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Is Facebook watching you?

I have developed a bad habit where, late at night, quite often after a glass of wine or two, I check my Facebook notifications which have been pinging in on a regular basis. I find myself clicking on the videos of animals which have been recommended for me, but which I didn’t ask for. I hold my breath as the bedraggled stray dog moves its newly born litter of very cute puppies one by one, in the pouring rain, from the flooded shelter where she gave birth to dry ground (they all made it, just in the nick of time), and then I continue to watch, glued to the screen, as I see people trying to rescue a baby deer who is caught in a child’s football net by its antlers. The next thing you know an advert has popped up telling me that I need to buy a device made by a clever teenager to save me money on my electricity bills. Within minutes of signing into Facebook, I am one click away from buying three of these ground-breaking devices (you need to buy one for each 500 sq footage of your house??) when I remember the film The Social Dilemma…..

The Social Dilemma can be viewed on Netflix and features former employees, executives, and other professionals from top tech companies and social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Apple. These people expose the inner secrets of the tech companies and detail how they not only watch us, but they try to manipulate and control our behaviour, ultimately to make money.

We, their subscribers, are their commodity to be sold to the highest bidding advertiser.



I would recommend that you watch this film. If you have teenage children, you should make a point of watching it with them. The film revealed some shocking facts:


  • There is a phenomenon of patients wanting to receive plastic surgery in order to look more similar to a picture with a filter on it due to ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia'. This can lead to a body dysmorphic disorder and the lowering of one's self-esteem


  • Fake news or fake information is encouraged by these tech companies as Fake news sells much faster given that people have a greater emotional reaction towards fake news.


How can we stop Facebook and other social media platforms controlling our behaviour and trying to think for us? Here are some countermeasures that are recommended at the end of the film.

  1.  Turn off your notifications
  2. Use a search engine that doesn’t store your history like Brave
  3. Fact-check before sharing, liking, or commenting when the information looks surprising
  4. Do not give devices to children; they should have no screen time.
  5. Keep devices out of the bedroom after a certain time
  6. Do not allow social media use until children reach high school
  7. Remember Social Media can be addictive!!


Using Facebook can be fun, and it is great to link up with friends and family, particularly now when we can’t physically meet up; but YOU need to stay in charge of what YOU choose to look at and who YOU choose to socialise with on social media platforms.


The Social Dilemma: Watch it and decide for yourself if Facebook really is watching you!!

Yvonne Davidson

About the author

Yvonne Davidson

Retired Senior Police Officer and an Associate Tutor at Ulster University working as part of a collaborative partnership between the Kapsuun Group and Ulster University.

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