Don’t blame Facebook

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was summoned to appear before Congress this past week to address some rather troubling issues regarding his mammoth social media site. A firm called Cambridge Analytica apparently gathered private information from millions of users in an effort to help then presidential candidate, Donald Trump in his election bid. This revelation has caused massive uproar among many Facebook users as being very unethical. Of course lets not forget that former President Barack Obama used the same firm to gather info on the voting public, yet his use of the firm was deemed to be the best idea ever. Regardless, the fact that an outside firm was able to gather data from so many Facebook users has many people on edge over how safe their personal information is on that site. Zuckerberg not only was grilled on that issue, but many others including the Russians using the site to run political ads and political bias in general. Some lawmakers accused Zuckerberg and his clan as being biased against people who have conservative political views. Many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are now calling for stricter regulations on social media sites like Facebook.

As much as I hate to say this, I have to somewhat defend Mr. Z on some of these issues. Whenever you join a huge social media website like Facebook, you are putting YOUR OWN privacy at risk. Nobody points a gun to our head and forces you to fill out all the information on your profile page. You can pick and choice what information is made public, what is viewed only by your friends and so on. There are settings designed for that purpose. Many Facebook users have a total lack of understanding on how to use settings to protect their information. You are basically swimming at your own risk when you dive into a website like Facebook. What is Zuckerberg and his clan suppose to do about that? It is not his fault that people do not understand how their personal information could be used by some of these firms.

You could argue that Facebook could do more to help stop foreign agencies like those from Russia from running political ads. I cannot disagree with that. Someone at the corporate office has to raise a red flag when an ad has an ISP address from a foreign country. The fact is those ads probably have very little influence on who wins elections. I am not influenced a bit by what I read or see on Facebook. My mind has already been made up. If I have to go on some social media website to gather information about a candidate, then maybe I should just stay home and not vote. There are far greater sources to gather information about those running for office than ads, posts or stories on Facebook. One has to question exactly how many of them are true anyways. I would not recommend buying into much of the political propaganda that you see on Facebook.

There has been some talk about certain political bias on Facebook and that has been confirmed. I find it hard to believe that it is a huge problem though. In the 10 plus years that I have been on that site, I have never had any issues with them censoring any post or comment that I make. I admit that some of the discussions can get rather out of hand at times, but that is the nature of the beast on social media. There are many good comments from both sides of the aisle on many topics. I do think that Facebook in general gives a fair opportunity for all viewpoints. I know Zuckerberg and staff do favor a certain ideology which is fine with me. Censoring speech for a completely different viewpoint would be an extremely foolish business decision. I think Mr. Z is a little wiser than that.

If you are extremely paranoid about having your personal date used, then maybe you should just live in secret on some remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Facebook is a great social media site and I look for it to get even better in the next few years. It is hard for Zuckerberg and his staff to babysit millions of people who cannot figure out how to use a few simple settings. The first step in regulating Facebook starts with the user. They have to take responsibility in how to use social media sites properly and be savvy enough to understand some of the downfalls.


Talking politics on Facebook

Nearly every human being on the face of the this planet has a Facebook account. Well, I shouldn’t say everyone. I am trying to get those individuals to finally get out of the dark ages and join our modern society. As many people know, Facebook is more than just sharing photos and videos among friends and relatives. It also has an area where you can post and express your feelings about anything. Perhaps you want to announce to the world that you are having lasagna for dinner tonight. Great! We are happy for you! With this being a general election year, many folks are using their status area to express their political opinions or beliefs. Nearly everyone has individuals on their friend’s list who feel the need to use Facebook as a forum to practice their debate skills with other people. It appears that a few even feel the need to educate us morons who are ill-informed on certain issues. Sometimes the discussions that take place on Facebook provide more laughs and entertainment than I get from anyplace else. Personally, I try to avoid talking politics on Facebook for a number of reasons. It is really a no-win situation.

People who read my posts regularly might be shocked to know that fact about me. I am very open about expressing my political viewpoints on this site. Get me on Facebook and suddenly I become very shy and quiet about expressing myself. Well actually I have my reasons. First of all, I value my relationships with every many people on my friend’s list. I have many dear and close friends and family members on Facebook. Not all of them view politics the same way that I do. Sharing a political post or expressing my feelings in words may make me look good and might gain approval from a few of my friends, but several others may become very offended. I am sure that many of you have friends on your list who you suddenly became disillusioned with after they posted something that you do not agree with. Would you walk up to a good friend and tell them that they are completely stupid and dumb for wanting to vote for a particular candidate? Or tell them that their views are what is wrong with America? That is extremely insulting! Is there such a thing as respecting someone’s different opinion anymore?

