After a period of requests from readers, I began publishing each day's Time Goes By blog post to Facebook. That was many years ago. Maybe more than 10. Now the time has come for Facebook and me to part company.
Before I go any further, let me say I have never been a fan of Facebook. Okay, I'll admit I never took the time to figure out how it works but really, should anyone need to? Shouldn't it be obvious?
On the rare occasion I look closely enough to see that people leave comments or ask a question, I have no idea how to reply. What's public, what isn't? Don't answer that – I don't need to know now.
And the advertising. The Time Goes By website/blog is purposely an advertising-free zone on the internet but I have no say about that on Facebook. And when on rare occasions I scroll down through the – um, is it called a feed? - some obnoxious ad turns up after about every third legitimate posting.
Also, there's something about website's herky-jerky character that I dislike. One person posts a selfie, half a dozen people respond with a heart emoji but don't write anything, then there is a rant about some politician or whatever else people have in mind to write, but nothing sustains on Facebook. It all feels ephemeral and, therefore, unimportant.
For years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has blithely allowed anyone to attack or threaten or defame any other person(s), and defended that policy as free speech. I never thought that was a good enough answer and now, in a time of Black Lives Matter, it has become a serious problem.
Some are saying Black Lives Matter may be the biggest protest movement in the history of the United States. Even if that's not so, it's big enough and organized well enough now that it feels like real change – real change this time – just might happen.
And now, the advertiser boycott of Facebook, organized by the Stop Hate for Profit organization to rid Facebook of hate speech, may also be the biggest boycott in history having so far gathered more than 1,000 companies under its umbrella. Something is happening here, folks.
Last week, the results of a two-year audit commissioned by Facebook to assess its impact on the world were published. Reports Alex Hern in TheGuardian,
”The final report, which focuses primarily on decisions made since June 2019, praises Facebook’s move to ban American advertisers from using its tools for housing and employment discrimination, and the company’s belated decision to ban explicit support for white nationalism.
“But, the auditors say, many of the changes were offset by Facebook’s decision, beginning with a speech from Mark Zuckerberg last September, to 'elevate a selective view of free expression as Facebook’s most cherished value'”.
Further on in the final report, according to Hern,
“Specifically, we have grave concerns that the combination of the company’s decision to exempt politicians from fact-checking and the precedents set by its recent decisions on President Trump’s posts, leaves the door open for the platform to be used by other politicians to interfere with voting.”
Dear god, as if there were not already enough people trying to cheat or game the November election.
It was a long time ago but I like to think my participation in the 1960's civil rights and women's rights marches and the anti-Vietnam War protests along with the radio and later, television shows I produced with movement spokespersons helped a little.
Now it's time to step up again. I am too old and sick to march this time but I can stop supporting organizations that are not aligned with my values. So, Time Goes By's daily appearance on Facebook will end next Sunday – that is, as of Monday 20 July, no more Time Goes By posts on Facebook.
According to the latest numbers from June this year, Facebook has 2.6 billion users. My absence obviously doesn't matter a hoot but it leaves me believing I did the right thing.
For the 600 or so people who follow Time Goes By on Facebook and still want to read it, you can subscribe to email notifications of postings by going to the website, entering your email address under the “Subscribe” header in the right sidebar and clicking the word “subscribe.”
Of course, your email address is never used for any other purpose but to deliver TGB.