We are convinced that the largest social network company now is responsible for far more disadvantages than it offers advantages to society and its users. Social networks have connected us with friends and family worldwide, introduced many of us to new friends, allowed us to discover new topics, and given us access to news that we would otherwise have missed or overlooked.
But for some time now, we’ve been getting friend requests mostly from bots, porn or dating sites, often scam operators. The topics that are suggested to us are optimized to lead us into rabbit holes of rage, to encourage us to disagree, bicker, insult, condemn. Because that encourages more users to do the same. The news we see is not based on our interests, but on our low instincts, our most vulnerable patterns of thinking and feeling. Almost always they are tendentious and polarizing, often they are just plain wrong, in the worst cases, they are targeted disinformation by political actors who want to destabilize our greatest societal achievements.
Facebook, we need to talk
…one would like to say. But why talk to someone who doesn’t want to listen, who doesn’t want to admit mistakes, who obviously acts against his better knowledge, who sells, abuses, and squanders our data. And all of this not because it connects people in meaningful ways, but because it is meaningfully profitable. Facebook generates advertising revenue when and where society is divided, not where people emphatically connect to one another.
It’s not you, it’s us, Facebook.
We don’t like the version you’ve made of us. What your algorithms tease out of us becomes more and more our self-image, and it’s not pretty. You show us how vulnerable our brains are and how inadequate our bodies are, just to sell the products that are supposed to give us apparent self-worth for 15 min or make us more beautiful, more successful, more competitive, more powerful, or richer. Fitter for a world in which however we continue to be most vulnerable to you.
How about: NO.
All this is not worth it. Why connect people and then play them off against each other? What’s the point of a newsfeed that doesn’t explain the world but transfigures it? What is the point of building groups if you mean audiences? Why pretend you want to save the retailer around the corner, when in reality you are the biggest advertising channel for Chinese consumer junk? What’s the point of Insta-gram, Insta-Message, Insta-Shop if it only leads to Insta-bility…
You’ve opened our eyes to how ugly the online world can be. And for sure we don’t want any AR/VR variant of the offline world generated or moderated by you in front of our eyes.
Breaking-up is hard…
Relationships are a complicated thing. Network effects are the potentiation of relationships. They allowed you to grow because each new user initially makes the platform seem more interesting and valuable. Network Effects lead to lock-in effects because we feel we are leaving something behind when we leave you. As with any breakup, we are afraid of losing friends, places, memories. What if our old friends stop writing to us on WhatsApp?
Life goes on…
When breakups teach us one thing: Life goes on. It goes on and on. And it always gets better. Because we get better when we break away from dysfunctional relationships. Because there are always alternatives. Because the alternatives are usually surprisingly better than what seemed irreplaceable to us before.
We have a new one
Hey Facebook – Let’s be honest. We met someone and it’s been going on for a while. She’s not annoying, She respects our privacy, She’s not trying to sell us anything, She’s not following us around the web, She’s not selling our data, and She’s not manipulating our opinions. Her name is Signal. You wouldn’t like her. She’s a bit of a do-gooder, like non-profit style. By the way, she is the daughter of someone whose baby (WhatsApp) you once bought. Apparently, Brian isn’t too happy with the way you’re interpreting custody.
She has weird friends, too, of course. Some wacky secret service nut and a guy with a nose ring, bald head, and a feet-long beard who thinks he’s running two S&P 500 companies. Worst of all is the meme lord who talks all the time about robo-taxis and Mars rockets and some SPAC promoter who I think is your ex-boyfriend and may be one of the reasons you’re so ruined. But hey, somehow the new girl always has a strange circle of friends in the beginning and in the end, you go on vacation with them and leave your kids there.
Speaking of friends…
Hey Facebook – Let’s address the elephant in the room: Ending a relationship usually means splitting up friends. We know you have strong network effects and it won’t be easy. But we will fight for every single friend!
Network effects helped you grow and they form moats. That’s why it will annoy our mutual friends if they don’t know if I still live with you or have already moved to the new one. It’s going to be stressful for a while. But you know what? Network Effects work both ways. What grows exponentially will decay logarithmically. With every friend you lose, you become more boring. In the end, maybe even the most boring, stupid, and annoying friends will stay with you forever. Which makes you only even less attractive.
The Doppelgänger TechTalk Podcast Community on Signal
We think our friends should communicate less on Facebook and WhatsApp and exchange better on Signal or Threema. That’s why we created a listener group for the Doppelganger podcast on Signal.org. You can get the app at Signal.org. There is also a desktop web client. You’ll be surprised how many friends you have in common with the new girl.
Along the way, you can get updates from us in the group, but also pitch your questions and topics. Other users can like these ideas and signal to us that the question is particularly relevant.
See you in the Signal group!
Philipp & Philipp