Unpopular Opinion: Stop Patronizing Users

I think this is fine by Facebook. It can be considered a dark pattern, but it serves its goal which is getting as many users as possible past this screen.

Facebook is a company that prioritizes growth (signups, engagement, time spent…etc) above all else. They measure everything and they know what they are doing.

I expect they tested multiple versions of that page and found this version to lead to the highest acceptance rate, without hurting engagement or leading users to leave the service.

I deleted my Facebook account two years ago. My feed became too toxic because of what’s happening in Egypt. I felt way better after doing this and I encourage everyone I know who is going through some depressive episodes to do the same.

However, this is only my perspective, and it doesn’t make the wellness argument right (the argument that spending time on Facebook makes people feel worse).

One point that didn’t get enough attention in Mark’s EU hearing is when he mentioned that Facebook researched the wellness topic. He said one of their findings is that people feel worse if they mindlessly scroll through their feed watching news and videos. They feel better and less lonely if they see content from their connections. That’s why Facebook altered the news feed algorithm to show more of this content.

I don’t like the current tone in the industry that patronizes users by considering them unable to decide for themselves. There is some truth to this argument but it is a slippery slope if we start thinking we know what’s right for people.

The internet is an open space and people are able to decide what’s good for them. If you think you can do better, do it, otherwise stop patronizing others considering them stripped of their free will.