I doubt Zuckerberg needed a visit from Rudy to roll over
October 6, 2019 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Facebook says political candidates can lie. Earlier this month "wax statue cursed into life" Mark Zuckerberg had a visit with Donald Trump and Josh Hawley (R -MIssouri). While Facebook claims to remove ads and content that have been debunked by fact checkers, they recently declared any website or page “with the primary purpose of expressing the opinion or agenda of a political figure” exempt from fact checking, in time for Donald Trump to air a series of completely false attack ads against Biden.
posted by benzenedream (89 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:09 PM on October 6 [35 favorites]


Yeah, they are.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:27 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


At this point, Zuckerberg is so terrified of Elizabeth Warren that he's literally bending the policies of what is functionally the world's largest media operation to back a fascist would-be dictator he thinks will let his company be. Turns out that when you allow a person to have billions of dollars, they stop giving a shit about anyone but themselves.

There is no such thing as an ethical billionaire.
posted by tocts at 7:28 PM on October 6 [155 favorites]


Honest question: I only know of him as a smug shmuck who cheated his friends and associates to get rich quick.

What was he ever supposed to be good at, other than bilking me and grandma for ad dollars, without any scruples?
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:39 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Until we get meaningful regulation on this new sector of society, its power brokers will remain free to run roughshod across our society and reshape it into whatever they need it to be. We don't have a strong Congress, but we need one to step up. This is even more crucial than the breakup of Ma Bell. Something needs to be done, and nobody is doing anything and the result is total suckage.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on October 6 [18 favorites]


Cash register goes ‘ching ching ching’ and that’s all that matters in this country now

gotta vote with your feet on this one
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:51 PM on October 6 [8 favorites]


"wax statue cursed into life" Mark Zuckerberg

This is the best visual description of a public figure I've seen since someone described John Kerry as looking like a haunted tree.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:53 PM on October 6 [85 favorites]


What was he ever supposed to be good at, other than bilking me and grandma for ad dollars, without any scruples?

A business analyst might disagree or at least have a more nuanced response, but as far as I can tell his success is predicated entirely upon having gotten to an inevitable idea, with a decent user interface (early on, Facebook was useable!) early enough to gain critical mass, and then betrayal. He’s just ridden the wave and figured out the right competitors to buy out or copy before they’re a real threat ever since.
posted by Caduceus at 7:53 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]


FB’s pivot to mobile is a credit to Zuck’s tech guidance.

Apple’s and FB’s 1.5T of market cap are quite intertwined....
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:54 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Caduceus: but as far as I can tell his success is predicated entirely upon having gotten to an inevitable idea, with a decent user interface (early on, Facebook was useable!) early enough to gain critical mass, and then betrayal.

I think part of his success has to do with the fact that he started with users at an elite university. Unlike Myspace, the first person inviting you to join Facebook was most likely from an equal or higher social class than you. They were someone who had gone to Harvard, or someone who knew someone who had gone to Harvard.
posted by clawsoon at 8:02 PM on October 6 [11 favorites]


from first link:
Last week, Nick Clegg, Facebook's VP of Global Affairs and Communications...
what wait. that can’t be the same... oh, god, it is that nick clegg...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:22 PM on October 6 [26 favorites]


It's safer to always assume it's the same Nick Clegg.
posted by hippybear at 8:33 PM on October 6 [13 favorites]


It's pretty clear Zuckerberg has about as much conscience as Donald Trump.

People really need to stop coming up with excuses for supporting Facebook. AKA using it. It's a cancer on human culture.

Just saying.
posted by quarterframer at 8:34 PM on October 6 [16 favorites]


Just not signing up for Facebook in the first place was the best option, I've found.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Nice that Facebook and Twitter's "We're sorry* we accidentally* caused a fascism, we promise* to fix it" managed to not just peter out but actually reverse itself right in time for the 2020 election.
posted by ckape at 8:41 PM on October 6 [49 favorites]


Zuckerberg, Musk, and Bezos are the Mellon, Carnegie, and Rockefeller of our time. (Not in any particular order). Stepping up to them was required in the Robber Baron era, and it's required now.

