Facebook’s Political Stance

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Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

Earlier this year, I deleted my personal Facebook page. I don’t have a highly detailed explanation for why. At the macro level, the company is just flat out evil. They are in no small part responsible for getting the literal dumbest person alive elected president by creating a platform that allows racist conspiracy theories and fear mongering to flourish. It harvests and owns massive amounts of information from users around the world, and is increasingly secretive about how it uses the data and who it sells it to. Big brother is here, it was invented by a horny Ivy League college bro as a way to be creepy to women, and now we voluntarily give it all of our information.

At the micro level, it’s a useless time suck. Once, a post from a dude who I barely knew from a newspaper job I had left about eight years ago showed up in my feed. He was defending the homophobia of one of the Duck Dynasty idiots, and lamenting the death of free speech because the cable network that aired the show was canceling it as a result. For some reason, I commented. Then he commented. Then I ended up spending half a day arguing with a person I didn’t like in the first place, who I talked to MAYBE twice in my life and will never interact with again.

I should disclose here that I’m a hypocrite. I still have an Instagram account. Which is owned by Facebook. So I’m a stereotypical millennial clout chaser. And I have a Twitter account because as a freelancer, it helps me pretend that I have an audience for things I write.

For my day job, I work in communications. And I work for a nonprofit that has a Facebook page that I manage. So I, A. still have a ghost Facebook account with no content on it to manage my employer’s page, and B. routinely have to listen to people incredulously ask, “You work in communications and you’re NOT on Facebook?”

Earlier this month, I posted information about the state of Michigan loosening eligibility requirements for people to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps). The loosened requirements were set to go into effect November 1. The post I wrote encouraged people who have previously been denied for SNAP or thought they wouldn’t be eligible to call my organization’s SNAP coordinators and get help re-applying. I sponsored the post, it was approved by Facebook, and it ran for a few days.

Then, Michigan pushed back the implementation date to December 1. I deleted the original post and re-posted the EXACT SAME PREVIOUSLY APPROVED TEXT with only the date changed. Facebook denied the ad because it said it violated their policy on political advertising.

As luck would have it, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg articulated highlights of their political advertising policy while bumbling through responses to questions from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the House of Representatives earlier this month. Among the highlights, he said Facebook probably wouldn’t take down political ads that contained lies.

So Facebook will take a very hands-off approach to ads that could have blatant lies in them that could swing elections, but they will disallow an ad (a version of which they’d allowed only a few days previously) from a food bank explaining how low income people can possibly get help buying food. Add in how the platform influenced Trump’s election, Zuckerberg’s friendly dinner parties with far right pundits, his open criticism of Elizabeth Warren to Facebook staff, and it’s pretty plain to see that Facebook has an overt political agenda.

In short, Facebook sucks. The few examples in this rant only scratch the surface of how useless and evil it is. Deleting it has made my life happier. I hope more people delete it.

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