I have recently seen increasing numbers of people complaining that Facebook has too many rules about what can or cannot be posted and reports of world governments getting involved dictating what rules should be imposed on them etc. It led me onto this train of thought.
Maybe people are looking for problems within a solution which was never quite fit for purpose in the first place, despite having the illusion that it was?
Back when the internet started, its pioneers wanted to change the world, to connect everyone, free of rules and regulations, to revolutionise communication forever. Many of us joined the party much later and basked in its digital glory. There was so much to explore. Millions of websites and places where people could connect through common interests. If one place became unsuitable or you didn’t care for the way it was being run, you simply moved on. Occasionally you might bump into real world friends on forums or newsgroups and people kept in touch via email or email groups. A few real time chat clients were available and you were free to move between them as others did. Same with search engines. Web 1.0 was a lot of fun. Much of it is still there.
Web 2.0 came along and started integrating a lot of it whilst taking ownership of your data. Adverts became more prevalent and everything became a more unified experience. The goal of a web 2.0 site was to get people to sign up and stay there. If you were in a band, you no longer had to be able to build a website and it was much easier to knock up a MySpace page. The good bit was that a MySpace page was fully useable from the outside so you didn’t need to have a profile or log in to the site to view it. The user was free to surf the net as normal, making their own fun and rules up as they went.
Since then, Facebook came along and required users to sign up to the platform to access any information within. It was so easy to set up a profile and so quick to be able to find like minded people, easy to find real world friends, family and pretty much everyone you had ever known as everyone rapidly flocked to it, even many who had hitherto not used a computer let alone the internet. Facebook got into everyone’s lives. Email, chat clients, newsgroups, blogs, forums and to a degree websites themselves became obsolete as everything was under one roof and all for “free”. As usage increased on Facebook, less people were frequenting the many and varied unique and special sites aforementioned. More worryingly, many people felt less need to maintain real world social contact.
Character and culture became assimilated.
To this day, you can’t even change the colour scheme on your Facebook page or profile. What’s more, people are complaining that they are introducing a new layout. Information is all neatly stored in prescribed fields for convenient surveillance and harvesting to sell off to the highest bidder. And it’s all regulated and copyright controlled.
The algorithms choose what of your information is shared and with whom and what you get to see and it’s all targetted to keep you using the platform. As a result, the behaviour of users is being manipulated and subsequently altered in order to achieve this and it is often in a negative way. How many hours have you wasted on Facebook by arguing with people after you have seen something which triggers you?
Everyone who uses Facebook does so willingly. They agree to and sign up for the terms and conditions. The T&Cs are many and varied and are supposedly there to protect the user. There are codes of conduct on what can and cannot be said. Some may say their freedom of expression is curtailed as a result and they complain bitterly.
Here’s the thing though. It’s not.
It’s like walking into McDonalds and complaining to the server and the other customers that they don’t sell pizza and demanding that they do.
Any user of the internet is free to express themselves however they wish and use whatever means they are able in order to do that. Other websites (millions of them) are available.
ISPs have their own codes of conduct of course which must be adhered to but these are generally fewer and less complex. Any user is free to not use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google and the like and many in fact do. The internet is a huge place.
I think somewhere along the way, the excitement of exploring the web has faded. I try to vary my time online and not get too drawn back to Facebook. It is hard though at times I admit. If I were simply a user with nothing to share or promote then I’d find it much easier to ditch the thing. I would lose touch with people as a result since too many people have an aversion to using means of communication which isn’t FB messenger.
It has by far the largest user base and it’s an invaluable tool for promoting music and booking gigs etc. To try and stubbornly do this without Facebook would be foolhardy and very difficult. Despite this though the only single thing going for it is audience. Even then it’s impossible to reach more than a small percentage of your audience without subsidising it financially. The platform is crap for setting up a band page. You can’t host music on Facebook, you can’t publish a decent gig list. These are features which people abandoned in MySpace a decade ago and as mentioned above, you can’t personalise your page apart from a profile picture and cover picture. You are still stuck with the regulation blue and white (for now at least).
So where can we get a good pizza?