I sadly lack the faith that it will happen in any period of time that will allow their power to be checked.
posted by hippybear at 8:56 PM on October 6 [25 favorites]


Zuck is like a parallel-universe Start Trek TNG Data who doesn't give a fuck about people or emotions and is just content to be a sociopath. He doesn't even need makeup to look the part.
posted by klanawa at 9:14 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]


I was going to write a whole comment about how there already IS a sociopathic version of Data, in the person of his brother Lore, but then I realized that Lore cares very deeply about emotions and is motivated more by a desire for vengeance over perceived wrongs than by a casual, Zuckerbergian indifference to human suffering.

Although if we say that Zuck is like Lore, then we can also say that the fascists are like the Crystalline Entity, and we're all colonists of Omicron Theta. Although again, not a perfect comparison, because the Crystalline Entity isn't evil. So maybe the internet is the Crystalline Entity, we're all colonists of Omicron Theta, Zuck is evil Data, and Peter Thiel is Lore. We just need a well-loved party animal to be Morn, and we're all set.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:46 PM on October 6 [24 favorites]


This is the best visual description of a public figure I've seen since someone described John Kerry as looking like a haunted tree.

Meh. This remains the premium Zuck one-liner.
posted by thelonius at 11:22 PM on October 6 [17 favorites]


At this point, Zuckerberg is so terrified of Elizabeth Warren that he's literally bending the policies of what is functionally the world's largest media operation to back a fascist would-be dictator he thinks will let his company be.

Which is just so, so incredibly stupid.

Anything Warren would do to business would affect the whole competitive landscape. Any conditions that a Warren administration would apply to Zuck's business that are onerous compared to those it's operating under today would be applied to its competitors as well. There's no particular reason to believe that a successful business would be any less successful under a Warren administration than it ever was.

But no business can assume a prosperous future if the rule of law breaks down, and that goes double for any business whose leaders expect to be rewarded for displaying loyalty to Donald Trump. The single most consistent feature of Trump's long and exceedingly well documented public record is the delight he takes in screwing over everybody who deals with him.
posted by flabdablet at 11:37 PM on October 6 [36 favorites]


It's hard not to feel despair at this. A lot of people "get their news from Facebook" and anyone who's heard about Facebook starting to fact-check their ads but hasn't heard about them walking that policy back is going to be more likely to believe anything they see.
posted by storytam at 11:53 PM on October 6 [18 favorites]


This is the best visual description of a public figure I've seen since someone described John Kerry as looking like a haunted tree.

I've always been partial to "haunted art gallery owner Theresa May".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:43 AM on October 7 [16 favorites]


People really need to stop coming up with excuses for supporting Facebook. AKA using it. It's a cancer on human culture.

Just saying.


People need to stop supporting climate change through the use of private cars, aka by using them. They're a cancer on the whole planet.

...or we could not do the whole broad-strokes condemning of fellow mefites, especially with harsh and overly emotive language. People struggle with cancer, die or lose loved ones to cancer. Facebook is not that.
posted by Dysk at 2:32 AM on October 7 [48 favorites]


I miss being able to say "Kill your Television."

In hindsight it seems like a much more realistic and simple goal. I mean you just unplug the thing and toss it out the window. And "Kill your Facebook" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by loquacious at 2:43 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Speaking of visuals and Zuckerberg, here's something I haven't been able to get out of my head since seeing "The Jinx," about Robert Durst: 1, 2. Do you see it, too, or just me? I think about this every time I see Zuckerberg, which is kind of a lot, so it's a very irritating little brain meme for me. And now I'm sharing.
posted by taz at 2:45 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


The revolution will not be liked.
posted by flabdablet at 2:55 AM on October 7 [18 favorites]


I’ve said this previously and will keep on saying it: for some of us, it’s the only way to stay in touch with loved ones. The youngest of my aunts and uncles is in her late 80s. My greater family clusters are in Canada, USA, UK, Germany and Spain. I’m in New Zealand. It’s expensive to fly and I’m also trying to minimise air travel footprint. Not all have desktop computers. But they all have smart phones.

