This file photo taken on November 21, 2016 in central London shows Facebook logos on the screens of a smartphone and a laptop computer.AFP / Justin TALLIS
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These problems are sometimes exaggerated, and are not Facebook's alone: Twitter is politically polarised; Google also shows targeted ads; and few Facebook news feeds are as relentlessly blinkered as the pages of a British tabloid newspaper. But Facebook bundles them into a uniquely powerful package.And the inconvenient fact is that Facebook seems to make us miserable. None of this is good, unless you are Facebook. Two of the companies that were managing it – WhatsApp and Instagram – were bought by Facebook.The lack of competition may explain why Facebook retains its grip on our attention despite being clunky and pernicious; a company that faces no serious competition can afford to stop worrying about keeping its users happy. It is easy to imagine a better social network than Facebook: more privacy, a slicker interface and less fake news. The idea is that I could take my Facebook contacts with me to another service – call it "ZingBook".I would get whatever it was I liked about ZingBook while maintaining contact with my own social network back on Facebook.
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