Victoria mayor says she's quitting 'toxic, echo chamber' of Facebook
In the wake of an international data scandal, Victoria's mayor says she's quitting Facebook for good.
In a blog post on her website titled "Why I'm Quitting Facebook," Lisa Helps laid out three reasons why she's leaving the immensely popular social media site.
The first, she said, is that Facebook has fundamentally changed since she began using it.
"When I became mayor, Facebook was still a civil place. It was a place where I could share ideas and get good feedback, where dialogue happened," Helps wrote.
But she pointed to a Guardian article that says social media like Facebook is distorting not only politics, but the way people think.
"I have felt this evolution online over the past four years," she said. "Facebook has become a toxic, echo chamber where people who have anything positive to say are often in defense mode against negativity and anger."
She said she's leaving the site to stop contributing to the cycle of negativity online, "where opinions become hardened in the absence of facts or dialogue and where division rather than much-needed connection is the norm."
Helps said she's also worried about the easy distraction Facebook provides, and how that's affecting society's collective ability to focus.
"This isn’t good for the state of our democracy in Victoria where what we need is to be able to talk with each other and listen to each other about the challenges we face as a community," she said.
Giving her third reason for quitting Facebook, Helps cited a study out of Sussex, England that multitasking on devices can shrink the part of the brain used in executive function, cognitive processes, emotional regulation and evaluative processes.
She said she's been slowly weaning herself off the site by deleting the app from her phone, then from her iPad, with the final step being to shut down the account entirely.
"I wonder how quitting Facebook will impact my relationship with my phone? My time? My sense of self worth? I look forward to more face to face conversations, less distractions, and keeping my noodle intact," she wrote.
Though some constituents have used Facebook to interact and ask question of the mayor in the past, she said she'll still be available through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, her office phone, her blog, and her regular weekly appearance on CFAX Fridays between 3 and 4 p.m.
The post has been met with mostly comments of support on her soon-to-be-closed Facebook account, though some criticized Helps for the decision.
Helps has not specifically said when she will initiate the process to shut it down.
It comes days after a whistleblower from Victoria, data scientist Christopher Wylie, made international headlines after he accused a voter-profiling company of improperly capturing private data from 50-million Facebook users. The revelation has spawned a movement across the world to #DeleteFacebook, though CEO Mark Zuckerburg says the company hasn't seen a significant drop in users as a result.