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CARROLL: Facebook fading away?
David Carroll
David Carroll is a news anchor for WRCB in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Thirteen years ago I gave in, and joined Facebook. It was at the urging of an old radio pal, who assured me my fears about Facebook were unfounded. Although I had often lectured my teenage sons about Facebook being a waste of time, my buddy told me that it was a great way to reconnect with former co-workers, and even relatives who lived out of town. For a while, Facebook delivered on his promise.

Eventually, it devolved into a national clothesline of gossip and disinformation. In its early days, it was a pleasant surprise to get a friend request. Wow, I haven’t heard from her since high school! Hey, this is cool: one of my old softball buddies want to friend me, and I had totally lost track of him!

Somewhere along the way, the charm disappeared. I get friend requests from people who are already my Facebook friends. Their accounts get hacked, or some underhanded rascal hijacks their photo and identity, and if I hurriedly click “accept” in a weak moment, I’ll probably be the next victim.

We fall for scams, in one form or another. The rip-off artists found a sure way to get us to click onto their phony website. They copy a logo from a well-known store or restaurant, offering us 75% off our order at the hardware store, or some other impossibly good deal. Sure enough, many of us take the bait. We never take the time to think that if a swarm of customers load their carts and expect 75% off, that store would go broke in about ten minutes.

We play games and answer surveys, often sharing our most personal information and photos. We have no idea who has access to that data.

What some believe to be the site’s greatest asset is also its most dangerous tool. Facebook enables everyone to be a journalist. One can invent a story out of thin air, slandering anyone in their sights. They may only have ten “friends,” but those 10 may have a hundred, who each have a thousand more. Within minutes, a false story reaches a large audience. If it’s blatantly false, Facebook may eventually take it down, but the damage has already been done. You cannot put that toothpaste back in the tube.

During the pandemic, Facebook has been among the most effective spreaders of medical misinformation. How many people have died because of “Facebook doctors?” I really don’t want to know. I will surely get sick if I hear that number.

Maybe that’s why, for the first time ever, Facebook is seeing a decline in daily active users. Perhaps people are finally fed up with the clutter, the politics and the lies.

Young people are jumping the Facebook ship, for sure. It is somewhat ironic that teens and college students were the first adopters, but as soon as Grandma and Uncle Felix began sharing (and snooping), the kids found other social playgrounds.

Think back to the world before Facebook. Did you know your hardware store clerk’s choice for president? Did you know your beloved former teacher’s political views were the exact opposite of yours? Did you even care?

On several recent occasions, I was jarred to learn, via Facebook, that some of my friends’ long-term relationships, even marriages, had ended. I suppose I would have eventually found out somehow, but seeing personal laundry aired online just seems wrong.

This is not to say Facebook is entirely evil. On any given day, we are asked to send up prayers for ailing neighbors. You can enjoy a great new joke now and then. If a friend shows me an easier, tastier recipe for loaded chicken and potato casserole, I will print it. And goodness knows I can never see enough cute babies, puppies and kittens.

But much like the telegraph, the fax machine, and pagers, Facebook may soon run its course as a means of communication and messaging. Something new will take its place, and as always, kids will lead the way.

In the meantime, I’m gradually cutting back. With any luck, actual face-to-face communication may soon make a comeback, and not a moment too soon.

David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor, and his new book “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” is available on his website,  You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at