Since around 2007, I’ve been going to the same pizza shop.
They make great pizza. It’s so good, in fact, that I’d argue there is no legitimate replacement for it.
They have every kind of topping, and multiple types of crust.
It’s also the exact same place that all my friends go to hangout. Whenever I go there, I run into people I know, and I’ve gotten a ton of business from my interactions at this amazing pizza shop.
I’m not kidding when I say this pizza place has no competition.
But over the years, I’ve found out some disturbing information.
I recently found out that when you order takeout, their pizza boxes all come with a tiny camera and listening device, though they’ve assured me that they rarely turn them on. I don’t like it, but I love the pizza. So, I guess it’s no big deal.
I also just learned that the pizza shop often hosts recruitment events for the local KKK chapter, as well as the local neo-nazis. On Wednesdays they have a book club meeting for people who are interested in bringing back the bubonic plague. All of that makes me wonder about the shop owners but man, the pizza is good.
During this past election season, this pizza place accepted money from some Russian mobsters to post a bunch of signs in the window. Some were advertising the wrong date for election day, others warned of violence against certain groups of people. Some advertised ICE raids. People all around town we’re talking about it. I was so upset that I only ordered two large pies last time I went. I’m sure they’ll be more responsible in the future.
All of this makes me so mad that I’ve even thought about ordering from somewhere else…but their pizza is so good.
This is our story of Facebook
Before I get into it, I want you to think on this question:
What would Facebook have to do, for you to delete your account?
If that’s too abstract, I’ll phrase it a different way. Let’s call it the puppy test.
How many puppies would Facebook have to torture and murder on video in your newsfeed before you deleted your account? Is it a certain number of puppies? Is it a certain number of people at the company involved in the puppy slaughter?
What is your puppy threshold to walk away from thousands of friends, endless streams of entertainment, and the opportunity to hyper-target your advertising?
Think it over.
The Platform vs The Company
Facebook, as a platform, is really quite remarkable. Add in Instagram, Messenger and Whatspp, and you have a comprehensive set of tools for organizing, communicating, sharing, and learning. The possibilities are virtually endless.
However, as with anything, with great power there must also come—great responsibility.
A platform is only as ethical as its creators. In this case, we must confront the very real situation that the world’s two most popular social networks, are owned, operated, and monetized by a reckless and irresponsible leadership team.
The right thing to do is to leave
I can think of no other company that I interact with in my life, that I would give my time or money to with the same track record as Facebook. Part of the reason is that in any other case, there is likely a reasonable substitute. But there is no substitute for Facebook.
I’ve thought about leaving so many times. I have the plans drafted. I have the video script ready to go. I have my new destinations setup and waiting. But I don’t leave probably for the same reasons you haven’t. The platform is too valuable.
- We have too much content saved here from photos, to videos, to, in my case, a marriage proposal on livestream. All of that content has social interactions: likes, comments, shares.
- We have too many connections who won’t go elsewhere or who won’t participate elsewhere. Our FOMO practically explodes at the thought of losing them.
- We have the ability to reach a mass audience with concentrated attention.
The platform has so much potential to do good. I cannot argue against the merits of the platform.
But, what do we do about Facebook, the company?
- Facebook: who buys up or squashes competition.
- Facebook: that allows for and in some cases actively promotes the rampant spread of misinformation without any context or correction.
- Facebook: that allows people to place ads with blatant lies which leads to the erosion of truth and the public’s trust in institutions
- Facebook: that lied about their video metrics leading to hundreds or thousands of journalists and content creators losing their jobs as sites re-strategized based on fraudulent information.
- Facebook: that steals as much data from us as they can through obfuscation or manipulation and often without our explicit consent.
- Facebook: that has given away or leaked our data to such an extent that it was possible to alter the outcome of an election
- Facebook: that allows hate to flourish on the platform, and then profit from it.
- Facebook: who launches smear campaigns against their rivals and critics.
- Facebook: who despite $70B per year in revenue and some of the brightest minds in computer programming, can’t seem to fix any of these problems.
And what happens every single time they get caught?
“This is not who we are. We hear you and we’re going to do better.”
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
From the earliest days of “they trust me, dumb fucks” to the present day, Facebook has never been a company with the best interest of its users in mind and this starts at the top with robot-in-human-suit, Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook exists to make money and it has grown so large that they now wield incredible political lobbying power and their stock price success is intimately connected to many of the world’s wealthiest people. They have reached a point where no small scale protest or user revolt will stop them. It didn’t stop them back then, and it certainly doesn’t matter to them now.
Even a major hit to their bank account over the period of a month does not seem to sway them into action toward some of the most reasonable requests.
This company will continue to destroy anything in its path just so that we can keep using Messenger and arguing in the comments.
How many puppies did you answer?
…and what do you want on your pizza?
Also published on Medium.