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Facebook is an Exploitative, Dopamine Dealing Data Tyrant

December 11, 2017 Reading time - 4 minutes

Facebook’s lack of concern over user privacy has been an ongoing issue since its beginnings. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg has also had his fair share of alarming interviews where he was pressed about privacy issues. Perhaps the most infamous Zuckerberg interview being from back in 2010 where he is visibly very uncomfortable when pressed on the issue of user privacy and personality profiling. On stage in front of a large crowd, he starts sweating, stuttering, avoids answering the question and if all of that doesn’t sound cringey enough, he eventually has to take off his blue Facebook hoodie after sweating like he’s being interrogated under a heat lamp.

The problem is, Facebook simply does not have reason to value your privacy. All the information collected is given over to them willingly and what’s actually most valuable to them is more user data. It’s no wonder economists now regard data as being a more valuable resource than oil. Between Facebook and Google, the two platforms have what amounts to a monopoly on personal data just by sheer population and volume of data collected with nearly 2 billion users each. They have access to more personal data than any centralized platform has ever had.

In a 2011 interview with RT, Julian Assange calmly stated that “Facebook is the most appauling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, names, current locations, addresses, communications with each other…all accessable to U.S. intelligence. Facebook [has] a built-in interface for U.S. intelligence to use and [they can] bring to bear legal and political pressure to [Facebook] and since it is costly for [Facebook] to hand out records one by one, they have automated the process.

“Everyone should understand that when they are adding friends on Facebook, they are doing free work for U.S. intelligence agencies by building this database for them.”

In a recent inteview with Stanford, Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya revealed some more startling concerns about the increasingly invasive and creepy platform.

“I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed”. (Source)

But let’s give the devil his due, the Facebook engineers know exactly what they are doing and have no intenet to stop. Sean Parker, Zuckerberg’s former partner and former president of Facebook, admitted in a recent interview that Facebook was designed to exploit human vulnerability. In fact, what Parker revealed in his interview is nearly identical to what Palihapitiya said in his.

“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

But Facebook’s power doesn’t stop at being the largest spying machine ever invented and the most convenient and reliable dopamine dealer on the planet, they are also controlling the content that reaches it’s users. With a list that ranges from former Facebook employees admitting to censorship of conservative political news, removing photo evidence of various war crimes and selling thousands of political propoganda ads to alleged Russian-based organizations, Facebook should by no means be regarded as a free and open exchange of information.

Even more recently, civil liberties groups have raised concerns that Facebook is picking and choosing politician’s accounts to censor and delete at the request of the U.S. government. When asked about this issue, Facebook declined to explain why they delete certain accounts and not others. A spokeswoman for Facebook told the Guradian “We will continue to work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations and to explore options for complying with the law in a way that maximises free expression on our platform and keeps people safe.”[source]

Despite all these concerns, many people are still hesitant to leave Facebook since thats the primary point of contact with their family and friends. But those who have left the platform and are seeking alternatives, I would recommend checking out Minds and Steemit which are both open source social media platform that have a built in rewards system allowing users to get paid with digital currency. This provides incentive to post quality content unlike Facebook where users are rewarded with a dopamine doses from generating some likes on attention seeking, low effort posts.

*Further reading