Facebook is bad and you should stop using it


I’m in Malaysia right now, and there is actually a courier company here called “Skynet”, no joke.

I think the following will go a long, long way to solving this mess: Open Source, and Open Standards. That’s how you avoid almost all of the “Slime” (as mentioned in the Frank Zappa quotation way above).

Whenever some Slimy corporation tries to add something Slimy to open source, anyone can “fork” the project and remove the Slime.

You can do just about anything now that closed source software can do, as long as you have enough geek manpower(/personpower). :slight_smile:

Given a little more time, I think you are going to see a lot more usage of technologies such as the following, each one a small step towards far less Slime:

  • Openstack
  • Nextcloud
  • The Gnome Desktop environment, which has integrated Nextcloud support.
  • Raspberry Pi 3’s or PocketCHIPs (@SarathW1, your mu4e client would make great sense on a PocketCHIP, should they ever manage to resume shipment of them)
  • Nextcloud Docker Containers (with built-in Dynamic DNS and port-forwarding-plug-and-play support, virtually essential for hosting at home behind a firewall) for the Raspberry Pi and Raspbian x86.
  • XMPP with OTR or OMEMO encryption
  • etc.

If you don’t build your own “cloud”, then some Slimy corporation will gladly do it for you:


In a way, yes. However, when the problem gains scale, as a social problem, it’s not the misuser but the knife that becomes the subject of debate. And I think for good reason.

When a person misuses something, one reflects about the problem at the individual, personal scale: volition and responsibility and so on. But when the misuse is prone to emerge as a society problem “fault” shifts meaning: it’s less about individual misuse, individual volition and personal responsibility, and more about what stimuli and conditions applied to a population that trigger undesirable, hard-to-reverse outcomes that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

Hence all the discussions about guns, food diet, climate change, drugs and technology (TV, computers, and now cellphones, social media etc) world-wide across the decades. It’s a debate about the design of society and about what kind of dynamics are desirable to promote and see flourish and what kind of dynamics are desirable to tame. The Vinaya being one notorious example (though apparently less a product of debate, and more a product of a designer).

Of course, that does not mean that, individually, we drop talking about individual responsibility and misuse. For example, a judge should never accept a murderer using the line “it’s the gun’s fault” as defense. Or, if I or someone dear to me is becoming addicted to the cellphone, in that personal context, that’s something I would still address individually – “fault” reverting back to individual autonomous choices.



Hello Bhante, we are already there…

This is referring to a fake video of Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother.

The video was created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together.

They have complete “shadow” accounts, I used to receive emails saying things like “your account is ready and your friends are waiting”. FB would cross reference my email in my friends’ accounts, pictures where I was tagged (even while I don’t have an account with my real name) and so on. We all have this shadow accounts.

As with any other tool, it all goes down to how we use it. Television is great, but we can get addicted to it, so is the internet, cars, even the Dhamma can have this problem if used incorrectly.

I had to open a FB account in order to handle a group project I was involved with, but I never used it as a personal account. But even so, I will close it next year after an event we have in January and I need FB to manage said event. I don’t think that the price is right, the platform is a real mess, people are running all the time, the entire place is designed to find out your connections and sell you things, not to share and talk, like this tool (discourse) is designed to be.

Yes, they will all go down, same as any empire, but what are we learning from it? Myspace and hi5 where just test runs that lead to FB, will this be another test run for something bigger? Or will we learn something from it?


I am much less optimistic than you @Subharo about the benefits of open source software and many other manifestations of online and information freedom. Underpinning your outlook, I think, is the idea that people on the whole are good individually, and also that the free expression of their creativity and desires in an unregulated, interactive manner leads to an overall increase in good. I think there is good reason to doubt both propositions in our world of unenlighted beings.


I have had a much more positive experience with Facebook than other people seem to have had. It helps me keep up with the lives of lots of extended family members, as well as old friends who I haven’t seen in years and who are scattered across the world. I am also fascinated my the way in which personal social networks are expanded and modified as people from one network make new friends in other social networks through he mediation of a common friend, and are then exposed to ideas and ways of life that they would otherwise know nothing about.