Leaving FB can be considered when they are all dead.

And now that I’ve read all the comments, cheers Dysk! for calling out the folks hysterically slagging FB users. I had a much less polite retort but am happy to hit del-del-delete.
posted by lemon_icing at 4:34 AM on October 7 [33 favorites]


I’ve said this previously and will keep on saying it: for some of us, it’s the only way to stay in touch with loved ones

Yes. This, and what Dysk said.
posted by biscotti at 4:57 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


The analogy with cancer is not a good one, but Facebook and Twitter are bad for humanity.
posted by terrapin at 4:58 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


How does this compare to media regulation for, say, television and print in the US? Can Trump print and broadcast lies this easily on television?

Those Facebook ads are certainly terrifying.
posted by romanb at 5:00 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


This thread shows what Zuckerberg’s talent is—he created a product that has a wide number of people convinced it’s indispensable in accomplishing essential parts of life. This thing did not exist a little more than a decade ago and I bet there would be less protesting if someone in this thread suggesting abolishing the postal service.
posted by sallybrown at 5:03 AM on October 7 [24 favorites]


It's funny how new technologies and infrastructure quickly come to be seen as indispensable, but it's also not unique to Facebook. The Internet is a fairly recent affair, doubly so for the Web, but it's also seen as effectively necessary for modern life. We incorporate new capacities very quickly. This is in no way unique to Facebook. Hell, try getting people to give up their fancy pen vapes - they're even more recent.

The way to deal with new technologies and infrastructure is the same as it ever way: regulation. Pretending Facebook is done unique evil is unhelpful, when the parallels to other new things that we as a society find necessary to regulate are clear.

If you think Facebook is evil, the answer is regulation to make that not the case, much like it is for guns, cars, alcohol, etc, etc. Good luck with your campaign to get rid of guns through aggressively shaming people who own them, or getting cars to not drive too fast or on the pavement by writing diatribes against drivers on the Internet.

Regulation works.
posted by Dysk at 5:15 AM on October 7 [31 favorites]


If we can’t trust that Zuckerberg is bound by his own ethical code in operating Facebook (I think it’s fair to say there is extensive proof we can’t), and we can’t trust the government to regulate Facebook (again, I think it’s fair to say we can’t, at least domestically in the US under the current administration), the only way to force Facebook to operate ethically is through consumer demand. Every consumer who agrees with Zuck that there is no substitute for Facebook is handing him power. I agree that for some subset of consumers, there is no current substitute. And some subset of consumers will fundamentally not care about how Facebook behaves on a national or global scale. But for anyone who does care, it’s worth trying to cobble together whatever substitutes you can, even if you can’t fully remove yourself from the platform. Show Facebook HQ that you are itching to walk. Delete the app and only use it in your browser, or reduce the time you spend logged in. Try to move some communication to email, text, phone. Don’t respond to some of the prompts the service uses to see if you can be triggered (“Blah Blah hasn’t posted in a while and made a new post, want to see it?”)

The perfect is the enemy of the good, even in boycotts. If you really can’t walk away, you can still bluff.
posted by sallybrown at 5:16 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


it’s the only way to stay in touch with loved ones.

Nonsense. You think pre-Facebook no one spoke to their loved ones? It's just the most convenient. There are other social networks that work just as effectively without the horseshit. You just have to take the initiative to get everyone on board. And yes, I know that's not easy, but it's far from impossible.

My mother is 77 and one of the most tech-illiterate people I've ever met in my life, yet she uses Telegram and Ello without issue.
posted by dobbs at 5:20 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


I wish these discussions didn't devolve into moralizing and shaming. It's exactly the same approach that has entirely failed to prevent the climate crisis over the last 50 years.

The root problem with Facebook and the political arena is not that Facebook allows politicians to lie or plant fake news stories. The problem is that a significant number of Americans simply don't care that their politicians lie and continue to support them or vote them into office,* and then those governments do not work in the best interests of the people, i.e., coming up with regulations and regulatory bodies to protect the people.

