On Aug. 1, I am deleting my Facebook account.
I’ve considered ditching it in the past, but I stuck around because it was the easiest way to keep in touch with my former students. After what I’ve learned in the past few days, however, I feel morally obligated to boycott the company.
Scientists operate under ethical standards that require them to tell people what they’re getting themselves into before they start experimenting on them. Experiments can end badly, and people have a right to know the risks before they agree to participate. But Facebook apparently gives zero damns about ethics.
The company’s execs apparently decided they’d like to know what makes users happy or sad, so instead of taking a survey or inviting people to participate in a study, they subjected about 700,000 users to a psychological experiment without their knowledge or consent.
At the time Facebook pulled this stunt, I was going through one of the most difficult periods of my entire life: grieving the death of a former student, dealing with outrageous stress at work, and battling chronic migraines — all just two months after surfacing from the most profound depression of my life. No legitimate researcher would have deemed me a good candidate for a psychological experiment.
I know for fact some Facebook users at that time were in even darker places than I was. I know because some of them were my students, and they confided in me. Some days, the knowledge that they needed me was the only thing that motivated me to drag myself out of bed.
Conducting psychological experiments on any of those kids would have been nothing short of child abuse.
My former students are the reason I didn’t ditch Facebook a long time ago. They’re grown, but sometimes they still need Mama Bear. So for the rest of the month, I’m posting something each day, telling them where they can find me.
When July is over, so is my Facebook account, because while I can forgive many things, endangering my kids isn’t one of them.
If you just found your way over here from Facebook, welcome to the online extension of my living room. You’ll find a lot of hippie crap here: folk music videos, vegetarian recipes, eco-friendly ideas, the occasional political rant, and a lot of pictures of my bees, my garden and my road trips.
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