Here are the most clear-cut reasons I deleted my Facebook account. These Facebook practices triggered ethical considerations that helped decide on a path forward that would bring me, personally, more well-being.
- Systematically using methods to encourage addictive behavior .
- Allowing verbal abuse and sexual harassment on its platform under the guise of ‘free speech’, effectively silencing many voices.
- Generally using dark patterns to coerce people to disclose more data about themselves.
- Collecting extensive amounts of deeply personal data for the benefit of their customers, the advertisers who can target vulnerable users with concerning precision. For example: Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling ‘insecure’ and ‘worthless’. Their use of the data is furthermore often reckless, such as when Facebook recommended that this psychiatrist’s patients friend each other.
- Not assuming responsibility for — and providing no transparency around — the many content moderators hired to police their platforms and spend their working days watching severe violence against animals and humans, including murder and bestiality.
Alas, based on my own values and insights I want to feel better about what platforms and services I support by using them. There are many companies with unethical practices, but in the end the insights brought to light about Facebook crossed the line for what I am willing to accept too many times. In accordance with my own messaging around digital compassion it finally became impossible to motivate why I had an account.
Best thing is that well over a month since I deactivated the account (I have since deleted it) I did not miss it for a second.
I will not judge people who stay on the platform. We all make choices about what makes us feel better or worse. In my case I do a great deal of introspection and the only path forward for me became very clear. I encourage everyone to figure out their own values and goals, care about their own well-being as well as the well-being of others, and choose their own path.
The most common reason I hear people stay with the service is for the groups, and fear of missing out. If that’s the case for you, you may want to have a look at some Ethical alternatives and resources for messaging and collaboration.
Always remember, though, that what we want doesn’t always make us happy.
I’ll end with a list of reference links for anyone who wants more detail on what I am referring to above.
1) On encouraging addictive behavior
“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators – me, Mark [Zuckerberg], Kevin Systrom on Instagram, all of these people – understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
- Why Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook Are So Successful: Behavioral Economists Point Out This 1 Key | Inc.com
- Designing Emotion: How Facebook Affordances Give Us The Blues – Cyborgology
- Facebook admits it poses mental health risk – but says using site more can help | Technology | The Guardian
- ‘Never get high on your own supply’ – why social media bosses don’t use social media | Media | The Guardian
- The scientists who make apps addictive | 1843
- Tech addiction • Look beyond the word — it’s about human well-being • axbom.blog
2) Free speech abuse
“A world in which no one’s voice was silenced but the public square was flooded with hate and disinformation would not represent a triumph of free speech.”
- Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence | News | The Guardian
- Facebook isn’t free speech, it’s algorithmic amplification optimized for outrage
- The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women – The Atlantic
- How Social Media Can Silence Instead Of Empower
- Facebook and Free Speech Are Different Things | Knight First Amendment Institute
3) Dark patterns
“Dark UX patterns help companies maximize profits, but at the expense of the most vulnerable, and by damaging the web for everyone.”
- Study calls out ‘dark patterns’ that push users towards less privacy
- The report Deceived by Design (PDF), by Forbrukerrådet. How tech companies use dark patterns to discourage us from exercising our rights to privacy
- Dark patterns Facebook uses to stop you from deleting data
- Privacy Zuckering – A Type of Dark Pattern
- Are Notifications A Dark Pattern? | Designlab
- Facebook Got Caught Phishing For Friends | Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Facebook responds to senators’ questions on location tracking policy
- How Dark UX Patterns Target The Most Vulnerable | Webdesigner Depot
4) Privacy and targeting
“Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users.”
- How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met
- Facebook tracks everything you type even if you DON’T post the update or comment | Daily Mail Online
- How Facebook Is Giving Sex Discrimination in Employment Ads a New Life | American Civil Liberties Union
- Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling ‘insecure’ and ‘worthless’ | Technology | The Guardian
- Facebook apologises over ‘cruel’ Year in Review clips | Technology | The Guardian
- Facebook apologizes for showing baby product ads to woman who lost her child – CNET
- Facebook confirms 419m phone numbers exposed in latest privacy lapse | Technology | The Guardian
- Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How
- Facebook recommended that this psychiatrist’s patients friend each other
- Eric Meyer on Twitter. Facebook suggested his daughter’s passing as a “moment to remember”. He was invited to talk to the design team. Then it happened again.
- * Josh Constine’s thread on Twitter. Facebook has allowed so many worst-case scenarios to come true there’s too many to count, but I’m going to try *deep breath*
- Facebook and the endless string of worst-case scenarios
5) The Facebook moderator experience
“The panic attacks started after Chloe watched a man die. She spent the past three and a half weeks in training, trying to harden herself against the daily onslaught of disturbing posts: the hate speech, the violent attacks, the graphic pornography.”
- Underpaid and overburdened: the life of a Facebook moderator | News | The Guardian
- Bodies in Seats. Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions – The Verge
- Bestiality, Stabbings, and Child Porn: Why Facebook Moderators Are Suing the Company for Trauma – VICE
- The Trauma Floor – The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America – The Verge
Finally, here’s a video on how to export and download all your Facebook data.