I'm on Facebook, and that's one place I engage with my family to communicate with them about what kind of a world we want to create.

* Other countries too.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:27 AM on October 7 [28 favorites]


Any distributed messaging client with a group or team feature can do as much as Facebook does for keeping in touch with people you want to stay close to. Signal works fine. So does Keybase. Both are end-to-end encrypted so you get no Zuck on you. You could even use either to brag about your perfect life to all your contacts if that's what floats your boat.

Facebook's only genuinely useful innovation, as far as I've been able to discern from the distance I've always deliberately kept from it, is the thing where it can use its friends-of-friends social graph to put you in direct contact with people whose contact information you'd lost track of; and by all accounts, this has been a mixed blessing at best.
posted by flabdablet at 5:29 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The root problem with Facebook and the political arena is not that Facebook allows politicians to lie or plant fake news stories. The problem is that a significant number of Americans simply don't care that their politicians lie

There is not just one problem; both are problems. And we know a significant amount of Facebook users do care about lying, or else Facebook wouldn’t have felt compelled to institute the “fake news check” feature as part of its reputation management. Now, users who care about lying will think they’re getting the truth when that may not be the case.
posted by sallybrown at 5:33 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


In this thread: people who haven’t been on Facebook, and have only a second hand understanding of the experience, lecture people deeply mired in Facebook, and have only a second hand understanding of what life without Facebook is like.
posted by bl1nk at 5:38 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


But what we do have is a first hand understanding that life without Facebook can be completely satisfactory in every respect, coupled with the observation that everybody close to us who does use Facebook walks away from almost every interaction with it quite noticeably less happy and more anxious.

"Mired" is a good word.
posted by flabdablet at 5:44 AM on October 7 [10 favorites]


The comparison to banning cars is a good one because they are an absolute blight and they should be banned. And I say this as someone who owns a car. They are earth killing death machines and their existence should be rare and use regulated to the high heavens.

And so it goes with Facebook.

Many people like, love even, Facebook. That’s fine. At this point the only acceptable defensive posture is to say that it is also a horrible blight and should be heavily regulated. Just like cars.
posted by scantee at 5:49 AM on October 7 [13 favorites]


I have no like of Facebook, barely use it, and would happily not have the account at all, but like others have said, it is currently the only place you will can easily stay in loose touch with far-flung friends, acquaintances, and family.

At least within the US, my impression (anecdotally only, I haven't seen any data) is that young people are using Facebook less, but older people are still deeply embedded. That's what I see on my Facebook feed at least, the younger people occasionally posting about a major life event, and older people posting about their dinners and pets.

The implication, if this is true, is that Facebook's core user group is therefore probably more conservative than the country as a whole, and the company's policies/practices about false news and right wing propaganda sure seem to reflect that. Why crack down really hard on this stuff if that is what a large percentage of your user base desires, and it helps to keep regulators at bay?

As with so many things, regulation is the answer and the company's open efforts to fight even basic regulation are really distasteful to watch.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Also in this thread: people who were deeply enmeshed in Facebook and used it for hours a day, ultimately saw it for the personally and socially destructive evil that it is, and checked out, taking the hit to their social lives as an early abandoner, and yet still managing to survive.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:52 AM on October 7 [15 favorites]


Signal works fine. So does Keybase.

Keybase, which I remember as a distributed crypto client (and not a particularly good one) before it got social, has no way of blocking requests or messages. I've heard of several women in tech who have been unable to block creepers on Keybase.

No person to person message system is going to keep you in touch with distant contacts, the kind that tick the "I am glad we are still alive at the same time" box.
posted by scruss at 5:53 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I wonder if there's a place for a consumers union here. Similar to the Straphangers Campaign in NYC.
posted by condour75 at 6:02 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


But what we do have is a first hand understanding that life without Facebook can be completely satisfactory in every respect, coupled with the observation that everybody close to us who does use Facebook walks away from almost every interaction with it quite noticeably less happy and more anxious.

