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Counterpoint: In Defense Of Facebook

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Last week, partner Steve Rowen wrote a piece about Facebook that was something less than complimentary. In the end, he concluded that people are generally not deleting their Facebook accounts, and the reason is “because they have my family.”

He made a lot of other points about why we really should all want to delete our accounts. Interesting points, but they did not capture my experience. At that time I said in an email that “this doesn’t explain why this person doesn’t delete her Facebook account, and, in fact it begs for a counterpoint.” And so one week later, here’s my counterpoint.

  • What’s the value of a like? I agree with Steve, there isn’t much value to a like to a business, or even a Facebook impression for an ad. We did that experiment a few years ago and garnered over two million impressions. Our revenues did not increase, particularly, though our “likes” did.

However, the question Steve didn’t ask is “What’s the value of a complaint?” The answer there is, “Huge.” Perhaps not for the business user, but for the consumer, it really is beyond measure. When I, as a consumer, am dissatisfied with some level of service from a provider, whether it be telecomm, internet or retailer, in most cases I am faced with two choices: Give them a call and wander through a maze of voicemail hell that typically culminates in a scripted call with an outsourced customer service center and piles of frustration, or social media shaming. Guess which one gets me the more immediate response? Yup, social media shaming gets a response every time, in minutes. While I may wish that there was a better way, companies seem addicted to these scripted CSR’s who are not empowered to do much of anything. So they leave me no choice (thank you again, Chewy.com, for not being one of those guys. Comcast, when will you ever learn??).

  • Who IS my family, anyway? While it’s nice to know what’s going on in my family, for someone like me, who has had a long and varied life so far, I get to stay in touch with people I might never again have seen in my life. Kids I went to elementary school with, who are now…older. People I went to college with. People I hung out with in India. While it’s sad to find out about those who pass, I take a lot of joy in seeing their families, their work, in general how their lives are coming out.
  • The Social Capital Debate: Having read the book “Bowling Alone” in the 1990’s, I presumed that Facebook serves the need to re-establish what the author calls “social capital.” Steve and many others in the media argue the opposite, that in fact, Facebook diminishes social capital and increases isolation even more. I hear them, I respect what they’re saying, and I respectfully disagree. I suppose if you want to be isolated, or stay within your shtetl, regardless how small, that’s your right.

But (as an example), I find myself suddenly part of the “Indian Food Instant Pot” community, and other communities I might not otherwise have known of. In the 21st century, does it make more sense for me to take a cooking class, or just find out what others with interests like me are doing? To me, that’s a clear add to my social capital, not a subtraction. Am I missing something? I don’t think so. I did major in sociology in college, and pretty much got the concepts. It’s a plus, kids. Prove me wrong.

  • The Privacy Issue: For me, this one is personal. There are places where I want my privacy maintained. And there are places where I just don’t care. When I’m shopping, I prefer to not be tracked. I really wish I didn’t get all those damned fake phone calls on my mobile, or the cheery computerized voice calling me about a vacation get-away on my land line. But do I care that people know my political persuasion? I really don’t. I’ve learned to keep my friends list private so that innocent people don’t receive friend requests and offers from God-knows-who….but beyond that? So what? If I was going to be really worried about my privacy, the Equifax data breach would have given me a nervous breakdown. Those bad guys know enough to clone me in very bad ways, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. I suppose I can pay Experian to “search the dark web for info about me” but that seems oddly redundant.

The bottom line is that in the nine years I’ve been part of the Facebook Community, I’ve gotten a lot more than I’ve lost. I know Zuckerberg’s not perfect, and that Facebook has done some gnarly things. But if you think they’ve done anything worse than any mobile phone carrier when it comes to poking into your private life, you’re dreaming.

So, I’m staying on, because I like keeping in touch. And I’m sorry that Mr. Zuckerberg and the “evils of Facebook” seems to be the only thing our Congress can agree on these days. Feh.

 

 


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Articles & Opinions April 9, 2018
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