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on quitting Facebook


Remember Facebook’s mood experiment? It must have been around that time I started making steps towards ending my stay there. I felt unhappy with the idea that my social network updates would be reordered as per machine understanding.

This might take some explaining.

Facebook’s news feed algorithm is super complex. It considers your past actions on the site in fine detail. It also estimates individual “performance” of each post you could be seeing, and tries to offer you the most “engaging” stuff - something that results in an action (click, like, share). All the time. Every time.

Let me rewrite that. It considers my interests, habits, circumstances, past reactions, and matches them to performance estimates on each post of yours I could be seeing. If yours doesn’t look like “engaging” content, it’s replaced by something that looks “engaging”. Like cat videos, psychedelic gifs, clicktivism, baby photos. Or something else they thought appropriate for me to look at. For infinitely long.

Who codes these things?

The content you and I post goes into a pool of stuff to show to our contacts. Along with ads. What pool the ads go in is not so clear. Watch this talk and wait for the presenter’s generous slips that give away Facebook’s understanding of content. Everything is a story - paid or not. Stories battle it out for prominence in a comparatively scarce number of slots.

OK so the news feed is a filter bubble (the last thing an artist needs). Obfuscated this conveniently, there’s no saying what is of my genuine interest, or if someone paid Facebook to consider me interested in a piece of content. If content you and I post, or want to see, is replaced, hidden (not pushed down), this is a big issue. The effect is even greater if one hasn’t “trained” their Facebook (and I’m no fool to reveal my every interest to an advertiser), which explains why my news feed was getting weirder than TV.

Then there are my connections, virtually owned by Facebook.

  • Want to email an old contact? Many don't list their addresses.
  • Want to message a fan through my artist page? Can only reply, not send a new one.
  • In fact, getting a list of who actually likes the Esem page is inaccessible via normal ways, but a similar list is buried behind a hundred clicks in Preferences, so at least that’s something.

People get paid to code these services :|

Facebook’s and my long term goals are so vastly different, it just took a while to notice, and a whole lot longer to quit. Facebook inserts itself between me and my contacts, between my music and its audience, and between interesting content and my eyes, muting and reordering things for its own interest, not mine. It substitutes half-arsed one-way Likes for genuine interaction between people. It distracts us from creating.

Facebook don't sell ads. They sell the users. You and me.

All of this, and thinking about this, was taking up too much of my time, attention, energy, and siphoning away precious focus that I could have used for, say, remastering Scateren or Enveloped, or finishing a new piece of music. So I took myself off it. Life is now a full 2% more boring, and that feels infinitely better at this time.

p.s. if you wish to get in touch - please do, by emailing.

p.p.s This utterly soul-crushing comment. I'll leave you to click through. Let that sink in. (from here, top.) That is all.

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