It’s no coincidence that the best film from the 2010s was — according to Quentin Tarantino and myself — David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” At the time, the movie’s depiction of the protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), seemed a bit over-the-top. Today it feels like they held back. The inherent evils of Zuckerberg’s monstrosity have been evident for years; a solution cannot be delayed any longer.
Following the testimony of whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, we’ve learned a great deal about what Zuckerberg and his company are doing. Haugen declared that “Facebook can change, but is clearly not going to do so on its own” and that Congress can limit Facebook’s ability to cause harm by changing the rules. I disagree — Congress cannot stop this social media giant and its conniving CEO. Only the people can do that, and it requires one step: hit delete.
Additionally, Haugen said “During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth: Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook.” She also stated that Facebook hides information from the public, the U.S. government and other governments; that it uses algorithms to exploit teens’ insecurities, like exposing them to anorexia content; and that the website is “fanning ethnic violence” in places like Ethiopia. She put her career on the line to expose Facebook’s abominable footprint.
That being said, I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is vile. Nor do I think that he’s had malicious intent in constructing his spectacularly successful corporation. Good for him for making that much money; it’s what capitalism is all about. And I do agree with him on one point: It is wrong to regulate what can or cannot be said on a social network — though this doesn’t mean that Congress shouldn’t pass privacy and anti-monopoly legislation, it absolutely should. My refusal to accept the stifling of free speech in social media — a topic for another article — is why I think people need to take matters into their own hands. We need to draw on capitalism’s greatest strength: choice.
Whoever you are, whatever your age or ethnicity, various social media outlets play a leviathan role in how you and others interpret the world. There’s Twitter, Snapchat, Telegram, Pinterest, TikTok, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube and even LinkedIn for the more career-inclined. There’s Instagram and WhatsApp, two that belong to Facebook, Inc, which is now called Meta after a rebrand. Those are toxic in a throng of ways too. But Facebook itself is the belle of the ball. It started an information revolution; if another data revolution is coming, the second one would – and should – begin with Facebook’s demise. I promised myself that I wouldn’t reference the movie beyond a nod of recognition to its artistic brilliance, as it is widely inaccurate in numerous regards. However, one of Aaron Sorkin’s masterly lines is fitting. It’s a prescient remark from Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg, in which he says that “Users are fickle. Friendster has proved that. Even a few people leaving would reverberate through the entire user base. The users are interconnected.” Should a fraction of Facebook’s users choose to leave it, the company would be forced to make changes without Congress getting involved.
According to a study conducted by the University of Colorado, Facebook is more of a breeding ground for misinformation and lies than other social media sites like Twitter, and those belonging to the far-left or right are more prone to sharing those lies. Other investigations have shown that as well, and the results have been published on websites like Forbes and Business Insider. Time is of the essence; these falsehoods permeate the brain slowly, one by one. Lies about the vaccine. Lies about the election. Even lies about insurrections. Suddenly, society’s fabric has ruptured and there’s no way to sew it back together. We’re not there yet, though. It’s not too late to turn back.
I’m not asking you to banish social media from your life; that would be impossible and short-sighted. I’m not advocating for Twitter’s supremacy; former President Trump caused plenty of damage there too. I’m asking you to think about how you might replace Facebook.
Something needs to change. Whether you use Facebook or not is a personal choice. Just know this – clicking the blue application with the unmistakable white “F” does not make you smarter. It does not make you freer. It does not make you informed. Instead, it isolates you, both from your friends and family. And from reality. You may not notice it now; the deception sneaks up on you. One innocent movement of your finger generates a distortion of the world you knew. The QAnon believers probably didn’t know what they were getting into at first. Like the proverbial boiling frog, it’s easy to trust the things that happen slowly and quietly. The kool-aid does not come in a thermos; it comes as a droplet.
If you want improved mental health, and if you want our society to get better, delete Facebook. This is not a partisan issue. Politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that Facebook is a more aggressive sort of technological cancer than anything we’ve seen before. We might never know the extent of this website’s loathly decisions. The ripple effect has been felt from Ethiopia to Russia. And the response needs to come from you. It’s quite simple: Hit delete.
Miguel Calle is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.