Today, I decided to leave Facebook and associated platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp). I am going to document my transition away from the social network that I have been using for the last fifteen years or so. Twenty years! This sounds scary. Anyhow, this is what I posted on Facebook today in order to alert my friends about my decision:
I am writing to let you know that I am most probably going to leave Facebook soon. After reading reports about the latest testimony by the whistleblower Frances Haugen, I am very upset. For a while now, I did not think that Facebook is oh-so-wonderful. According to Haugen's testimony, the situation is way worse than I imagined.
If you are familiar with my worldview, you should know that I value both accountability and empathy. I do not think that people who work at Facebook are evil. They make choices based on their biases (like all of us do) and limited by multiple constraints (that we all have). I am sure each of these people has a story that explains their motives in a way that would go beyond the "they are just horrible human beings" kind of explanation. At the same time, I think that any actions that hurt others should have some meaningful consequences - ideally, diminishing the harm. Biases and constraints cannot be fully eliminated, but most people have at least some freedom to make different decisions.
If you follow my work, you may also be familiar with my whole "media is us" argument. I think that Facebook is not merely the people who run it, but also all the people who are using it. And I don't feel comfortable being one of the latter anymore. This means deleting Instagram and WhatsApp as well, sigh. By the way, I also do not think that people who keep using Facebook and its products are somehow bad. So if you are staying, me leaving is not the same as me judging your choice.
All of this will take some time, as I want to try saving some of the content I have here and making sure I am not losing my contacts (especially on WhatsApp). The process I anticipate will be very sad and annoying (it will take a few days, maybe weeks), but this just feels like the right thing to do right now. Once I am gone from Facebook, you will be able to find updates about my life and work on my personal website elizavetafriesem.com.
Stay safe! Love to all.
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