I don’t know Mark Zuckerberg. I don’t know what “kind” of person he is or what his true motivations in life are. But Facebook, the company he founded, is successful and employs almost 60 thousand people world wide. Over 3 billion people world wide use Facebook and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be much less any time soon.

If you are like me, you signed up at some point in your life for Facebook for some (at least at that time in your life) plausible reasons. As another channel for staying in touch with people you know or have met at some point, maybe joining some “shared interest” groups and maybe meeting some new people around the world on the way and/or promoting your business. Why not? It’s “free” to join/use and “everyone else is using it too!”. Their business model was never a secret.

Over the past few years, several lawsuits have been filed against Facebook. Anti-trust lawsuits, basically saying that Facebook is a monopoly, and using it’s monopoly ”in bad ways”, among other things including influencing elections and political views. In a new book that has recently come out: “An Ugly Truth” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, and according to a New York Times book review:

“Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech.”

And then, just after technical problems led to Facebook (as well as Whatsapp and Instagram) not being available for several hours last Monday, things like this (from “The Guardian”) started coming out and being run through many media/news platforms:

“Yes. Facebook is not having a good time right now. Last week Facebook paused a plan to launch Instagram for kids, after leaked internal research showed the company was aware the app could affect girls’ mental health.
Then on Sunday, the former Facebook civic integrity product manager Frances Haugen went public with explosive allegations that Facebook had prioritized growth and profit over public safety.
‘The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,’ she told 60 Minutes.”


I really have better things to do than to worry about Facebook. I am accustomed to hearing and reading opposing opinions to the idea of Facebook and social media in general on technical forums and even in my own business and private circles. For the one, it’s the greatest thing since sliced cheese, and for the other it’s an abomination from hell. But, I guess that would apply to almost every other topic in life or business nowadays – with all this “black and white thinking” going on.

However, in terms of my own business, and in choosing platforms that I wish to use to promote my business and network with other people and businesses, I do find myself having to contemplate what all of this buzz regarding Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg) is all about and what negative effects it could possibly have on my own company’s image.

Trying to look at Facebook from an objective point of view:

• Facebook provides a platform for extended communications and exchange between people and businesses.
• Facebook’s business model is providing free communication services to the public, paid for through advertising.
• No one is required (or forced) to use Facebook or any of it’s subsidies (eg: Instagram, Whatsapp).
• The services are free of charge, unless you use the paid services for promoting your company or organization (called: advertising).
• The usage terms and conditions and data privacy notifications are very clear and every user has easy access to review those at any time.
• Facebook has security and privacy features for everyone in place to customize to their own preferences/needs.
• It is free for anyone to leave Facebook at any time.
• The information/data anyone shares/posts about themselves is of their own free will.

So, yes, we might be able to discuss possible ethical concerns associated with “algorithms” being developed and/or used by Facebook to specifically target ads to individuals and businesses. We can also talk about how these algorithms may also being used to provide “content” to users from other users with similar interests, and the possible ethical implications associated with that. The key word here being: discuss. I don’t, however, believe that we need to talk about Facebook being a “monopoly”. Facebook’s services are neither unique, nor are they required for the survival of our species. Besides: there are several alternatives available. To me, this is just the whole “Microsoft” discussion all over again. Despite all the viable alternatives, “it’s what everyone else is using.”

The only “news” I ever see on Facebook is provided (or forwarded) from the likes of various “regular” news channels already known from TV, radio and printed media. I don’t really see any differences between Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, RT or whatever, except for their direction of spin/bias. Every “news” media outlet is pandering to their own advertisers and what they believe their viewers/readers want to hear/see and will keep them watching/reading and being exposed to their advertisers and keeping their ratings up.

The only “fake news” I’ve ever come across on social media, however, is what people are posting or forwarding that they found on YouTube, Telegram or wherever it is they got it from, (probably making up a lot of it themselves as they go) and to which they are referring to as to being “news/the truth”. And that stuff usually ranges anywhere between “seriously, now? (eg: flat earth)” and “bat shit crazy! (eg: Qanon)”. But, it’s not Facebook spreading the garbage, it’s the users themselves. And when Facebook goes in and starts monitoring (“fact checking”) and even deleting some of this stuff, it’s these same people, who are spreading the garbage in the first place, that scream the loudest: “oppression!”, ”my freedom of speech is being compromised”, “fake news!”, “dictatorship!”, “communism!”, “we must take down Facebook!”.

So, in my opinion, the real problem(s) with Facebook and other social media platforms are not with the actual platforms themselves, but have a lot more to do with the people using these platforms. For anything “good” that someone comes up with, to improve people’s lives, there are just too many other people out there that will find a way of misusing it for their own personal gain or advantage. Add to that some of the other problems we are seeing more and more of in society today:

• The inability or refusal of many people to differentiate between “opinions/feelings/beliefs” and actual facts.
• The inability or refusal of many people to accept and take responsibility for their own words and actions.
• Narcissism.
• Many people’s lack of morals and their unethical behavior under the cover of anonymity. (This includes people using “freedom of speech” as a free pass to insult and/or humiliate others and to spread their hate and ignorance and lies, whether under their real names or anonymously.)
• Too many people’s lack of resilience.

If it’s not the guns, or the explosives, or the vehicles, or the drugs, or whatever, that kill or harm other people – then it must be the people themselves. It’s not the social media platforms that are “dividing” society. People are all doing a pretty good job of that themselves, and the social media platforms are just another “tool” in the hands of those that wish to create division.

Remember: using Facebook is free, and you do get what you pay for.
Sources:
• https://www.statista.com/statistics/273563/number-of-facebook-employees/
• https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2021/Facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2020-Results/default.aspx
• https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/28/technology/facebook-ftc-lawsuit.html
• https://www.npr.org/2021/07/13/1015483097/an-ugly-truth-how-facebook-enables-hate-and-disinformation?t=1633505491574
• https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/18/zuckerberg-facebook-congress-1501937
• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook%E2%80%93Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal
• https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/4/facebook-instagram-and-whatsapp-hit-by-global-outage
• https://www.harpercollins.com/products/an-ugly-truth-sheera-frenkelcecilia-kang?variant=32999376551970
• https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/oct/05/facebook-outage-what-went-wrong-and-why-did-it-take-so-long-to-fix
• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism
• https://www.dictionary.com/browse/monopoly

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