Facebook Is Profiling You Through The Stuff You Hate

Every time I log onto Facebook I get a little bit angry. Not because (or not just because) of the Britain First posts or the endless baby pictures or the sheer amount of passive-aggression. Because I’m being told the tiniest details about celebrities I’ve never heard of in a context I couldn’t care less about. Jennifer Lawrence stumbling on a red carpet; Carrie Underwood kissing her baby; Kim Kardashian paying a Philippino lady to tweezer pubic hairs out of her arse crack (I made one of those up).

They’re infuriating in their banality and appalling targeting – and despite everything that Facebook knows about me, it keeps pushing these things at me, like a dog hopefully dropping a frisbee at my feet.

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Here’s my view on this, carefully researched over five minutes by Thinking About it For A Bit – it is not incompetence, it’s a clever form of concentrated evil. Here’s how and why:

You can get rid of these trending news stories by clicking on a little X that pops up when you mouseover. Facebook wants to know why you didn’t like it. I always select ‘I’m not interested in this’. Facebook says ‘righto, we won’t show you stuff like that in future’. Then it does. Again. And again. And again.

Jennifer Aniston blinks at a kitten in Cannes. Miley Cyrus shares picture of her dirty burger on Instagram. Kanye West wears underpants and leaves house.

There’s two ways of looking at this. Either Facebook’s algorithm is rubbish – something less marginally believable than Catfish And The Bottlemen’s enduring appeal – or there’s something else going on. That something else, in my view, is this:

Facebook is harvesting data on you every time you use it. When you’re logged into Facebook, even if the browser isn’t open, Facebook can see what you’re looking at. All those dirty little secrets – porn, dating websites, professional enemies and your filthy, out-of-control MailOnline habit. Every friend you make, every link you click, even Like and Share is being harvested. Because it wants to know what you like. The more Facebook knows this, the more stuff it can sell you – and the more of you it can sell to other people.

But knowing what you don’t like might be just as valuable – just as useful in building a profile of the stuff you won’t buy; perhaps building a demographic profile of you one dislike at a time. And that’s what you’re giving Facebook every time you hide one of these ridiculous stories it suspects you won’t like. Even by revealing your dislikes, you’re giving away a little bit of yourself.

My advice? Never click on anything you don’t have to. Be ad-blind. Ignore this rubbish. Because, more than likely, somewhere in a server farm there’s a your very own portrait in the attic – slowly being shaded in through the things you hate.

Facebook Advert: Five Seconds To Hatred

It took me about five seconds. Five seconds of this hateful American voiceover, the by-now-requisite twinkling instrumental version of a familiar pop song, to hate this Facebook advert. Five seconds to hatred.

I have nothing against Americans. I’ve even met some and very nice people they are too. But it strikes me as an enormous own-goal to have a voiceover in an American accent, which never fail to sound saccharine, insincere, smug, trite or all four when used in adverts.

What I find disheartening about this stuff is the idea that nothing in our life is meaningful unless it’s shared on Facebook. Unless it’s shared on this peer-review website where things are assessed, approved, validated and forgotten about within seconds. It’s like we’re all playing a global, ongoing game of one-upmanship – a constant state of virtual passive aggression waged against our friends. I’m not sure Facebook does connect us with our friends; I think, in a funny way, it makes us all enemies of one another.

And it makes enemies of ourselves. It’s like Marx’s theory of cultural alienation made into a kind of leisure pursuit. Are we really in control of our own lives, our own destinies if they have to be lived out in this digital goldfish bowl, conforming to the group mind’s expectations and approvals?

It is, perhaps, Instagram where the truest expression of man’s alienation from his fellow human beings is most evident – the pursuit of stuff, experiences, things and consumption overriding – but Facebook is where it took root.

The inevitable result of all this stuff is false consciousness – the way that we are controlled by the ruling classes through our culture. Or, if you prefer an example, the 2015 election of the Conservative Party. We idealised the internet and social media as a great expansion of our consciousness and inter-connectedness. Instead it’s driven us to individualism, self-gratification, pride, envy, covetousness, greed and vacuity. It’s made cunts of us.

Imagine our lives, loves, friendships, achievements and tragedies being mediated by Facebook – being constantly judged in relation to others; viewing our self-worth through the listless interactions of people from whom we’re increasingly estranged. If Hell is other people, Facebook is Lucifer’s very own portal.