Mauren: I wish Facebook stayed down

Columnist Jacob Mauren breaks down the consequences of Facebook and explains why the app would be better off if it never came back online. 

Jacob Mauren

Maybe you remember Monday. Pretty standard, other than one of the world’s largest tech companies dealing with a significant routing failure that led to all of its services, including Facebook and Instagram, being inoperable for the majority of the workday. While many waited for their return, a part of me hoped the issue was so catastrophic that we wouldn’t see them return. 

Like me, you probably noticed either Facebook or Instagram stopped working at about 11 a.m. One of the last social media survivors, Twitter, was ablaze with speculation and questions for the next few hours. While factual information was challenging to come by, early signs seemed to point to an intense routing error. Essentially, when you open your app, it tries to find a route to Facebook services. That route was removed.

To be completely honest, when I saw what was happening to Facebook, I got excited. For the first time, it seemed that a corporation that has seemingly gotten away with whatever it wanted for years was finally suffering some consequences. If this vessel of misinformation, polarization and violence never came back online, I believe the world would be a better place. 

One of the most egregious wrongs Facebook has contributed to is genocide in Myanmar. For years the Myanmar military used Facebook to launch a misinformation campaign against a Muslim majority ethnic group called the Rohingya. This resulted in high levels of violence against the Rohingya and drove as many as 700,000 from the country. While Facebook says it took measures to limit this misinformation, the fact is they provided a platform for genocide and kept it up so they could continue the rake in cash. 

Closer to home, the company’s platforms have become fertile soil for both misinformation and political polarization. In Facebook’s first quarter of 2021, the most clicked link on the entire website was to an article that touted vaccine misinformation — a fact so embarrassing that the company declined to publish a report on that quarter. More recently, a report out of NYU finds exposure to Facebook increases the polarization of policy views and that their algorithms make it unlikely to see viewpoints that are different than your own. Whether Facebook wants to admit it or not, its services are designed perfectly for these things to thrive. 

In the end, I have a distaste for Facebook and its giant social media empire because of its willingness to put profits over everything. No matter the scale of the consequences, Facebook refuses to change as it leads to literal genocides and the degradation of political discourse in its home country.