What does Facebook want? To never pay a penny in taxes or fees, for starters. But the larger answer seems to be that Facebook wants the right to devour a country’s advertising market and freely tinker with the algorithmic dials governing what millions of people see. Anything that stands in the way of their autonomy to set a population’s informational intake—or that threatens to undermine the bottom line—is considered a threat. Facebook’s response in Australia shows that it’s not afraid to go nuclear to protect its market dominance and tens of billions in annual profits—a move that implicitly acknowledges that the company has too much power.
Have you wondered what life would be like for a Facebook or YouTube moderator?
It’s a place where, in stark contrast to the perks lavished on Facebook employees, team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break; where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers; where people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave; and where the counseling that Cognizant offers them ends the moment they quit — or are simply let go.
Another one on Facebook, hopefully last for this year.
Admit you have a problem. Yes, over and over and over, Facebook executives have copped a plea. But they’ve never acknowledged the real problem is the company’s core DNA. More often than not, the company plays the pre-teen game of admitting a small sin so as to cover a larger one. The latest case in point is this post-modern gem: Elliot Schrage On Definers. The headline alone says all you need to know about Facebook’s latest disaster: Blame the guy who hired the firm, have him fall on a sword, add a bit of Sandbergian mea culpa, and move along. Nope, this time is different, Facebook. It’s time for fundamental change. And that means….
These breaches keep happening. One day in not so distant future, one of the breaches would end up being the final straw.
Over a long enough time span, all data is liable to be breached. It’s why some security researchers call on companies to store as little data about their customers as possible, to minimize the damage when the inevitable happens. As an advertising company, Facebook cannot easily adopt such an approach. But it could modulate the other ways in which it asks us for our trust — perhaps deciding, as Google did, to leave the camera out of its home speaker; or not to put on stage an executive soliciting our most personal information, however well anonymized, while the investigation into a data breach affecting millions is still underway.
Instead, it’s full speed ahead.
What’s your view?
“Antisocial Media” is not a hopeful book. Vaidhyanathan doesn’t think Facebook can be reformed from within, however many times CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizes and promises to do better. “The problem with Facebook is Facebook,” he writes. It’s not just that the company makes its money by pimping its members to advertisers. It’s that the network is now so immense that it has become impossible to weed out the scoundrels and creeps until after they’ve done their damage. “Facebook,” Vaidhyanathan concludes, “is too big to tame.” The company will always be cleaning up messes, begging our forgiveness.
Thoughts of some of my Facebook friendships came to mind recently as I read an essay by William Hazlitt. In “The Pleasures of Hating,” Hazlitt talks about the many things we come to hate, especially as we age. “We hate old friends: we hate old books: we hate old opinions; and at last we come to hate ourselves.” He continues:
Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly, cold, comfortless, and distasteful. The stomach turns against them. Either constant intercourse and familiarity breed weariness and contempt; or, if we meet again after an interval of absence, we appear no longer the same. One is too wise, another too foolish for us; and we wonder we did not find this out before. We are disconcerted and kept in a state of continual alarm by the wit of one, or tired to death of the dullness of another.
There was a Princeton study in 2014 which compared Facebook to an infectious disease. According to the study, Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017. The prediction seems to have missed its mark. But, really?
In this paper we have applied a modified epidemiological model to describe the adoption and abandonment dynamics of user activity of online social networks. Using publicly available Google data for search query Myspace as a case study, we showed that the traditional SIR model for modeling disease dynamics provides a poor description of the data. A 75% decrease in SSE is achieved by modifying the traditional SIR model to incorporate infectious recovery dynamics, which is a better description of OSN dynamics. Having validated the irSIR model of OSN dynamics on Google data for search query Myspace, we then applied the model to the Google data for search query Facebook. Extrapolating the best fit model into the future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.
Everyone is now really looking into how much data these big companies have about you. You will be surprised, to say the least.
With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes.
Another needull on Mark Zuckerberg’s potential run for presidency. I don’t necessarily agree with the article but important issues are to be discussed.
Trump’s hate-mongering and vulgarity are likely to make whoever occupies the White House after him seem innocuous by comparison, but a Zuckerberg presidency would be dangerous in far more subtle ways. The benign public face of the Obama administration masked an unprecedented program of privacy invasion and surveillance, all carried out in the alleged interests of “national security.” Who’s to say whether “innovation” and “fresh thinking” under a Zuckerberg administration wouldn’t serve as euphemisms for an even broader campaign of observation and analysis, implemented not just to protect us from enemies abroad, but to surreptitiously shape and manage our society at home? If we do find Zuckerberg tossing his hat in the ring come 2020, we should take care to remember what he built at Facebook—and, more importantly, how—and ask ourselves whether elevating a quasi-progressive boy genius is worth the significant costs to our privacy and our freedom.
Everything seems to be moving to Facebook these days. Journalism, Business, Activism.
Two years since the product’s launch, Instant Articles has been criticized for underwhelming monetization, the absence of robust subscription options, an inability for publishers to directly connect to their readers, the limited amount of user data returned by Facebook, and the lack of autonomy provided to publishers over their ad space. One publishing executive described them as “a public flop.”
But the Daily News still sees potential in courting a mobile audience. This represents a considerable shift in strategy in the past few months. The Daily News has always posted a high volume of articles on Facebook compared to other publishers—typically almost 100 per day. But the paper barely used Instant Articles; the strategy was all about driving back to nydailynews.com.