Facebook is vile, but banning it in Russia is wrong

Facebook is vile, but banning it in Russia is wrong

I’m no fan of Facebook.

In its vilest corners (sadly, it has many vile corners) you’ll find hatred, misinformation, abuse, fraud… the list goes on. It’s a breeding ground for crackpots, conspiracy theories, and cybercrime.

I deleted my Facebook account years ago. The truth was I felt uncomfortable participating on a platform which took advantage of users who were mostly unaware of how their personal information was being exploited.

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So, should I be welcoming the news that Russia is blocking access to Facebook?

I don’t think so.

Because, horrid as Facebook often is, it can help people stay in touch with relatives and friends, and can act as a source of news – very helpful if you live in a country with a state-controlled media which is censoring information about one of the scariest conflicts to erupt in Europe since World War II.

Yes, having access to Facebook would leave ordinary Russians open to crazy QAnon theories, anti-vax propaganda, and a myriad of narrow echo chambers. But it would also give them a chance to seek out independent reporting on the horrific invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

And as Facebook’s Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg points out, a ban on the site also takes away a method for the Russian public to organise protests and express their disgust at their government’s actions (although those would seem to be very risky actions):

So, should you quit Facebook? Yes, you probably should. It’s vile.

Should Russia ban Facebook? No.

Now listen to this edition of the “Smashing Security” podcast, where I talk more about quitting Facebook:

Smashing Security #75: 'Quitting Facebook'

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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