All the reasons Facebook is terrifying

There's a problem on the Internet, and it's called Facebook. While it may seem like a convenient place to remind you about friends' birthdays and to play Candy Crush, there's a lot of darkness lurking just below the shiny surface. Facebook has become a billion dollar monopoly on social networking, and it doesn't always use its powers for the good of its users. One may argue that Facebook is a free service, and has the right to do whatever it wants to its freeloading users. But those users actually provide something far more valuable than money. It sees you when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake—so here are a few reasons why Facebook is genuinely terrifying.

Intellectual property problems

While it isn't true that anything you post to Facebook becomes the property of Facebook, as some popular copy-and-paste memes might have you believe, much of what you post can be used by Facebook for its own purposes. And as long as you have a Facebook account, that can't be changed. When you hastily sign up for the service, you agree in no uncertain terms that Facebook can do what it wants with your junk, within certain limits. While this is generally relegated to using your content to promote and distribute other content, and not selling t-shirts with your face on them, it creeps into very dicey territory.

Privacy issues

You've just had a really bad day at work, and the moment you get on the train, you feel compelled to post something inappropriate about your current employer. While Facebook's privacy settings allow you to set certain statuses to be available to specific audiences, those settings have been known to occasionally slip, revealing your angry hand to anyone who happens to be wandering through. Even if your current employer doesn't see your diatribe, future employers might. Facebook positions itself as a confession wall by asking you how you're feeling today, but users should realize that they should just talk to someone in real life instead, or face unemployment.

Unmoderation

Facebook is unmoderated, for the most part. The site presents a free forum for anonymous users all over the world to be as terrible as they want to be, from the safety of their own homes, without Facebook's intervention. While the site has certain standards of what can and cannot be posted, it relies on users to report all infractions, and employs a highly inconsistent, difficult system to police them. As a result, there are plenty of Facebook communities that have sprung up about hateful ideologies and destructive practices, and Facebook doesn't seem to actually care… as long as they can use your homophobia to sell you your newest Confederate flag t-shirt.

It knows

While Facebook doesn't necessarily spy on you, it has an unnatural knowledge of websites you've visited and things you're interested in, and uses this knowledge to suggest other things you might be interested in. Years ago, this may have seemed like a great idea, opening up new avenues of exploration for the curious, but now, as Facebook repeatedly asks you if you're still interested in that shameful eBay item you were viewing last week, or if you'd like to see more videos related to something you watched on Netflix, it just feels invasive. Combing your online life for morsels of information to suck money from your pockets isn't a service, but a creepy intrusion.

Keep it real

Part of Facebook's user agreement is that you have to use your real name, and anyone who's spent any time online knows that it's definitely safer to keep your anonymity when traversing the perilous and vengeful halls of the Internet. While this policy may only keep honest people too honest, Facebook never presents users with identity verification during the signup process, so it's never really an issue until someone else reports the pseudonym, generally after the fake profile does something especially racist or otherwise terrible. It's a double-edged sword, and no one really wins, unless they completely disengage from the service, their feelings, and the known universe.

Spread of misinformation

If you're a Facebook user, it behooves you to amp up your critical thinking skills before you believe anything you see. There's no IQ test before someone can sign up for Facebook, so anyone can post an inflammatory meme about any political issue, stuff it with lies, and then watch it spread like wildfire. False statistics pasted on pictures of politicians are traded like Pokemon cards among the dumbest breed of slacktivist and are seen and believed by millions. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, but Facebook isn't a legitimate news source. Unfortunately, these little caveats are not included with each post, and therefore, we are doomed.

Inevitable comparisons

There are few worse feelings than browsing Facebook and seeing all of your friends surpassing the expectations you've set for yourself while you're still slogging through your student loans and eating enough wintergreen Tums to fill a cargo ship. While a little healthy comparison can be a great motivator, too much of it is deeply depressing. What the average user might not immediately realize is that Facebook generally only presents a "best of" version of their friends. It's like getting the annual Christmas card update, but every single day of the year, and there's something psychologically unhealthy about that.

Revenge is easy

Whatever you've posted, and however tightly you've locked it down, your information isn't safe. If you've gone around spoiling Star Wars, and your dear, sweet grandma tagged you in a birthday photo once without setting it to private, you've just opened yourself up to a world of hurt. It doesn't take a whole lot of skill to assemble a complete profile of someone from even the most cursory information available online, and Facebook is the leakiest source in the world. If you're going to be a jerk on Facebook…don't. It will not end well for you.

TMI

Sorry, but until your baby is old enough to start doing anything other that barf and sleep, it's just a boring baby. No one cares what you ate, no one wants to see your ambiguous status update about how your relationship is now officially complicated, and while it's great that you've set up an accountability program for your fitness regimen, no one cares how many steps you took today. Facebook enables and encourages a kind of real-time autobiography that just doesn't need to happen outside of a locked diary. The draw to share your interesting life is just too strong to resist, but unless it's major news, you're just wasting electricity.

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