Well, I can share my first-hand experience. I have managed fairy large Facebook communities in the past and managed Facebook ad campaigns, so I have a professional distrust of the platform.

I check Facebook about once a day, sometimes less. I like my family's posts, encourage my friends, and check in with my neighbourhood groups to find out what's going on around me. I see events and I have a couple of event-based groups that use Facebook to coordinate. I've muted people that bother me. Generally speaking I walk away from my 10-15 minutes a day feeling glad I sent my great-aunt a hug, liked my friend's cake decorating post, and sent my evangelical Christian cousin an emoji on whichever non-offensive post I can find. When I do get to hang out with people in person, I feel like I know a bit more about them and we feel a light-handed connection, and I like that.

I generally post just pleasant stuff, rarely, but now and then I will post about my lived experience with say, hijab-wearing friends or on truth and reconciliation. Every now and then I find a moment to jump into a conversation where I think it will make a difference. But it's again within the time I allot to it. I spend more time on this site, and I actually have been thinking about whether I need to put the same rules of the road up for myself, as my higher expectations for this site lend more disappointment.

I think if your narrative is "everyone on Facebook is miserable" you're also not presenting an accurate viewpoint.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:02 AM on October 7 [22 favorites]


people who lived on a ethical plane would find alternatives

where is this plane and who is flying it
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:07 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


"I simply never signed up with Facebook" is the new "Is this something that one needs a TV to understand?"
posted by SoberHighland at 6:12 AM on October 7 [14 favorites]


I used to think Zuckerberg was just incompetent, a doofus who was thrust onto a stage he wasn't prepared for. But increasingly it seems like, no, he actually is an evil person who is doing things purposely to be evil.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:17 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Nonsense. You think pre-Facebook no one spoke to their loved ones? It's just the most convenient.

Facebook isn't useful for staying in touch with loved ones - it's useful for staying in touch with your extended social network if you happen to be someone who is mortified by the idea of calling people on the telephone.

Facebook is evil in many ways, and Zuckerberg even more so, but when I was a young computer science grad in the 1980s, living in virtual isolation, I would have been grateful for some Facebook-like construct to enable social interaction.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:41 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


[Folks, please don't take this as an opportunity to scold others for using / not using Facebook. "Police your neighbor" is not the point of the post, or the content of the linked articles. All sorts of utilities need, and are commonly subjected to, regulation, so maybe that could be one direction for discussion.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:44 AM on October 7 [17 favorites]


There never was a period of innocence for Zuck's Facebook.

"I realized that, because I didn't have people's information, I needed to make it interesting enough, so that people would want to use the site, and want to, like, put their information up."

See also the "they trust me. dumb fucks" quote.

PBS put their two part documentary about Facebook on YouTube. Part 1 Part 2
posted by Monochrome at 6:47 AM on October 7 [13 favorites]


What was he ever supposed to be good at, other than bilking me and grandma for ad dollars, without any scruples?

I was a young teenage nerd when Facebook became huge, and I pretty openly looked up to Mark Zuckerberg. In 2006, actually, I was working for a social networking startup that saw MySpace as its primary competitor, and spent a lot of time doing research on every existing alternative network, and Facebook... wow. Early Facebook existed in another decade from everything else. Even Twitter and Tumblr were small potatoes compared to what Facebook had planned.

The remarkable thing about Facebook, from a tech/product/design standpoint, was that (in retrospect) it had a plan to evolve from a small-scale social environment to the underlying social fabric that it's become today. Step by step, it broadened its users' ideas about what Facebook was "supposed to be"—and, at every step of the way, it managed to make its users happier, by and large, because it managed to make the newer, bigger thing seem like it was just an evolution of the past thing. That's hard. And it's effectively impossible unless you had the big-picture vision for what you wanted your product to become from the very start.