There are few things that tear people apart than politics. Friends and family members are torn apart because someone has a different view and they cannot accept or respect someone else’s viewpoint. I don’t necessarily have a problem with people discussing certain issues on Facebook. There are many issues that need to be discussed among us citizens and how to come up with solutions. When people start pointing fingers at political parties or ideological points of view, then I have a problem. Many try to back up their claims with false or misleading facts and statements. As is the case with most political discussions on Facebook, things get ugly and the name calling starts to happen. Who has time for that nonsense?

Sometime after the election, perhaps things will get back to normal on Facebook and we can be filled with thrilling stories again about the lives of our friends and relatives. If I want intelligent political talk, I will turn on political cable news shows or talk radio. Sorry but Facebook does nothing for me on that topic. Oh yea, it does give me many laughs and utter amazement at the mindset of some people!


Please do not post this on Facebook

Like millions of people around the world, I have a Facebook page. The last time I checked, I believe I am up to about 5 friends on my friend’s list! Well not really! Anyways, I really enjoy logging onto that site and seeing what is going on in the lives of my friends. Some of my friends are not shy about posting ever little detail of their lives on Facebook. Others are really missing in action. I wonder if they are still alive! Regardless, Sometimes I really cringe when I see certain things posted. I don’t want to know about all the little details of your restless night last night for crying out loud! I have put together a list of certain things that should be off-limits for Facebook. Of course, everyone has a right to post whatever they want unless it is a nude picture of themselves, but for the most part, Facebook is pretty tolerant towards most stuff that people post. People should think twice about posting the following.

1) Details of your recent illness. I have no problem with people who post that they are sick. Sometimes it is good that they tell us so we can pray for them and offer up words of encouragement. The problem is when folks start going into every little detail of what is wrong with them. Like one of my friends started discussing his diarrhea problems in a recent post. That is a little more than I need to know!

2) Misleading or incorrect political facts or political talk in general. A friend of mine on Facebook posted something about what a good job a certain political in our state was doing. A few months later, he posted the same item and did it again several months later. The problem in his post was that it was written by a partisan hack and contained a lot of inaccurate and misleading info. You see a lot of that these days on Facebook. In order to prove a political point, people will post something that is just not correct or only half-true. I generally try to stay away from any political talk at all on Facebook. It is a great way to upset people and lose friends.

3) Sexual talk or images. Not everyone will share your enjoyment over posting something that is extremely sexual in nature. It is best to keep those things to yourself.

4) Constant bickering about your life. I get the impression that some people on my Facebook page are completely miserable with their lives. If it is not their job, it is a medical condition. Or some person is treating them like crap. Different day, new negative post. Overly constant whining and complaining is not something that I want to read or look at on Facebook. 

5) Too many pet pics. I think some folks would be happier if they were married to their pets than their spouses, seriously! I enjoy viewing a cat video or picture just as much as anyone else, but after a few pictures, enough!

6) What you are having for dinner. Unless you are having me over for that Spaghetti dinner, don’t give me all the details! My stomach can’t take it!

I personally love to see people posting positive stuff on their feeds like they are getting married or something exciting is happening in their lives. Or post something funny. One of my Facebook friends has a great ability to make me laugh when I read her posts. Sometimes I come home after a hard day at work and her posts produce a warm feeling in my  heart. I want to be entertained on Facebook and sometimes those who post stuff from the above list make me want to log off Facebook as quickly as possible.




The wonderful and not so wonderful world of Twitter

Many of you out there have a particular favorite website that you just have to visit everyday. For many people, Facebook is at the top of the list. Or maybe, you have a blog that you like to follow like Mark’s Views, okay well maybe not!! There are literally thousands of great sites to visit for any internet junkie, however, the best one in my opinion is Twitter. No offense to other sites, but I find myself visiting Twitter before any other site. I have a nice convenient app on my smart phone to access Twitter, and with a simple touch, I can get all the latest breaking news, sports and information that I need. I could be out in some remote location on an island and still keep in touch with what is going on in the world.

Besides getting breaking information, it is always interesting to see what people are saying about a particular subject or event. Some of the tweets that people send out are totally amusing and creative. Everyone has an opinion and Twitter is a great way to express yourself in only 140 characters or less. I love to read other people’s tweets although I could care less if some celebrity tweets that they are going grocery shopping. Like I really need to know that!! I am more interested in people’s short opinions about some event. For a sports fan, Twitter is excellent for letting you vent after the big game. Does the coach need to be fired or this player need to be traded? Expressing your political thoughts is another great way to use Twitter. I have gotten into a few Twitter battles with people over various political topics. I certainly respect other people’s opinions, but I am not afraid to voice my opinion about certain policies. I think Twitter has really changed the landscape for politics. Any politician would be wise to incorporate Twitter in their campaigns. The holds true for companies who want to reach out to potential customers. I have some companies who started following me after I joined Twitter. I never heard of them prior to joining Twitter, but they certainly have made themselves know to me and other people through their tweets.

