Facebook May Interfere With the Democratic Process, Steal Your Data, and be Partially Responsible for the Modern Mental Health Crisis, But Who Else Remembered Your Birthday Last Year?
In recent years, the darker side of social media has reared its ugly head. Twitter, who once branded themselves the free speech wing of the free speech party, has become censorious after hateful content spread across the platform. Instagram, a seemingly benign app, has been detrimental to the body image and confidence of young women worldwide. And Facebook, undoubtedly the worst of them all, remembered your birthday last year.
To be very clear, Facebook should not be seen in a positive light. Facebook has been complicit in the dissemination of fake news and has increased the political divide between friends, family, and coworkers. All of who, unlike Facebook, forgot your birthday last year.
This critique only scratches the surface of Facebook’s atrocities. Take for instance the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Millions of Facebook users had their data stolen and were subsequently targeted with political advertisements meant to boost the popularity of candidates such as Ted Cruz and Trump. Of course, Cambridge Analytica deserves much of the blame. Like Facebook, they have all of your data. But unlike Facebook, they did not wish you a happy birthday last year. If they are going to use and abuse the data of millions, the least they could do is remember your birthday.
Finally, psychologists have demonstrated a relationship between Facebook usage and mental health issues. The platform brings misery to millions, negatively impacting mood, sleep, and self-image. However, psychologists have also shown that these and other unpleasant symptoms increase when one’s birthday is forgotten, and Facebook did remember your birthday last year.
Thus, if Facebook is to be regulated, regulators must be cautious about curbing Facebook’s ability to send birthday messages to users. After all, who else is going to remember?
NOTES: The consequences of Facebook are still being explored by researchers, but there is largely a consensus that it is having a negative impact on our politics and mental health (though some researchers have argued the mental health aspect has been overblown).