Everyone Hates Facebook (but this is more than just about Facebook)
“And my timelines lit up in a rare unity, the left and right, the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick, all pleading and nodding and saying, yes, yes please, please do that.” - Adam Dalliance
Well, it’s official, everybody hates Facebook.
But why we hate it matters. As does what we intend to do about it.
Good reasons to hate Facebook:
Bad reasons to hate Facebook:
Because it doesn’t censor the things your government wants it to.
Because it did censor your favourite neo-Nazi.
Because you want to create the next Facebook and be just as evil as they are but they’re standing in your way. (I’m looking at you VCs and startups, you know who you are.)
So, we all agree that Facebook is a problem.
Some for the right reasons, some for the wrong ones…
But this is not just about Facebook: it’s about any corporation that has the same business model as Facebook. The business model I call “people farming.”
So it’s about Google too. And Snapchat. And TikTok. And, and, and, and… (this is the business model of mainstream technology today.)
So we have a bigger – systemic – problem on our hands. (Ooh, fun!) And it seems everyone has some idea or other about how we should do things differently moving forward.
Bad ways forward
Recreate Facebook but in Europe.
Recreate Facebook but in fucking web3.
Make Facebook share its data with other people farmers so more people farmers can farm you for your data (try saying that quicky five times).
And yes, this really is exactly the EU Commission’s current hair-brained strategy because they can’t think beyond markets and antitrust.
Good ways forward
Support current non-commercial federated alternatives (the “fediverse”), where there already are viable alternatives to Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Support current non-commercial and single-tenant alternatives for individuals like Owncast for online video streaming.
Watch the recordings of Small is Beautiful, our monthly live stream at Small Technology Foundation, to find out more about the current state of my work on the Small Web.
Hating Facebook is all well and good but please let’s not forget that this is not just about Facebook. It’s about people farming in general.
If Facebook goes away tomorrow but another Facebook takes its place, we won’t have won anything.
So please let’s make sure we understand the differences between the various alternatives and pick the ones that will result in meaningful progress in protecting our personhood and democracy.
(Hint: look at the intent behind an organisation/project. Is it to make a billion dollars or to protect human rights and democracy? And yes, no matter what the capitalists tell you, the two goals are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive.)