Democracy and Facebook and other depressing news

I’ve mentioned here before that The Interpreter is probably the best email newsletter I get from the NY Times. I’ve been catching up a bit with my “read/review” email folder this morning, and saw a link to their video on democracy, from back in January. The video distills some themes that that have come up in their newsletter/column repeatedly over the last year. It’s all quite worrying.

Following a link on Twitter, I also saw their current article about Facebook use in the developing world, titled Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match. I usually see Facebook from a very first-world perspective, getting annoyed with dumb ads and misleading memes, but those are usually harmless. It’s eye-opening to read about the effect that Facebook can have when it becomes popular in the developing world. I’m not sure how mad I should be at Facebook for this stuff, but they could definitely be doing more to mitigate the worst of it. There’s one quote in the article that states the problem with Facebook more succinctly and poetically than any other statement I’ve seen:

“We don’t completely blame Facebook,” said Harindra Dissanayake, a presidential adviser in Sri Lanka. “The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind, you know?”

Yep.  As I mentioned recently, I use Facebook with a bunch of add-ons that strip out most of the evil stuff. There’s a new tool from Firefox that puts Facebook in a “container,” making it a little harder for them to track you, hopefully. I haven’t tried it, since I’m assuming it would be overkill for me, since I’m already using three add-ons to filter Facebook. There’s still too much good stuff on Facebook for me to consider dropping it, but I definitely don’t feel guilty stripping ads from it and depriving them of a little ad revenue.

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