My safety is at risk (from tyrannical or bureaucratic government agencies) if I lose the ability to keep my personal matters private. This is historical truth bordering on scientific fact, a hypothesis that has yet to be disproven.
Privacy is safety. As such, it is not just a constitutional right, but a human right. We should be crusading for everyone on the planet to have a lot of it.
Although I consented to see ads when I joined Facebook, using ads to influence my beliefs instead of showing me products I might like isn’t what I agreed to. Manipulating people is immoral and dangerous for society, and I would never choose it, personally. Ads for products are fine. Ads promoting ideas and people…things I cannot buy…are not acceptable to me.
I feel bad for people whose businesses depend on micro-targeted ads and the powerful analytics that make them effective. But they are relying on an economic technology that has now become dangerous because of how it is being used.
Facebook has become a tool for manipulating people’s beliefs. All the good that it delivers, socially and economically, is more than offset by the damage it can do, and has done.
The lesson of 2016, now reaffirmed in 2020, is very clear: Billions of dollars of micro-targeted political influence ads are so powerful a tool for propaganda, that they can destroy truth, facts, understanding, and reasoning. We have about 50,000,000 citizens who are now disconnected from reality. It’s effectively a huge social problem we now have to deal with.
So many people believe things that aren’t real. It’s an epidemic of delusion. They do not believe the world is warming due to man-made CO2 and methane emissions. They do not believe vaccines are safe and effective as public health measures. They believe the presidential election was rigged, despite the entire system being designed to prevent exactly that possibility, plus no historical precedents, and fewer actual incidents in this election than any prior one.
Facebook the platform is a very, very serious threat to national security. The 50,000,000 deluded people are the threat. They could interfere with public health and safety. They could injure themselves. They could go on strike. And they were brought to this state of believing things that aren’t real because of micro-targeted paid content.
Although we don’t blame the gun for the murder, we still confiscate and impound it so it cannot possibly be used again. This is the fate that deservedly awaits Facebook the platform. We should take it down, completely, forever, as a preventative measure for the defense of America.
I also feel bad for Facebook the company, a little. They should have distinguished better between products and influence when selling their services. But Facebook the company is diversified, and they will be fine in the end.
People have other options to maintain social connections. They lose nothing by losing Facebook.
Businesses who depend on Facebook today will need to find their audiences on the other platforms and ecosystems, and they will. Constant adaptation is a normal, reasonable expectation to put on any business, and it always has been. Businesses that are unwilling or unable to evolve, will eventually die out. This is something economists consider to be healthy and desirable for a society.