When is the right time to leave Facebook?
Zuckerberg isn’t an AI Powered android, but he might be The Matrix.
Jose Antonio Morales
The infamous algorithm and its alignment to FaceBook’s business model, is pushing me to conclude that Facebook is becoming less useful every day.
The FB bubble burst for me recently. It happened when reading about the sudden massive adoption of Signal as a replacement for WhatsApp. Check Wired’s article about this situation.
While switching to Signal, I could not avoid connecting two dots: the way the Wikimedia Foundation works and the way Signal works:
“Signal is an independent nonprofit. We’re not tied to any major tech companies, and we can never be acquired by one either. Development is supported by grants and donations from people like you.”
“The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation provides the essential infrastructure for free knowledge. We host Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, created, edited, and verified by volunteers around the world, as well as many other vital community projects. All of which is made possible thanks to donations from individuals like you. We welcome anyone who shares our vision to join us in collecting and sharing knowledge that fully represents human diversity.”
— Wikimedia Foundation.
Both organizations abandoned the traditional way of doing business. Instead, they both chose to be backed by public funding and contributions from users to cover their expenses and justify their existence.
Profit isn’t a motivator; the values they share with their customers are.
In contrast, Facebook needs to provide features to incentivize its users to stay online producing content. It is a carrot and the stick situation. I guess FB shareholders also play the carrot and stick game with FB’s team.
FB offers me a free platform to communicate what I do and allows me to communicate my business’ value proposition. So far, so good.
But then I see that posting information on Facebook doesn’t necessarily help me capture the attention of potential customers. Paying ads works better of course. That makes sense, obviously it is a business.
So many people pay for ads that every day that passes, it gets more challenging to reach the desired audience. Add to that the fact that most of us dislike advertisements (paid or free posts).
Suddenly we are trapped, we feel like something is wrong and we need to improve.
Therefore we are led to believe that we must pay more for ads, improve our content quality to adapt to the algorithm, perpetuating that way a never-ending process of spending time and money to get fewer results each time.
We pay attention to improving our use of the platform instead of taking time to talk with real customers.
“We think we are working on our content strategy, while FB focuses on getting more from our work.”
I hate the idea of being lured into a hamster wheel.
I could add one more argument to leave Facebook, and it is the way they use our data. But I’m sure you know more about that than me.
Facebook has become a massive farm of hamster wheels that harvests their users’ energy and hopes to get more money and power. Oh! Oh! I’ve seen this before (*):
In the past, I thought FB was offering kind of a win-win scenario. They get money from my work, but I get closer to people and potential customers. But that doesn’t work anymore for me, let me explain.
Part of my Facebook network lives in Peru, my family members and most of my youth friends. Some months ago, my native country went through a divisive political crisis, and the posts on FB were like wood to the fire.
I decided to ignore those contents, avoid commenting, and even in some cases, I decided to stop following some of the most incendiary persons posting conspiracy theories (just a few).
Amazingly, soon after, my newsfeed stopped showing posts from most of my Peruvian friends. I guess that the algorithm assumed I’m no longer interested in content from Peru, so it stopped serving information matching that filter.
Obviously, the algorithm failed to detect I care about posts from my Peruvian contacts, but not about politics and division.
Today, my newsfeed displays an excess of commercial info I don’t care about, some posts from close friends, and that’s it.
So I wonder if the same happens to all FB users, they see progressively less exciting information, post less content (because only a few can see their content), will they leave the platform?
I would sign in immediately to a FaceBook alternative that works under similar principles to the Wikimedia Foundation and Signal.
In the meantime, I believe in building newsletter audiences and keep improving my content while accelerating my way out from Facebook apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram. This post is my first step.
When, in a democracy, everybody talks at the same time, we just get noise, and no body can listen, that Democracy becomes dysfunctional. FB is no longer about communication, it is about profitting from the noise.
(*)Do you remember the refference I made earlier about The Matrix? Now read what FB About page says:
January 28, 2021, screenshot from https://about.fb.com
Jose Antonio Morales