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Professor Perspective: On the Moral Duty to Leave Facebook

You probably have a Facebook account. If you don’t, you definitively know someone who does. If nothing else, you know New England Law | Boston—and we have an account.

And with its 2.27 billion monthly active users (as of the end of 2018), it’s not surprising that the social media platform is ubiquitous. But should it be? Given its negative impacts on social discourse and democracy (among other things), is there perhaps even a moral imperative for everyone to delete their Facebook accounts—immediately?

Professor Lawrence Friedman takes a bold stance on doing just that in his most recent piece for the New England Law Review. Read an excerpt below.

In an essay published last November, the philosopher S. Matthew Liao asks: do we have a moral duty to leave Facebook? His answer: not yet. In light of Facebook’s destructive effect on information privacy, I’m not sure the answer to his question shouldn’t be an unequivocal “yes.”

Considering the duties one owes to others, Liao examines Facebook’s role in undermining democratic values—the way the platform, for example, allows the spread of racist propaganda and false news. He notes that it is no answer to say that this concern does not apply to most users, for being on Facebook serves to encourage one’s friends to do the same, and allows Facebook to use you, and them, as data points—or, more accurately, to reduce you and them to data points. And, while you might not see your use of Facebook as undermining democratic values, continued use denies the potential for the kind of collective action – namely, leaving Facebook – that might slow the platform’s more deleterious effects on democracy.

Continue reading on the New England Law Review website.