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What would happen if Facebook were turned off? (economist.com)
47 points by jkuria 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments



It's funny to read such articles hypothesising about Facebook being gone. I left Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn about 1 year ago. I was hardly getting any use out of it anyway; not even Messenger. I did a similar thing to Reddit. Quit it cold turkey. These days, I hang out on Mastodon and HN. As it turns out, I don't give a shit about what my extended family and old classmates are up to, and they don't really give a shit about my hobbies and political views. Staying in touch with fellow nerds is far more enriching.


If only bands I like add RSS flux to their website, I’ll follow you in a minute !

Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit old (47) but I never geeked the urge of adding « friends » for having a big number of friends, so I am mainly interacting with 3 or 4 people on FB, as everybody’s gone now.

But I get news from the band I follow, gig dates and stuff.

I once missed Porcupine Tree having a gig in my town (a lot of work at that time) in 2004 and that’s the main reason I subscribed to FB (many years later but still) to never miss a gig of anyone again


And I dare say staying out of touch with news as Facebook and reddit presents it is ... how to put this, not enriching, but rather more like emotionally detoxing.


From the article, referencing a study where researchers got a bunch of people to quit Facebook and then studied what happened:

“They consumed much less news, and were thus less aware of events but also less polarised in their views about them than those still on the network. Leaving Facebook boosted self-reported happiness and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety.”

^^ this is why I’d like to see it broken up or shut down. There’s so much vitriol in everyone’s faces every day, it greatly contributes to the general unreasonableness of politics today.


This isn't so much a problem with Facebook, but just gated communities in general.

Heavy moderation by participants push out opposing view points until all that's left are echo chambers.

The downside of this trend is the vast majority of people don't tend to realize they are in an echo chamber and take what they are interneting as gospel because people tend to trust the wisdom of the masses.. they just don't realize the masses are carefully culled.

IMHO problem is worse on Reddit, but likely affects more people via Facebook.


Heavy moderation is why people don’t hate each other even more. When I started using Twitter I followed loads of people who disagreed with me politically who I thought were intelligent. Lots of them are, and thoughtful but it just made it really obvious that there’s still plenty of support for people and views I consider odious. Non-filtered news consumption leads to a more accurate picture of reality in which huge portions of the population hate each other and there’s an excellent chance of widespread violence at the level of the US in the 1960’s again.

https://status451.com/2017/01/20/days-of-rage/

>> “People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.” — Max Noel, FBI (ret.)

> Recently, I had my head torn off by a book: Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage, about the 1970s underground. It’s the most important book I’ve read in a year. So I did a series of running tweetstorms about it, and Clark asked me if he could collect them for posterity. I’ve edited them slightly for editorial coherence.

> Days of Rage is important, because this stuff is forgotten and it shouldn’t be. The 1970s underground wasn’t small. It was hundreds of people becoming urban guerrillas. Bombing buildings: the Pentagon, the Capitol, courthouses, restaurants, corporations. Robbing banks. Assassinating police. People really thought that revolution was imminent, and thought violence would bring it about.


For anyone else curious, just found an article on this: http://time.com/4501670/bombings-of-america-burrough/


We shouldn't be the pot calling the kettle black. This place is an echo chamber on a variety of topics to the same extent or worse than I've ever seen on FB or Reddit.


I think the difference is that only individual posts get downvoted here.

I (used to) have friends on FB who will unfriend anyone epxressing an opinion that they don't agree with (or "find offensive"). They end up in an echo chamber where they never hear an opinion they don't already agree with, and then get surprised when elections don't turn out the way they wanted. Weirdly, I'm still friends with some of them irl, and we can have civil discussions about the same topics in person, just not online.

Unpopular opinions on HN get downvoted to invisibility, but the author is still able to post other unpopular opinions. They'll probably also get downvoted, but sometimes they get supported.


>Unpopular opinions on HN get downvoted to invisibility

Do they? In my experience (admittedly limited, a couple of years) things get a lot of downvotes almost always for how they say it, not what they say. Can anyone give counterexamples? A well-expressed comment worth reading but downvoted to invisibility?


I have no idea if there's a perceived difference in how I'm saying things, but I definitely notice that the unpopular opinions I hold get downvoted to invisibility.


Do you have some examples of that? Links? I should do an Ask about it I guess.. Examples seem hard to come by.


check my comment history and see the numerous downvoted comments ;)


Agreed there is a difference. Not so much agreed that it meaningfully suppresses the echo chamber effect. The ultimate result is the same. That which sufficiently differs with the views of the majority of the people on this site tends to be seen less, or not at all depending on the extent of the disagreement. Except for us heretics with showdead enabled.


agreed. But the majority here define the "acceptable" opinions, not the individual.

Also, I've had climate-skeptic comments upvoted and culture-war comments downvoted in contradiction to the dominant narrative here, so it does seem to be post-by-post rather than site-wide chambering.


> But the majority here define the "acceptable" opinions, not the individual.

