It seems there’s only one thing that everyone, regardless of political leanings can agree on: Facebook is terrible. Furthermore, it’s a danger to our democracy and goes against everything America is supposed to stand for.

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EVERYONE HATES IT

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On the left side of politics, people hate it because it amplifies the voices of hatred, division and misinformation. On the right, especially the FAR right, they hate The ‘Book because they kicked their golden-haired God-King off the platform. The perception from the right is that FB silences conservative opinions. The left’s gripe is that Facebook does just the opposite: they promote conspiracy theories and disinformation to the detriment of a well-informed populace.

ALGORITHM

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 The big debate seems to be about the algorithms Facebook uses. I’m not so worried because I don’t know what “algorithm” means and I’m not willing to try and find out. Essentially, if a Facebook post makes you HAPPY it gets 1 point. If a post makes you ANGRY…it gets 10 points.  The more “points” a post gets, the more it gets promoted and “pushed”. It values outrage over truth. That’s a very simple, admittedly uneducated take on the situation.

CONFUSED

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I don’t get it. If EVERYBODY hates Facebook why are they so popular?  It seems most of the outrage about Facebook gets played out…ON FACEBOOK! The fact that Facebook is so popular means it’s successful, right? Facebook is ubiquitous. So much so that people think of it like a public utility. If you don’t like a TV show you just don’t watch the show. If you’ve got shitty electric service (looking at YOU, ERCOT) you don’t HAVE any option other than to complain.

COUNTRIES WITH "BEEF"

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Nobody is upset about the content Facebook puts out because they don’t make content. They’re a blank page that people are allowed to write on. And, people being people, well, some of them write some pretty horrible stuff. In the U.S. we’re complaining about an attempted coup d’état.  In Myanmar, their beef with Facebook is over a genocide.

Following this comparison of Facebook to a public utility, imagine if this same standard were applied to the “Facebook of the Victorian Era”…the TELEPHONE.  Hey, here’s this great new “platform” where you can reach out and talk to friends and family and invite other people to talk to you! It’s called “the Telephone”.  Alexander Graham Bell, the Zuckerberg of this analogy, would have been pilloried. “People are saying mean things and lying on the telephone! Bell needs to answer for all the harm his invention has caused”.

Think about it. Telephones have been used to make threats, place ransom demands and make obscene calls. NOBODY’S holding the inventor of the telephone or even the people who run it today for all the shady or disgusting things said on telephones. “Ma Bell needs to clamp down on people spreading lies on Telephone!” Asking phone operators to monitor all the calls in the world to prevent people from being awful isn’t all that dissimilar to asking Facebook to monitor its users for malicious or dishonest use of the platform. At least Facebook if FREE. You have to PAY for telephone service.

CONGRESS

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This brings us to Section 230, something you’ll be hearing a lot more about as this all-out war on Facebook heats up. Section 230 refers to the part of the Communications Decency Act.  230 says that platforms cannot be held accountable for content on their site they didn’t create themselves. It applies to Facebook, but also to Youtube, Twitter and every other platform.  Many of the Anti-Facebook-ites want this protection GONE. The idea being, if Facebook can get sued for something terrible somebody put on the platform, they’ll start cracking down on what people can say on Facebook.

Yeah…that ought to make everybody "happy."

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