About 10 years ago, my husband and I had our only direct experience with Facebook. He decided to open an account so that he could share photos of our cat with his family, our very photogenic cat, and stay in touch with friends. At the same time, he is very concerned about online privacy; so he opened the account in our cat’s name.

Facebook deleted the account because, it said, our cat wasn’t a real person.

We were a little pissed at first. We weren’t doing any harm, just posting cat photos. But we went on with life and found other ways to share cat photos and connect with friends. And we stopped paying attention to Facebook. It just wasn’t important.

Since then, Facebook has changed: it encourages corporations – who are definitely NOT people – to have accounts and use their accounts to advertise to Facebook users. In addition, Facebook allows domestic terrorist groups to have accounts inciting violence and allows bots who promote conspiracy theories to have accounts.

Zuckerberg can claim that it’s gotten too big and Facebook can’t control it. That’s like BP claiming that they couldn’t cap the oil leak in the gulf or manufacturers claiming that they can’t prevent pollution from poisoning our water, air, and land.

Social media is just as responsible for the poison that is polluting the internet as manufacturers are for contaminated products they produce. When Tylenol’s products were poisoned, did they say, “It’s too big a problem – we couldn’t possibly figure out where all our pills are and recall them”? No. When eColi gets into the lettuce supply, do we let growers say they can’t figure out where, and it’s such a big problem. No.

Facebook and the other social media giants have followed a consistent pattern: create a place for people to meet online, share personal news, connect with family and friends — then monetize the shit out of it. They have stopped being places to gather and bring people together and have started being corporations that are focused on profit only. And, as such, they must be treated as such.

Clean up your act, social media, or the people will demand regulation to clean it up for you.

Your choice.

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