Facebook: The Overvalued, Privacy-Destroying, Life-Sucking Menace

REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Roy Pierson Freelance Writer

Clearly, Facebook is doing major damage to our society. Increasingly. It strips value from people’s lives in several ways. Everyone knows about the privacy violations, time suck, depression, lying, and anxiety it causes. But now it’s permanently destroying people’s lives; broadcasting (and causing) murder, rape, and torture. Yet, the financial press gushes over it. A can’t miss, free money, a “screaming buy.” The non-financial press mostly gushes as well. It is taken seriously – a seriously innovative company, now worth over $430 billion.

Facebook talks about virtual reality, artificial intelligence, reading “friend’s” minds so they don’t have to bother speaking, but it is ultimately a website and an unprecedentedly invasive advertising company. The rest is hype. It has certainly made a lot of money for investors and founders though, because the stock keeps rising, buttressed by nonstop lavish praise heaped by the financial press. Facebook claims to have approximately two billion individual monthly active users subject to the ads they present – conveniently, this figure is self-reported and unaudited. Their self-reported user numbers keep rising at a rate that beats estimates every quarter. How convenient. They continuously defy the law of large numbers. These user figures, however, can be easily debunked (half the world’s population does not have internet access, users must be over age 13, Facebook is banned in countries like China and Iran, unpopular in places like Russia, not to mention the many, many people in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe who simply choose not to use it. According to Facebook’s self-reported two billion figure and the number of people with Facebook available to them, they are implying that approximately 90% of that population has an active Facebook account; a ludicrous number; a survey I conducted indicates the number is closer to 60%). Yes, Facebook is lying about how many people use it. They have a track record of lying (see timeline below). There are hundreds of millions of duplicate, fake, and non-human accounts that they count as active human users. Not to mention all the dead people on Facebook, estimated to outnumber live ones in about 30 years.

Never mind that few people even look at the ads and it is these ads that are the source of Facebook’s revenue. They have to lie about user numbers or they will lose advertisers. Then the house of cards will fall apart. As Facebook states, “We generate substantially all of our revenue from advertising. The loss of marketers, or reduction in spending by marketers, could seriously harm our business.” Facebook deceives companies into believing that they have two billion users and their ads are effective. This untruth is hurting small businesses, whose budgets are limited, in particular.

Never mind that people don’t like Facebook very much. With the vast wealth the company has accumulated from confused advertisers who think they have to pay or become irrelevant in the social media age (don’t tell that to GM and other companies who have ceased to advertise on Facebook due to the ineffectiveness of the ads) however, Facebook has purchased websites and apps that people seem to like (for now at least; technology is fickle), like Instagram and WhatsApp. After being rebuffed in its many attempts to purchase Snapchat, Facebook now shamelessly copies everything its more creative rival does. Facebook’s original idea was stolen and now its “products” are either bought or blatantly copied.

Yet according to the market, Facebook is now the 5th most valuable company in the U.S., worth more than Berkshire Hathaway, GE, Exxon Mobil, and Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola combined. But there is no real product. Mark Zuckerberg can babble on about linking your brain to your “friend’s” brain and hearing with your skin, but users are the product; we know that. They sell ads. Period. Its “innovations” consist of thumbs up and emojis (this is despite having hordes of cash to hire the most talented engineers; so their lack of actual innovation is rather inexplicable). A surreal gulf between talk and reality. But it fits their bogus narrative. No, they insist, we are not a privacy-annihilating advertising company, we are pushing the frontiers of innovation. Utter nonsense.

And now the company is not only destroying privacy and users’ well-being; with Facebook Live, it is getting people killed.

Here is a timeline highlighting how Facebook has regressed from superficial website to privacy slayer to the outright menace it is now:

  • 2003: Zuckerberg creates “Facemash” (he has a way with names), a “hot or not” website
  • 2004: Zuckerberg and Co. steal someone else’s idea and start The Facebook, a “social network” for Harvard students
  • 2004: Zuckerberg calls Facebook users “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their personal information
  • 2008: It is revealed that Facebook does not provide a mechanism for users to close their accounts, meaning private user data will remain on Facebook’s servers forever
  • 2012: Facebook alters its data use policy, saying it might utilize user information, “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” (italics added)
  • 2014: Facebook is forced to admit they performed psychological experiments on users in 2012 (and who knows when else), intentionally trying to make some depressed; already depressed individuals were subject to potentially grave consequences
  • 2016: Facebook is exposed for propagating “fake news” which leads to a less-informed and confused citizenry
  • 2016: Facebook admits the metrics it has provided advertisers have been inaccurate, yet refuses to have an outside organization audit them
  • Present: Facebook Live has now broadcast numerous beatings, torture sessions, rapes, murders, and suicides, including the torture of a disabled teenager in Chicago, the gang rape of a Chicago teenager, the random killing of an elderly man in Cleveland, and the murder of an 11 month-old baby in Thailand. And it’s getting worse.

Facebook has created a solipsistic environment in which users are convinced that their posts, lives, and actions are or need to be so titillating that they should be broadcast to the world. I believe it is impossible to deny that Facebook, previously proven to cause such things as stalking, pathological lying, and depression, is now causing violent crime. Dozens of people viewed the gang rape of the 15 year-old girl in Chicago – not one called 911.

Zuckerberg, now worth over $60 billion thanks to the “fucking idiot” users and gullible advertisers, claims he and Facebook are about “connecting everyone.” That is ludicrously egomaniacal and a lie. Facebook is about gathering hordes of personal information from users, selling their data to the highest bidder, manipulating emotions, and now appalling violence and a profound lack of decency.

Facebook is as an albatross around society’s neck, not a tool for any human connection. More people will get hurt and the privacy violations will grow more extreme until we wise up – citizens, advertisers, press, investors — and acknowledge it for what it is. It needs to be exposed and people need to stop using it for the good of humanity.