My Facebook habits have definitely changed. In summary… I’m so over it.
I feel as if it is over-commercialized. I feel there are not enough user controls to avoid crap in my feed. The site is a mess. It seems to be less friendly than it used to be, with people seemingly in an argumentative mode most of the time to proclaim their rightness and argue and shame others.
And I haven’t even mentioned the censorship. A certain amount of censorship is likely going to be normal on a platform like this. I get that. But, there’s no doubt that it isn’t being done according to a set of public standards. It has become one-sided. And the well there is deep. Perhaps I’ll talk about it more another time.
We need alternatives. Both to Facebook and Twitter.
Social media needs to de-centralize.
We’re living through a time of McCarthyism online. Some are aware of it while others are blissfully unaware. But, the combination of centralization of most information and conversation into the hands of a few corporations, combined with the heightened censorship, has led to an issue of paramount importance to our society moving forward.
I am an AVID supporter of the free flow of information. I support free speech strongly. I always will.
So, I have been weening down my usage of Facebook. I will continue to use it for some purposes, including business. However, I have unfriended about a third of the people I was connected to. I’ve unfollowed many. I don’t post as often to my personal profile. In essence, I’m setting up my use of Facebook to “optional”. I want to have no reliance on it at all. If it is there – great. If not, I don’t care.
But, my interest in seeing the social media landscape broaden has increased. And I’ve been looking around.
What are the things that Facebook just won’t do and a competitor should?
- More fine-tuned control over the newsfeed. For instance, I should be able to filter sources and keywords without the need for a browser add-on.
- I think Facebook should have an “ads free” option, even if it is paid. They could probably make a ton of money with some kind of subscription similar to Amazon Prime, where you pay annually and get certain perks such as “ads free”. I’d pay for it, honestly.
- It needs to respect privacy. With Facebook, you are the product. You are little more than a data set to allow them to make money off you.
- It needs to be a free speech zone. Give people the filters to allow them to control and customize what they want to see, but then let anything legal go.
Right now, I think Facebook and Twitter and the “big tech” companies are leaving a MASSIVE hole for others to fill. By so blatantly censoring people and the massive greed in the ad load and the disrespect for privacy, they have left a MASSIVE hole in the marketplace for alternatives that will respect privacy and free speech.
Some networks have stepped up. Two that I have looked at are Parler and Gab. Of the two, I think Gab is the most promising. Parler is far too politically focused right now.
It is said that these alternatives are too politically right-wing. That’s NORMAL at this point because of the censorship problem. It is a VERY real thing. And it is amazing to watch these social networks get tarred in the media. Gab is said to be “far right” and you’d think it was a home to white supremacy, yet when I checked it out, I saw a lot of things that weren’t even political at all. It seems like a very friendly place so far. Sure, it will have stuff that is offensive but that will happen on a platform that allows free speech. As long as I can ensure I never see it, it’s fine.
Gab has been censored from even being able to process payments online. That’s how bad the censorship is. When they can’t go after your advertisers, they outright try to rip away your ability to even collect money.
It REALLY rubs me the wrong way.
Anyway, fixing this issue with social censorship and centralization is going to be messy. It goes with the territory.
I will continue to check out alternatives. Every network will have issues. Surely, you’re going to have the rabble-rowsers who try to make it look bad. You’re going to have the trouble-makers. You’re going to see things that are offensive.
But, it is necessary.
We need alternatives to Facebook.
We need de-centralization of the flow of information.
The survival of the internet as the platform that has transformed the entire world in the last 2-3 decades is at stake.