After over a decade on Facebook, I finally decided to unfriend Facebook. The recent revelations of Facebook’s latest fiasco with Cambridge Analytica (and likely hundreds or thousands of similar incidents) was the tipping point for me.
— Joe Reis (@josephreis) March 21, 2018
For the last couple of years, something seemed increasingly off with my friends’s posts. It was like seeing a friend becoming a closet abuser of hard drugs. I noticed the tone of my friends’s posts growing angrier, with links or claims of questionable truth and accuracy. Dark times indeed.
Many times I wanted to leave. “But what about my friends and family? How will I ever stay in touch with people?”, I asked. Others also ask this question. I get it – breaking up is hard to do, especially with friends and family. It becomes much easier when your crazy relatives behave in bizarre ways after reading some crazy fake article on Facebook. Facebook became the epitome of an awkward, polarizing Thanksgiving dinner argument. Facebook became “Derpbook”.
When the Cambridge Analytica story blew up, everything on Facebook made much more sense. Facebook users provided Facebook and its partners with the raw ingredients for information weapons that were turned around and very specifically targeted against us; our data created Derp-seeking missiles into our biases.
I realized that it happened to my friends and family, and likely affected me too. How do I know that I’m reading truthful news? How do you know? Nobody wants to consider themselves dumb. Hence we all cling to the belief we’re immune to fake or misleading news, which is also a dangerous belief to have about oneself. We’re all susceptible to misinformation. We’re also incredibly good at creating filter bubbles for our information, which leads to polarization of viewpoints. When nobody knows what’s real, then society exists in a deadly hallucination.
I decided to stop playing along, and deleted my Facebook account. It’s a small action, but I hope it’s a middle finger to misinformation. Hopefully Facebook follows through on their promise and actually deletes my data. But hey, I’m still alive. And I’ve at least gotten a temporary reprieve from The Derp Ages, which is what I coin our present experience of collective idiocy and intentional misinformation. Maybe you’ll decide enough is enough, and that’s your call. I just hope you make a good decision with your data.