Opinion | Just What Is Happening With Facebook?

To the Editor:

Re “Facebook Apps Crash, Leaving Billions Cut Off” (front page, Oct. 5):

Count me among those who didn’t notice much wrong on Monday. I do have a Facebook account, but the outage must have fallen during one of the 8,760 hours I do not spend on the platform every year (that is, all of them).

I did notice, however, that the air outdoors was fresh and moist, and a local community garden nearby was redolent and presented beauty to the eye.

Michael Bazigos
New York

To the Editor:

Monday’s social media power outage got me wondering. Am I a Facebook addict? Perhaps. But, if so, I make no apologies.

To be clear, I recognize all of the negative social effects of this platform, many of which were revealed in the most recent episode of “60 Minutes.” In addition, I fully understand that Facebook is motivated as much by making a profit as promoting social good.

Nevertheless, for people like me, who for a variety of legitimate reasons choose not to buy and use a smartphone, I depend on Facebook almost daily to keep in touch with friends, family and literally hundreds of former students.

Moreover, with the decline of newspaper readership, the Facebook platform allows me to share my op-eds and letters with a larger and more diverse audience. And social media is therapeutic, providing me with an effective tool for coping with and gaining insights into the sadness and tragedy of our nation’s current political environment.

In short, its destructive impact notwithstanding, I depend on Facebook. If that is addiction, I plead guilty.

Richard Cherwitz
Austin, Texas
The writer is professor emeritus at the Moody College of Communication, University of Texas.

To the Editor:

The Facebook outage undoubtedly caused irreparable harm to many users who had to suffer the hardship of enduring a day without seeing a photo of what their friends had for lunch.

Eric Schroeder
Bethesda, Md.

To the Editor:

Re “Facebook Accused of Putting Profits First” (Business, Oct. 4):

I was “shocked, shocked” when I read this. The inside information and documents provided by a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, reveal how that company harms children, undermines democracy and lies to cover up what it does. Sadly, coverage of this story does not link Facebook’s behavior to the practices of far too many large corporations.

How many people became gravely ill and/or died because the tobacco companies hid the knowledge that their products are deadly? How much of the climate crisis could have been lessened if the fossil fuel industry had been honest about what it knew decades ago? Corporations will almost always put profits above everything else.

We need much stronger regulations, transparency rules and enforcement to make companies act responsibly. If corporations are people (as the Supreme Court has ruled), their officials should face criminal charges when they injure the public.

Marvin Ciporen

To the Editor:

Let’s consider the following: America suffers from an obesity epidemic. Suppose people went to the supermarket and put chocolate, soda, potato chips and other processed food in their carts, and Frances Haugen, a do-gooder, switched out the customer’s choices and replaced them with whole grain breads, nuts, and healthy fruit and vegetables, because she knows what is best for America and the world. Would this be tolerated?

Facebook provides a legal, free service that ranges from annoying to interesting to essential. I am a Facebook shareholder, and I expect Facebook and its employees to run Facebook in a legal way to maximize shareholder value.

Ms. Haugen was a Facebook employee who owed a duty of loyalty to her employer. She claims she wants to fix Facebook — by not giving its users what they want? Profit over safety? Safety from what?

Ms. Haugen is not a whistle-blower or a hero. She is a disloyal employee.

Michael G. Brautigam
Tallinn, Estonia

To the Editor:

Facebook is in the news again. As in the past, there is a great deal of talk about the need for government oversight, and the necessity of federal legislation. But it is likely that Congress will not agree on any oversight, or any oversight it does approve will be watered down and not help in the long run.

Rather than waiting for the government to enact rules regarding social media, it is time for people to take action. Stop using Facebook! The only reason that Facebook possesses such power to have an effect on elections, or to divide social groups, is that people give it that power by spending time on the website. So, stop using Facebook, and take its power (and profits) away.

Don’t wait for the government to solve this problem — it probably won’t.

Michael Dannenberg
Northport, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “Facebook Is Weaker Than We Knew,” by Kevin Roose (The Shift column, Business, Oct. 5):

It is becoming increasingly clear that Facebook Inc. in its current form is unmanageable and unsustainable, both from a societal and capitalist perspective. The platform’s damaging effect on democracy, civil society and mental health is by now well documented, and regulatory pressure to prevent further consolidation of its monopoly will only increase.

The audience for the core facebook.com platform is aging, and it no longer has either engagement or enthusiasm from its younger user demographic. In my opinion, the only reasonable and strategic move is for the company to shut down the core facebook.com platform and become a holding company for the other divisions (Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus). By diversifying away from advertising to other monetization methods such as commerce services, payments processing and gaming, Facebook just might save itself by killing the golden goose.

Monica Varman
Redwood City, Calif.

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