What can we learn from 20 years of Facebook?

Kenny Primrose
April 26, 2024

Kenny Primrose considers why Facebook has remained so popular, and how it has influenced the way we think and live. It has helped forge connections, promoted good causes, effectively recorded our social lives, ensured we forget no one's birthday, amongst other positives. However, Primrose notes,

"...the platform also exerts subtle but significant control over our thought lives, from redefining the word ‘friend’ (which now extends way beyond the Dunbar number) to deciding what counts as news and who should see it. It’s been used to help swing elections, sometimes scandalously, as well as arguably fomenting revolutions, and facilitating the spread of misinformation. It’s also eroded our sense of privacy, as Harvard Professor and author Shoshana Zuboff pointed out, it ushered in an age of ‘surveillance capitalism’, where algorithms are trained on target marketing, confirming the adage ‘when the product is free, you’re the product’. 

It’s difficult to consider the above without realising that we’ve ceded some prime bits of human real estate to Zuckerberg; in a sleight of hand, we’ve traded control of some of our sacred spaces. And yet, most of us know this, it’s not news – so what keeps so many of us faithful Facebook users? That it’s highly convenient would be one part of the answer, though is it also because social networking platforms like Facebook tap into some of our basic human needs? Perhaps the success of Facebook is that it calls to our fundamental desire to be seen, known, and loved."


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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