There are certain people who engage in various kinds of angry ranting, but I find it easy to ignore most of it - as though it were just some dim shouting on the street below while I am safely ensconced in a high rise apartment. I am an interested observer of human beings and human nature, so I actually don’t mind being exposed to these different realms of experience, even though they are sometimes unpleasant.

My wife’s family is in Puerto Rico, and so following the recent hurricane disaster, i was able to join various Facebook groups and participate in sharing urgent information, inquiries and news. What I found especially rewarding is that many of my other friends in the US could then learn something about the people of Puerto Rico and their troubles, faith and spirit. I found the way in which many of these Facebook friends responded to events in the lives of other people very touching. So when I mentioned that my brother-in-law finally had his power restored after nearly three months without, a bunch of people who never met him responded with likes and little messages like “that’s awesome!”

As far as privacy or whatever, yes, by now I have grown accustomed to the idea that big and small corporations everywhere, as well as various foreign governments, probably have my whole life in some database somewhere. That’s just the world we live in now. We’re all part of the Borg I guess. Somehow this doesn’t bother me that much. Protecting my all-powerful Ego from external penetration and surveillance doesn’t seem as important to be as it once did. But it also gives me more incentive not to do anything online that I wouldn’t want exposed.


OK, folks, that’s all Mara’s fault and it is nothing to do with us.


I spent a lot of my time in SC and DW.
You think Bhante @sujato and David @DhammaWiki deliberately engineered these sites to suck me in?


I’m sympathetic to your argument, Bhante @sujato , I really am. And I’m all for the idea that social media is to some extent toxic, as I’ve had negative experiences of comparing myself to others (or at least the ways in which others’ depict themselves). But I also think there is a lot of good that can be gained out of Facebook and social media as well. I have a couple of examples:

  1. There is a small Greek island off of the coast of Turkey called Lesvos (or Lesbos). Due to its proximity to Turkish soil, many refugees (especially over the past five years during the refugee crisis) would hire smugglers to provide them passage across the Mytilini Strait. In early 2016 I began reading about what was happening on Lesvos, as relief organizations were completely overwhelmed by the thousands of people who were arriving every day. What occurred was beautiful, hundreds of people volunteering their time; providing lookout for dinghys that would wash-up on shore with dehydrated and hypothermic passengers, emergency medical care, translators, and people who came to do absolutely whatever was needed, sometimes for years. So much of these grassroots relief efforts were coordinated on Facebook, providing information about what organizations were in need of the most help. It allowed for teamwork between so many people, many of whom jumped on a plane to Athens with nothing but the good intention to help people who were making an extremely treacherous journey.

  2. I have observed over the past couple of years how useful a tool Facebook has been amongst the bhikkhuni sangha, particularly in the United States (please dispute me on this if I’m wrong!). In the US the bhikkhunis aren’t supported nearly as much as the bhikkhunis in Australia, and thus Facebook has become the primary mechanism for conveying events, ordinations, fundraisers, and general information about the happenings at various monasteries. Facebook allows them to have visibility that they would otherwise not receive, to make connections, to grow, and to receive support. What thereby occurs is the formation of a massive network, as bhikkhunis from around them world connect and share how things are going. I’m on the board of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis, and we share various information from monasteries across the world on our Facebook page; without Facebook you might not know, for instance, that Karuna Sevena (the bhikkhuni monastery in the Czech Republic) hasn’t been doing very well recently and might not be able to continue. Or that Sati Saraniya often needs stewards. Or that Aloka Vihara just had their first Kathina.

So sure, I think all corporations can be exploitive and dangerous, but I also think think saying “Facebook is bad and you should stop using it” does a tremendous disservice to all the good and beautiful things that have come as a result of people working together to help others.


Corporations are there to make a profit.
They don’t survive on donations.
A very good example is Wikipedia. They run on donations and now sending an ultimatum to people that unless they give donations they have to turn it into a commercial venture.


