Poor Facebook, it is having a tough old time of it at the moment. It has gone from a delightful place where Mark Zuckerberg could rank and rate the attractiveness of women he liked, to a dispenser of mental illnesses and more recently into a Stasi like monolith that facilitates the corrupting of democratic processes in domestic and foreign nations, but that’s OK because profits are up 61% to $4.3bn! You DA man Zuckerberg, #GDP.
I remember around the year 2004, when I was in High School
Musical, the UK Government began debating the NIR (National Identity Register). It was designed to register all citizens, photo and all, to a national database but the brave population was OUTRAGED!* The creepy elected Government representing the people wanted to register everyone? That is just sick. Most European countries did create such databases but in the UK the idea was eventually poo-pooed.
Coincidently, 2004 was the year unelected international man of mystery Mark
Suck a berg Zuckerberg decided to create his very own (international) registry database. Don’t do it, Mark! The people don’t want it you fool! The Stasi in Germany, the KGB in Russia, the CIA in the US have all tried and failed to do this legally. Mark was not dissuaded by these past failures, however.
And so he created what can only be described as
an alluring quagmire of button pushing manipulation, stalking, George Orwell’s Big Brother, mentally degrading, insecurity driving, overly blue, poorly designed website that is only interested in keeping your attention long enough to show advertisements to your face, even if that means you commit suicide in the process a website.
Committing suicide. Now there is a thing society should try and reduce – unless you are Facebook. Executive Andrew Bosworth, in describing what is acceptable and justified in Facebook’s undying love for growth, he said that even if Facebook exposes people to bullies, so much so, they commit suicide – I swear I’m not making this up* – that is still a justifiable action because they are ‘connecting people’. Thanks for connecting us with bullies Andrew, yeah, cheers. Still, you can’t deny those numbers – 4.3 billion – oooo mama!
In December 2017, an in-house Facebook research group looked a the mental health of its 1.4 billion users and came to a
shocking obvious conclusion: Facebook has a negative effect on your mental health. Turns out passively consuming endless streams of information that portray a better life than you, and superficially enhancing your own life to meet these new falsified expectations is a bad thing, not to mention the polarising affect short form discourse has on harmony. Dang it. Why does science ruin everything?
It is quite a big step though when you think about it. A company researches its own product and comes to the (right) conclusion that it is bad. Imagine tobacco companies coming out and saying you can die from their product, and it will make you feel bad. I’m no marketing expert, but I think that is a poor strategy. Interestingly though Facebook didn’t stop there. Having come to the conclusion that their product is bad, with some pretty sound research method it has to be said, they then go on to provide some recommendations. This is common practice in scientific research – conclude your research with some sound recommendations to counteract negative outcomes or to enhance positive ones. For example; Facebook is bad, don’t use Facebook. Easy.
Facebook’s actual recommendation however was; use more Facebook and do it better.
“You’re not smoking that cigarette right! Here’s a pack of 100; don’t come back until you’re doing it better!… Kids these days.”
You’ll notice the blame is not on Facebook here, you will notice that it is always your fault. This is the ultimate get out of jail free card in the capitalistic world. Tell me of a CEO in the land who took responsibility for the collapse of the whole financial industry in 2008. Or even of a Government that held one to account.* Yeah you’re right it was those poor people trying to get mortgages, it’s their fault, bloody poor people ruining everything.
If a government created a national identity database that was used to plan terrorist attacks, expose people to bullies and dish out mental illnesses like Santa hands out presents at Christmas, we would close it down immediately. But oh no, this has profits of 4.3bn dollars people! You are just using it wrong. Oh, and want to try and put pressure on the unelected leader of this company to change? The British Government couldn’t even get him to come have a chat with them about his companies involvement in subverting their democratic process.
Got a mental illness from Facebook? You’re using it wrong.
Now look, maybe I am being hard on Facebook and maybe they do have some positive aspects. But I’m pretty sure Jeffrey Dahmer took his mum out to lunch once or twice, that doesn’t quite mean we should forget about all the murdery stuff. If only he generated profits of $4.3bn however…
*Not really, polls actually suggested that the population was initially in favour of the scheme.
*Oh, and in the same memo, Andrew Bosworth also said that Facebook’s search for growth is also justified even if a terrorist uses its tools to plan an attack and kill someone.
*Iceland did actually jail the bankers responsible and let the banks fail. 10 years on they have a healthy economy, go figure.