I am not averse to technology, but I am averse to social media.

I always have been.

Oh, sure, I have a couple of Facebook pages – one for myself and one for my band. I have two Twitter accounts – one for myself and one for the Times-Union.

But I rarely use them.

I look at social media from time to time. I don’t post  stuff. I don’t “like” a lot of stuff. I just always felt like it was a little creepy. You go online and check out a microphone and the next thing you know there are a bunch of Guitar Center and Sweetwater ads on your FB timeline.

And make no mistake about it: If somebody is willing to provide a service to you free of charge, you are not the customer, you are the product.

And what a product you are.

Are you familiar with that whole “People You May Know” algorithm?

That’s where FB encourages you to upload your contacts.

“Facebook is better with friends,” the app says. “See who’s on Facebook by continuously uploading your contacts. Then let us know who you want to add as friends.”

If you click “Learn More,” you find, “When you choose to find friends on Facebook, we’ll use and securely store information about your contacts, including things like names and any nicknames; contact photo; phone numbers and other contact or related information you may have added like relation or profession; as well as data on your phone about those contacts. This helps Facebook make recommendations for you and others, and helps us provide a better service.”

FB warns users that, “You may have business or personal contacts in your phone.” And, “Please only send friend requests to people you know personally who would welcome the invite.”

But, according to an article by Kashmir Hill on gizmodo.com: Having issued this warning, and having acknowledged that people in your address book may not necessarily want to be connected to you, Facebook will then do exactly what it warned you not to do. If you agree to share your contacts, every piece of contact data you possess will go to Facebook, and the network will then use it to try to search for connections between everyone you know, no matter how slightly—and you won’t see it happen.

... That accumulation of contact data from hundreds of people means that Facebook probably knows every address you’ve ever lived at, every email address you’ve ever used, every landline and cell phone number you’ve ever been associated with, all of your nicknames, any social network profiles associated with you, all your former instant message accounts, and anything else someone might have added about you to their phone book.

Do you think FB’s motives are simply “to provide a better service?”


The more FB operators know about you and your contacts, the better advertising target you are and the more money they can make.

The people who started these social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, et. al., are fabulously wealthy – billionaires.

FB has more than 2 billion monthly active users. That’s 2 billion products to sell to advertisers. And they have to keep you clicking to keep the  revenue rolling in.

From the beginning, I told anyone who would listen that FB was a bad influence on society.  

Some saw it as a place for sharing information. I saw it as a place for propaganda.

Some saw it as a place for people to come together. I saw it as a divisive place – a place where people line up behind those who are like-minded and flame everybody else.

Some saw it as a place for friendly banter. I saw it as a place for bullying.

Anytime I talked like this, there was pushback from FB?users who said I was backward and just didn’t understand.

Even as I watched some of my concerns about FB realized over the years, there were plenty of people who still saw it as just a harmless place to keep up with family and friends.

Today, I am feeling vindicated.

A recent headline — “Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society” — caught my eye online.

The article quoted Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth.

According to reporting by  verge.com’s James Vincent, Palihapitiya feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped build. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” Palihapitiy said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, and thumbs-up. ... No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”

He sees a scenario where “bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything they want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that sh**.”

And here are some comments by one of FB’s initial investors, Sean Parker of Napster fame.

He told Axios.com that the founders knew they were creating something people would become addicted to. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said.

According to Axios, Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments.

“It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators — it's me, it's Mark (Zuckerberg), it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway. ... The unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people ... it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker told Axios.

He also told them he is a FB “conscientious objector.”

So there you have it.

FB’s creators wanted you to be addicted. You had to be addicted for it to work. You had to keep clicking because the more you click, the more valuable a product you are to their advertisers.

Thumbs up, America. Post lots of stuff so you can get lots of likes. Happy clicking!