Beyond that, Zuckerberg's reputation at his own company is radically different from Zuckerberg's perception in the mainstream media. For a long time, Glassdoor listed him as the single most beloved CEO of any company—he has a reputation for listening to people and for being willing to engage workers, regardless of their "status", in deep, involved conversation. And Facebook itself is considered a pretty great company to work at. I know people who've worked at Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and Facebook by far sees the fewest complaints out of them. (Which I know is setting a low bar, but hey.)

It's really easy to look at the octopus that Facebook's become and think that it's an incompetently made product. But partly that's because Facebook keeps aggressively evolving itself, to keep up with the current trends in networking. I don't love the ways in which Facebook tried to become more like Snapchat, but they've been extremely effective: usage of Facebook is still way up, and Snapchat's been seriously suffering. And it's not nearly as easy to "copy" a competitor's ideas as Facebook makes it look: Google tried to eat Facebook's lunch half a dozen different times, and it embarrassed itself every time. The fact that Facebook gets away with it has to do with Facebook's being uncannily smart.

I still think of Zuckerberg as a guy who I've learned a heck of a lot from, on a number of different fronts. As far as tech visionaries go, very few have genuine vision, and I think that his is more inspired than most people's. But that's what's so damning about what he's become. If anything, the fact that he is the "real deal" reveals that, even when they are what they're supposed to be, disruptive tech visionaries have the potential to curdle society and make it sicker and worse.

Personally, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the narrative arc where all bad people actually suck at what they do. It makes it all too easy to dispel criticism of shitty people with, "But ACTUALLY they're SMART, so all your moral critiques are invalid too." The problem isn't entirely that ours is a society of incompetent, evil buffoons: to some extent, it's that our society has a bunch of ultracompetent evil geniuses in it, too.

Anyway, it's very disappointing to see the directions Zuckerberg has gone. He's had solid glimmers of socialist leanings in the past: ironically, one of the main principles that inspired the path he took Facebook down was his interest in decentralizing society, and removing our unthinking dependency on large conglomerates that shape the way we think. And if we want to give him a tragic flaw, it's that he doesn't have it in him to be selfless where his conglomerate is concerned: he wants Facebook to be "transparent" and "neutral", and isn't willing to admit that that neutrality is impossible, or recognize that every step he takes to "preserve" "neutrality" is only playing into the biases of the people who're screaming loudest today.
posted by rorgy at 6:49 AM on October 7 [35 favorites]


Is there a good article to link to with a non-partisan headline? I’m plenty anti-Trump and I don’t find the reporting alarmist. I just want something to share that won’t make centrists x out as soon as they open it.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:35 AM on October 7


They are profoundly evil. If regulation isn't enacted against them, I honestly fear the damage will be even more pervasive and long-lasting. Here is some supporting documentation!

Racism:
--------------------------

Facebook Has a Problem with Black People, Former Employee Says

WHITE NATIONALISTS WELCOME ON FACEBOOK, ACCORDING TO LEAKED INTERNAL POLICIES

Facebook’s alt-right problem just won’t seem to go away

Hate groups on Facebook: Why some get to stay

Anti-Semitism:
-------------------------------

Facebook Policy Chief Admits Hiring PR firm to attack George Soros

Facebook treats its employees poorly:
-------------------------------
THE TRAUMA FLOOR
The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America


Inside Facebook’s ‘cult-like’ workplace, where dissent is discouraged and employees pretend to be happy all the time

Former Facebook manager calls out company for bad treatment of black employees

I worked on Facebook's Trending team – the most toxic work experience of my life

Facebook Employees Are So Paranoid They’re Using Burner Phones to Talk to Each Other

Sexism:
-------------------------------
(first of all, it was created as a sexist tool)

Has Facebook become a forum for misogyny and racism?

Facebook’s ads system accused of giving new life to gender discrimination


Facebook disseminates fake news
--------------------------------
Why the U.K. Condemned Facebook for Fuelling Fake News

I fell for Facebook fake news. Here’s why millions of you did, too.

