora sounds interesting, though. Are there plans for a private-ish Diaspora for FtB and/or Pharyngula specifically any time soon?

  16. harryblack says

    I wholeheartedly support people getting off facebook but I am unlikely to do it myself as its the only way I can get in touch with all the wonderful people I have met in my travels.
    Pretty sure I can guess how they would all respond to an invitation to mewe…

    Facebook is just too big at the moment to be affected by people voting with their feet or dollars. We need to use our votes as leverage with out legislators to bring them under control and make them into the public good they should be.
    They may decide to stop existing rather than not exploit us but thats fine too. Mean time I just never look at the main site and use messenger to stay in touch with people.

  17. says

    Sadly I can never leave farcebook, that’s because I’ve never joined, wasn’t convinced of its benefits. Now I have adblockers to smack it in the face every time it tries to do something on a web page I’m on. I’ve seen friends addicted to it and it’s not pretty.

  18. us3r1d says

    @18 If PZ or the folks are up for having one, I’d be happy to help set it up; I’ve been setting up so many diaspora servers that I went ahead and scripted it so it’s really quick.

  19. kome says

    I dropped Facebook on New Year’s day. Figured it was time, what with all the stories coming out of in December about security problems with Facebook and other revelations about how Facebook monetizes us and helps prop up right-wing political content as long as they’re paid for it. I posted that I was done with it and if anyone wanted to stay in touch, I’d be on MeWe. Only one friend of mine on Facebook decided to make a MeWe account to friend me on there to maintain a line of online communication open. Oh well.

  20. wcaryk says

    Echoing what Peter Morris said: Facebook Purity not only nukes all ads — I haven’t seen one in years — it also lets you override a large number of other annoying Facebook “features”. It’s a world of difference.

    And yes, Facebook will not even allow you to post:
    https://www.fbpurity.com/
    their address on its page.

    This of course does not address the other objections.

  21. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    @F.O. #10, agreed. I searched for “how to use mastodon” and found this (https://lifehacker.com/a-beginner-s-guide-to-mastodon-1828503235) which gives a good overview. But bottom line, it’s a stream of “toots” from whoever is logged in to the particular instance you are on. I’ve tried both mastodon.social and mastodon.cloud, and while I saw nothing offensive, it’s all chat. I can’t imagine spending time watching that in hopes of something clever or exciting showing up. And I don’t see any way to say, “show me the smart a/o thoughtful toots”. Maybe if there was a way to show only ones that have been “boosted”? But clearly blog posts and podcasts offer more value, as well as control. It seems that PZ’s real output is at FTB, which I get via RSS.

  22. John Morales says

    Mmm. My expectation is that FB has had its heyday, but I can’t really justify that.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    The only thing that keeps me from dropping Facebook is there are a few good tabletop gaming groups and that it’s where most of my friends still communicate.

    That said, the contract stream of online dating adds is getting annoying.

  24. kaleberg says

    I still have a pseudononymous Facebook account. I have friends who post photos on Facebook, but I can’t just follow a link, so I have to set up a private browsing window, log in under a a false name and check out their page. I remember when ISPs and other service providers offered free home page posting. Apple did this ages ago, but it never caught on for some reason or another. (Look up iWeb.) It’s a pity, since that’s what most people want from Facebook.

    I considered using Facebook for more ages ago, but the idea is that Facebook lets you look at a friend’s postings, except that it doesn’t. It intersperses ads and comments from people I don’t know and can’t imagine why I would want to and often drops things I might want to see. Apparently, that’s the algorithm which is another word for editorial decision. I dropped that account decades back.

  25. John Morales says

    End of the day, if you need FB for whatever reason, it is pitiable but understandable.

    If you merely desire FB, well, that’s a much greyer scape.

  26. Marcelo says

    I find that the Firefox plugin “F.B. (Fluff Busting) Purity” improves notably my Facebook experience. I can select the areas of the screen I remove, so suggested pages, inane notifications and suggestions of people I might know are happily removed from my view. Of course, I also add an add blocker to this configuration. Much better way to navigate the Zuckerberg behemoth.

  27. Marcelo says

    Ah, I didn’t see that somebody had already recommended FBP above. My message can serve as another endorsement, then.

  28. says

    Depending on your political habits you don’t have to get rid of facebook, just get selective about what you do and post.

    Facebook is where I specifically practice and role-model expressing hatred and disgust for my country and culture. It’s where I go to respond to literally every bigot in comment threads to show them being routed.

    If facebook is going to have a harmful effect on my culture I’m going to use it for my own ends.

  29. says

    PZ going alt-tech!? Wow, I guess I shouldn’t have been so pessimistic about mainstream tech turning everyone into communists. I never thought this day would come! People are waking up, this is big. I can recommend minds.com, seems more established than diaspora and it’s open source.

  30. says

    @11 – Second that. I created a Mewe account a few months ago, and was presented with a message about their CEO who said how evil Twitter was because they enforced their TOS against James Woods.

    No way I’m going to use any platform that thinks that Jack Dorsey is “too liberal”.

Leave a Reply