Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

from NYTs

I joined Facebook in 2008, and for the most part, I have benefited from being on it. Lately, however, I have wondered whether I should delete my Facebook account. As a philosopher with a special interest in ethics, I am using “should” in the moral sense. That is, in light of recent events implicating Facebook in objectionable behavior, is there a duty to leave it?

In moral philosophy, it is common to draw a distinction between duties to oneself and duties to others. From a self-regarding perspective, there are numerous reasons one might have a duty to leave Facebook. For one thing, Facebook can be time-consuming and addictive, to no fruitful end. In addition, as researchers have demonstrated, Facebook use can worsen depression and anxiety. Someone who finds himself mindlessly and compulsively scrolling through Facebook, or who is constantly comparing himself unfavorably with his Facebook friends, might therefore have a duty of self-care to get off Facebook.

From the perspective of one’s duties to others, the possibility of a duty to leave Facebook arises once one recognizes that Facebook has played a significant role in undermining democratic values around the world. For example, Facebook has been used to spread white supremacist propaganda and anti-Semitic messages in and outside the United States. The United Nations has blamed Facebook for the dissemination of hate speech against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar that resulted in their ethnic cleansing.

More here.

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5 Responses to Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

  1. Joseph Capouch December 7, 2018 at 6:26 pm #

    The question posed in the title of the article “Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?” is in interesting one, without a doubt. I previously have never thought of deleting my account on Facebook some sort of moral or ethical obligation. I have considered doing so, simply because of things like the fact that I don’t use the platform very much anymore, and because I am concerned about how much data they are gathering on me, or how the data on my account is being used or exposed, but none of that is a “duty”. I do think the author made a legitimate case for having that point of view though, however.
    In this article, the topic was raised as to how Facebook has been responsible for undermining democratic values in the world. This is through the allowance of people to spread racism, hate speech, fake news, propaganda, or other harmful posts on the platform. I have never had the point of view that this is Facebook’s fault, as it is ultimately the person spreading that information or coming up with it who is the problem. Although it would seem that the company does not do a good enough job of controlling or regulating that, and for that they are to blame, they shouldn’t be blamed for the existence of it to begin with. But with the way the author paired that argument with the way having an active account encourages others to have an account, and how this gives Facebook its huge audience, I was able to see more logic in the argument. Not to mention allowing the platform to have such an enormous group of people is what also allows the people who do post malicious information harder to find, and punish.
    Overall, I believe that deleting your Facebook account could be a moral thing to do. However, the platform does still have its benefits. It allows me to have a way of contacting distant relatives or friends who I have not seen in a long time, and who I otherwise would have no idea how to contact. This is the largest reason why I do not intend to delete my account. As far as some of the concerns as to why I would want to delete it, I am aware the Facebook already has data on me, and would continue to have that information even if I deleted my account, so I don’t believe that deleting it would help me there, which further discourages me from deleting. Even though I acknowledge the negatives of Facebook as a platform, I do not believe I have a moral duty to leave it.

  2. Paul Lee December 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    The past couple of years, Facebook has been going through some very rough patches as fake news was spread around during the 2017 election. A political data firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user’s sensitive information, so they could be specifically targeted with a personalized political advertisement. Facebook has been criticized extensively especially the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. They can easily be hacked and user’s sensitive information that no one should know about can easily be hacked into or made knowledge of.

    Besides Facebook and user information being stolen or used for the wrong purposes, I believe what is scary is that any normal human being with access to the internet, can use Facebook to literally search anyone in the world. Understanding that the person being searched has a Facebook account. That person’s photo, where they worked, family members, their email or number can be viewed upon by the whole world. I also came to learn that users have to check from time to time when Facebook changes their privacy and safety terms for their users, that their privacy is on in the setting. I had no clue that users had to do this and I know many of my peers have not been on Facebook in more than 3 years. They rarely touch their account and do not think any of it, I am one of those people until I read this article and many concerned parties about Facebook.
    I understand that many blame Facebook for these issues and should get their act up. They should change the management and the structure of Facebook but, in the end, Facebook did not want to cause these issues and are sorry for it. I still do believe they need to change how they are structured but, as the author said, I do not think Facebook crossed the moral red line. They did not intentionally sell or gave the sensitive user data information to Cambridge Analytica. With the full knowledge of what Cambridge would do with that type of information.
    Facebook is in a difficult situation that is not entirely their fault. Nonetheless, I do believe, again, that Facebook needs to be proactive in solving their issues before it affects its user population. There are about a billion users around the world using Facebook, all types of sensitive information and linked stuff is on there. It does not seem that Facebook is taking this matter seriously or that the structure of the company will take time to fix. Either way, Facebook now will continuously face issues that will be immoral and larger than the last if it continues down this road of not actively fixing their entire application.

