Coming Off Facebook – Again

Yes, this is the third time I have come off Facebook, and this time there is very little chance I will be using it except for the odd public advertisement for something I am involved in (Cornish language or history most likely).

I’m not going to make a song and dance of it, but I’d like to explain why, and it’s not all to do with Facebook giving our data to Cambridge Analytica, although that’s certainly a part of it, because I already guessed this would would happen when I was on Facebook the first time around (when was that, 2010?). That time I signed off with “In all conscience I cannot stay on Facebook since it means everything I do will be associated with family members and friends.”

I admit that I have a knack for spotting trouble long, long before it arrives but this was obvious to me.

The second time on Facebook was purely for IT testing purposes when I worked at Falmouth University and I never ‘used’ the account, to the annoyance of some family and friends who though I was blanking them (interesting that Facebook has this quasi-real world aspect to it).

What I never spotted was that someone genius (and I am not being facetious, it really is genius) would find a way to harvest (easy) and then perform personality matching (harder) to work out a system of nudges to change people’s minds (evil genius: I wish I’d thought of it, even though I couldn’t manipulate people this way).

That is the reason why I will never have anything to do with mass social media again. Ever. I have seen, first hand, my friends and relatives manipulated through peer pressure (willing and unwilling) and nudged through propaganda to take ever more strident political positions. I cannot see how well natured debate or democracy can function in a cloud of trolling and hysteria.

As Scotty of the Enterprise would say, “Captain! We have a problem!”