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  • Writer's picturegigitevzad

Gigi Tevzadze. How Facebook tames us to a totalitarian system

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

I have thought about the Facebook phenomenon before, not as a system, but as adding a new fifth order of simulacra to the ranks of simulacra. I thought of it as a complex means of communication creating a new basis for reality, and so I just participated, without thinking about its structure and system, without thinking about what reality it creates.

But I got to thinking when Facebook suddenly canceled my account and told me it was over, I could never log into Facebook again with that account and I had to open a new account if I wanted to.

My appeal didn't cut. The charge of distributing child pornography, appeared very quickly on the screen and disappeared almost immediately, was replaced by a note saying that according to their rules, they cannot discuss with me why my account was canceled.

This story made me think. For the first time, I started to understand the structure and system of Facebook. It also helped me that I spent a large part of my life, almost half, in the Mecca of a totalitarian society, the Soviet Union, and I have empirically experienced it. Suddenly, unexpectedly for me, it turned out that Facebook exactly repeats, like the manual, a totalitarian system. So much so that we can write: Totalitarianism for Dummies.

1. Let's start with the private property issues. Relativity of private property: You think, that content posted by you on Facebook is yours, and Facebook's rules protect you from intrusion by others like you. But, this immunity does not apply to Facebook. Turns out, all your posts, photos, videos, etc. Whatever you upload on Facebook and you think belongs to you, belongs to Facebook: "It" can cancel/delete it whenever „it“wants. (This was exactly the Soviet Union: your property was relative, and you and your property belonged to the state and the party absolutely, from head to toe).

2. The illogicality of terror: The fact that Facebook can incriminate you and delete you without giving you a chance to defend yourself is repression. But it goes even further: it has no logic: everyone in your environment and beyond is sure that there must be a reason: how can destruction not have a reason? But the strength of the terror of the totalitarian system lies in this: only you, who have been sanctioned, know that there is no reason, everyone around thinks that there should be a reason until the sanction touches him.

3. Impossibility of participatory appeal: it's true, you can appeal, but you can't discuss: they accept the complaint and consider it without you. To reach the discussion, you have to go outside Facebook, go to court, etc. Just like in the Soviet Union: only outside the country's borders could you hope for a human rights court. That is, a fair trial is unattainable within a totalitarian society, and in any case, you do not participate. You get the judgment that has already been passed.

4. Basing the system of judgment and convictions on denouncement, so-called "donos": if enough people report you, it's enough to sanction you, without even considering why they're reporting you. It was the same with the Soviet Union: „Donos“ was enough to shoot down/sent citizens into exile in Siberia in concentration camps.

5. Faceless Jurors: No one knows who will make a judgment and decide to destroy you and your property: You didn't choose them, they were appointed "from above": in this case, by the Zuckerberg administration. In the case of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party.

6. Comfort within established boundaries: As long as you don't break the rules, personal comfort space is "guaranteed", as is the illusion of self-expression and private property. This is the basis of the popularity of such a system: from the beginning, no one falls under sanctions, and a comfortable environment for communication is provided. But at the same time, the longer you are in the system, the more vulnerable you are to the system.

These are the six signs that you can read in books about totalitarianism from Arendt to Kafka. They are unmistakably carried out on Facebook and we also unmistakably accept and abide by them. What is this, if not getting used to totalitarianism? Is the time far off when such a life will be offered to us in the physical world? Will we be able to refuse it? Will we be able to give up the comfort of communication in favor of the absolute principle of freedom and property?

I am far from thinking that Facebook and Meta guys are doing this on purpose. I also understand that these rules, as they have established and managed Facebook, are the rules of the corporation: after you become a member of the corporation, you get benefits from it, etc. Maybe these kinds of rules are acceptable. But the thing is, Facebook is not a corporation. It is communication, it is society. And if you run societies and communities by the rules of a corporation, it inevitably becomes totalitarian, at the cost of your property, your freedom, and ultimately your life.

Do not think that there is no solution. There is, and it's even easier: for example, any sanctioning decision at Facebook should be subject to a vote and ultimately something like a jury trial. This is how a community that achieves success is managed, this is how fair communication is managed. It's not hard to do, and it will bring Facebook back to the realm it has created within: the unity of self-governing communities, and away from the place it's hopefully inadvertently moving us toward: A totalitarian society.



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