Should Adbusters be anti-Facebook?

Micah White’s article in Adbusters issue, #77, Facebook Suicide, has provoked spirited argument on the comments page. I like a good argument, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to blog about my take on all this social networking stuff.

Here at Adbusters we advocate “unmediated experience” and encourage ourselves and others know...take a break from the TV and the computer once and a while. It's not much more complicated than advocating a healthy life. Step away from the Big Mac; take a walk in the woods—that sort of thing. Steering people away from the google box may be uncontroversial wisdom, but personally I don’t take it so far as to ignore the obvious power that sites like Facebook, Digg, and, and other social web technologies have to promote progressive politics and activist campaigns.

The argument seems to be between those who advocate a purist position ('Facebook is a huge evil corporation that violates people’s privacy and should be avoided like the plague') and a pragmatic position ('we can use Facebook for our own purposes and take steps to address our concerns about privacy'). Among Adbusters staff, there is no consensus. Some of us are on Facebook, some aren’t. Myself, I don’t have a Facebook account, but I have no problem with those who do, and think it’s fine that people have spontaneously created unofficial Adbusters groups on Facebook. I guess that makes me a pragmatist. As far as I’m concerned, groundswell technologies are ideally suited to getting the word out about media rights, alternative economics, the cult of advertising, and so on.

The Digg, Reddit, and Facebook buttons will remain on the bottom of our article pages. Let the debate continue.