Why I’m Leaving Facebook

From Patreon:

I’m getting ready to quit Facebook and generally pull back from social media.

. . . .

My reasons for this are complicated and are expanded on below, but I know that most people (and this is part of the problem) only like to read a tiny bit of text before forming strong opinions. It’s almost as if they already had their opinions are just using the posts on social media to rage-surf. 

So, for those who love brevity, here are the TLDR reasons I’m leaving Facebook (and most of Social Media):

  • It is addictive without substantive reward
  • The application interfaces are terrible and only serve the platform, not the user
  • The concentrated engagement of attention and time on social media are destructive to cooperation and unity
  • The platforms are rife with bots and agents that seek to divide us
  • The platforms create the illusion of accomplishment

[PG comment – The list continues]

. . . .

The main reason I joined Facebook was to chat and “play” with my friends. Facebook has an algorithm, an invisible agent that works to decide what you see and who sees you. I have more than a hundred real-life friends on Facebook. Because of this stupid algorithm, I only see 10 to 15 people’s posts.

There is a button that lets you change from “Top Stories” (the Facebook bot-controlled fascist view) to the “Most Recent” (theoretically, the “real-time” look at your friend’s feed). Nearly all of my friends want the Most Recent, but we all get reset to Top Stories. Why? It doesn’t really matter why. I assume it’s because it’s easier to control the ad flow if the algorithm dictates your view, but from a user-experience perspective, this is the same as having a Word Processor that intermittently changes your fonts to COMIC SANS throughout the day no matter what setting you pick.

Facebook encourages creative people to build Facebook Groups. Recently I started one for my podcast In reSearch Of… and immediately began to get spammed with notices that “more people could see your post if you ran an ad.”

Link to the rest at Patreon and thanks to R. for the tip.

PG closed his personal FB account a few years ago because of concerns about Facebook’s attitude towards user content and significant privacy concerns.

He’s set up one or two dummy accounts with phony names, minimal phony demographics, etc., that he uses solely for looking at posted information that is supposedly ”really great” or of otherwise of potential interest to him. If/when he goes, he is most likely to be somewhat disappointed.

He also uses FB on occasion solely as an anonymous outbound channel for spreading little creations (no, they’re not good, have nothing to do with the law and/or indie/traditional publishing, are not in the least racy or pornographic, tap into the back side or underside of PG’s brain, the right and left sides of which are otherwise occupied) and PG would be embarrassed to be associated with them except by a very small group of years-long friends who are highly understanding of PG’s numerous shortcomings and inadequacies.

If someone wants to be PG’s Facebook friend, he/she/it must have known PG extremely well for at least twenty years. Longer is preferable.

22 thoughts on “Why I’m Leaving Facebook”

  1. Ironic that they’re using Patreon to send this message. Patreon has its own issues with banning those they politically disagree and other inconsistent application of their standars.

    • Darren – Thanks for your comment.

      To clarify, I linked to the original post by a third party which was on Patreon. I don’t have a Patreon account and have never used the service.

    • It’d only be ironic if Patreon were social media, which it really isn’t. It’s first and foremost a pay-system, and credit card companies have a long history of exercising a type of editorial control over the content they reimburse/take payments on. (Just ask people who write erotica…)

      However, you are right in that Patreon does have the history with the inconsistent application of standards. They are, thankfully, not the only pay-your-content-creator payment method online any longer.

      • Not to quibble, but you’ll find many that consider it or use it as they would social media to message, connect, etc. The article below is one of way I’m thinking about this. Like others have said. I really use Facebook notifications as a something akin to a blog list now rather than to scroll through controlled postings or what Facebook wants me to see.

        https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2019/09/top-creators-on-patreon-by-number-of-patrons.html#:~:text=Patreon%20is%20a%20social%20app,financial%20donations%20from%20their%20fans.

        • Well, I suppose. I mean, if you define “social media” as any online exchange of information, then sure, Patreon qualifies. Wiki lists four common features, the fourth which Patreon certainly lacks: “Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.”

