One-cylinder print press illustration

Photo via Jonathan Gray/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) Remix by Jason Reed

Replacing ‘Facebook’ with ‘the printing press’ is Twitter’s best new meme

You probably saw the link for this story on the printing press.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 31, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 12:42 pm CDT

Many important inventions throughout history received early criticism. People are afraid of change. But Facebook? Yeah, we don’t think that one is getting any better. Economics professor Tyler Cowen thinks otherwise.

As a reminder, Facebook launched in 2004 and spread RAPIDLY. This isn’t like the early days of the printing press. Facebook has been around for over a decade, slowly collecting data about every little detail in our lives. The website knows who we’re friends with, who we’re related to, who we’ve dated, where we live, and what events we attend. And, of course, it helped spread fake news during the 2016 election.

Sure, Facebook isn’t entirely bad. The website allows people to communicate with friends and family who live far away. Its private groups are great. But the criticism against the website is warranted. We don’t know what will happen in the future with all the data the giant, for-profit corporation is collecting.

On Twitter, many people proved that Cowen’s analogy doesn’t work. They did as he suggested and inserted “printing press” in a sentence that criticizes Facebook.

Did the printing press collect data on humans?

Did the printing press ruin relationships or show you what your exes are up to?

Did the printing press use an algorithm to decide what content you saw? Was it all really terrible?

Did the printing press make you feel bad about your life choices?

Did the printing press distract your children?

Did the printing press send spammers to you?

Did the printing press track your location?

Did an early version of the printing press rate people by their attractiveness?

Hmmm. It doesn’t seem like the printing press and Facebook are all that similar.

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*First Published: Oct 31, 2017, 1:13 pm CDT