Wed. Jul 8th, 2020

The News Signal

Beyond Words

Opinion | Clean Up Your Act, Facebook, or We’re Leaving

2 min read
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“I really cannot stand them at all,” said a leader of a medium-size company that gets a lot of its leads on Facebook. But while he worries about the damage Facebook is doing to society, he added, “I am going to keep marketing there because I have no choice.”

No choice — that’s certainly why Starbucks did not get rid of its page on Facebook, where it posts content to close to 36 million followers. (Today, for example, you can “start off your day with Cold Brew!”) I don’t blame Starbucks or Coca-Cola or anyone with a business to run for not bailing on Facebook totally; all marketers need Facebook (and its Instagram unit) to operate in today’s media environment.

But I don’t need you, since I am pretty sure that being on Facebook has never helped me at all.

So, it is time to go. After years of inertia, and not much use of Facebook, this week I finally took the first big steps toward leaving, deactivating my personal page and unpublishing my brand page. This was a many-click process in which my decision was questioned by Facebook’s pop-ups a lot more than I wanted my decision to be questioned (ARE YOU SURE? ARE YOU REALLY SURE?). I’m likely soon enough to delete the pages altogether, along with my Instagram account, once I figure out what to do with the material living there like boxes in a digital attic.

As I deactivated, I was asked by Facebook why I was doing it, and I picked “other” from a long menu of reasons, many of which I would have clicked if I could have chosen more than one, including: I have a privacy concern; I don’t feel safe on Facebook; I don’t find Facebook useful.

This column — and the deactivation of my account — is my way of cleaning up my world. But to say I am confident that you, Mark Zuckerberg, will do your part to clean up the rest of the world would be something of an overstatement. Facebook’s still high stock price and your complete control over the company means you can and will continue to do as you please.

And since you are not my kid — yes, I know, lucky you! — there is little I can do about it. Yet I do hope for progress, however painful it is for Facebook, its advertisers and the rest of us.

Already this week, other big platforms have started to make long overdue changes in content policy, including banning an out-of-control Trump community (Reddit) and temporarily suspending Mr. Trump’s account due to “hateful content” (Twitch).

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