That doesn't seem better to me. :( You are right that sometimes counter-hive-mind comments get upvoted, though, if written just the right way. I hope this happens more often in the future.


FB is just the messenger (NPI).

If it's shut down, something else will quickly fill its place.


I was just going to say, today's internet will route around the damage.


I effectively quit... I still have an account, but I have not checked it in any way in several months. Life is much improved - i am definitely happier. I also read and interact here and other non toxic places more which I think is an improved way to spend idle time


People would rejoice, as they moved deep inside the next trap.


Party like it's 1999?

I am every day glad i finished my undergrad before facebook was a thing.


If you think about Facebook as an empire, it's worth considering that people who have lived under empires don't generally go back to living as they did before the empires showed up. They typically want a better empire to live under.


If you think it’s an empire.

Also nobody needs a empire except for the emperor


After games started popping up I left facebook only as a photo storage where my family can see my/our/their photos. I also use FB messenger to talk to a total grand of 1 person that doesn't use any other messaging service.


I deleted my facebook account maybe a year ago. It was like ripping off a band-aid.

It felt bad for a short period of time due fear of missing out on family/friends and whatnot. But shortly after I realized that I'm feeling less distracted and not falling into the scroll-hole as often.

And as a small bonus, on my last birthday I received actual texts and calls from actual friends instead of "me too" comments on a fb post.


Those booted off enjoyed an additional hour of free time on average

What to people who spend an hour or more a day on Facebook actually do there? I log in once or twice a week to look for pictures from my family and maybe wish someone a happy birthday (which is a pretty shallow interaction since I only do it when Facebook tells me to).

But what do people do when they spend much more time there? Read and respond to posts?


They scroll endlessly watching photos and videos on the feed, many of which are shared by others or come through page subscriptions. They may also hit like or tap on some reaction. Actual comments are a lot lesser in magnitude.

One hour a day on Facebook is too short a duration for most of these people.


The world would rejoice that a service that does less good than it does harm is gone. We would be less polarized. We would be less narcissistic. We would be less depressed. We would also we able to pickup our phone and call any body we truly wished to stay connected to. And we would not have an avg of 1500 friends

It would be a cause for celebration.


I quit for the third and final time a few months ago. My kids text pics, etc. We have a group family text thread. I don't like being tracked and my data being sold. Facebook is a very negative social force and a conduit for misinformation. So many fools that believe the "news" they read on FB.


I think nothing would happen. I mean, the stock market would dip a little, possibly, but people would simply adjust their lives with no real problems.

Thankfully Facebook remains a tool of whimsy for most people, not one of necessity. There are plenty of other "distractions" in life that will occupy our time.


Hmm... I think the bigger issue would be the loss of Messenger. In my opinion, Facebook as a platform is dead. A lot of people in my friends list have stopped posting altogether. Myself, I post once or twice a month for things that I thing my friends would like to watch/see.


The real problem with FB is addiction. People especially kids get a shot of dopamine for every "like" on social media. It is also an escape from reality and it is possible to carry on a fantasy life. This experience isn't going to end well.


Welp. Certainly the zillions of sites relying on Facebook authentication would be a serious issue. Clearly there would have to be some type of winding down period, as a cold turkey cut off would be massive on scale.


I could reduce my /etc/hosts by 1000 lines, that's about it.


It would be much harder to promote new products and businesses through ads.


> It would be much harder to promote new products and businesses through ads.

I've been lead to believe that the economy and all of human civilization would collapse if that happened. /s


Would it, or would it just be cheaper and more effective? Internet is still not a majority of advertiser spending, Facebook does not have a majority of Internet advertising, either.


I think it'd be cheaper and less effective. The benefit for advertisers on Facebook is that the rate of click throughs is significantly higher than the more shotgun-style advertising that was in use before Facebook and Google started managing so many ads across the web.


The same would be true for everyone else.


Yeah, but FB has irreplaceable targeting in the short term. Want to provide software to teachers or plumbers at scale? FB is really the only place online you can do this.


That seems like quite a claim. I'm sure I can reach plumbers via trade magazines, trade schools, trade shows, displays in plumbing supply shops, etc. In fact all of those sound at least as effective as targeting them on Facebook.


Source: I've managed tens of millions in ad spend in many mediums.


I think you're heavily discounting the amount if actual labor involved in finding and getting into those magazines, schools, shows, and shops...


Also missing on the multitude of testing that digital makes easier. I make no claim about true lift, but FB has built in AB testing tools for advertisers plus relationships with a multitude of 3P measurement providers.


Well, if you have no connections in the world of plumbing, why did you start writing software for plumbers?


I would be a happier and more productive person.


So why not quit already? I mean if you really think that...


Indeed. You literally have nothing to lose.


Kids nowadays don't use Facebook. So I guess it will die together with its generation of users anyway.


Progress for Humanity will happen


What's facebook?


The news industry would collapse because they would have nothing else to write about? The news industry would collapse because one of the biggest news distribution platforms would cease to exist?

I would be happy since I won't have to hear about facebook on HN again.




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