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For many years, I have held Facebook at arm’s length, without the resolve to actually drop it.
While I used to enjoy the website as enthusiastically as your uncle does, I started feeling less impressed with it way back in the salad days of Farmville. Facebook began to encourage us to waste our time and attention on mind-numbing treadmills that kept us clicking and rewarded us for getting all our friends hooked too, and that seemed bad enough. Of course, its mounting offenses against family, society, and civilization have only multiplied in both scale and enormity in the time since, right on up through destabilizing the modern world’s bedrock democracies. (Including the one I happen to live in.)
I can’t quite articulate why the straw that broke my will to tolerate any further Facebook in my life came from yesterday’s story by Casey Newton for The Verge, detailing how Facebook flays the minds and souls of underpaid contract laborers as meat-shields against its own users’ taste for posting unimaginably graphic content. A horrible story, but not a new one — really, an update on an open secret about Facebook’s operations that gets covered every couple of years. And the life-destroying horrors perpetrated by Facebook here happen on a personal scale, not a societal one.
But whatever the reason, the thought snapped into my head during a shower later that day that I should remove documented support for Facebook from Plerd. So I did. I announced that in a tweet, where I said that I had also recommended to IFTF’s board that it cease its own Facebook use. (In fact, we quietly agreed to do this months ago, and have been slowly cleaning up towards-Facebook links and such on the IFTF website whenever we happen to work on adjacent stuff.)
This begged for a rather obvious follow-through step, of course. So, here is a post I published to my personal Facebook page yesterday evening. A couple of hours later I started to feel a little embarrassed by the strident tone, but my intent remains true as stated, so I let it stand. It contains references to my IndieWeb work, which I very much look forward to resuming later this year, once I complete a number of unrelated obligations.
For reasons that I hope are very obvious, I have concluded that Facebook is an unrepentantly evil company that actively seeks to make the world worse. Unlike even the most rapacious energy companies, Facebook’s world-worsening is not a by-product of its business; it is the very thing it traffics in.
After several journalistic investigations and congressional inquiries and waxen-faced promises to do better, Facebook clearly has no intent to change its course, ever. As such, I cannot in good conscience do anything to encourage its ongoing use.
Barring truly unexpected turns of events, I do not plan to post again to Facebook, in any fashion, for any reason.
I will keep my FB account for the time being, for that handful of friends and family whom FB Messenger is their main communication channel.
I plan to be available for the rest of my life at jmac.org, where I blog regularly (via fogknife.com) and keep all my contact and other information up to date. My email address (email@example.com) and my phone number will never change.
I plan to keep my Twitter handle @JmacDotOrg indefinitely, as well.
Thank you for understanding. I plan to fight like hell to keep the internet wild and open, and give people the tools to make use of it without selling themselves and their families to relentlessly evil corporations who would be glad to destroy civilization if it meant that they’d be on top of the final heap.
I hope I’ll see you out in that wonderful wilderness. You know where to find me.
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