Many things have been said about Facebook. With more than 900 million users Facebook is changing the way we communicate. People share their thoughts, photos and stay connected to friends through the largest social network. 1 out of every 5 webpage views on the internet is on Facebook. That means Facebook is big and popular but is it moral?
Why question the Facebook’s morality?
Facebook is not just an website. It is a communication platform where almost 1 billion people gather daily. Facebook shapes these people’s reality through the information it filters. You must be aware by now that not all your friends’ posts appear on your all but just those that Facebook deemed interesting to you (“top stories”). Having such an input on users outlook on reality means that Facebook controls at some incipient level the things we see and therefore the way we perceive reality.
Think about the way we usually perceive the world through our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Imagine one of your senses would be altered. Let’s say sight. If we weren’t able to perceive the colors we would believe the world is black and white and by consensus the world would be defined as black and white.
Social media in particular and media in general are filters that define our perceived reality. They help us build a mental replica of the world in our brain. Any alteration of these inputs alters our reality.
Think about what that means in terms of human control: you have one trusted source of information that is able to filter some details out of your reality. How does Facebook does that, how does Facebook filter information out of my news feed?
Is Facebook moral?
Facebook, Twitter and other social networks revolutionized social relationships. With a larger pool of potential mates users can find themselves a little to attracted to the idea of polygamy. A recent UK study even pointed out that a third of all recent divorces point towards Facebook as a contributing factor.
Users, especially young ones, point toward a certain depression caused by the social network. The reason seems to be the fact that they don’t always feel adequate among their social media friends. With others posting interesting status updates and photos regarding an unrealistic lifestyle (ever had the feeling that all your Facebook friends seem to be either travelling, partying or just enjoying a perfect life?) teens feel that they can’t measure up to that kind of lifestyle.
Facebook also seems to increase jealousy and affect romance as people can now find information regarding their partners they couldn’t have found in the past.
These things paint a pretty dark picture of the social network we thought to be spotless in terms of helping human relationships. That picture is not actually accurate, though.
Facebook is as moral as guns
Facebook is just a bunch of code patched together. It does not cause infidelity, depression or jealousy by itself. It just helps these things, sometimes.
I will focus on the fact that one third of all marriages in the UK point towards Facebook as a contributing factor. Data shows that there is a slight increase in divorce rates in UK, but it can’t be caused by Facebook.
A 2011 study showed that there was a slight increase in divorces in England and Wales, in 2010. However the number of divorces per thousand married population have actually gone down in the last ten years.
More so, if you would look at the image on the right you would see that the year Facebook opened to users 13 and older is the same year the number in divorces started going down.
If Facebook was actually causing adultery and divorces the numbers would have gone up by 30% but they didn’t. If you are looking for a correlation the data points to an actual decrease in divorce rate.
Facebook can’t be blamed for choices people make
Adultery, lies, jealousy, depression are all part of what makes us human. We make wrong decisions and we are willing to blame anyone or anything for our mistakes. Sometimes the lack of privacy that Facebook is known for exposes those mistakes. Of course people blame Facebook for their divorce. They blame it because they got caught.