          Patreon may introduce you to other products or “influencers” by way of suggesting to pay more to those people, but it lacks much of the algorithms that your typical social media (the one the OP complains much about in his excellent post) has.

          Under a strict definition, the types of online media that used to be used (for several decades in some cases) like Usenet and random web forums (I used to host quite a few of those) would qualify as being “social media” yet they never had the same viral capability, nor control by algorithm that today’s Social Media does.

          And I think that component is also what makes social media dangerous and has turned us into an easily manipulated, tribal society. Because people are constantly reading about their differences by use of the infamous “like” button we’re reminded subconsciously 24/7/365 about how “our side” is right and “the other side” is wrong.

          I think grouping all social media together sends the wrong impression, when there are certain players in the space that are particularly egregious (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a few others) – that, were there some type of regulation (even something as simple as force users to identify as real people) there’d be a massive shift in the dialogue, not just in our country, but around the world.

          If people had to “own” what they say online, they’d likely be a lot more polite, and you’d see a lot fewer trolls.

  2. FB is a lifeline to people who belong to support groups and who can’t get to them in real life.

    FB is a source of comfort to far-flung families.

    FB has saved my life.

    I don’t use it, probably, the way they intend. I have learned not to click on or buy from an ad on FB. I have learned not to use my FB credentials to login anywhere else. I have an adblocker on all the time. And I keep in touch with a large but limited number of people I actually correspond with – and am quite reluctant to take on another ‘Friend.’

    For me, and many who are isolated for various reasons, it is a link to an actual community, several communities, that I actively need to function. People who have many options can afford to leave FB, find other options online, or just rely on the real world. I’m happy for them.

    I don’t have that choice.

    • Thanks for the information you provided, A.

      It’s good that you pointed out that a great many people continue to use and enjoy Facebook.

      I think my experience is atypical. Certainly my attitude is. Since I left many years ago, the problems I experienced may have been resolved by now.

      • You probably have far more real life options than I do, PG, especially now that I’m also in lockdown.

        Few things are completely good or bad.

        Some of us have fewer options than others.

        Some people will not like FB even for the groups – they’d rather be alone.

        I keep reminding myself and other who get frustrated that I’m not paying for this, and any ad revenue due to me is in the pennies a year.

        But I’d be hard pressed to replace it.

        I know the kids are abandoning FB in droves – if they have better options, good for them! My three kids and DIL check their accounts only occasionally, as do the younger cousins.

        I really should do something about setting up an alternative way to communicate with my online friends in case something happens, but haven’t gotten to that degree of organization. Emails are so different that I’m not likely to pick up most of them via private or even group emails.

        I keep telling myself – ‘when I have time.’

        • Like many things pertaining to computer/online technology, if you like Facebook, keep on using it regardless of whether it’s fashionable or not.

          I do a lot of reasonably sophisticated things with my computers, but I also use an open-source product that hasn’t had any major updates beyond maintenance releases since the world was still square.

          It does the the jobs I ask it to do without requiring any attention from me unless I want to add a tiny piece of script to the pieces I already have there. That task takes less than five minutes and I continue to use the software functions without much, if any, conscious thought, which is a truly lovely thing compared to certain maximally-bloated and overpriced pieces of software that are such a rabbit warren of functions that I’m convinced the company’s engineers are unable to fix bugs faster than new bugs appear.

          • I understand. Believe me, I understand.

            I’m stuck right now. At High Sierra on my Mac.

            The writing programs I need and use daily – Dramatica and Word 2011 for Mac – will not run if I upgrade the system software.

            I use Textwrangler for ONE tiny conversion piece when making ebooks – and it isn’t going to work any more. When I get to that step, I’ll figure out how to do it with BBedit, and hope I can learn just what I need.

            At some point, my 2015 Mac may not be able to handle the digital world.

            I haven’t updated Scriver or Pixelmator, even though I’ve paid for the upgrades – time and energy will have to come from my writing hours, which are already too few.

            My wordpress blog is tiny, and is about to force me to use its new tools (which I tried and hate – for my simple needs I have to learn to use ‘blocks’).

