Technologies and Business

Delete Facebook? No, Here is One Reason to Update Yours Instead

On Friday, Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk set off a bit of a frenzy by announcing he’s deleting the Facebook pages of both companies. He and Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton (who left Facebook last September) are now two known tech personalities to have tapped into the trending #DeleteFacebook campaign following revelations from Cambridge Analytica’s data misdemeanors.

But on this, they are not heroes to be followed.

Musk, for one, has a long-running feud with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, over the level of use and adoption of artificial intelligence in our uncertain times. Musk’s view reflects an apocalyptic dawn arising from the potential misuses of AI while Zuckerberg has basically called him a fear monger. Like when Mark Cuban and Donald Trump (before he became president) would argue about their toys and net worth, Musk and Zuckerberg are basically two billionaires who don’t have the same ideas about the proper way to make more billions as well as become the most influential man in the world. Last month, Musk sent a Tesla Model 3 into space in the biggest rocket launch in history and Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room experiment now has over 2 billion users. So we know there is an “arms wrestle” going on here.

Musk is a great entrepreneur to emulate, especially for young Africans, but you don’t have to delete Facebook if you still need it. Actually, you probably do need it.

To be sure, I have deleted mine before, in 2014 just before the World Cup, staying without it till after Christmas of same year. I remember those six months were absolutely productive for me and I do not for a second regret deleting the service. I did not miss it.

But when I signed up afresh, there was a clear motive and a conscious acknowledgement of its purpose. Facebook will be for family, for the various branches of the extended family who do not live close-by with whom phone conversations will not always suffice. It will be for keeping up with those uncles, old neighbours and secondary school teachers whose lives have become better than it was when we were growing under their tutelage. They are only going to post stuff once in a while and when they do, it won’t be gassy updates about multicolored late breakfast or a just-arrived new floor mat from Amazon. It will surely be substance that takes you back and makes you glad how far we have all come.

Not to say Facebook should be the centre of our lives. We should still keep off it as much as necessary. Facing actual books and having physical meetings always trump liking, loving and sharing. But Zuckerberg’s work, however much the loopholes in it (which he has pledged to work on), still has some fruit. Musk has disposed it as though it was now a husk but we should know better. Be sure to look out for new guidelines on better privacy and data protection and duly update your app and settings.

If not for much, for family.


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