My progressive phone company sends me activist emails. Usually they ask for a petition to be signed to get a politician to support (or not support) some cause. This email was a call for action, though:
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is throwing his first-ever political fundraiser and it’s for Chris Christie, the anti-woman New Jersey governor who defunded Planned Parenthood and shut down six women’s health clinics in his state. Join CREDO members to protest the fundraiser and take a stand against the Republican war on women.
At first, i was thinking about how to get there and what a pity it was that this action was right before V-Day. Then my thinking shifted to Zuckerberg himself: Why was this rich, young guy supporting someone this conservative (and, btw, he also doesn’t believe in our privacy)? How unfair it is that these rich folks use their money to undermine the commons!
At some point, the question arose: How did he get that much money anyways? Well, from founding Facebook, of course. And how in the world does Facebook make money? There are ads, which i don’t see (and thus too often forget about) thanks to AdBlock (85% of Facebook‘s revenue comes from advertising). I congratulated myself for my cleverness: I wasn’t part of the ad-machine. Somehow it seemed hallow because these ads are probably not that effective. So, how was Facebook making money? Enough money to land four of the top guys on the Forbes 400 list (you have to have wealth of at least 1 billion to be on that list!)?
That’s when the dots started connecting themselves: Every time we click on something in Facebook, that data is collected. That’s a massive amount of data that then is mined for information and sold to companies, probably large corporations that i don’t buy from or at least try to not buy from. Our data. My data!
I moved my money from a Big Bank to a credit union because i don’t like what the Big Banks are doing to our economy. I shop at small local stores because i prefer to support my local economy rather than having the money go out into some rich person’s pockets. I shop at farmers markets for the same reason. What the heck was i doing on Facebook? My presence on Facebook helped some guy earn billions of dollars that he then uses to support politics that are opposite to the world i want to live in.
So, i have decided to get off Facebook.
It’ll probably take me a month or so and i am a bit sad because, as i discovered in December, there are some benefits to Facebook, the social network. Since Facebook, the corporation, turns out to be pretty asocial – or at least its CEO – i am going to do what i’ve done in other parts of my life: Align where i do business with my values. While there are community-driven, open source social networks like Diaspora, i might take my social networking offline or to things like email and phone (and, no, Google+ is not an alternative). It’s not realistic anyways to stay in touch with hundreds of “friends.” So, we’ll see where this takes me…
If you want to live in a world that is not dominated by large corporations, i encourage you, too, to leave Facebook. Only when we start taking responsibility for our cooperation with a system that is life-alienating and start to move our energy to projects that are in line with the world we want to live in will we feel our power as the 99%!