Somewhere along the line, in addition to sharing birthday wishes and cute kitten videos, Facebook thought it would be a great idea to share Russian propaganda that has damaged our democracy. The friendly mask Facebook presented to the world fell to reveal the same greed, deception and corruption political Facebook users often wail about on the site.
Years ago, many liberals viewed the large, established U.S. corporations as bad, and the newer, “enlightened” tech companies as good. Those days are over.
After a speech in which billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros blasted Facebook as an out-of-control menace to society, calling for stricter (any?) regulations on the company, Facebook launched a campaign to smear and demonize him. The tech giant is now doing what Fox News and other right-wing media have undertaken for years — relentless propaganda casting Soros, who supports democracy and human rights around the world, as the face of evil.
Feminist icon Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, recently asked Facebook employees to dig up dirt on Soros, and the company hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican-linked research firm, to do just that. Facebook was soon accused of “trafficking in anti-Semitic attacks against the billionaire,” according to The New York Times. Not long after, Definers was fired.
If I had a dollar for every moment I’ve wasted on Facebook, mindlessly scrolling or arguing politics with strangers who used to write letters to the editor in crayon, I’d be richer than Soros. My bad. I’m also sick of the company’s constant mining for my private information, especially after learning that tens of millions of Facebook users had their privacy compromised by Cambridge Analytica, a Donald Trump campaign-linked data firm, according to the Times. And on Wednesday, Facebook users learned that the social media platform gave some companies specific access to its users’ data, according to documents released by a British parliamentary committee that were also reported by the Times.
Maybe the time has come to log off Facebook for good. But what about our friendships? If your Facebook friends are mainly people you wouldn’t recognize if you bumped into them on the street, they really aren’t your friends. Perhaps take the time you save to go out and make some real ones?
Yes, we’ll have to figure out a way to maintain vital contacts we’ve established on the site, but with the way Facebook is behaving lately, I think it’s time to say so long.
I want my privacy back.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.