I just read this article on Buzzfeed. It’s about how Russians (probably more than them, but still) sell fake facebook profiles. Facebook’s brilliant idea to stop “fake” profiles is by basically banning anyone who doesn’t have photos and a large social network. I’m sure there’s other criteria, but that’s the core of it. You have to appear to be fully hooked into the Matrix, or else it’ll boot you.
I deleted my real facebook account about half way through college. For various reasons that I won’t get into cause this is already long.
Around the election and shortly following it I was very active online. It was clear to me that fake accounts were everywhere. Mostly pretending to be conservatives and amplifying their messages, but also trying to divide the left. I tried to ignore that, but at a certain point I just snapped and felt like I had to fight their messaging. Yeah, it was mostly a waste of time. But it bothered me when I would see an entire comment section ate up with their bullshit. I needed to dissent.
So I created an account in order to comment on all these other platforms that had integrated Facebook comment sections. I didn’t use my real name or photos. Didn’t add my old friends back. I used it solely to engage politically. Obviously, that’s gonna make me a target for Facebook deletion.
For the first couple months, everything was fine. Most of what I engaged in was political and off facebook’s site. But every now and then I’d comment on something inane. Buzzfeed listicles or movie stuff. If you had looked through my account and actually read what I wrote, it should have been clear that I was an actual person who was just unwilling to put my real info out there.
Things changed when I started to recognize the same “conservative” commenters. Other users began calling them out, so I did the same. Two weeks after I started doing that, my account was disabled. Clearly, the trolls didn’t like being called out. And since they’re a team of people who communicate irl, they reported my account en masse.
So I made another account. Facebook didn’t ding me. I wasn’t trying to hide my IP or anything, so I know they weren’t blocking that.
This time instead of calling out Russians, I just went back to disagreeing. I wasn’t cussing anyone out, and I wasn’t doing anything else abusive. And this time I engaged with facebook groups I liked. I sent private messages to people after long internet arguments just trying to be supportive or make them feel better after a bot pile-on. Cause the bots do get abusive. It was always the same thing too.
In any bot swarm, you have the same actors. There’s the bots who write dissertations and seem level-headed and push a single narrative. There’s the bots who exist solely to agree with that “smart” one (to make it seem like a lot of people agree). There’s the bots who exist just to snipe at, upset, and make anyone who disagrees with the “smart” bots look foolish. Those guys may get banned, but at least the “smart” bots don’t. So many of them exist solely to protect that first type. If it hasn’t happened already, someone is going to write a book about how these teams operate. It’s the same shit over and over.
So of course me with my puppy avatar and handful of friends can’t fight against that. I will look like the fake one. If they checked my PMs maybe they’d see the truth, but they don’t. And when facebook deactivates your account, your comments go along with it. So it’s extremely demoralizing to put in time and effort in an attempt to fight against propaganda, when in a month it’ll all be erased.
My second account got banned when I started calling out how the bot swarms operate. Again, I was reported en masse. To the uninformed or unfamiliar I probably looked like a tin-foil conspiracy theorist. But I did have people agreeing and thanking me for saying something, well, while I could read their messages.
At that point I quit. I think it was months later when I saw a comment that was funny and I liked it out of habit. When you do that the sign-in popup comes up, and I saw my old info from the first account pre-filled in. I hit enter, thinking I’d get the same “disabled” message but nope. It let me sign in. I guess the first account wasn’t fully disabled, but muted for awhile?
I tried to keep out of political arguments because I did enjoy commenting on all these other forums for non-political stuff. But ha. Of course I got sucked back in, and sure enough...two months later...disabled. For good this time. Now I’m gone for good.
While I had a facebook account (and while they collected my info) I was shown better ads. Some of those I clicked, and followed through to buy things. I also tried to be supportive of people that I knew were real, thus contributing to a positive atmosphere on the platform (and also keeping people addicted to that positive feedback). So I think I was the type of user Facebook would prefer. But they banned me in favor of bots who probably don’t engage with advertisers, and only serve to make the platform unusable or unpleasant to real users. I know they don’t care on a personal level, because this bot inflation helps them fake engagement in order to get more advertisers.
Basically, this is why I hate facebook. And why I think everyone should delete their account. Their attempts to solve the “real user” problem (which again isn’t really a problem to them) only end up helping propagandists. Russia and other bad actors will forever figure out ways to subvert their systems. And as long as Facebook is a business selling their users as a product, not much is going to change. They’ll never make the platform better for actual people. Right now, Facebook is in a symbiotic relationship with propagandists. I don’t see that changing.
Edit: Also sorry for all my spelling or grammar mistakes. I’ve been sitting with this for months, but never really had my thoughts organized. That article just made me vomit it all up.
Edit 2: I forgot to mention this, but another thing is that I wish sites would stop using facebook comments. Again, I know they do it for engagement. But every place that uses it is the same bot/troll shitshow.