"Facebook, Censorship and Community" (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)
Some might say this cartoon is extreme. Perhaps. But that's the point of cartoons and graffiti: hyperbole.
What I'm specifically addressing today is the censoring of information and the policing of social interaction.
I use Facebook a lot. I have a personal page
and my nakedpastor fan page
. Much of my traffic comes from there. There are good books
, articles and posts
available to help you manipulate the new algorithms, either by spending advertising money wisely or by learning tricks that will get your post noticed for free. I use both: money and manipulating the system. Sounds evil!
Don't get me wrong. I admit my hypocrisy. I think I know what Facebook is doing, I question it, and I still use it.
My concern is that it's part of a greater issue, and that's community.
We're being fed. Rather than determining what we will see, it's being decided for us. Facebook, in what it thinks is a helpful attempt to refine
what we see, is actually regulating
what we see. It believes it is facilitating, on our behalf, what our world does and should look like. Rather than us choosing what we like and don't like, who we should unlike, unfriend or block, it's already done before we see that which might motivate us to do so. I used to determine what my newsfeed looked like. Now I can't. I have all kinds of posts and pages and promotions in my feed that I never approved, and I know that either money or popularity got it there.
It feels a bit like the police: they say they're here to serve and protect us, but sometimes they feel like the enemy. Rather than helpers they sometimes feel like handlers.
Some are grateful that the work's done for them. I'm not because I don't like reading censored news. One might argue that at least it's not the authorities that are censoring, but the public. But do we even want that? Do we want to read the status quo
? Because we will become it! Do you want your world determined by people with money or popularity? Besides, it is the authorities that take the average opinion and require it of everyone. I don't want to be subject to that when it comes to what I read and how I socially interact. Being controlled by authorities and being controlled by society feel the same to me.
Rather than Facebook feeling like a community with an unfiltered diversity of spontaneous people with all their quirks and wonders, now it feels like an edited homogeneity of calculated ideas, products and services that are trying to influence me to be, do or buy something. As with any community (geographically, synagogues, temples, mosques, churches, organizations, groups) when it is dictated rather than organic it is no longer community.
I will still use Facebook because it helps me get my message out there. I know it takes money and manipulation to use it well. I'm conspiring with censorship.
I'm waiting for clarity on what to do about it.
(PS: Some of you might think I'm a bit paranoid and overly suspicious, and I have a confession to make: I was a little afraid to post this, wondering what Facebook might do. So you can laugh at that if you want. That's just me. Have a great day!)
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