            I keep trying to finish the trilogy before the software or hardware bites me!

            I can’t imagine being an actual computer power user.

            NB: I used to program CRAYs.

            • A – I agree with your sentiments.

              However, since I updated to the latest WP version, I have come to appreciate Blocks.

              There is undoubtedly a way of modifying or replacing the structure of Blocks, but I live with the default features and Blocks.

              I have found the formatting provided by the Blocks I use for TPV to be pretty much idiot-proof (and I’m a genuinely ingenious idiot at times).

              • I tried the blocks, and produced a post with my typical single graphic at the beginning – and it took a LOT more clicks than I’m used to.

                So I went back to the simple version until such time as the old version won’t let me use it or won’t work.

                I’m a rather primitive blogger – text is my main component. I can’t use moving images or even embed videos or other pay features anyway – and I haven’t needed to.

                It will fail at some point in the future – and I’m putting off until tomorrow anything that I can!

                I need to become rich and famous so I can afford to outsource all the other writer functions.

                But I have to finish writing first, and my stuff tends to be long and slow to write. Not to read, I’m counting on that – I have great reviews there.

                And I have to stay alive, something that seems a bit problematic these days.

                I envy PG his energy.

            • I get it. I’m behind you on Mac OSX Mavericks (10.9.5) and don’t want/need to upgrade (yet). That version still runs my paid-for Photoshop and InDesign, and I don’t want to lose those (and don’t want to pay for a monthly subscriptions).

              BTW, I use BBEdit (and open source Sigil) for formating my ebooks. Ebooks are basically all HTML, so if you know HTML, you’re set. I use InDesign for the print versions.

              I gave up Word years ago; hate it. Google Docs is how I write now. Works perfectly.

              • I have no desire to go to MS Word on subscription, either, and my Excel works fine for my purposes.

                Word 2011 is usable; I have a lot of special features for my print version, and I can do them all in my own copy of Word. I have zero desire to learn InDesign – as I’d use it once every five years. Does Google docs do running heads and footers, different for every chapter? Does it handle indenting text from both sides? I’ve never looked elsewhere since I formatted the first volume in the trilogy exactly the way I wanted it for ebook and print. I’m just hoping to finish the set before technology gets me.

                If you’re curious to see the formatting I use, and would have to replace with Google docs, check my name on Amazon, and the print version’s first 5-10 pages will illustrated what I need from my software post-Scrivener.

                • “Does Google docs do running heads and footers, different for every chapter? Does it handle indenting text from both sides?”

                  I don’t do any styling in Google Docs. It’s just a basic word processor to me. I use HTML (ebooks) and InDesign (print) for designing and styling the finished product.

                  Everything that I see in your paperback of “Pride’s Children” is easy to do in InDesign.

                  Hope that helps.

                  P.S. I bought Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash all together in one package, so I learned how to use all of them. But I’m also a designer so that wasn’t a big chore.

              • Thanks – that was very nice of you to take a look.

                I’m a Mac person from way back, and many of the other programs are Windows-based, and/or subscriptions.

                For a non-designer using software rarely, the learning curve is steep. I’ll tackle it if my current system stops working – or I’ll just pay someone, especially now that the first book can serve as a template of exactly what I want. When I finish this book, I’ll have to decide on doing the second cover with Pixelmator again, and see what Amazon has for me to work with. It’ll be another six months at least before I’m at that place.

                It was fun to learn, and to have a reason to learn, all the design bits – but it did take a whole summer. First times always take longer.

                My HTML is adequate – and I had to work hard to get those epigraphs indented from both sides – something that would seem obvious. I would like the set to have a common ‘look’ to it.

                Thanks again for the feedback.

  3. I’m with ABEhrhardt on this. FB sucks, but I enjoy the groups, and I’ve locked down my settings etc.

    Still, that said, I have had two friends block me, another acquaintance in SF fandom also block me, all because I disagree with slogans and identity politics.

    So there are times when I go sheesh, geez louise…

    • A – You’re correct that I’m in a distinct minority.

