Saturday, June 15, 2019

Beginning of the End for FB

I killed off Google+ last year and started a little tradition.  Today, I've killed off Facebook.  At least, I'm deleting my personal account at FB.

Why would I do that?  Glad you asked!

  • Facebook has a near monopoly position in social media.  Benefiting from the "network effect" ("value" increases as the square of the number of users increases), FB has triumphed over all its competitors in the medium-long-form sharing segment.
  • Monopolies are generally bad.  Anti-trust law evolves much more slowly than technology.
  • Facebook governance is effectively in the hands of one individual, who shows little appreciation for the public interest or the social impact of his company.
  • As a "free" service, users are persuaded to share way too much data with the service, often thinking it's just a matter of keeping up with friends or touting our lifestyles to the world.
  • Facebook makes lots of money by packaging and reselling our data to commercial or political interests.
  • For many users, Facebook is addictive.
  • The Facebook model especially encourages evil forces (read Russia or US ultrapartisans) to influence our political system, spreading rumors and all kinds of divisive false information.
  • Facebook has very little "quality control".  There are weak attempts to suppress pornography,  political abuse, and illegal conduct, but these are not very effective.  For FB, quality control means reduced profits.
  • Apart from the shady business model, Facebook has a serious "signal to noise" problem.  Over time, your friends (and friends of friends) can easily overwhelm your news feed with irrelevant and distracting (to you) material.  As a reader, you have little control over what you see in your news feed.
  • The selection algorithms are obscure to users.  They are meant to keep you engaged and clicking, but not to be useful.  It can be really hard to return to a particular item you remember seeing a few hours ago.
None of these points are particularly original, I know.  But you did ask!

I'm still here on Blogger (another "free" service).  It's part of Google, and Google is another collector and reseller of my data, I know.  Especially when I use Android, Drive, or Maps, or many other services.  I use Twitter, too.  Twitter is short form (mostly), and I seem to be better able to filter what I read.  And there's Amazon, and there's even Reddit, and more.