Get your community organization off of Facebook. Right now.
By Mark Hurst • October 5, 2021
The Facebook outage yesterday presents us with a golden opportunity to tell community organizations to get off of Facebook and Instagram. Schools, churches, soccer leagues: it’s time for them to deactivate their accounts. And it’s vital that we ask them right now to act. Let me explain.
The revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (testifying today at the U.S. Senate), and the WSJ’s Facebook Files (which I wrote about two weeks ago), publicly confirm what we’ve been saying for years: Facebook is a deeply unethical and harmful platform. Leaked documents show that Facebook leaders are well aware of the problems they’re causing – to individuals, communities, and whole countries – but rather than addressing the harms, they amplify them, in order to maintain exponential growth.
Our moment to act is right now: Facebook’s overlapping crises are front-page news, U.S. Senators from both parties are outraged, and millions of people are talking about how their Facebook and Instagram accounts just – poof! – disappeared for most of yesterday. For once, we don’t have to painstakingly try to persuade people about the risks inherent in engaging with Facebook. For this one moment, people are paying attention.
Past scandals have had little effect on people’s behavior. Yes, occasionally we hear about #DeleteFacebook, encouraging individuals to delete their accounts. But that hasn’t worked, in part because individuals are often required to maintain Facebook accounts in order to receive updates from organizations they belong to.
That’s why it’s important for us to reach out to community organizations that maintain a presence on Facebook or Instagram:
• camps and sports leagues
• municipal authorities
If you or your family is involved in any of these, I’d recommend sending an email today, asking the organization to deactivate their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Below I’ve listed several ideas for wording the email, each with a different argument, depending on what the organization might respond to. Feel free to copy my language wholesale, or edit it as you see fit.
For organizations concerned with reliability (schools, municipal authorities)
“Please stop posting your updates on Facebook and Instagram, which are liable to disappear without warning, as shown by yesterday’s outage. Instead, use a website on the open web, and email updates. I would also suggest that you delete the organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts altogether, to encourage people to use your website.”
For those concerned with child safety (schools, camps, sports leagues)
“I am concerned with your organization’s use of Facebook and Instagram for posting updates about my child’s activities. These services knowingly profit from the spread of harmful content for children, as shown by the recent 60 Minutes episode and Wall Street Journal articles. This is in addition to the privacy and security risks that we’re taking by sharing our kids’ info on those platforms. Please shut down your Facebook and Instagram accounts and start a website on the open web.”
For those concerned with ethics/morals (schools, religious groups, camps)
“I want to ask that your organization delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts. As a person of integrity(/faith), I am deeply concerned by the recent revelations of the unethical, immoral behavior by Facebook and Instagram leaders: inciting violence here and abroad, knowingly spreading hateful and false content, and causing anxiety and depression in young users – especially teenage girls – all in service of increased revenue growth. An organization(/church) committed to the pursuit of truth and justice should not maintain a presence on these services – in the same way that it would not hold its meetings in a casino or strip club. Please move your online presence to a website outside of these platforms, so that the organization can maintain its integrity. Thank you.”
For those organizations that model good behavior for young people (schools, religious groups, camps)
“We often hear parents complaining that their kids spend too much time on their smartphones, using social media apps. Yet your organization posts its updates on Facebook and Instagram, the very services we claim to want to keep kids away from. (As reported by 60 Minutes, these are also the platforms that knowingly harm teenage users in order to make more money.) Please delete your Facebook and Instagram accounts and move your online presence to a regular website, accompanied by email updates. This will show our kids that we’re modeling the behavior that we ask from them. Thank you.”
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And I hope you’ll join me, and others, who are concerned with these issues. Please join my Creative Good community. We’re discussing ideas, news stories, and next steps on the members-only Creative Good Forum.
I actually do need your support – so I’ll say this way:
Until next time,
Mark Hurst, founder, Creative Good – see official announcement and join as a member
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