You don’t hate Facebook. You hate loving Facebook

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I wholeheartedly support the #deleteFacebook movement. Oh, I’m keeping my account– I just think that if you’re not happy with Facebook (or any service or product), then, by all means, delete away.

That’s the beauty of free will. Yet something tells me that despite the controversy over Cambridge Analytica, Facebook will not only continue to survive but thrive. The same people deleting their accounts now will eventually return, or claim they deleted but really didn’t.

Because people are not really mad about an obscure British company taking Facebook user data and developing voter profiles to influence elections. Companies use Facebook data every day to influence you. People are mad because they love Facebook so much and thus allow this happen.

Yes, Facebook screwed up. But the vitriol and hyperbole tossed at Facebook, even from its original supporters, is disproportionate to what happened.

Let’s examine the two main charges leveled at Facebook:

Facebook compromised its users privacy

From what we know, Cambridge Analytica accessed Facebook data through a third party, in violation of Facebook’s own policies. So Facebook’s main crime was negligence.

Here’s a partial list of companies whose incompetence led to massive security breaches and data theft:

Yahoo (2013-2014) — 3 billion accounts

eBay (2014)– 145 million users

Equifax (2017)– 143 million consumers

Target (2013) — 110 million consumers

J.P. Morgan (2014)– 76 million households

Uber (2016)–  57 million users

Cambridge Analytica reportedly accessed data on 50 million Facebook users (the company attracts 2.2 billion monthly active users), including names, friend networks, and “likes.” The breach at Equifax alone compromised Social Security numbers, addresses, driver license numbers, and credit card accounts.

If we’re really worried about privacy, I’d gladly let Cambridge Analytical know my favorite television shows than my Social Security number.

Facebook manipulated U.S. elections

Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user data to help the Trump campaign. In addition, we know that Russian intelligence agents used Facebook and Twitter to spread false news stories and conspiracy theories to hurt Hillary Clinton and/or support Trump.

What the Russians didn’t do is make us believe those stories. Did the Russians make us ignorant? Did the Russians make us gullible?

Did Facebook? Perhaps to a degree. However, blaming a social media network seems a lot easier than blaming ourselves.

I’m not trying to absolve Facebook of all its actions. But we need context to truly understand what’s happening here. Blaming Facebook ignores the reality that everyone– people, government, businesses—is culpable for our cybersecurity flaws and the erosion of our democratic institutions.

Our anger towards Facebook goes beyond elections and data privacy. We’re angry that Facebook is so powerful and that we continue to give it power.

Perhaps out of habit. Perhaps out of need. Perhaps out of genuine loyalty.

We should remember, though, that we can always #deleteFacebook. And if we don’t, I’m not really sure that’s Facebook’s fault.


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