Politics ruin social networks. Social networks make fun and exciting things more fun because everyone can have a word, but politics get worse and worse because any idiot with half a sense of how to use a keyboard can argue their half-baked conspiracy theory. Friends turn against friends as one person bashes another’s favored candidate, and any real political decisions that are made are bogged down by the weight of thousands of comments that are nothing more than mindless, backwashed rhetoric.
This has been going on since Al Gore started the internet and will continue until we are all dead or under the control of Big Brother. Just like your Uncle Bob will watch Fox News and enrage your hippy cousin, people will continue to argue about how to run the country as long as there still is a country. That’s how politics work.
So, with the rumbling of the 2012 American presidential race starting over here, I was surprised to get a Facebook ad for the group American’s For Prosperity. I don’t list my political views on Facebook because I already deal with enough crap. I don’t need my friends telling me I’m already even more in the wrong. So, I guess this group may think I’m independent and easily swayed by the crap I see on Facebook.
Now, before I click the ad, I can already tell that I’m going to hate American’s For Prosperity. What American would be against prosperity? That name itself is so loaded my monitor began to fold over.
So, I click the ad because I know if I click that ad, my click will cost that group money. It’s my own way of bleeding the beast.
Unfortunately, American’s for Prosperity want me to “like” them. So, I cut through their bullshit landing page and go to their wall. Their wall just wants me to go get angry about THINGS and then go to events to show my anger about THINGS. I try to figure out who is funding them, but of course, they don’t have to say any of that madness on Facebook.
So I have to ask Google and Wikipedia, the keepers of information on the internet, who tell me all about Americans for Prosperity and what they stand for and who lines their pockets so they can advertise to everyone on Facebook. For my international readers, in America, political ads on radio have to have a line that says “Paid for by whatever group paid for the ad.” This is so you can attempt to figure out what group is trying to advertise enough so you’ll believe what they say.
Where was the disclosure that this was a political ad? How is the average Facebook user, who has no attention span, supposed to know this isn’t just someone else trying to get them away from Farmville? They won’t care to do all the research.
Facebook, as you become a bigger and more important advertiser and base camp for political movements, you need to have something called ethics. You may have heard of these before your CEO dropped out of college. People need to be able to clearly know when an organization with a blatant political agenda is advertising to them (Because, let’s be honest, any organization has a political agenda. Some just hide it much better).
Facebook, you need to implement this system now before the American government does this. If you don’t do this now, it will be imposed upon you, and it will be uglier, stupider, and more horrifying than any of us can imagine. No one will “like” that.
And politicians - stay off of Facebook. I just want to share pictures of my cat, and I already have my crazy uncle to deal with. Don’t make a bad thing even worse.