Time to walk the walk, Leslie


I didn’t know Leslie Cannold had an agony aunt column. Let’s take a look at it.

This week, she’s asked by someone if they should quit Facebook. Her answer is yes.

I’m inclined to say yes, everyone should quit Facebook (or is that Meta?) because it’s a determinedly monopolistic and rabidly self-interested company that does little good and a whole lot of terrible in the world. This includes commodifying our personal information, allowing misinformation to flourish and algorithmically encouraging the political radicalisation of users, all of which is like rat poison to democracy.

Why give your time, attention or custom to that?

I agree. It’s why I finally quit Zuckerberg, may he rot in hell.

But Cannold should have stopped there, because…

Having said that, I confess that while I despise Facebook, I’m still on it. Why? Because in the same way you are attached to the events page, I am served by being able to promote my writing to followers that right now I can’t reach anywhere else.

In part, that’s the fault of Facebook and the other big tech monoliths too, who have done all they can to gobble up competitors who did or might have provided something better like Instagram and WhatsApp while monopoly regulators did — and continue to do — nothing.

LinkedIn offers the best alternative to date. A different business model but the same gender breakdown of users and an events feature, though the average user age is older. However, if that’s not an issue for you and those you plan events will come with you, maybe give that a try?

Yikes. Step back and look at what you’ve written, Dr Cannold! You’ve just told someone else they should quit Facebook because it’s “a determinedly monopolistic and rabidly self-interested company that does little good and a whole lot of terrible in the world”, and then immediately said it’s fine for you. Way to totally undercut your own advice. It may be “rat poison to democracy”, but you’re going to continue to consume it while telling everyone else to eschew the warfarin.

I know I stayed on for far too long, because I had connections to family and friends there, but at least I wasn’t telling everyone else they should get off while making excuses for myself.

Comments

  1. hemidactylus says

    Funny she should name LinkedIn, which gobbled up a previously wonderful app called Pulse, where I could place the feeds of sites like Pharyngula, and turn that app into useless crap. No thanks.

    Never had Facebook. Ever. I saw the wrong in that lemming pile-up long ago and added the checkered past of Zuck at Harvard to steer well clear. Meta only makes it even creepier. Zuck as urcreator of our future simulated future? Alexa will become a chrome toaster thanks to Bezos. All this has happened before, and all this will happen again…

    I do sometimes click on Twitterverse links when topically interesting. And I see some upsides of Youtube, but they seem to be changing up how you can access music. Google is not your friend, pal.

  2. hemidactylus says

    I just couldn’t let loose the melange of a friend going back decades born without a filter blurting out whatever comes to mind, a right wing uncle parroting Rush Limbaugh talking points, my conspiracy neighbor, and the more polite company of friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.

    A friend told me his experiences unfriending most of his family during and after the 2016 election and I was so happy I had avoided all that drama in my nonexistent social feed. Opportunity costs avoided. I have other time sinks.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Swedish members of facebook have not yet made it completely toxic, but there are certainly Swedish-language trolls around.
    I stay to keep in touch with former co-workers that have retired. There is also a group Dinosaurs versus Christians with some cool drawings.

  4. says

    I’m SO ready to leave Facebook. The problem is how to maintain communication with friends and family who are only on there. Yeah, 90% of statuses posted I can live without… but those remaining 10% of posts keep me at least partially connected to them, a connection I’d lose entirely if I dropped the evil service (because, let’s face it, nobody’s going to send email often enough to communicate the same things to all their own family and friends). LinkedIn isn’t appropriate. Snapchat, TikTok, etc. aren’t really good mechanisms. We’ve got a lack of functional alternatives, it feels like. (Which, of course, is Facebook’s monopolistic goal in the first place.)

  5. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    So I use Facebook because it’s where a cross-section of folks happen to be. We’ve tried moving to Discord, but a lot of people won’t join us there. So my roleplaying group and notifications are done best there. It sucks when monopolies are involved in something as important as one’s social life.

    Also, freelancers don’t have much choice but to use every platform that works for them.

    There is no ethical blah blah blah.

  6. John Morales says

    Scott:

    (because, let’s face it, nobody’s going to send email often enough to communicate the same things to all their own family and friends).

    Um, that’s how I communicate with my family.

    (You know you can put multiple recipients in an email, no?)

    You’re making a weak excuse.

  7. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @6: Which works if you keep e-mails updated, and never change it, and that’s how your family communicates. And email doesn’t let you update status, doesn’t have built-in party and event planning, etc. Network effects do exist.

  8. rockwhisperer says

    I haven’t posted anything on FB in months. I get on it because government agencies post information there that’s extremely timely. The two FB pages I visit regularly are the state transportation management district covering mountain roads that I regularly travel, and the state fire management agency (I live in fire-prone California). The Caltrans district will post road closures and accidents that restrict travel on FB before they upload it to the state online information system (which is awkward to use anyhow). Calfire will make quick posts of evacuations before they update the official pages.

    Nowadays, I open FB to find a notification from the FB Purity app that I’ve been unfriended by yet another person, for who I’ve disappeared and they’re undoubtedly cleaning up their friends list. I’m not bothered. When I stopped using it for personal communication, I realized that I had developed these superficial relationships that were taking up my time, but are pretty meaningless.

    If you must use the thing, because your far-flung younger family members believe that only those born in the Pleistocene use email, at least install FB Purity. It cuts way down on the ads and offers ways to clean up some other things. (Google it to find the website.)

  9. lanir says

    I had several recruiters strongly recommend LinkedIn as a tool for attracting employer interest years ago. I tried it but they had… issues. There were at least two completely unrelated spots to turn off email from the site and it would send you a constant firehose of spam if you left either at the default value. And both looked like they should stop all email but didn’t. Leaving the site didn’t stop the emails either.

    I don’t trust anyone that thinks spam is a good business practice. They always end up doing something else that’s even more shady. I dealt with LinkedIn a couple times and then left permanently. I began telling recruiters who mentioned it that I didn’t believe a spamsite with deceptive practices was the best way to present myself to potential employers. And somewhere along the way it became irrelevant when people realized it was easy to get fake connections. Haven’t even heard it mentioned in years.

    None of this is to suggest Facebook is any better. It’s much, much worse from what I can tell. It pretty much pioneered some of these practices and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But not all alternatives are good alternatives.

  10. davidc1 says

    @3 ” There is also a group Dinosaurs versus Christians with some cool drawings.”

    There is also one called christians against dinosaurs ,another called real christians against dinosaurs .Also one called Dinosaurs Against Christians Who Are Against Dinosaurs.
    I think that is what they are called .
    Still on faceache ,I think the good bits out weight the bad bits .
    I make models ,I am having trouble with a Revell kit ,posted some photos and got
    a shed load of replies offering help .
    If all the good guys leave all social media ,the wackaloons will be able to get away with posting whatever bollox they want to .

  11. Owlmirror says

    And email doesn’t let you update status, doesn’t have built-in party and event planning, etc.

    Google (which I realize is a different kettle of privacy-invading fish) does have some chat services for immediate communication, a voice option for vocal communication, and its own sharable calendars for event planning. It’s a bit more effort, but it’s probably doable.

    If you want to avoid the Google privacy problems, I noticed that Protonmail is also starting to offer a calendar. I haven’t used it for party planning, but it might work for your group.

  12. DanDare says

    Network effect.

    Fundamentally there needs to be a non commercial, for the people, global social network.

    FB is the capitalist version. No other commercial version can ever compete because of the network effect. It is a natural monopoly.

    Maybe if there was a public infrastructure that allowed commercial offerings that competed as sub elements? Not sure what that would look like.

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