book promotion, Freedom of Writing, marketing, Writers Co-op

Goodbye Facebook

In 2017 I discovered Facebook as a mecca for networking. Recently, Facebook has become a censored banality. In between, I was fortunate to find over 3,000 “friends” living the writing life. Many taught me, some edited and published my stories. I cannot thank Facebook enough for the opportunity to interact with so many talented people. But all things change and now the politicians have infested Facebook to get around the First Amendment and promote their own agenda while censoring that of opponents.

“U.S. Code § 230, (2)Civil liability, permits social media to censor content “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
Yet, the First Amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Politicians have used their regulatory and financial relationships with big media to exert a control over public opinion that is otherwise denied to them.

The result is a leveling of public discourse to the lowest common denominator.

And then, of course, Facebook algorithms ensure that writers who don’t buy ads get scant exposure for posts promoting their books. I left Facebook after scrolling down my feed to find any “friends” book promotion to share on my own timeline. I spent literally forty-five minutes enjoying posts of pets, whines, humor, look-at-me-chit-chat, amazing science (I’m a sucker for amazing science,) and feel-good platitudes. Abruptly, it dawned on me: Not one book promotion! This is all gossip! Critical thinkers have crept away while I wasted my time pretending that I was still networking.

What a waste of time. Goodbye Facebook. Gossip bores me.

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37 thoughts on “Goodbye Facebook

  1. Your disappointment is easy to understand, GD. I don’t have any interest in mere gossip either, but my newsfeed contains at least 5 authors whose book promotions I see fairly regularly. Several of my friends are exceptionally creative. They share their photography (I’m a sucker for outstanding photography), artwork, crafts, gardening, cooking, or travel adventures, and I am always happy to connect with them.

    I don’t see a lot of political ads, but I have one family member and a number of friends who are politically thoughtful and open to respectful discussions within their comment sections. It’s not all bias confirmation, lol.

    The only censorship I have seen directly from Facebook has to do with posts that are demonstrably false. Some are false claims related to COVID and vaccines, a couple were a quote misattributed to Nelson Mandela. I suspect the algorithm that ranks how visible any post is might rightfully be considered corrupt or slanted, but I don’t know how it works or how to recognize it when it affects something negatively.

    I deleted FB from my phone a couple years ago, and I check FB on my laptop only two or three times a week. I think what it does best is allow me to keep in touch with people I grew up with who are not local, and it gives me access to friends I made all over the world through the now defunct Google+. For me, it makes the world feel accessible.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well put, Sue. Social media is a mixed bag of usefulness & wasted time.

      It’s not Facebook’s censorship itself so much as the resulting change in Facebook’s vibrancy as a social media: Censorship drives away independent people. We are not trying to hide from reality and we are not usually misled or personally offended by what other people say. But we will avoid those who limit what we can see & hear because that hampers our ability to understand the world as it is.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. victoracquista says:

    GD, I know you have been active on several writing-related sites such as the Sci Fi Roundtable. Your presence will be missed. I try to avoid politically-related content on FB and have found many interesting and valuable groups to participate with across diverse interests. I also use my FB author page and podcasting page for work-related content and interactions. And, I’ve managed to connect with old friends and family members in ways that would be difficult to achieve without the platform. As for news and information, I steer clear of the platform entirely.
    Having said that, FB is a mixed bag in my judgement–pros and cons, but you can be selective in ways that maximize the pros and minimize the cons. Such a strategy does not address what strikes me as the core of your decision which relates to the platform itself and its willingness to participate in manipulation and censorship. You did not mention the profiling and psychographic analysis of the user based upon their interactions with the platform, sale of these data to outside interests, etc. These aspects of FB are troubling to say the least.
    I have considered removing myself fro FB entirely but I’m not yet ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. GD: Your final sentences of this blog post speak volumes: “Critical thinkers have crept away while I wasted my time pretending that I was still networking. What a waste of time. Goodbye Facebook. Gossip bores me.”

    I have always looked askance at the concept of “networking”. I know you meant to use the term here in the good sense: meaningful interactions with others. You were looking for authentic connections: feedback, conversation, reviews, etc.

    I think that what has depressed you so is the noise-to signal-ratio that has crept into your Facebook stream. Too much noise. I feel your pain.

