The Facebook Masquerade

In recent months there has been quite a buzz about Facebook and why users should delete their accounts. Most of the articles I have read, and the arguments I have seen, follow a similar path of “Facebook can’t be trusted with our data”, but there are other reasons as to why perhaps the time has come for us to log out permanently.

If it isn’t data breaches that cause you to leave, it may be the flood of fake news infecting the site, or the fact that now our kids and/or parents also have accounts and we want something more generationally unique. It may even be because employers are now routinely using Facebook (and other social media sites) to research job applicants forcing us to change our names and hide certain photos and posts, ironically becoming more and more self-censoring on a site that prides itself on sharing. Whatever it may be, and as valid as these issues are, I think they are missing the point somewhat.

The question that these issues relate to is one of use; what should or should not be done with the tool that is Facebook. But I feel that the real question is actually more basic; what tool is Facebook?

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The Lives We Have Saved

In the 12-months of 2015, myself and 11 other comrades embarked on a commitment of Effective Altruism.

Our pledge was to donate a percentage of our monthly wages to charities that are capable of making the biggest impact at the lowest cost. Embodying the very nature of the phrase “more bang for your buck”, we paid money to those organisations who could save, or at least drastically improve, the most lives.

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White Pride and Race Hate

Not only do I have a sense of guilt and shame, but there is a feeling of betrayal. The date was Friday the 4th of April and the following were the words posted on Swansea Uaf’s Facebook page, “There is no White Pride rally in Swansea tomorrow. Unlike last year, no permission was given. A victory for anti fascists!” Images were posted proclaiming “victory” for the anti-fascist movement and saying that in view of it, “the planned [counter-]demo at 11:00 in Castle Square” had been called off.

By midday today (Saturday the 5th) around forty National Front members were gathered in Castle Square, waving flags, speaking through a megaphone and chanting. Unite Against Fascism were not present and neither were any of their members as they had gone to Cardiff where an anti-Bedroom Tax protest was taking place. The organisation whose sole purpose is to fight fascism, had given fascists a free reign in Swansea. Indeed UAF actively dissuaded people from attending any event today, even when news came in from various sources that the National Front rally was still occurring.

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What’s On Your Mind?

Since it’s creation social media, and social networking sites, have been connecting people across the world. They were created  in order to make the world smaller, and to bring people together. Facebook and Twitter, and before them Bebo and Myspace, existed so that millions of people could speak with one another, share ideas and beliefs, thoughts and stories, exchange and promote photos of themselves and their best moments. They have become virtual communities where everyone has a voice, and nobody has to be alone.

There is a darker side to social networking though, and through no fault of it’s own, it has now become a cause for concern in many areas. The anonymity allowed in forums and comment sections allows a freedom of speech whereby any message can be promoted. Hate, racism, homophobia, sexism and more. The incredible freedom of the internet itself and the connections that can be made online can lead to tragic consequences. Anything and everything can be found online, from hired hitmen, to illegal substances and from animal cruelty, to child pornography. As ever with such wonderful, boundary dissolving innovations, the gloss and sheen is soon lost due to unintended use and darker desires.

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