KYLIEBYTES: Facebook, I will always cherish my initial misconceptions of you

It’s not me, it’s you

Kylie Robison

Facebook is well known for its dominance over the social media industry, well through the early 2000s leading into 2020. Now, the United States government has decided to challenge this titan, and decidedly put an end to a seeming monopoly.

This unfortunate turn of events for Facebook has left me with some melancholy memories of my first time opening an account on the platform. I had just reached middle school, and my attempts to create a MySpace account were foiled by my mother time and time again. She told me when I was 13, I could create a Facebook account. She ended up relenting right before my 13th birthday and allowed me to create my own profile.

My days were filled with nothing but “Like my status!” and otherwise relentless chatter from my other preteen friends. It was a blissful way to connect with your peers and find out what your crush liked, so you could like it too.

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Facebook, I will always cherish my initial misconceptions of you. This platform united my family in a strange way. I talked to cousins, aunts and uncles all across the country that I would have never spoken to before had it not been for our common interest in posting Facebook updates.

I even connected with my biological father for the first time in my entire life through Facebook messenger. I was originally born in Turkey, and once I moved to the states, I had no contact with my paternal family. That was until my freshman year of college when my biological dad found me on Facebook. He told me he wanted to fly out from his new home in Hong Kong to meet me. We’ve been close ever since.

For this reason, the platform has a peculiar place in my heart. My grandma, who practically raised me, used Facebook every day. She connected with high school friends, and posted pictures of myself and my brother, touting her perfect grandchildren. Her favorite thing to play was FarmVille, and I used to make multiple Facebook accounts so she could invite me and get points.

My grandma has since suffered from Lewy body dementia; she just turned 60 in September. One of the signs of this particular type of dementia is that the afflicted person will distance themselves from their usual routines. She went from playing FarmVille every day to telling us she was “bored” of the platform. Her cognition declined rapidly after that day, but I still look at her Facebook some days and read her posts.

These familial connections I had on Facebook were incredibly deep, and something I cherish. I was able to build bonds with people, simply because we all used the same platform, which happened to be created by a really slimy dude.

The unfettered growth of Facebook has made me uneasy. The behemoth of Big Tech, for all intents and purposes, is a superspreader for disinformation. Only recently have they decided to shut down 790 QAnon groups, most famously known as a right-wing conspiracist crowd. Despite Facebook’s best efforts to save face, they have been struck down yet again by legislators.

With a company that was infamously founded as a way to rank women based on their physical appearances, I am completely unsurprised that CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is putting next-to-no effort into making truly substantial changes to how the software operates.

“Facebook could adjust its algorithm,” The Washington Post wrote. “The company chooses not to — in part, the Times writes, because research also suggests that sensationalist content increases time spent on the site.”

I’m saddened to see that one of the largest technology companies in the world has not risen up to its responsibilities, as it’s pioneered a way to connect people like no platform truly has. Zuckerberg chose a different path for Facebook, and regrettably, has led to stunning court battles with millions watching.

I don’t feel bad for the third-richest man in the U.S., nor should anyone. Feeling sympathy for a company that allowed the spread of deadly misinformation about a serious pandemic and the United States election would be ironic. Facebook doesn’t deserve our warm regards, however, I can’t help but reminisce.

As a student who studies information technology, I hope to live long enough to see ethical companies replace the Big Tech dynasty. However, as someone who grew up in Silicon Valley, I don’t see meaningful change happening any time soon. As the saying goes, if the product is free, you are the product. With your views paying Zuckerberg’s bills, perhaps it’s up to us to break up with Facebook.