For all that is good with Twitter, there are certainly some negative things that Twitter can bring. As you might have guessed, giving people a public forum to express their views and opinions can get certain individuals in trouble. Is it just me or does Twitter really bring out the true idiots in this world? A few weeks ago, a local young person got arrested for tweeting that he was going to kill some cops. He was upset with a speeding ticket and decided to use social media to vent his frustrations. Not exactly the smartest thing in the world to do especially when you direct your tweet at the police department. I have heard about certain students getting suspended from school over tweets. Do these people realize that their little tirades can be viewed by everyone in the world? It is very unfortunate that some people use Twitter and other social media sites to tear down others and bully. It is one thing to criticize someone but when you purposely try to damage their reputation, that is really crossing the line. Unfortunately, Twitter is being used more and more as a way to damage and hurt people and that is just not right.

I have some own personal rules for using Twitter. There are certainly times when I like to vent and express my frustrations with certain things, people or organizations. I just do not like to Twitter strictly as a forum for constant whining and complaining about this world. Instead, I like to express praise and give out positive tweets. For example, our highway and road crews have taken a lot of heat lately over the poor conditions of the streets and highways after a recent storm. The conditions were totally out of their controls. All of them were working double shifts and doing their best, however, people were still criticizing the job they were doing. I sent out a tweet expressing my appreciation for their hard work. We like to rip athletes and politicians but what about some of the good things they do? Why not send out a tweet admiring their courage? If you do not agree with a certain political view, tweet out an alternative plan.

If you are not on Twitter, you should join asap. Despite some of the drawbacks, it is a wonderful site. I have really become addicted to it in the past few years. Very few sites offer so much up to date information and opinion as Twitter.  Just use it wisely and do not become one of those #knuckleheads on Twitter.



The wonderful world of Facebook

About a month ago, a breaking news alert flashed on my television screen. My heart immediately sank for fear of what was to follow. Was there another school shooting or terrorism attack? Perhaps someone famous had died? Oh, none of those things. The news anchor grimly announced that Facebook was down that morning and should be up shortly. It was indeed a very difficult morning for millions of people around the world who seem to be very addicted to this popular and somewhat overrated website.

It seems that nearly everyone in the world has a Facebook account except for my mother. I am still working on that impossible task. I might have a better chance of swimming across the ocean before I ever get her to join. People like her are a very rare breed. A huge number of people in our society are absolutely hooked on that social media site. People are naturally curious about what goes on with other people especially when it comes to their friends or relatives. Businesses and news organizations seem to be using Facebook in  increasing numbers to promote certain things and events which makes the site even more prone to addiction.

I personally enjoy Facebook but I am by no means an addict. I have many family members who live several miles away so it is a great way to stay in touch with them and see what is going on in their lives. I do not have to wait for the holidays to see or hear about all the family gossip. I also have had the opportunity to rekindle some old friendships through Facebook. Several of my old classmates have accounts and it is really fascinating to see how people change or for some, stay the same through all these years. Those things make Facebook a very appealing site to millions.

There are many drawbacks to the site as well. I find only a small percentage of people on my friend’s list even participate. It is usually the same few people who post stuff or give details about events in their lives. I can understand that some people are very private and do not want to share with others but it would be nice to occasionally share with others about what is transpiring in your life. Like what are you doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Maybe you are going to the hospital for surgery. People are very curious to how you are doing and are there to offer you support. It would be nice to post something about how you are doing or perhaps you are dealing with certain personal issues like a divorce or breakup. Your friend’s or family’s comments can serve to be very uplifting.

Of course, some people go to far in posting stuff. I do not need to see pictures of people’s broken toe nails. TMI !!!!. Nor do I need to know that you are currently folding socks or have bad gas!! Yes, I have seen things like that posted. I personally do not post any political comments. I have seen some very heated child-like discussions on Facebook regarding politics and quite frankly, I do not find that site to be a place for expressing my political views. Also, if you are either married or in a relationship, be very careful about what you post on Facebook. I have been there done that!! People’s jealousies really come out on Facebook. For example, suppose that old girlfriend/boyfriend of yours comments on your status. In some cases, that can lead to some resentment even to a breakup or divorce. I wonder how many divorces are caused by Facebook postings. Or even a simple like about someone’s post. The same holds true about posts regarding your job. A person really needs to be careful about what they post and use good judgement.

I don’t know what the future of Facebook will bring. Perhaps it will be just another flash in the pan social media site like Myspace. Who really knows. But for being able to connect with family and friends for free, you just can’t beat that!! Just be careful about falling into the trap known as Facebook addiction. It could happen to you sooner that you think.