Exclusive: Facebook allowed fake news ads ahead of Nigeria vote

Child Pornography
------------------------
Facebook Messenger's role in child sexual abuse online raises troubling questions
posted by agregoli at 8:03 AM on October 7 [31 favorites]


"transparent" and "neutral", and isn't willing to admit that that neutrality is impossible, or recognize that every step he takes to "preserve" "neutrality" is only playing into the biases of the people who're screaming loudest today.

This applies to every social media option, in case anyone had forgotten. It's not less true here than it is on Facebook.
posted by Acid Communist at 8:08 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I hate lying political ads too. And I'm terrified of how effectively, or at least volumniously, the Trump campaign has been using Facebook and will continue to do so.

But I understand this policy. The alternative is that Facebook has to get in the fact-checking business, making determinations on every single political ad about whether it is true or not. They are not equipped to do that. You wouldn't like it if they did either, every decision would be second guessed or debated.

I think the solution is for Facebook to not take any political ads at all. Prevent them entirely. That'd be better for democracy. They already prevent all sorts of ads; sex services, guns, etc. Just prevent all political ads too. There's no way they'd ever do it though. (While I'm at it, I'd ban all political ads entirely in the US except very carefully circumscribed ones. Follow the German or French model of campaigning.)

Facebook has done one semi-decent thing with political ads, the Ad Library tool. It shows exactly how much is being spent by whom on every political ad. Here's a report on Trump spending, and the default report shows everyone ranked by total spend. It's a good idea for a tool, although there are complaints from Mozilla researchers it doesn't work right.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


I’m curious how Zuckerberg is liked by the people in the content review farms. I’ve heard that FB developers make like $250k, which is double what I make after being a very good developer for 20 years and now managing a bunch of people. The movers and shakers in a company like that are the cream of the crop treatment-wise I’ll bet.
posted by freecellwizard at 9:01 AM on October 7


Zuck is like a parallel-universe Start Trek TNG Data

This revelation was in the news a couple of weeks ago. If you are one of those people who only gets news via Facebook, I'm sure you would have missed it.

But seriously, I hope this pushes more people to reconsider whether they really need Facebook in their lives. Yes, it needs regulation, but currently (and with no sign of things changing) it is a happy part of the Republican hate and propaganda machine.
posted by exogenous at 9:07 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I think the solution is for Facebook to not take any political ads at all.

They will not do this voluntarily. Because money.
posted by agregoli at 9:16 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Anything Warren would do to business would affect the whole competitive landscape. Any conditions that a Warren administration would apply to Zuck's business that are onerous compared to those it's operating under today would be applied to its competitors as well. There's no particular reason to believe that a successful business would be any less successful under a Warren administration than it ever was.

It's not about money, especially when you note that, much like Rockefeller, Zuckerberg would profit from breaking Facebook up.

It's about control, and more importantly, about accountability. Zuckerberg has spent his entire adult life placing himself in a position where he is accountable to nobody but himself. Warren is telling him that he is accountable to the government and the people it represents, and that idea drives him nuts. Once you understand that, his responses make perfect sense, as he would rather rule in Hell rather than be ruled in Heaven, as the saying goes.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:30 AM on October 7 [17 favorites]


Honestly, what does it mean to "break up Facebook"? I get that Instagram and such would become separate companies.... but the whole (what I shall call for convenience's sake) threat of Facebook isn't just its unified market power... it's the data collection. It's all the data collection, all the horror of this 21st Century robber baron era -- the oil and railroads are the data.

How do we wrest the power that comes with having the data from the hands of those who are using it against us to their own profit?

I don't have a clear vision about how to put this particular genie back in a bottle to where it won't be harmful. I don't know if anyone does. But this is entirely different from a century ago, because the "natural resource" being extracted comes out of the people themselves.
posted by hippybear at 9:50 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


>> I think the solution is for Facebook to not take any political ads at all.
> They will not do this voluntarily. Because money.


But even aside from that - what is a political ad? There's a wide continuum between "Vote Trump 2020, I approve of this ad" and "Dear friends, I can't believe what I owe in property taxes this year - what can we do about it?"

