Don’t turn other cheek on Face­book

Nelson Mail - - Technology - Blayne Slab­bert

As le­gal and eth­i­cal charges mount against Face­book, it may be time to ques­tion your moral obli­ga­tion to delete your ac­count.

The so­cial me­dia com­pany has be­come a de­struc­tive el­e­ment in many coun­tries around the world. It has al­lowed for­eign en­ti­ties to ma­nip­u­late elec­tions in other coun­tries, it has run smear cam­paigns against other tech com­pa­nies, it has al­lowed users’ per­sonal data to be ex­ploited for fi­nan­cial gain and it has ig­nored gov­ern­ment re­quests to an­swer ques­tions about its prac­tices.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Its most dam­ag­ing act played out in Myan­mar, a part of the world most peo­ple couldn’t find on the map and even fewer care about.

The coun­try has been dev­as­tated in re­cent years as mil­i­tary per­son­nel have used Face­book as a tool for eth­nic cleans­ing.

The mil­i­tary ex­ploited Face­book to spread hate and pro­pa­ganda against the mostly Mus­lim Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity group.

If you keep us­ing Face­book, you’re help­ing fund a com­pany (it makes its money from sell­ing your per­sonal data) that is erod­ing democ­racy and per­pet­u­at­ing hate speech.

Two groups it cares about have al­ready turned against it. Com­puter sci­ence grad­u­ates no longer see Face­book as a de­sir­able place to work and Wall Street has dis­tanced it­self from the com­pany, as doubts over its ac­tiv­i­ties have seen the com­pany’s value fall US$253 bil­lion (NZ$367.6b) in the past five months.

Is post­ing memes, baby pho­tos or scrolling mind­lessly through end­less posts re­ally worth it, know­ing you’re back­ing a com­pany that is play­ing a part in dam­ag­ing the lives of so many peo­ple?

How­ever, tak­ing a moral stance against tech com­pa­nies is a slip­pery slope. Should you stop us­ing Google be­cause it’s work­ing on a cen­sored search en­gine for China, or stop us­ing Ama­zon be­cause of its heav­ily crit­i­cised work­place poli­cies?

By be­com­ing so big, tech com­pa­nies have cornered users. Many peo­ple love Face­book be­cause it con­nects them with friends and loved ones and there isn’t re­ally an al­ter­na­tive.

But com­pa­nies such as Face­book will only lis­ten when users push back and the best way to do that is to delete your ac­count. Tak­ing a moral stand is com­pli­cated but the list of de­plorable acts by Face­book is get­ting too long to ig­nore.

Face­book is no longer a de­sir­able place to work ac­cord­ing to many com­puter sci­ence grad­u­ates.

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