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Why I don’t use Facebook products

Date published: 2020-10-21

Facebook products, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are designed to cause fights between people, by delaying notifications and messages, so they are “drip-fed” to you. This keeps your attention on Facebook, and also gives you quick dopamine rushes, also known as dopamine-driven feedback loops. This is why many people have trouble stopping themselves from checking and using Facebook.

You will never see the same feed as your friends, because the feed is designed for you, by AI that learns from how long you look at pictures, where you click, where you stopped scrolling, what private messages you have sent, which websites you’ve visited, your volume and battery levels, your screen size, what computers are on your network, and many more.

Facebook collects all of this information to create a profile of you. Well, actually, Facebook’s AI is creating this profile of you, so it knows what content to feed you, and when to show you it. It knows when you are most active, so it has an accurate idea of when you will check your phone. Facebook’s AI-driven nature not only sucks your attention and gets you addicted, it’s also all being sold to make Facebook money. This was their initial business model.

Facebook has been designed to lock you in so well that you feel isolated when you leave it, or even think of leaving it. Friends may also question you for leaving Facebook, like it’s something mandatory that you should be using. This is really messed up (I’m happy my friends and family are not like this haha).

Personal homepages, forums, email list subscriptions, BBSs, IRC chatrooms, texting, hell, even Myspace helped keep the internet community-oriented. Remember when everyone could write basic HTML? Facebook ruined that. We weren’t meant to be shoved into a room full of people we hate. Do you really want to connect with your high school bully on Facebook? I know I don’t.

Remember when you didn’t have to take pictures every 10 minutes to post on Facebook and wait for the dopamine rush of “Likes” and replies? I do. It was when I used to send super funny image messages through SMS (or is it MMS that sends pictures?) to friends whom I actually wanted to see the picture. Not my high school bullies or someone I met at some conference for two seconds who asked “Hey, can I add you on Facebook?”. It’s stressful to say “no” to an in-person “friend request”, like we just used to assume that we were, there was no initiation or deletion of friends.

Why does an “unfriend” on Facebook have to cause so much drama? What if you just want to cut down the amount of people who are viewing photos you are posting online? Oh, I know why: someone wants to keep you on their platform using peer pressure, stress, and drip-feed dopamine hits.

There were no monoliths that were sucking our attention. If we didn’t want to go on that niche forum about building sweet bike setups, we weren’t hassled with notifications that give us vague ideas of what was going on, such as “Sherry replied to your message, click here to see!”. If they wanted to show us the message, they would show it. Why do I have to go into the website if you you went into the trouble of emailing or notifying me that something happened? Why didn’t you show me it in the email or notification?

Facebook spreads news on your feed not only based on your AI-driven profile, but also what information people pay to show on your Facebook feeds.

If you want “proof” of all of this, I’m sorry, I’m not going through the trouble of this. You can find it anywhere online, you can find it all out by watching “The Social Dilemma” (Or read this post on why The Social Dilemma only tells half the story or “Snowden” (Or read his book “Permanent Record”, which covers way more details) on Netflix or wherever.

If you are looking for “less dangerous” social software for your mind, I definitely recommend checking out some of the following links:

A lot of these services follow the same protocol called “ActivityPub”. Each service can be hosted by anyone, and everyone’s servers can connect and communicate with each other. This means, for example, if someone posted a picture on a PixelFed server, then someone on a Mastodon server could see that picture post, because, underneath, they are all communicating using the same protocol.

Others, such as IRC, Matrix, and XMPP don’t follow that protocol, but follow the same idea in that anyone could host an IRC, XMPP, or a Matrix server. In fact, I run a small IRC server for close friends or family!

The cool thing about using standardized protocols is that there are so many clients to choose from. For example, I’m using a chat client to connect to IRC servers called Pidgin (or Adium, the macOS version). I like it because it reminds me of the old MSN Messenger, ICQ, or AOL Instant Messenger interfaces. It’s really fun!

One cool thing about the Fediverse is you can have different, non-AI-driven feeds. You can choose to only view the local feed from the people on your server, you can view a default feed which includes people from your server and people you follow, and you can choose to view the federated feed, which is a feed of posts from people from all different ActivityPub services, such as Mastodon, PeerTube, PixelFed, Funkwhale, etc.

Because the people who are working on all of this software are doing it on their free time, if you ever run into bugs or anything, you can let them know, or ask someone on the Fediverse to tell them about it to fix it. And because it’s all Free-licensed and open-source software, everyone can contribute to the software be it documentation, programming, suggestions, etc.

This interconnected, mesh-like concept is the exact same as email. You pick an email provider, but because all email providers are using the same protocols under the hood, such as POP3, SMTP, and IMAP, they can all communicate with each other. This is called decentralization. This is why email services, such as Outlook, Gmail, Riseup, Protonmail, Fastmail, HEY, etc. can communicate with each other.

Using standard protocols is also why phone calls, SMS, and physical mail work. If we didn’t have protocols for communicating, then we would be no better than Facebook!

In case you glazed over it, because I sure did writing this, have a look at this guide to the Fediverse link I posted above. It explains in much better detail about how it all works.

Anyway, that makes for a long, disorganized rant. Oh well, it feels good to be able to be myself on the internet. You should try it sometime.