Cyclops: Blame voters, not Facebook – or Trump

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.

I am amused at the consternation and outcry about Facebook allowing the personal information of some 50 million of its subscribers to be used by Trump campaign workers. If you were so concerned about people finding out about your personal fears and preferences, why did you willingly blab them to Facebook Nation in the first place? Granted, I’ve never been a Facebook fan. I never cared Facebook users would cryptically complain Worst. Day. Ever. (Your day was pretty good compared to Syrian refugees, so stop griping.) I don’t care how cute your puppy is or about the latest stunt your 4-year-old pulled. It doesn’t matter to me what you had for lunch or how artfully it was displayed. I’m probably using a coupon for Burger King anyway. Facebook is a perfect vehicle for “bragging rights,” and makes millions of people feel less about themselves and their mundane lives. It’s hard not to compare when you are scouring Travelocity for a cheap hotel in Mesquite when someone else is posting pictures of their family vacation in Rome. Yes, Facebook lets people stay in touch. In my day that was what phone calls, letters, and high school and family reunions were for. But it is also a channel for bullying and outrageous comments. As one reader commented to a Salt Lake City newspaper, “If I delete Facebook, how am I going to feel miserable again?” So I laugh at those who are now threatening to drop Facebook or paint the company as a villain. Facebook didn’t coerce anybody into posting personal information. As for political uses, I put most of the blame on the Facebook users who fell for the twisted and often false messages of a campaign team. According to the whistleblower in the case, the Trump-focused group “identified deep-seated concerns and tested ways to tap into those fears through social media.” Slogans like “drain the swamp” and “build the wall” came through testing of the Facebook users. But why blame the Trump team? If the Facebook data showed a person was a believing Catholic, a political message might tell him or her that Pope Francis was supporting Donald Trump’s election. Of course, that was false – the Pope repeatedly criticized Trump’s views on immigration, but if the Facebook user was gullible enough to believe the hype without consulting reputable sources, that’s the user’s fault. If you really believed that Hillary Clinton had close associates murdered, you should see a shrink, not drop Facebook. If you really thought “illegals” were responsible for 80 percent of the crime in the U.S., you should check your medications before you blame Facebook. As I write this column, Facebook stock has plummeted nearly 14 percent, losing $68 billion in value. The company is scrambling to fix its image and find ways to protect user data. Congress is outraged and millions of Facebook users wish they had a Mark Zuckerberg piñata. I can only chuckle. Facebook didn’t create the mess. Gullible voters did.


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