Day 1,680 – A Gentle Defense of Facebook

Screenshot of the author's FB homepage
Screenshot of the author's FB homepage

Facebook, and its nerd-king, has been getting a lot of press recently. I agree with all the opinions stating Facebook and its dear leader must do more to combat the misleading and out-and-out false paid advertising infesting the platform. But I’d also like to point out users could do more to improve the situation as well.

I’m not claiming to be some kind of super-FB-user, but for whatever reasons I have achieved a pleasant level of, let’s say détente, with the platform. Specifically, I do not see any of the egregious paid political ads senators and representatives are crowing about when grilling Mr. Zuckerberg. I do not see random inflammatory posts by right or left-wing zealots trying to bait me into clicking. I do see, mixed into my newsfeed, the occasional post by the Bernie Sanders operation or the AOC media team. Most of the time it is either a repost of a news story I’ve already seen or an invite to join some rally. But as far as politics goes that’s it.

The balance of my Facebook feed is posting from news organizations I have specifically approved, posts by my friends, and random advertisements that, I kid you not, have become relevant and even useful, and every now and then a blurb saying “because you see posts from FlightAware you might like this article published by Jane’s Defense Weekly,” or something similar.

I have approved Robert Reich, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Intercept, Reuters, New York Magazine, Salon, and a lengthy list of similar smaller news organizations. Over time I have assiduously hidden ads that are irrelevant or, equally important, ads for things I have already purchased. And yes, I click “irrelevant” or “already purchased” when I hide the ad. The results have been increasingly I see ads for things I might actually use. I learned about these guys from Facebook. I can see posts by friends, but not friends of friends. I’ve self-identified as a Democrat and married since, after all, I am.

As for my own posts to FB, I always make them public. Years ago, in the early, early days of FB, it became immediately clear to me and anybody working within the burgeoning interwebs that when it came to social media YOU were the product. I figured it made sense to make me the best product I could.

So yeah, FB should at the very least follow Twitter’s lead and decline paid political advertising, but users shouldn’t wait for that day. Take responsibility for what you see and support on FB and all other internet channels. We get the government and the social media we deserve so try and demand better.