So do we have an obligation to leave Facebook for others’ sake? The answer is a resounding yes for those who are intentionally spreading hate speech and fake news on Facebook. For those of us who do not engage in such objectionable behavior, it is helpful to consider whether Facebook has crossed certain moral “red lines,” entering the realm of outright wickedness.
For me at least, Facebook would have crossed a moral red line if it had, for example, intentionally sold the data of its users to Cambridge Analytica with the full knowledge that company would use the data subversively to influence a democratic election. Likewise, Facebook would have crossed a red line if it had intentionally assisted in the dissemination of hate speech in Myanmar. But the evidence indicates that Facebook did not intend for those things to occur on its platform.
The fact that those things did occur, however, means that Facebook needs to be much more proactive in fixing such problems. Will it? The recent worrisome revelation that Facebook hired an opposition-research firm that attempted to discredit protesters by claiming that they were agents of the financier George Soros is not encouraging. While there still appears to be some daylight between Facebook and what is being done on its platform or in its name, darkness is crowding in.