Opinion: Facebook mind control: Here’s how to fight back

Man poses in front of the Facebook sign on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.
Man poses in front of the Facebook sign on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

I use Facebook. It depresses me sometimes. Does this mean I’ve been manipulated as part of the recent Great Facebook User Social Experiment, and if so, can I sue someone? Because a couple of my Facebook “friends” are lawyers, and at least one I know could use the work.

Everyone knows by now that, as a Times headline put it, “Facebook tinkered with users’ emotions in experiment.”

“For one week in 2012, hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were unknowingly subjected to an experiment in which their news feed was altered to see whether certain kinds of content made users happy or sad,” reporter Matt Pearce explained this week.


Oh my. So it’s not just that some of my friends have more exciting lives, or that their kids are better behaved and more successful, or that they are traveling to exotic locales while I slave away at work, or even that their cats do funnier things than mine does.

Instead, my emotions may be being “tinkered with”? (And why do I read “tinker” and picture some little old guy making wooden dolls, like Pinocchio?)

Still: It’s bad enough I can’t trust my government, my company and Fox News. Now I can’t trust Facebook?

Not that this actually came as a surprise to me. I’ve been telling my wife and kids and anyone else who will listen (it’s a dwindling pool) for years now that this Internet thing in general, and Facebook in particular, are going to end civilization as we know it.

First, it sucks you in. You post on Facebook because, well, everyone does, plus journalists really don’t have a choice these days. Then comes Twitter. Ditto. And apparently there are other outlets: Instagram and the like.

So far I’ve resisted, but somehow the line “resistance is futile” keeps coming to mind.

Anyway, I’ve been reading about the Facebook experiment. Some say it’s a big deal. Some say it’s not. That’s the Internet for you: a million sources of information, none of which actually help.


So what’s a modern, almost tech-savvy adult to do?

Simple: Reject the Antichrist. Turn off Facebook. Do not update your status. Do not “like” anything. Do not brag about your kid, your spouse, your new job/house/car/yacht, complete with pictures.

Once, there was no Facebook. We survived. We thrived. If we wanted to be jealous of our friends and neighbors, we peeked out our windows and muttered under our breaths about them.

It wasn’t the Garden of Eden, but it wasn’t hell either. Then Mark Zuckerberg offered us the Facebook apple, and we bit, and now look where we are.

In this week of all weeks, when even the Supreme Court is saying “Look to your God, Moses” (or something like that; I didn’t really understand the Hobby Lobby ruling either), let us all turn our backs on the evil that is Facebook.

You want a wall? Then build one between you and Facebook, and never tear it down.

Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1