Should You Boycott Facebook?


Profiled article

S. Vaidhyanathan, “Opinion | Don’t Delete Facebook. Do Something About It.”,, [online] 2018. Available at:®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=76&pgtype=sectionfront.

About the article author

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of the forthcoming book “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.”


In this article, author Siva Vaidhyanathan argues that Facebook’s privacy breaches and failure to curb fake news stories can’t be solved with government regulations. They are necessary, he claims, but their scope is limited. Instead, Vaidhyanathan believes that the responsibility to change the social media site lies with its users, and that Facebook can be used as a tool to inspire campaigns to limit its power. His titular argument is boiled down to the final sentence: “Deactivation is the opposite of activism.” I disagree. Facebook’s entire business model is built on user engagement; without a boycott, those who claim to hate the website give them thousands in ad revenue. He also poses that if the most thoughtful and informed people vacate the website, the fake news will just become more epidemic. However, just because people are educated or value privacy doesn’t mean they are immune to false, propagandist stories. Some studies have even shown that more educated people can be more susceptible to cognitive bias. Overall, the ethical responsibility to clean up algorithms that perpetuate fake news is on social media sites themselves. And if they don’t, users should feel empowered to punish them in the only effective way they can: deactivation.

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