Follow You on Facebook? You lost me!

Dear Local Organisation,

As a member of this Organisation, I would like to thank you for your efforts to keep your members updated, and for periodically re-evaluating the best way to do so.

Unfortunately you have lost me by asking me to join Mr Zuckerberg's Facebook club in order to receive your information.

I would like to invite you in your next reevaluation to consider providing your primary communications through a channel that is in the nature of a public utility, not a private members club.

I will explain why and how.

(I am professionally involved in the subject area of public non-proprietary communications channels.)


  1. A personal, heart-felt tirade on why this is so wrong.
  2. Professional advice on the right way to communicate.

Facebook is Not a Public Utility

I am aware lots of people have begun to treat Facebook as if it were a public utility. Doing so is a mistake and causes deep problems. [1]

Facebook is a private members club. Some other clubs are: ex-Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn. A private club has an owner and controller who dictates exactly who can be a member, what we can do, and what we will see. Our use is entirely at the whim of Zuckerberg or Musk or someone else.

Facebook is also an advertising club. Its core business is selling targeted advertising to its users. Communication is merely the bait. That is why I keep out of it.

No such club is suitable for use as a service to the public or to your own organisation's members.

What happens when an organisation conducts its communications in this way? Effectively it makes a “soft” condition of membership that your member is also both eligible and willing to join and visit the Facebook club. We members must then become subject to the company's data surveillance and advertising and pushing content that we may not wish to see, and their age limits, and the U.S. government's restrictions on allowed nationality, and all the rest of their T's-and-C's. All that is then imposed on us.

What is the Right Way to Communicate?

Instead of a private club, the proper choice is to use a public communication channel.

I am professionally involved in this subject area, in the development of public communications channels.

A public form of communication channel is like a public utility: it is available to anyone, from a choice of different providers. Examples are: email, website RSS feeds, the fediverse, matrix. Notice that these are standards for communication, rather than private clubs.

How does using a public communication channel avoid the problems? When you choose your email service provider, I can choose a different one. You choose a provider that suits your needs and values, and I choose one that suits mine. I don't have to agree to all your provider's terms. And either of us can switch to a different provider without forfeiting our communication.

If you aren't on Facebook, we post updates on the website...

That's almost perfect! I would love to subscribe to updates directly from yourselves. I don't mind which standard you choose, just so long as it's a public standard not a proprietary club.

A practical suggestion. A web page can also provide a news-feed. Just add RSS. RSS is a commonly used feature of news-like web pages, such as blogs, which lets users subscribe to updates directly from the web page if they want to. It would be the simplest and most obvious way to allow subscribing to your organisation's news.

The Fediverse (as popularised by Mastodon etc.) is another good option.

I would ask you in your next reevaluation to consider providing your primary communications through a channel that is in the nature of a public utility, not a private members club.

Please, don't invite me to be a Facebook ads consumer. Invite me to communicate with You Yourselves.

This is an open letter. Please use, adapt, study, improve, and share it. I hereby license it CC-BY-SA.

[1]: News ban: Can we regard Facebook as a public utility? — Dr. Gavin Ellis [2]: Social Media Links for A People-Centred Community — J. Foad

TODO: Examples and link to further information on how to do RSS and Fediverse.

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