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Fie on you Facebook, at last

October 7, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

With all the charm of a banshee, I have predicted for years that, one day, the Internet will implode, trumpeting the warning that this earth’s people are far too reliant on the invisible monster we have created to control us.

As I read it on Tuesday, 3.4 billion people were without Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram when those platforms shut down for six hours. So, for six hours or so, the love, the chat, the business – the harm, the bullying and the filth – all ground to a halt and there was pandemonium. 

Meanwhile, at the panic centre of it all was within the vast circus of folk that make Facebook happen was a frenzy of trying to turn it all back on. They could not resolve or even understand the causes of the outage nor why a re-boot, as it were, wasn’t possible until finally, some bright spark accessed a solution. The beginning of the saga even saw them lock out of their buildings.

Ah, to have been a witness to the shambles – Mark running around in one of his favourite hoodies – shouting at people – “Well, just FIND OUT WHAT’S WRONG!!”

Must have been worth the inconvenience for lots of people but because I am not an online person more than necessary, I haven’t seen the memes….

Then there was the aftermath that threw billion-dollar numbers around about how much poor Mark lost through the debacle. As if it mattered – theories like that are bubbles. What he “lost” in six hours he will regain times 10 in the next few days… 

To add to the story, along comes Frances Haugen to accuse Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook of indulging the addiction, polarizing, hate-posts, etc., rather than dealing with them because “fear and anger are more attractive. It is easier to make a person angry than it is to make them happy and there is more money, more advertising on the provocative sites than otherwise; to dumb down the harm that is done on Facebook is to lose Facebook millions of dollars.”

Ms. Haugen is putting herself in – what kind of danger one never knows until it happens – by explaining to the US Senate subcommittee and other US government bodies, “If Facebook changed the algorithm to be safer, they would lose money.”

The executive structure of Facebook is unique in the tech world, in that founder, Mark Zuckerberg holds over 55% of the voting shares and is CEO and the Chairman of Facebook. The list goes on of the thousands of documents and the information Ms. Haugen has brought forward and the likes of me can only cheer and congratulate her bravery and moral sense of what is harm.

It is not only – well, where to begin? The interference in international and American politics, the willingness to assist in insurrection (like the attack on the US Capital on January 6) but further, according to Ms. Haugen’s evidence, in other countries as well.

Not only the big picture of making money by stirring up polarizing rhetoric online but also to the deeply harmful influence of Facebook on young people – on children – suicides, depression, the kind of peer pressure many of us would struggle to understand or even be aware of them.

There are many monsters. Historically, there have always been many monsters. It seems that is not hard – through the simple corruption of wealth and power – to create a monster of a human being. The difference in this day and age is the fantastical (which I mean not as praise but as something quite extreme) and – so it seems, overwhelming – influence and power of the Internet.

Meaning the time it takes to create a monster is much less than it used to be, before access to every person on earth became easy…

For a long time, I have blamed our idea of entertainment on the kind of violence we experience in the real world and that complaint is accentuated now. So many movies, so many internationally engaged online war games – played by youngsters – played by adults – all the fictional killing – a grown man talking to me about it one time: “I join in with teams from all over the world in this war game and we combine to kill a common enemy.”

And who exactly is that? I asked but he didn’t specify…but he clearly enjoyed the satisfaction of participating in the killing.

The news recently brings pictures of escalating armaments. Nuclear subs to be built by the trio of the US, UK and Australia as a precaution against China’s possible ambitions; North Korea’s increase in missile testing; who else is increasing their weapon hoard; who else wants the Bomb? Why is there always war somewhere?

The only winners in actual on the ground, real deaths, real spilt blood – the only winners are the munitions manufacturers – war is the most profitable business there is.

Hmmm, that and maybe closely followed by a Tech Monster, content to aid in the harm.



         


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