Facebook is a Double-edged Sword

It cuts both ways

France Haugen testifying before the Senate. Photo credit: Drew Angewrer/Getty Images

Facebook is a double-edged sword. And like many things in life, it can be a force for good or evil. First the good. It is a means of connecting and staying in touch with other like-minded human beings or family members. It can hook you up with long-lost friends or relatives. It can be fun, entertaining, and a platform for free expression and creativity. I have met people from all over the world and even in my own city that I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. And I really do care about these people.

Now, the bad.

Facebook can be divisive, polarizing, and demoralizing.

There is a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who worked as a product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team during and after the 2020 election testifying before congress right now.

The key problem, Haugen has argued, is that Facebook’s business is built around driving as much engagement as possible from the social network’s billions of users, and data shows that social media users engage more with inflammatory content.

“When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other,” she added. The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.” 

“Extremists subsequently weaponized Facebook to plan the Capitol riot. Facebook posts have repeatedly been cited by federal prosecutors in cases against the Capitol.”

“Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” Frances Haugen told Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes.” She went on to say, “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Mark Zuckerberg operates according to his motto: “Move fast and break things.” Which would seem to presage living in a consequence-free environment. However, in 2019, the FTC fined Facebook a record-breaking five billion dollars for deceiving billions of users and failing to protect their privacy.

So, I have mixed feelings about Facebook. I have been in some pretty ugly Facebook fights that were unpleasant, and I have dropped friends and have been dropped. Neither of my two sisters is friends with me on Facebook because of my political views and edgy comments. That makes me sad. But, on the other hand, I have some remarkable friends that I interact with every day and share ideas with and pictures and well wishes who I wouldn’t give up for the world. I also have an audience, some of whom will actually listen to me and read my rants and raves. For that, I am truly grateful. But Facebook needs to clean up its act and be more of a force for good. I know they can do better!

8 thoughts on “Facebook is a Double-edged Sword

  1. FB is a universe away from what it was 5 years ago. Keeping in touch with friends and family seemed to be the biggest part of the platform, then FB narrowed your number of friends and family to a minuscule amount of contacts with their algorithms, which benefit only them. Like you, I have been unfriended, cursed, and even physically threatened by people on FB. Now, it’s just another way to attack people for their religious and political beliefs. I don’t use it much, but when I do, it’s usually not good.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. FB is a microcosm of America and it accurately reflects who we are as a nation. I used to be be fully immersed in fb but increasingly felt myself getting depressed and upset with what I was taking in (and putting out in comments) and ended up deleting the account (after requesting they send me a file with copies of all of my pictures.) A year or so ago I was asked to create a fb account for one of the WP groups I write poetry in as a way to stay in communication for hosting prompts. Slowly it is creeping back into my day and I don’t like it one bit. Drumpf has polarized me from most of my family, who wear Magate hats and are proud of it. It is a good way of keeping in touch with local events and groups as our community doesn’t have a print newspaper anymore and the lame website that replaced hard copy can’t be read without paying.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you Benn, I actually think there are a lot of trolls out there who want to make trouble.
    I try to stay under the radar as much as I can, but I do enjoy following people and getting to know how the other half live.
    It has been a connection for me with the friends of my son who passed, wherever they are in the world.
    I would not have been able to connect with so many without FB.
    I also think there is an intention to divide us and we can’t let that happen.

    Liked by 1 person

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