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The Facebook File

Updated: at 08:45 PM

I figured there are so many instances of where Facebook, or its mothership company Meta, misbehaves that I am almost losing track of it all. Somehow it is as if everyone has forgotten about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Therefore I am using this page to collect links to the things Facebook is hoping you will forget, or never hear of.

This post will be updated now and then when I find more information.

Table of contents

Open Table of contents

Creating Bubbles & Opinion Polarization

Creating, and entertaining, “opinion bubbles” has always been one of Facebook’s (and Twitter/X) strong points. Based on your profile and what you have taught Facebook that you love/hate, combined with your general information that you have willingly parted with as well as your interactions on other content. They, or their algorithm, basically selects both user generated content/posts as well as advertising that ensures you only see what you will react to, by either re-sharing it or commenting on it.

That in turn gets fed back in to their algorithm which generates more views to new people that also fit the same criteria. They in turn share related content that feeds back to you, and all of a sudden you think that “everyone thinks this!” when they, quite likely, don’t. You are now in an “opinion bubble”, centered around you, but which includes like-minded friends.

Facebook is great a creating these bubbles and to keep you in them, most of your friends are in them after all, pitting you against what they know you hate whilst being reinforced by your friends by letting Facebook feeding you more of what you’ve told them you love.

As if it isn’t bad enough that one of the worlds largest advertising driven privacy invasive companies has this information about you, Facebook has also “lost” all the user details for millions of their users, in various “data leaks”. Even if you (are insane and) trust Facebook, do you trust the entire world with all your most sensitive data? I don’t.

Cambridge Analytica refresher

One of the most revealing things with the Cambridge Analytica scandal was just how they combined data. Your data. Your friends data. The overlaps. The gaps. Data that seemed “innocent” or “mundane” to you but which, when combined with other data, became very revealing about you, as a person. That combined data is, almost literally, gold to anyone who would wish to sway your mind on a topic, and I mean any topic.

With that data they also could track who you listened to when taking advice, but also which of your friends that listened to you. If you take advice from a friend regarding what car or house to buy, you probably also take advice on what to vote for in the next election.

They know where you live, what salary you have, what car you drive, who lives in the area, what the voting demographic for that area is. They know which artists you listen to and what movies that make you cry. You have given them all this, willingly and for free.

If they wished to “plant an idea” in your head, you have given them all the buttons they should press.

Which brings me to the second scary thing with this: not only could they influence people to go in a certain direction when it came to “who to vote for”, but they also worked the opposite angle. The best thing for a politician in an election is to get many votes. The second best thing is if your opponents voters don’t go to the polling station, at all.

Regarding Cambridge Analytica it is also important to remember that even though it might feel like a passed moment in history, I promise you the people who did it, and who have the skills to do it, work in other companies today. They’re not gone. Some of the elections that Cambridge Analytica swayed the results in, just so you can grasp how much this has changed the world:

- Brexit Vote 2016
- US Presidential Election 2016
- Argentina 2015
- Trinidad & Tobago 2009
- Thailand 1997
- India 2010
- Malaysia 2013
- Italy 2012
- Kenya 2013
- Colombia 2011
- South Africa 1994
- Ukraine 2004
- Antigua 2013
- Indonesia 1998

They could do this because they had all the data of what people like/dislike, and being helped by Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp algorithms. With that data they can identify, even in smaller groups, who are influencing others. It can be small groups of a handful people. If you start overlapping many small groups you can soon start to affect larger groups of people who don’t even know they are being manipulated.

Undermining conflicts

Allowing hate speech/groups

The Real Facebook Files

Wall Street Journal started off a series of articles, dubbed “The Facebook Files”, which later were followed by several global newspapers and news broadcasters around the world.

That Wikipedia link is quite telling, it has lots of source links at the bottom, and it has headlines such as:

- 2020 U.S. elections and January 6 U.S. Capitol attack
- Instagram's effects on teenagers
- Studying of preteens
- Violence in developing countries
- Promoting anger-provoking posts
- Collaboration on censorship with the government of Vietnam

Lawsuits involving Meta platforms

So when your friend (me for example) says they don’t wish to contribute to the data collection on Facebook, please respect that. Maybe your friend actually cares about society and democracy on a level you don’t. There are alternatives out there. Don’t just be lazy. Don’t just follow the herd. Only dead fish go with the flow.

This page is “work in progress” and will be updated over time.
Have I missed something? Am I unfair? Do you have opinions?
Feel free to send me a message.