The End of Facebook

Documenting the Social Network’s Slide into Oblivion

We have been fooled into thinking that the medium is about the content. Marshall McLuhan declared that the medium is the message.

A Faustian Bargain

When we surrender our personal desires and connections in exchange for access to a closed social network, such as Facebook, we give it permission to create algorithms to discern how best to create a profit by selling our attention and personal data, and we willingly become the product. In the bargain, we surrender our democracies to the highest bidder.

The American stake in literacy as a technology or uniformity applied to every level of education, government, industry and social life is totally threatened by the electric technology. The threat of Stalin or Hitler was external. The electric technology is within the gates, and we are numb, deaf, blind and mute about its encounter with the Gutenberg technology, on and through which the American way of life was formed….Our conventional responses to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the “content” of the medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind (18).

Technological Idiots

McLuhan once described as “idiotic” anybody who thought that the content of a communication was more relevant than its medium. For him, it really didn’t matter what was on television or in the newspaper or on the Web. Their impact as media was far more profound than anything they contain.

Fear of Missing Out Trumps Truth and Trust

Unfortunately, we have become addicted to social media because we have handed over control of our most intimate connections to a technological monster that has been built by our own hands to consume us, as we willingly lay our bodies on the altar of narcissistic self-expression, social comparison, and ideological tribalism.

In exchange for the benefits of social networking features and ease of use, we gladly surrender mental health, social cohesion, civil discourse, and democratic governance. Why should we make intellectually honest efforts to seek truth, build trust, and engage in fact-based communication and knowledge sharing when we can confirm our biases by reflecting our own distorted perceptions of reality?

It has become impossible to ignore that Facebook has been designed in such a way that the dangers far outweigh the benefits. If we look the other way, we participate in the dissolution of our privacy, our agency, our sanity, and our democracy.

The Weaponizing of AI

Humans created the algorithm. Now the algorithm is changing humanity, and not for the better.

United Nations investigators concluded that Facebook played a “determining role” in fomenting genocidal attacks against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Hate speech on Facebook incited murderous mobs in Sri Lanka; as The Times reported, “Facebook’s newsfeed played a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing.” Social media was key to the elevation of brutal Filipino demagogue Rodrigo Duterte, and, as Bloomberg reported, his government uses Facebook as a weapon against his enemies.

Without Facebook, Donald Trump probably wouldn’t be president, which is reason enough to curse its existence. The platform was an essential vector for Russian disinformation. It allowed the shady “psychographics” company Cambridge Analytica to harvest private user data. And Facebook helped decimate local newspapers, contributing to America’s widespread epistemological derangement.

The End of Facebook

Various publications and commentators have offered a range of predictions of the end of Facebook, a social media website established in 2004.

Commentators have predicated Facebook’s end for causes including a declining user base, legal difficulties of being a closed platform, inability to generate revenue, inability to offer user privacy, inability to adapt to mobile platforms, inability to negotiate with the Chinese government, or Facebook ending itself to present a next generation replacement.

Commentators have predicted Facebook’s end for scandals including Facebook’s participation in Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, and the March 2018 Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Yes, you should delete Facebook

Designer, writer, educator, social architect, founder, Builders Collective, Leading with Design.

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