Editorial: You don’t want to delete your Facebook account

Better to advocate than to vacate

Thinking about deleting your account from Facebook?

You’re not alone — the mess that Facebook has found itself in over the past few weeks has a lot of people thinking along those lines.

It’s a bad idea, though.

Social media, especially Facebook, is a powerful tool. It’s also the platform used to allow the public to comment and interact on stories published in The NEWS.

Along with showing us how fast and loose Facebook has been playing, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has shown us just what can be done with all that data social media is collecting on us — toppling governments, electing idiots and basically confusing people over what is false and what is true.

The numbers of potential Facebook deleters is not that large. According to a recent Angus Reid survey, only about 10 per cent of Canadian Facebook users are thinking about deleting or taking a break. Most are planning to change how they use the service, using it less and/or modifying their privacy settings.

Among the more high-profile people in the area to decamp is Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who recently announced she would be quitting the social media giant. Helps described Facebook as “a toxic, echo chamber where people who have anything positive to say are often in defense mode against negativity and anger.”

In many ways, social media, and the internet itself, has failed to live up to it’s initial promise to connect people and provide a space for unbridled creativity. That is still there, but commercial activity dominates and bad actors, ranging from trolls to climate change deniers and those with unacceptable political agendas have also found an audience for their antisocial ranting and attempts to confuse fact with fiction.

But removing yourself from the conversation isn’t going to help. All you are going to be doing is disenfranchising yourself; it would be better to stay in the game and demand changes to how data is collected and how it is used.

In the case of Facebook and other social media, that might mean demanding that those licence agreements they make you sign be written up in plain language, and that every time you are asked to give up data, the uses and limitations be presented, again in plain language.

That’s just one idea. You need to be part of the conversation to say what you want. But overall, what we need from the giants of social media, commerce, entertainment and information is accountability.

— Black Press

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