Brenna I tend to agree with you about the utility of Facebook as I have certainly benefited from its use from time to time. I still find it to be kind of an obnoxious platform that tends to raise my stress levels whenever I open it but it certainly has its utility. My only thought is that Bhante, like a good journalist, sometimes writes compelling headlines and taglines to draw interest. I think he was successful this time around as well. :slight_smile:


I would say from extensive experience on both sides that the Open Source world is about 100 times less slimy than the closed source world.

When you use Windows 10, there’s Cortana (and you can disable your personal use of it, but not remove it, and you have no assurance it still isn’t listening to you for “law enforcement” purposes). Likewise the Mac world has Siri. There’s also a speech-to-text engine in Android that you can’t remove (the unremoveable-ness being a Red Flag), and you have no assurance that it isn’t listening to you all the time. Do some searching within Bruce Schneier’s blog and you’ll find plenty of evidence of this.

I’d like for you, @DKervick, to link to evidence that Linux distros like Debian, Raspbian, Fedora, Mint, or Pop!_OS contain an unremoveable speech-to-text-engine, let alone one installed by default. Let’s see you back up your unsubstantiated claims.

What I find highly unsuitable about Commercial software are all the “anti-features”, which are features that you don’t want, and can’t remove. For example, I was shown an advertisement in Windows 10 once within the volume control tray app.

This sort of thing is unthinkable in the Open Source world (except for perhaps in Ubuntu, who has a marketing partnership with Amazon).

Here’s a recent video where people all contributed anecdotes about what it is that “makes them smile” in Linux and Open Source, if you’d like opinions from a wider group.


That sounds really complicated! I’m just a regular person, not a tech guy.


Well, he does the same thing what FB does!:grinning:


I would recommend (to anyone without high blood pressure) reading the non-geeky book “Data and Goliath”, by Bruce Schneier, to get a much larger sense of just how unbelievably crazy this is all getting.


I think you have ‘nailed’ the irony in the OP.

:rofl: In the addition to his translating and supporting (thank you) what is his position on stand-up comedy?


The problem is that the examples you give are really just the advantages of communication, which just so happens to have taken place on FB. So when you see these things happening, you attribute the success to FB. But no: the success is really because of the people making an effort to communicate. That’s what the internet is all about.

If FB was to vanish tomorrow (Yay!) then people would find other means to communicate. There are already plenty of different mediums to use: I’ve never used FB and it hasn’t stopped me. But so long as everyone is locked into Big Social, other platforms will never take off. There are several brilliant ideas for social networking platforms that avoid many of FB’s pitfalls, but who has even heard of them?


Then how do you know it is bad?
This is my problems.
I have never used FB.
So I can’t see the devil.




I know I may be alone in saying this, but I don’t think most of what is described here is the fault of the corporations. It is people agreeing to their terms and accepting it as it is. None of this would have happened if people didn’t accept it-- it isn’t like FB is forcing anybody do anything. Its easy, and popular, to paint large corporations as evil and domineering and having all the control over everybody, but its really not that simple.

Businesses are there to make money and will always be motivated by that. Period.
They are rarely motivated by altruistic intentions despite what they may try to represent. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but we have to realize… we aren’t going to get blood from a turnip.


Brilliant post. :smiley: Thank you for the refreshing reminder that FB is just a website (admittedly, there are mobile apps as well), just in the same way that SC is just a website.

I strongly agree with Ven. @Sujato that if people do not vote with their feet somehow or other, then how is this debacle ever going to stop?

BTW, I have never had a FB acct (nor Twitter), as I could smell the pungent reek of the cult vibes right from the get-go, so very long ago when FB first hit the scene.

This dysutopic scenario was all foreshadowed right from the very start when I started getting those automated emails from FB, posing (Red Flag) as sincere and authentic invitations to come and join (the cult), or I wouldn’t be permitted to see whatever everyone else was doing inside the uncontrollable, proprietary, highly-subject-to-unwanted-changes-for-the-worse website (2nd Red Flag).