    I must confess that I’ve never liked the term “networking” (a favorite word of the corporate set). It always struck me as a cynical, whorish, mutually predatory/carnival barker/masturbatory concept when executed with methodical cold precision: so many tweets per day; so many public posts in critical venues. My interactions here with the people who choose to contribute to the Co-Op (You, Curtis, Mellow, MamaSquid, Atthys, Perry, Mimi, Sue, Victor, Mike, Liz, Tom, et. al.) have served to inspire me to keep writing, reading and discussing divers works–my own and others. I suppose this is “networking”–but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like constructive interaction amongst talented others who belong to a private writers group.

    I’m not afraid to put something out there that might trigger mixed feedback. It’s all part of the process. The last thing I’m thinking during our interactions is: “Whee! Look at me network!” If you know what I mean. . . .

    I do hope you draw some measure of comfort and consolation from the respect, appreciation and affection shown you here by “da reg’lars”. (‘Course, we are but one small twinkling bit of the online community entire. I wonder–any other source you could use besides dispiriting Facebook to reach out to writerly others?)

    Liked by 5 people

    • MamaSquid says:

      I like your take on networking. I find the whole thing so distasteful I’d rather languish in obscurity. But thinking about it as a way to form relationships with people who share your passion… That’s nice.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Darn! Left Mellow, Mike and MamaSquid off that list. (All “M” names. Weird mental block, heh!) Mea Culpa! Roll call of honor hastily amended to correct the oversight. (Now who else am I forgetting?!)

      Liked by 4 people

    • victoracquista says:

      I have to agree with you, Carl. Networking has a positive and a negative potential. I don’t know if you have any experience with LinkedIn, but I find a majority of interactions there to be of the negative ilk. People “connecting” for a chance to individually or mutually exploit one another. In theory, it could be a good opportunity for the positive types of networking, but in my experience, that is rarely the case. When someone reaches out to me to connect and network, my first response is what are they looking to get out of me for their own benefit. I also agree that our interactions here do not have the distasteful sort of networking characteristics.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. MamaSquid says:

    I kind of hate it too. Instead of cutting it out, I’ve been trying to fill my time with other things. It’s an addition rather than subtraction mindset.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    I don’t know if it does any good – I see the same books promoted again and again – I ignore them, but they are generally not my interest (southern belle romance, for instance).

    I don’t have a book to promote yet, but I’ll give it a go on FB when I do. I’ll be posting it anywhere and everywhere. In the meantime, I scroll through and read the linked articles that intrigue me.

    And I see posts from some of my far-flung relatives, that I am mostly not in touch with. We are not a close family. I gather information on them through FB.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hmm.
    Carl asks, “I wonder–any other source you could use besides dispiriting Facebook to reach out to writerly others?”

    Could we start our own “Bookcountry?” I’d enjoy a Writers Co-op similar to Penguin’s old site where multiple threads could be posted about any aspect of the writing life, including current works, requests for critique, thoughts, ideas, and general tomfoolery.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I use Facebook for writers’ groups, such as Sci Fi Fantasy Roundtable. That’s one of the most valuable connections I have. I don’t do FB news, so I’m not even aware of the BS it contains.
    I do connect with some family members using FB, because that’s the only way to reach them. If I email my brother he’ll never respond.
    If they sell my data so others can show me ads, they’re not getting their money’s worth, because I’m not buying that stuff. I’ve trained myself to not see those ads.
    I just bought a teeshirt from Babylon Bee that says “Fake News You Can Trust.”

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Perry Palin says:

    Excellent points by many in these comments.

    I do not care for the Facebook posts by any political party or candidate, or the flood of advertising for socks on my Facebook feed in the weeks after I’ve done an online search for socks.

    I use Facebook to keep up with some of my family and friends through their posts. I am a member in a few Facebook groups which offer positive experiences.

    I don’t know why I am invited to “friend” people from around the world, people I have never met and with whom I apparently have nothing in common.

    One of my “friends” is an anti-vaxxer, has posted that Covid is a hoax but supports drugs and treatments rejected by medical experts, is anti-science, is a climate change denier, is pro-life to the point of trying to deny others their legal rights, is anti-immigration, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic, anti-BLM, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-government. This friend is influenced by articles and information from Russian bots and fringe web sources, and when the friend shares these on Facebook and they are flagged as false, the friend attacks the fact checkers. Does Facebook have the right to flag or remove anything, or nothing at all?

