Are Facebook Petitions pointless or dangerous?

Are Facebook Petitions pointless or dangerous?

If you’re anything like us when you first heard the announcement of Facebook adding a petition feature you might have thought how useless that will probably be. For example, 25,000 people signed a White House petition in 2013 asking the Obama administration to build a Death Star. Online petitions usually carry about as much weight as a European Swallow unburdened by coconuts. That was until we saw an article that changed our mind but didn’t make us feel any better.

Recently, tech blog Gizmodo published a post asking the question How Long Before Facebook’s New Petition Feature is Complicit in Genocide? The post makes a number of valid points. For example, if a group makes a valid petition to government officials how long will it take before virtual mobs flag the petition as abusive or offensive? Conversely, how long will it take before someone creates a truly offensive petition and Facebook will do nothing about it since it supposedly doesn’t violate Facebook’s ill-defined community standards?

As the Gizmodo author and we have pointed out, Facebook needs your continued engagement to keep making money and if that means doing it by preying on your outrage, they will. The new petitions feature could just be another weapon in Facebook’s arsenal of agitation designed to keep you angry and glued to Facebook at all times. Remember as always, more often than not, if you’re not paying for a service then you are the product.