I joined Facebook soon after it started, back in 2004. It seemed like a wonderful idea, setting up a community, communicating easily with friends and colleagues. Less work than a blog, more charming than email or text messages. In 2008 I left. It is not so easy to get out of that cobweb. But I managed. And some of my friends and colleagues did the same. I forgot about it, didn’t need it for anything. Then recently it became clear that facebook isn’t just annoying and useless but it is really evil.¬†Barack Obama warned that Facebook and Twitter were becoming a threat to democracy.

We become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

There was a time people wrote letters. With a pen, on paper, or perhaps one of those airmail sheets. I still have many in a shoebox. Some people wrote wonderful letters. My grandmother’s were the best, they were written as one single phrase without punctuation. She was a wonderful person. You couldn’t write to many people at the same time, it was 1 on 1 communication. Now we send bulk emails, we write on blogs, we are on facebook or instagram, and that means we are not addressing any particular person. In this post I am addressing all facebook users, some 2.5 billion. They won’t read this. But maybe a few dozen close friends will. Many of them are sensible people who have already quit facebook, or perhaps never joined it. And maybe a handful will think about it.

One of the problems with facebook is that it’s a pernicious addiction, worse than alcohol, gambling or smoking. This requires some clarification. First the addiction is pernicious in the sense that it is very difficult to leave it. There are some friends there, you don’t want to lose sight of them, there are some people who write nice texts, they give you solace, entertainment and even information. Second it’s pernicious because facebook is pernicious. Now you don’t read all the garbage and nonsense of course, and you have blocked everybody who disturbs your peace. You’re in control.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

You are of course fully aware that people like Trump and Bolsonaro only tell lies and call the truth fake news. But are you aware that many of your friends may also be spreading incorrect things (or nonsense) without realising it? Do you check facts? Do you read high standard news that makes a clear distinction between fact and opinion?


  • misinformation: facebook is the biggest storehouse of fake news, false news, misinformation
    • do you think you know how to ignore it? you’re wrong! it will brainwash you and get under your skin
    • facebook allows dangerous pseudoscientific health cults to thrive
  • do you think you can make a difference being on facebook?
    • for that you have to shell out large sums of money
    • a non-paying facebook member is only a target of sales
    • the only people you reach are those who already share your views
  • invasion of privacy
    • facebook is the baddest of all big brothers
    • facebook knows everything about you and sells it to any party
  • fallacy of communication
    • communication on facebook is very shallow, why not write to people personally
  • zuckerberg is a horrible guy. his operation is completely profit-driven. he has shown time and again that he doesn’t care for fighting misinformation

Shira Ovide says in the NY Times of June 16, 2020:

Mark Zuckerberg likes to say that Facebook does more good than harm in the world…¬†Without Facebook or a digital hangout like it, we might never have seen the video¬†of George Floyd pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer…¬†But … in the Phillipines Facebook has been weaponized by powerful people to vilify and harass their enemies, and where the social network has contributed to a poisoned atmosphere in which even basic facts are in doubt. It is in poorer countries without strong democratic institutions where the good but also the harm of Facebook has been magnified… Every time I think something positive about Facebook, I also hold in my mind the profound damage the company has done ‚ÄĒ and that too should be an indelible part of Zuckerberg‚Äôs legacy.

Facebook and other social network apps are supposed to create communities, but in reality they create communities of hatred and thereby polarise societies. By staying in facebook you contribute to that. Probably you are part of social circles of people that think alike, and in which the antagonism to those thinking differently is augmented rather than diminished.

much of all this applies to twitter etc

I try to avoid Whatsapp as it is owned by Facebook. Some¬†whatsappers seem not to use email or txt-messages, and especially for them I haven’t closed down my whatsapp account. Probably I will shortly.