    .Is it possible for a private company to engage in censorship? Please help me understand. I thought government censorship was outlawed, but private companies could make their own decisions of what they would carry. I submitted a short story to The New Yorker and it was rejected. It didn’t occur to me that I was being censored by the magazine.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are of course right, Perry. The Bill of Rights applies to government, not to private business. Website companies have every right to remove content posted on their sites for any reason whatsoever.

      The argument has evolved. Large Internet media companies have become targeted by governments around the world looking for more tax revenue and control of public discourse. Europe is the obvious example of the former and China the obvious example of the latter. Even here in the good old U.S.A., Congress and states’ attorney generals are pushing for increased “regulation” and there are calls for legislating the big social media companies into public utilities. (The devils are the details.)

      My personal take is that the rough & tumble of the good old days when the ‘Net was new and just about anyone could say just about anything are behind us. And I miss them.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. You speak for me, Perry. My sentiments exactly. Which is not to say that I didn’t notice the implied political message/lament that GD voiced, but rather that I chose to focus on the “lack-of-substantive-craft-content-in-my-feed” that he drew our attention to at the end of his post. Please understand: This is NOT intended as a rebuke to you, either! We walk a delicate tightrope here at the Co-Op, our political leanings/perspective/identity (mine is politically incorrect liberal; see Bill Maher) tamped down for the most part in order to interact with each other w/o undue rancor. Speaking only for myself: I consciously choose to tread lightly here re: anything political. (But isn’t everything political? Perhaps; but I endeavor to address certain incendiary issues from a humanist perspective instead of an overtly embittered political one.)

    This could be considered cowardice. I have bitten many tongues from my own mouth (especially in the aftermath of Jan. 6th)–apparently, I’m part amphibian: they re-grow; heh!–but have made a conscious decision to focus on anything BUT politics here–if possible. Again, none of this is intended in any way, shape or form as a rebuke to you–merely a vocalized musing on my own reasons for not setting fire to one of the few writers’ establishments that will tolerate me.

    So then–am I guilty of ameliorating pragmatism: flinching in the face of friendship? Yes. I find myself in the same moral quandary as many of us (whatsoever side of the political divide they find themselves on) who daily interrogate their own motivations/actions: Am I doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right person, for the right reason?

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Mike says:

    GD –
    One of the better things to come out of Facebook is that I got to know you and this particular group of writers, so…thank you. I generally only go on it now to post my writings, more as an experiment to gauge interest than anything else. While I’ve “found” some long lost friends, the rekindling is little more than superficial at best, with rare exceptions. I guess there’s a reason why some are “long lost”, including me.

    The fact remains that I don’t visit anywhere near what I used to as I’m tired of the politics that dominate, well, just about everything at this point, and I’m simply tired of it. I guess that’s why I don’t submit much to Realclearpolitics much anymore, preferring to concentrate on my fiction writing.

    In the end, and for all intents and purposes, I’ve done something similar, keeping it active primarily to advertise my upcoming writing projects…that’s about all.

    -Mike

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I don’t know where to begin with Facebook, mainly because I’ve never really begun. My presence there is sporadic, desultory, half-baked. I have very few friends (*sob*) and fortunately see no politics, perhaps because I don’t interact enough. Why am I still on it? Because I intend to try advertising there. I know I’ve been saying that for two years and still haven’t done it, but I will next year, I promise.
    As for the wider issue, as a purveyor of fake news that panders to the lowest common denominator, and a tech giant that thinks it can get away with anything (because basically it can), I see little to commend it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • FYI, when you’re ready to advertise, check what authors are saying about their results from advertising on Facebook. The algorithms change. I’ve seen author reports go from positive to negative and would expect a return to positive. It’s in everyone’s interest for FB ads to work. But sometimes they just don’t.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. mimispeike says:

    I’ll tell you what FB is good for. There’s a lot of wonderful, obscure country/blues on there. I just learned that there is a documentary on the (original) Carter Sisters. (The first generation Carter Sisters.) I’m going to look for it.

    Liked by 3 people

      • mimispeike says:

        There is a film on YouTube that I watch again and again. The Ladies of Rockabilly.(Something like that). Terrific performers I never heard of. Look for it! I must have found it through FB. It never would have occurred to me to go searching for Ladies of Rockabilly.

        Liked by 2 people

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