For nine months, I've been wrestling with many legitimate concerns with Facebook. Last June, I took a month away. Then in December, I decided to take another short break. On January 1, 2017, I felt led to unplug from Facebook for two solid weeks. I was determined to create new healthy boundaries with social media.
During the most recent Facebook vacation, I blogged twice about it. The first one was titled, Why I'm Taking Facebook Breaks. If you missed it, check it out here.
Somewhere along the way, I got sucked into the Facebook rabbit hole. Without meaning to, my time was swallowed up and gone. What started out as simply updating my author page or writing a new status for my personal page, snowballed into something far bigger. It became time-consuming.
I found myself scrolling through my news feed. Then I noticed that a few acquaintances added me to Facebook groups without my permission or knowledge. More precious time is gobbled up in effort to delete myself from groups that I don't wish to be a part of. Suddenly, three to four hours slipped by. Has this ever happened to you?
There's a never ending distraction with Facebook. Messages need responded to. For those who commented on my posts, I've always tried to "like" it or share a few thoughts on how I relate. Even for the most diligent person, it takes awareness and self-control to avoid the time trap on Facebook. So help me, God, I sincerely tried to not get sucked in!
Primarily, what has been my #1 reason for remaining on Facebook is my author page. Over the past seven to eight years, I've dedicated myself to being an encouragement to others. To give hope to the hopeless. To share my faith and how it's significantly transformed me. I love to inspire and motivate people! Mostly, I enjoy touching lives in a positive way.
Yet, after all of these years, after blood, sweat and tears, after all of the time, patience, energy, and valuable content, Facebook has radically changed their social media so it no longer serves me. Do not get me started on the idea that businesses must advertise. Or that we must post a dozen times daily to get one single post in our friend's news feed. Or that the algorithms are wacky so nobody sees our posts.
Truth be told, advertising on Facebook was an epic fail for me. No sooner did my sponsored ad go live from my author page, when Facebook sends me an email stating that I "didn't meet their guidelines." They claimed that I had 30 words in my ad, which was over their limit. (Where in the world is this rule in their fine print?)
Although, I can understand that my ad may not have been acceptable according to their guidelines, I don't understand why Facebook didn't reimburse me? How come they felt the need to delete my ad, but keep my money? Is that even ethical? In my opinion, it's a deceptive tactic and they lost all credibility to me.
In the meanwhile, I watched other ads like a hawk. Carefully, I started counting all of the words that other people used for their sponsored ads. I was interested if anyone went over the 30 word count since that's the reason Facebook said my ad was deleted. Low and behold, I discovered countless sponsored ads that went way beyond a 30 word count. Go figure!
How come their ads were not deleted, but mine was? Could this be a form of censorship? Was my ad deleted not because it contained over 30 words, but mainly because my message was pertaining to God, to faith, and to Christians? Could it be that my views and posts are not politically correct? Or that according to Facebook, my conservative approach does not align with their beliefs, business practices, and guidelines?
If so, then I believe that it's not a win-win situation. Instead, they set me and other Christians up to fail, to fall to the wayside, and to not make it through their news feed. In simpler terms, we are silenced.
...this is the icing on the cake that led me to say farewell to Facebook.
According to Wikipedia, "Censorship is the suppression of free speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions."
My own situation on Facebook is not an isolated case. I've discussed with multiple Christians their own similar circumstance of experiencing censorship on Facebook. In addition, through research I've discovered that censorship happens frequently on Facebook by ordinary folks, like you and me. Some of them are Christians, but some of them are not. Most are considered conservative, but not all. What they do have in common is that they are "truth tellers."
Who are truth tellers? They are people who share true facts of what's going on in our world. It may involve politics, religion, and controversial topics. The bottom line is that Facebook deliberately suppresses freedom of speech, especially when it's a hot subject that Mark Zuckerberg opposes.
Here's an interesting article found on The Guardian, titled, "Facebook Accused of Censoring Conservatives."
In recent news, a Christian mom/vlogger, Elizabeth Johnston, had her Facebook page frozen three times, twice in seven days, due to her posts. According to Life Site, "Last week, she posted her argument that the Bible condemns homosexuality, using Old and New Testament sources. Facebook summarily removed the post and suspended her access to the page. It also stripped her of her ability to respond to private comments for three days. Once she was unfrozen, she complained about censorship and restored the original blog. Facebook removed it again. She was frozen for another seven days and cut off from her 70,000 followers."
As if blatant censorship is not enough reason to leave Facebook, the big clincher for me was the true movie, Snowden. What an eye-opener! Edward Joseph Snowden is an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency employee, and former contractor for the United States government, who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. Edward Snowden did not have authorization. Basically, he blew the whistle on the NSA and left the USA.
From my understanding, the information leaked by Snowden stipulated that the government recorded and listened to people all over the world. I'm not referring to only political people, suspicious folks, or those under an investigation. In the movie, the NSA gained access into people's private lives via the webcam. (Cell phones, iPads, laptop computer.)
In the film, the NSA spied on a women undressing in her bedroom. Her laptop computer was not turned on, but the lid was up so they freely gained access to view her without her being aware. If you think this only happens in movies and that it's not real, think again. According to this movie, the government recorded people through various websites and platforms, including Facebook, Google, Apple, and YaHoo.
Privacy or the lack of privacy is a serious concern. At least it is to me. I wrote in my previous blog post about my legitimate concerns with zero privacy on Facebook. Based on the fact that this is a free network with much red tape involved, we don't have control over our personal information and pictures on Facebook.
If we stay, we are agreeing to lose our rights of confidentiality and privacy. Remember, we signed the agreement on the day we created our Facebook account. Of course, Facebook has been slowly chipping away at our privacy for many years. This is not something new. Many are aware of it. Plenty of people deactivate their Facebook accounts because they don't want their privacy invaded.
What I find fascinating is that over this past nine months, I've grown more unhappy and less tolerant of this nonsense on Facebook. Perhaps, I'm no longer desensitized to what's going on in our world? I refuse to place my head in the sand and act like nothing is wrong. Instead, I've reached a point in which enough is enough.
Sometimes we need to raise our voice. To not be silenced. To stand for what we are passionate about and what we believe. Today, I declare that I stand for God. I stand for truth. I stand for freedom, liberty, and justice for all.
Although some people are wondering if I am going to be permanently gone from Facebook or if this deactivation is only temporary, at this time I have not committed myself to a timeline. What I can say is that I didn't impulsively leave Facebook. It was thought out and it was something that I felt was necessary.
Whether you relate to my concerns or not, I challenge each of you to do your own research regarding censorship and privacy. If you know of a healthy alternative to Facebook, I'd love to obtain new options so feel free to share in the comments. For those who want to connect with me, you can fill out the contact information or find me at the following sites.
Twitter (Girly Girls Guide) twitter.com/girlygirlsguide
YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/FaithInspiredWriter/videos