I have wanted to leave Facebook for a while, and I did at one point, only to come back after a short time because it was the best way for me to keep up with family and friends. My objective at the time had nothing to do with national politics, but I objected to how Facebook manipulated the content I was trying to access and fed my data to advertisers. I often got frustrated with how their manipulation affected usability. I would see something on my news feed that looked interesting, but when I went back at a later time, I could not find it because Facebook had decided I should see different things now. I have played with the MeWe social media platform a little bit. Rather than being advertisement based, they are subscription based, and using it has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel like I’m wrestling with an algorithm to get to my content. The material I subscribe to is presented in a straight-forward chronological manner that is the same every time I go back to it. Also, there are no creepy ads that appear to be reading my mind because it is subscription based rather than supported by ads. If I’m going to do social media at all, I would rather pay $5/month than deal with those ads and manipulations.
For a while, I preferred Twitter to Facebook because Twitter gave me a straightforward feed of the posts of everyone I was following, and advertisements were non-targeted. Sadly, they decided to follow Facebook’s lead. They now manipulate the feed and have increased advertising, making it more intrusive. At the same time, I saw much of the conversation there becoming more viscous and non-productive, and it was too much of a distraction, so I decided to drop it a few months ago.
The tipping point for me to finally and irrevocably leave Facebook was their censorship of the President of the United States. I always thought this was a danger with a huge, monolithic social network like Facebook, and for a while there have been accusations of their political bias, but this act was a blatant disregard for the importance of freedom of speech. I know that as a private company, Facebook is not required by law to protect speech, but as primary communications platforms, Twitter and Facebook greatly affect the direction of discourse in our country and in much of the rest of the world. By silencing particular points of view, they open the door to tyranny. World leaders in Australia, France, Germany, Russia, and Poland have spoken out against this act. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is no conservative Trump fan, is mounting a campaign against social media bans. I believe this issue is bigger than whether or not you are a “Trump supporter.”