  3. Michael Zera December 7, 2018 at 8:43 pm #

    In the article, “Do you have a moral duty to leave Facebook” presents many valid points as to why an individual should leave this social media application. Previously, I have never thought about leaving Facebook until Professor Shannon brought up Facebook during a class period. Apparently, millions of Facebook users recently have gotten hacked, which is why Professor Shannon explained to fix your Facebook settings, so it does not have your real-world information. However, once I started reading the article, I realized that the author was clearly biased to many of his presenting points in the article. The article presents many negative social benefits such as Facebook is extremely addictive and causes depression and anxiety. I did not like how the author presented this article as he laid it out oddly. Yes, Facebook and most social media sites are technically addictive, but have so many benefits to it. Applications such as twitter and Instagram provide many of my current news information in the world. Same with Facebook, most people I know that use Facebook now and mostly adults over 30, and even students who use it use Facebook primarily for news, family and friends. Also, Facebook brought up a point of Facebook using its democratic views in a negative manner. In this case, this is not Facebook’s fault as many other social media sites have critical individuals speaking their voice, as many do in today’s society. I do feel that young individuals in society needs to control and limit their use of these applications as limiting this will help prevent addiction. Furthermore, Facebook needs to do a better job of controlling and regulating there application because as of late, there has been many instance of taking user’s information. If Facebook does a better job at this, I do not see a problem with Facebook continuing to do what they have been doing for over a decade now.

  4. Dominique Pina December 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm #

    Deleting Facebook is a decision I am sure many people in the past few years have contemplated. This could be for many reasons, but since Facebook has been making news headlines from being involved with all of these data scandals, it would only make sense that a lack of trust be the main reason. We as users can no longer trust what they say, because everytime they tell us something, it is revealed that they are hiding even more information. My personal reason for debating deleting is because of that sense of responsibility. We as customers need to hold companies accountable when they do something wrong. Just complaining about it, brings little motivation for them to truly change when everyone is still using their service. If millions of people stopped using Facebook and moved toward other platforms, they would have to either give the customers what they want or risk losing the whole company. They are comfortable dodging the media’s pitchfork if it means that the users will still stay. Although, in the special case of Facebook, the law is involved. Because of their possible influence in the past election and other issues, they are being investigated. So, do we also need to boycott their website if the law and public eye is forcing them to change their rules? Well that depends whether you believe in the justice of the American legal system and whether you trust Facebook with whatever you are willing to post on there. If your answer is no to any or both of these questions, then I recommend deleting your profile, because as much as Facebook has helped bring people together, there are multiple platforms and ways to do that now, that may not involve as much of a security risk.

  5. Laurie Gallic December 9, 2018 at 1:09 am #

    As a person who used Facebook for about two months, this article is pretty interesting to read. The reasons being that A) I did not know that a lot of these events happened on Facebook and B) I feel that kids my age just missed the cusp of Facebook in its glory days so really understanding its impact is harder for me than for most. Growing up I always remembered my older brothers and my parents using Facebook and MySpace however, my generation really knew Snapchat and Instagram more. Regardless, this article carries a really interesting view on the “moral red line” and whether Facebook has crossed it or not. Again, I haven’t used Facebook or really experienced it at all but I don’t know if I could say that they crossed the red line because as the article hinted to, Facebook is essentially the vessel people use to get their information across. How we interpret that information, whether we decide to react, share, investigate further, is really up to each individual person and their own morals and values. And although they could prevent and should prevent these things from happening I think a lot of the weight lies on the person behind the screen pressing like or dislike or share or whatever it may be. Social media, in particular Facebook has made people more stupid. We stopped questioning things, we’ve closed our minds off to what we don’t want to read or see and we continuously act as if the world needs to agree/see everything from our point of view. Most of these issues have been over-emphasized on social media everywhere. When people begin to realize that they have as much power to interpret-analyze-understand something in themselves, far more than the Facebook algorithm can, we will stop being taken advantage of, regardless of who’s doing it. Obviously, Facebook should be ridiculed for their action, I am not justifying them however, people will continue to use Facebook regardless. I personally do not think they crossed the “moral red line” and perhaps, if they did, we were right there with them. Regardless, I personally think it is time to move on from Facebook. However, there will always be people who disagree or agree and instead share an article on Facebook talking about how we should stop using Facebook.

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