Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

“Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet. Some employers and landlords demand to see Facebook profiles, and there are increasingly vast swaths of public and civic life — from volunteer groups to political campaigns to marches and protests — that are accessible or organized only via Facebook.”

—Zeynep Tufekci, “Facebook’s Surveillance Machine.” The New York Times. March 19, 2018.

It’s a Catch-22. You have to be willing to tell Facebook, as well as the employers and landlords that demand access to your social media accounts should you choose to have them, to fuck off in order to get “vast swaths of public and civic life” off of the Facebook platform. Regulation isn’t going to solve the problem of Facebook and the feudal Internet. Thinking that regulation can solve every problem is one of the central contradictions of U.S. liberal political thought. But then, U.S. conservatives have similar notions of deregulation. You can’t have small government and a global war on Communism, terrorism and drugs.

Sometimes there is no reform that will square the circle, and you have to make a choice. It’s perfectly reasonable to choose not to use Facebook. It takes two to four weeks to shake off the desire to check it, and then, most likely, you’ll spend more time with those closest to you rather than cultivating all the weak ties out beyond your Dunbar number of acquaintances that Facebook facilitates. Not everyone can do it, but many people could (and should).

3 thoughts on “Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

  1. I’m on month 3 of my yearly 6 month facebook vacation… last year it was it was actually 7.5 months.
    Perhaps it will be a full 8, 9, or 10 months this year.
    *** hmmmm, now there is an idea.

    1. Been off for 14 months. I found it took a couple of weeks to shake the habit, but now, I can’t imagine using the site again. It seems like you have a different experience. What keeps you going back?

      1. You might say being bored brings me back to facebook, but that wouldn’t be right. In reality, fb is the only way I keep in contact with a select bunch of friends.
        I am confident that when I leave on “vacation” one day, I won’t return.

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