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If you feel your organization needs a "presence" in Facebook

-- Richard Stallman


French Translation

Facebook is a surveillance engine, accumulating lots of personal data which is also available to the state. For your privacy and freedom's sake, it is important not to have an active Facebook account; refusing blocks Facebook's main channel for collecting information about you and, through you, about your friends and relatives. (Whatsapp, a subsidiary of Facebook, is also important to avoid.) Explaining to them why you firmly insist on routing your communications with them through some other system will strengthen your will power to resist systems that use you to harm you and others.

Nowadays Facebook has gained so much power that it puts freedom and democracy in danger. Its rules for what can be published amount to censorship of society as a whole, leading to political disputes. But those disputes are a distraction from the bigger point that no company should have so much power.

Facebook has the power to manipulate elections through subtle policy changes. Whether or not it has intentionally done so, this state of affairs is dangerous.

Many organizations maintain a Facebook page to attract public support. Having the page does not directly harm the organization. However, if it's not careful, the page will add to Facebook's power.

Organizations typically manage Facebook pages to aim for the maximum possible visibility. Facebook's cunning engineers have designed the system so that the way to get maximum visibility is to boost Facebook's power as much as possible.

The simple way to completely avoid this is to refuse to have a Facebook page. However, a compromise may be possible, one which attracts public support while not boosting Facebook's power much. This article proposes such a compromise.

General principles

What to post on Facebook; what not to post

Avoid Facebook messages

Other communication systems may have other flaws. At the FSF we use mainly email and phone calls; we use SIP for audio/video communication over the internet, but never Skype because Skype requires proprietary client software. However, the crucial point here is that any communication method other than Facebook and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) will move people out of Facebook.

If someone sends you a Facebook message despite your request, respond by saying, "Please let's switch to system X, Y or Z to have this conversation. We do not want to give Facebook any more information about our organization or its participants, including you."

Avoid helping or boosting Facebook

How you can communicate safely with Facebook

Facebook uses many methods to get data about people. Some of them are rather tricky. If people in the organization have Facebook accounts and want to use those to manage the organization's page, the organization has no reason to object. But the organization must never urge a person to submit to Facebook's surveillance in order to manage the organization's page. That would be a gross wrong to the person in question.

Here is a guide for how people can manage the page using pseudonymous Facebook accounts. A few of them stretch Facebook's commands, but it is not wrong to do that — Facebook does not deserve obedience.

Facebook harms people in many ways, and there is no way to completely avoid the harm. We hope this compromise approach to Facebook will provide benefit to the organization, while saving it from becoming Facebook's tool. Meanwhile, there are many other social networks one can use. Many well-known centralized social networks are less intrusive than Facebook; what's more, GNU Social and Diaspora respect users' rights through a decentralized architecture, based on free software — why not try them?

Copyright (c) 2016 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.