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Editorial

The Curious Case of the Black Leggings (and Why Leaving Facebook Isn’t Really an Option)

4 minute read
Ahava Leibtag avatar
If Silicon Valley companies are serious about doing no harm and bringing the world together, they will have to self-regulate.

Recently, I noticed that most of my black leggings were looking like a hot mess. I decided it was time to up my leggings game in general, so I posted on Facebook for recommendations.

Whoa. People are fanatical about their brand choices for leggings. People (yes, men too) asked if I wanted them for working out or for wearing as clothing. (Is there a difference?) People wanted to know price points. Most people recommended at least two brands.

So I purchased three of the recommended ones, including an expensive pair. And I tried them all.

I don’t want to upset you, dear reader, so decide now if you’re ready to read further and learn the truth about black leggings.

OK, I assume you’ve thought about it. Truth is ... they’re mostly the same. But when I posted that conclusion on Facebook, I got some passionate reactions. One person even dared to claim #fakenews! Can you imagine?

Related Article: Marketers Warn: 'Day of Reckoning' Over Facebook Data Scandal Coming

Chased by Ads for Black Leggings 

More fascinating to me, because of my career choice, was how leggings walked with me across my digital journeys that day (pun intended). When I went to YouTube, there were ads for the brands that people had recommended. And Facebook and Instagram served up ads for brands people hadn’t recommended. It was a virtual buffet of black leggings.

Some may argue that Facebook is doing me a favor. I’m in need of a product and confused about which brand to buy. The brands that are willing to pay for my eyeballs have the opportunity to educate me about why their products are best.

To those who argue it’s creepy and a violation of my privacy, I say: Oh, muffin, you want to use a free service to talk to your friends and family, cyberstalk people, watch viral videos and debate politics — and you’re upset that they want something in return?

On the other hand, to those who argue that when they signed up for Facebook 10 years ago, it wasn’t this sophisticated and the ads didn’t chase you across the internet: I can see that argument.

Learning Opportunities

So now you have a choice: Stay or go. But you can’t deny that leaving Facebook feels almost impossible.

Related Article: Marketers, Data Collection and the E-Word: Ethics

Facebook Makes it Hard to Say Goodbye

With the recent Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook has a lot to explain. And I think they’ve done a good job of saying they’re sorry. More importantly, they are open to discussing the issue, how they plan to resolve it and how they’re going to ensure that it won’t happen again.

Did people feel wary after it happened? Yep. Did people leave Facebook? I’m sure some did. But Facebook makes you wait two weeks (two whole weeks) to delete your profile, and if you come back to check your newsfeed just once, that clock resets to zero. Facebook knows that even though a lot of people claim they will leave, they won’t follow through, because of how addictive it is — and how easy it is to find a great pair of black leggings when you’re part of a social network.

The Congressional hearing featuring Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony was laughable, as this video demonstrates. It made me realize how little our elected officials understand about the realities and trade-offs of using the internet. From their comments and questions, it seems that many members of Congress don’t use digital media and technologies enough to regulate it.

So if the big Silicon Valley companies are truly serious about doing no harm and bringing the world together, they will have to self-regulate. I guess only time will tell. And in the meantime, I’ll be waiting in my now four pairs of brand new black leggings (not all at one time).

About the author

Ahava Leibtag

Ahava is the president and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005.

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