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  • Writer's pictureMauro C. Souza

Facebook is horrible!

Animation by Javier Jaén; photograph from Getty

l could post more of my ideas on Facebook. However, the question always comes: why share on Facebook? Who are my friends, and who are my enemies? I don't think I have personal enemies, just some who are enemies of my choices, ideals, and ideologies. They are good people who turn into monsters when Facebook wants them to. If you haven't seen the Netflix documentary: "The Social Dilemma," it is urgent that you do.

The documentary examines how a handful of companies, including but not limited to Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have on the public. It highlights that a relatively small number of engineers make decisions that impact billions of people. The documentary examines the current state of social media platforms. In the documentary, you hear interviews with some of the creators of social networks. The movie deals with technology concepts, such as data storage, intentional technology, artificial intelligence, how machines learn about us, and surveillance capitalism. That's right, surveillance capitalism, an economic system centered on personal data storage to make a profit. The networks Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter, want to know how you spend your money.

It has been almost impossible to go a month without some big news about Facebook or Twitter in recent years. Do you remember Trump? Bolsonaro? The attacks were constant in all directions. Haven't you noticed that a "GPMG" has been given into the hands of any citizen, responsible or not, right or left-winger. If you don't know, the "GPMG" is the world's deadliest machine gun.

Facebook has been the villain for many reasons, undoubtedly well-deserved reasons, such as "fake news". With their "GPMGs," they have already misinformed and disseminated false propaganda around the elections in Brazil, the United States, and elsewhere. Privacy has become a very modern, current, and archaic word at the same time - because no one else has privacy. To the surprise of some, many have committed suicide, and others have been physically hurt, all because of comments and shares on Facebook.

Adults have become children and have been playing with information on Facebook. These are serious problems, which make it increasingly hated, abandoned, and irrelevant in today's "internet" scenario.

So it is! Just like that, very bad and irrelevant. It is a bad social network, and it has only gotten worse over time.

According to the "" website, Brazil is in fourth place with 130 million Facebook users, only behind Indonesia, the United States, and India.

Some say that FB is more prevalent in countries where gossip is a significant part of the culture. For the sake of truth, we know that Brazilians like a good gossip, be it at the window, in the living room, at the bar, or on social networks. Have you seen the audience of Brazilian soap operas?

We are ignoring the fundamental question: why do people use Facebook? It's a very, very tiring and annoying platform. Perhaps more so than the sisters' platforms like Instagram and Twitter, which have their own problems, but nothing like what we see on Facebook today.

The use of Facebook is primarily driven by two needs: belonging and self-promotion. The need to belong refers to the intrinsic impulse to affiliate with others and gain social acceptance. In contrast, the need for self-promotion is the ongoing process of manipulating impression. These two factors can co-exist, but they can also be a simple cause for using the most famous social media platform.

On Facebook, we can sin without needing to confess and repent. The platform can hide our sins from God.

"I didn't write it, I copied it from someone else", or, "If it was posted here, it must be true".

There we can be who we are or not. After all, we found a place where God is not there - Facebook.

Facebook is an old thing. Do you remember Orkut? No? Well, well! It started with the death of Orkut. Perhaps you were not born at that time. Ask your parents, they know what I am talking about. Orkut was one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil in 2008.

Everything was originally and carefully planned to be the most powerful social platform on the internet, and it is. I have had Facebook for a long time. I have loved it and hated it many times. I have amassed a collection of hundreds of "friends" that are now almost unrecognizable, like me. Although I have done some pruning over the years, my feed is still full of random useless information. My profile has become deformed; people barely know who I am. My news feed is nothing more than updates from people I haven't talked to in over a decade, mixed with various advertisements that don't interest me.

It's a mess, both in terms of content and presentation. My feed is nothing but a wasteland, a place of trinkets. Stuff piled up meaninglessly.

I'm not just seeing the posts these people make, I'm seeing notifications they've replied to, the likes, the memes, opinions, videos, Photoshop-edited photos of people I've literally never heard of. I know what people ate or where they were yesterday, what they saw on TV, and where they spent their vacation.

I've read posts inciting hatred, false information, wrong dates of false news, grossly modified. Perhaps they think that the reading world is ignorant because they ignore grammar and good text. Anything goes, as long as they get a "like". That's all they want, a "like". If they hit a thousand likes, even better! You can indeed control what you want to see in your news feed, but make no mistake, this tool is just a controlled control.

You don't have to choose; Facebook machines choose for you. There is no wanting. There are blinders that "protect" you and prevent you from seeing laterally, like a horse.

The artificial intelligence of social networks drives a "heard of cattles" (that is, you!) to create and maintain "good movement." When the animals willingly go where the algorithms want and at the place, it is comfortable for them. You don't have to choose. The Facebook machines choose for you. There is no will. There are the blinkers that "protect" you and prevent you from seeing sideways, like horses.

Does it have to be like that? - From the point of view of surveillance capitalism, yes.

Well, I could try really hard to "fix" my FB page. I could do some massive cleanup, a vast purge of everyone with whom I don't currently talk to, maybe 30. What? Would I be left with 30 fewer "friends"? I should think again...

I could follow the celebrities, writers, and journalists whose content I enjoy to try to make my newsfeed more relevant. It is not as simple as it sounds. Even if I "like" their page, there is no guarantee that I will see the content they post because of the sphinx-like algorithms they use. I could cancel my account altogether or never reaccess it and isolate myself entirely from social media. Am I brave enough to do that? No, not me, not you. The world revolves around Facebook, going out and isolating itself even more as if the pandemic is not enough. When I share something on Face, I will be lucky if my "post" is "exposed" to 10% of people.

You know what? Facebook is just not a relevant part of my life anymore. Perhaps it will never be, yet it is the life of many. It is like a social museum, where René Descartes' maxim is twisted: "I share on Facebook; therefore I exist." I exist as an observer, a "voyeur," my pleasure is to see people and their ideas, most of them contrary to mine, people I haven't seen for 5, 10, 15 years, or more. These people have grown up, got married, had children, changed their political/religious/social views several times, etc.

I usually remain silent, hoping that my existence is being observed. Silence on Facebook is not nihilism; it is a hiding place where you can watch people's world.

Facebook is a gateway to spying on the private lives of friends or not. Part of this is the fault for its bad algorithms and a horrible "user interface". Let's face it, FB is just what it has been - a friend "collector." Where it ties you to another person "online" until the end of time. Unless you decide to sever the bound, or die, or commit suicide. Divorcing from FB is not that simple, as it is always ready for reconciliations without asking questions.

Facebook should be held to account for its role in weakening democracy, promoting fascist ideas, and threatening privacy.

All social networks urgently need a major overhaul, which I am not sure will happen. Until then, "fake news" continues to get more and more sophisticated. Threatening communities worldwide and the clutter of memes, hatred, prejudice, and bias will continue to determine how we should live.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook (yes, here's the irony), and Instagram.


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