Nice Try, Zuckerberg: Why You Should Stay Away From Facebook Campus

Laura Antunez/Staff Writer

After having spent years as one of the top social media companies in the world, Facebook met major backlash when it was discovered that they had illegally used millions of user profiles for information in order to influence the 2016 presidential elections. 

This year, they returned to their roots by creating an added section to their profiles meant just for college students called Facebook Campus. 

At launch, the newest integration to the Facebook interface was only available to 30 colleges and universities nationwide, with FIU being one of them. 

Facebook Campus is an added feature to a regular Facebook profile, with the campus profile being different from the normal Facebook profile. To create an account, students only need to supply Facebook with their college email and their graduation year. According to their website, students can stay up to date with campus events and connect with people who have similar interests to them.

Facebook’s announcement stated that Facebook Campus is a way for students to help meet other students over shared interests. However, I think Facebook Campus is really only meant to help Facebook make more money, and it isn’t at all about the students.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of adolescents on Facebook have been declining since 2015. Facebook Campus is one of the newest things to come out of the social media platform to try to convince people that the company is not just for selling end tables and wishing your religious grandma a happy birthday. 

There has never been a more important time to talk to people who are outside of your comfort zone.

Although I can see the added benefit, especially now when it is hard to organize events and groups on a single platform, I have been fooled by Zuckerberg too many times. Not to mention that fake news spreads through Facebook faster than any other social media site.

For as long as I can remember now, it seems like I’ve always been enslaved by social media platforms. In elementary school, I had a MySpace, in middle school, I had Facebook and AIM, and in high school, I was using Instagram and Twitter. Now in college, I mostly use Instagram, and even that is enough to overwhelm me.

Recently, I saw that documentary everyone’s talking about, called “The Social Dilemma.” I didn’t want to watch it at first, but once I did, it made me want to run and tell everyone to burn their phones. I don’t want to give away too much, but essentially, it features entrepreneurs who helped start major companies such as Facebook and Pinterest, only to leave later on due to ethical reasons.

The main problem with Facebook, Google, and a lot of social media sites, is that they give everyone dangerous confirmation bias. If they launched Facebook Campus, the algorithm that has been put in place to make your time on Facebook “more meaningful” will prevent you from truly seeing everyone. As soon as you’d start using it, the algorithm would start picking up on every single movement you made on the computer. 

Before you’d know it, the only people you’d be exposed to are people who are exactly like you, and that is dangerous. There has never been a more important time to talk to people who are outside of your comfort zone. There has never been a more important time to have difficult conversations with people and to try to find a middle ground.

Political sides have never been more polarized, and the documentary tells us a large part of the reason for that is social media. When I visited my aunt a couple of months ago, we talked about the Black Lives Matter protests. She mentioned watching a video of a group of Black people beating up a cop, and it instantly enraged me because all I had seen up until that point was police brutality on unarmed protesters. 

At the time, I attributed this incident to misinformation, but once I saw the documentary it all made sense to me. Social media sites profit off the most from polarization and from giving people confirmation biases. Even Google, the trusted search engine of most, will offer you different recommendations based on the algorithm that has been tailored to you. The big problem with this is that some people truly believe climate change is a hoax because that’s all that ever comes out on their Google recommendations. 

It all starts when you agree to let different sites sell your information to advertisers. Since the internet is still relatively new, there is no legislation that puts a cap on how many times your information can be sold or even a tax on every time someone else’s information is bought. 

Profiles only serve to tell me what people think about themselves, not necessarily who they truly are. 

Facebook Campus is just another way to get a younger population to also sell their souls to Mark Zuckerberg. It may seem like a good idea, especially in the midst of the pandemic, but there is nothing more beautiful than a genuine human connection. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were with people with completely different ideologies than me. 

Humans act so differently when you’re looking at them in the eyes, and not typing at them through a depersonalized screen. Humans also present themselves in the real world more than they do online. Sometimes the girl with the prettiest profile will be the one with the least interesting stories, and would rather look at her profile than talk to you anyway. Meanwhile, the nerdy guy with four followers will have stories about washing their crystals in the light of the full moon and being able to read auras.

Everyone is different, but to truly experience someone you have to experience them like people were meant to be experienced; through an outside perspective. Profiles only serve to tell me what people think about themselves, not necessarily who they truly are. 

If you’re going to use Facebook Campus, use it sparingly, but also try to sign up for clubs, even if all the meetings are online. It’s still a way to meet your fellow students without bias. Plus, it’ll look a lot better on your resumé than “Facebook addict.”


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Featured image by Book Catalog on Flickr.

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