Thursday, November 16, 2017

Facebook-Free Friday

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 3:18 PM

I enjoy Facebook. I really do. I find myself there every day I'm near a computer, usually many times a day. I very much enjoy watching the children of young families (and I'm of an age when most families are young) growing up. I also enjoy mixing it up with smart people who keep me and everyone else honest, until ad hominem attacks start flying, that is, at which time I leave the scene. I like putting my Range posts up so people who don't visit the Weekly site regularly can link to what I'm writing if they're interested. I can do without the "This is what I'm eating" and "This is what I look like an hour after the last time I showed you what I looked like" posts. I scroll past those quickly. No harm, no foul.

But Facebook is also a stinking cesspool of misinformation and propaganda. No matter your political or social viewpoint, you'll find posts designed to make you hate others who are on the other side of an issue, and even hate people who don't care about it quite as passionately as you do. Evil forces did everything they could to use Facebook to undermine our last elections, with the Russian government leading the way. Today we learned Britain's Brexit vote was most likely tainted by the same hands in the same way, which lots of us suspected already. And Zuckerberg & Co. aren't doing a whole lot to fix things.

There's not much I can do to change Facebook. I can protest by taking my page down and exiting the virtual gathering place entirely, but that wouldn't accomplish much of anything except rob me of a little bit of pleasure. So I've decided to make a token protest. I have declared every Friday will be Facebook-Free Friday. Nobody cares that I won't be hanging around Friday, least of all Mark Zuckerberg. But I have a feeling, if Zuckerberg saw his numbers drop dramatically Friday as part of a one-day-a-week boycott, he'd make an effort to fix the problems driving people away. He's no fool. He understands his empire is built on people showing up. If they decide to leave en masse, he's got nothing.

There's no way to get all the bad actors off Facebook. They'll find ways of coming back no matter what you do to block them. But I know this. If an employee came to Zuckerberg and told him he'd make an extra few billion a year if he cut out 80 percent of the truly damaging material on Facebook, he'd put a hundred of his best people on it right away who would use their super-human coding skills to detect nefarious postings, and he'd put a thousand people on monitoring duty to clean up what algorithms can't accomplish on their own. He'd advertise easy-to-use, emoji-driven ways for users to report problems to his thousand monitors who could evaluate the suspect pages and see whether or not they're real problems. He'd tell the people he's assigned to the job, "Keep making it better. Report to me daily. Get it done. I want those billions!" Facebook would become a better, safer place, guaranteed. Where there's a will, the brilliant, creative people Zuckerberg surrounds himself with would find a hundred ways.

If he could improve Facebook for a couple billion bucks, he can do it because it's the proper moral, patriotic thing to do. He's making a token effort now. He needs something to focus his mind. Nothing is weaker than the feeble strength of this one person leaving Facebook one day a week. But for me, it feels better than doing nothing. And if others do it . . .

(Next: Twitter Turnoff Tuesday?)

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