Since 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has increasingly talked about how posting on the platform did not favor the kind of interaction the company wanted, with an excessive focus on products, brands and news. Facebook has gone from being a platform largely focused on sharing personal moments, pets, parties and events, plus some more focused political content, to become a trench warfare in which vague political ideologies need to be defended in a systematic and continuous fashion. Changes were recently announced to bring the platform back to more peaceful times.
We can not, however, think that using Facebook before all of that did not cause problems for users. Psychological associations worldwide had already been reporting on how interaction with this social platform favored feelings of envy and depression due to constant comparisons with the social life of others, as well as promoting a stress derived from the constant need to maintain an online appearance and consequently seeking to look like someone interesting and relevant all the time, something almost impossible in real life.
However, the focus of the problem has changed between 2016 and 2017, amid a global intensification of political disputes within various themes, stimulated by the search for assertion of power by different actors, groups and movements that try to advance their ideological domination in relation to society, whatever political alignment they might have.
This has generated a growing investment in Facebook as an ideological arena, fostering the phenomenon of fake news, which is nothing more than a finding by these political actors that it is not necessary to make use of real data to generate visceral reactions in their followers, simply engaging with their fears and anxieties. The cost of lying is small, because people do any business to avoid the humiliating feeling of being wrong in public, so even if a story proves to be false, there is always a new one on the way, and attention migrates to another subject leaving only a trail of destruction on the way.
This was seen as positive by Facebook. The focus of the platform has always been to get people to access as much as possible, spending as much time inside their walled garden, so much so that they employ some of the best software engineers in the world to answer the question of how to keep a user a few seconds longer on the platform, potentially exposing it to a new ad or keeping another one in constant display.
Within the field of mobile games, it has long been known that generating a certain degree of discomfort for the player causes them to spend more money on the micro-transactions offered, as there is a desire to get rid of the annoyance presented at the same same that there is a desire to continue with the game. Facebook just replicated this on a much larger scale. Let your users feel bothered, stressed, thinking about responding to that posting that is contrary to their ideological alignment, even when off the platform. Sponsors pay more and more to advertise on the platform.
But for how long can you realistically keep people in that state? Some would continue, even by virtue of having already transformed their lives to fit around these conflicts, filling needs and personal insufficiencies with ideological battles that seem relevant. In the surroundings of these users, however, there are others whose interest is more focused on everyday reality, for example, keeping track of what friends are doing, what events are going on, how their children are doing, among other things. These people have become tired of the constant political conflict and increasingly abandon the platform or limit their use.
Zuckerberg announced that the company's focus change in 2018 would be aimed at the well-being of its users, seeking to take priority away from the political content and to give more emphasis to "what really matters" such as family, pets, entertainment, events and the like. One can see the seriousness of the situation when one reads later in his post that the CEO himself states that Facebook's profits will fall as a consequence of the change, but that it seems to him like an important move in the long run.
We inaugurate this year with the promise of a new era of peace within the largest social network in the world. Unfortunately, this quietness comes with an expected expiration date, lasting until the time it seems profitable to reinsert the market into a global ideological war, when Facebook certainly will not hesitate to change its entire system again.