      I claim no virtue points for my response and general attitude towards FB, but I also understand that it provides an enjoyable experience for a Zillion (maybe 1.5 Zillion by now) people around the world.

    • My solution to FB is to (mostly but not always) click on notifications from my children and other relatives and never to post anything myself. This works pretty well, and if I don’t like what is being posted I just stop reading it for a bit (though if necessary I might email the kids to point out that I raised them better than to parrot slogans and eschew logical thought).

      I fear FB has redefined the term “friend” in an unfortunate fashion. If they blocked you they were probably never really a friend (traditional meaning) in the first place, but I guess that you can also lose real friends that way (though these days the clash of views would probably have caused a rift anyway).

  4. There’s a lot wrong with social media. I’m not even going to caveat that! The statement itself is true in and of itself.

    Particularly bad, however, is Twitter. It provides very little value (I haven’t looked recently, but I believe they still have yet to turn a profit.) They allow a LOT of troll accounts. By troll, I don’t just mean people who disagree with you – I mean, actual fake accounts. Facebook, in their defence, has a much more rigorous validation of who someone actually is. Perhaps that’s why their valuation is so much higher than Twitter.

    But Twitter plays to humans’ worst instincts. Countless people have fired off their 160 characters and immediately (or very soon thereafter) regretted doing so. Or, in some cases, little thought out posts come back to haunt them years later and they get “cancelled” or fired.

    Or, back to the troll thing.

    Here are a few interesting articles, of course, I think they only lightly touch on the problem (and even that touch is scary enough).

    Russian and Iranian Troll accounts to influence elections:
    https://www.vox.com/2018/10/19/17990946/twitter-russian-trolls-bots-election-tampering

    Twitter Banning 1 Million (!!!) accounts per day.
    https://slate.com/technology/2018/07/twitter-cant-win-its-war-on-trolls-why-not.html

    Interesting because here’s confirmation that Twitter is deleting bot accounts linked to actual foreign governments!
    https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-fake-account-removals-highlight-twitters-bot-problem-once-again/575488/

    Towards the end of that article, there’s a quote which highlights exactly why this troll/”fake news” issue is such a problem.

    “We can only hope that Twitter is able to take more action on such – because while Twitter doesn’t have as many users as Facebook, it’s still highly influential. **Twitter is the real-time news source of choice for many passionate newshounds and community leaders, and they take what they find and share it with their networks everywhere else.** As highlighted by the Leeds hospital story, these bot pushes spread, and their influence stretches well beyond Twitter itself.”

    Asterisks mine. But it’s the fact that so many journalists now essentially are “Newshounds by way of Twitter” – which means we’re being fed a lot of junk news/information from troll accounts that don’t even belong to real people – or it’s one person owning tens or hundreds or even thousands of fake accounts, operated by apps specialized to that purpose.

    Finally, social media is helping to divide us into tribes, because our current predispositions are reinforced on a daily basis by algorithms that continue to show us what we want to see or “like” – over and over again, daily (if we view it that often, and FB/twitter users are notorious for spending at least an hour or two a day on their sites: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media ) We’re less and less exposed to differing opinions, and that causes us to dislike those who disagree with us more and more.

    Long and short of it is – we were a lot nicer to strangers and people who thought differently than we do before 2008 and the advent of all these tech dispensers of news and opinion, both real and fake. And how has it benefited us?

    We need to take the few things good about them (keeping in touch with friends/family, support groups) and ditch the rest.

    • Want to add a little something I noticed today – also very timely!

      More of twitter releasing info about bad actors.

      https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/information-operations-june-2020.html

      Over 23k Accounts (not tweets!) that comprise the core of the CPP network, and another 150k retweeting accounts! Can you imagine? And that’s just what they detect. There are doubtless many more that they do not.

      Another 1152 accounts from Russia for manipulating media, and then even Turkey is getting in the act, with 7,340 accounts.

      Note, those are actually STATE-SPONSORED. I find the whole thing a bit off the charts.

      Social media has made it especially easy (on top of working to sew divisions in the United States and other countries) – but we’ve given Foreign actors the medium to distribute their own propaganda.

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