#191 Getting off Facebook: Wade Roush

Life as a teenager is proving traumatic for Facebook. The social media juggernaut turned 15 this month. Once universally celebrated for being the brightest new kid on the block, Facebook is today a troubled adolescent with fundamental questions about its entire business model. 

More than two-thirds of American adults are Facebook users, but surveys show that many more of us are increasingly uncomfortable that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp-- all owned by the same parent company-- know so much about our private lives. 

Critics say the company ignored hate speech on its site and allowed destructive actions by internet trolls and other bad actors.

Many of us have a conflicted relationship with social media. While disturbed about the lack of transparency and the invasion of privacy, we find it hard to walk away from friends, colleagues and family members who share photos, memories and much more on the world's biggest website.

Our guest, "Soonish" podcast host and technology journalist Wade Roush, tells us he is in the process of getting off Facebook. He walks us through what this means and makes the case for why Facebook is not only much too big, but is also a threat to democracy. We examine the case of breaking up Facebook, look at its troubled role overseas, and consider what citizens can do to push back against the massive power of online tech giants.

“Facebook isn’t broken,” says Wade. “Its purpose is to surveil us, figure out what we like and what gets us emotionally engaged, and then use that data to auction off ads to companies who get higher click-through rates by targeting people who fit their specific profile. Facebook also increases engagement by showing users the most riveting content, which is almost always the most polarizing content.”