Where do you draw the line? And more importantly, why would you trust Facebook, of all things, to draw that line?
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:54 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I think blocking political ads entirely is probably a more tractable problem than blocking only lying political ads. You can distinguish partly by source of funding; no more ads bought by any political campaign or PAC or national party. Also by content. No doubt it won't be perfect.

The larger question is whether it'd be legally possible. Political speech is highly protected in the US, but I don't know if that extends to forcing a company like Facebook to accept political ads.

Anyway this is all a pipe dream; as I said before, no way would Facebook do this. That report I linked before shows $818M in political ad spending since May 2018. That's about $600M /year, about 1% of their revenue. They could afford to jettison it, but that's a lot of money to leave on the table.
posted by Nelson at 10:45 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I think the solution is for Facebook to not take any political ads at all.

Not to excuse Facebook at all, but a desire for political ad spending by "news media" is arguably making our politics worse across the board.
posted by Slothrup at 10:59 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I'll say that in general, there is no "news media" buying political ads, simply based on that being a conflict of interest in their mission from the basic get-go.
posted by hippybear at 12:00 PM on October 7




> "wax statue cursed into life" Mark Zuckerberg
incontrovertible proof [2 1/2 hours of M.Z. staring into your soul. NSFL]
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 12:20 PM on October 7


They will not do this voluntarily. Because money.

Tiktok Explains Its Ban on Political Advertising

Of course, it's easier to not run political ads when you originate in a country where running any non-state blessed political content will land you in jail
posted by benzenedream at 12:54 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Honestly, what does it mean to "break up Facebook"?

This is honestly the key question to me. I don't really think anyone who thinks this is a good policy idea thinks forcing them to disgorge Instagram and calling it a day is going to significantly reduce their influence.
posted by PMdixon at 2:25 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


The smug assertions that those without Facebook have nothing to worry about is, charmingly, very wrong. They are well known (to the point of The Zuck being dragged before Congress about it) to build “shadow profiles of people that don’t use their services or ever consent to tracking. It may be someone you’ve emailed or a business uploading a contact list or it may be a Facebook ad tracking bug, or it may be your teenage cousin tagging you in photos even if you don’t use the service. You’re caught with all the rest of us sheeple. So you may want to think of a solution besides “heh well *I* don’t use them.”
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:26 PM on October 7 [10 favorites]


Honestly, what does it mean to "break up Facebook"?

IANATrustBuster or a member of Warren's Department of Plans but, in general, my take is that Facebook is largely successful at crushing competition because they have a few key products that play well together on the same platform:

The News Feed
Instagram
WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger
Events Calendar
Groups

and they're all generally funded by Ads & Sponsored Content and leverage Facebook's proprietary Social Graph. (and there's other stuff like Oculus, Location Services, Places, Dating, etc. but we probably don't need to get too deep on that)

So, make all of those separate companies, and make the Social Graph an open (government run?) exchange that can license personal data to different parties based on individual preferences. As part of this, work with the W3C to establish a protocol by which users can advertise their identities on different platforms.

Let Facebook keep the News Feed as a personal publishing platform that is essentially longform Twitter. Spin Instagram back out to being a photos site. Have messenger be separate. etc. Let the ad brokerage system be its own company who pays these other apps to show their ads.

But essentially I'd want us to have a future where I can see what data of mine is in the social graph, and choose to release it to different friends, family members, or advertisers based on my own choices. When I take photos of a vacation, I can publish those to smugmug and friends of mine who've subscribed to bl1nk.smugmug.com will see it pop up on their Facebook or Twitter feed. And when I decide to organize a picnic for my friends, I can setup an event on Evite and send out invites to facebook-cal://friend1, twitter://friend2, sms://friend3, etc. and they'll get the relevant DMs or event updates about it.

Basically, take the social network out of the hands of companies and make it an independent repository. Let other companies build apps based on data that they can license from that repository, and let each citizen have visibility into and control over the data that they would release; but don't let the apps themselves build their own network. This likely also means, from a legal point of view, Google and Apple will also need to be broken up, because a takeover of Facebook's social graph means that the government is taking a position that having too much consolidated data about a person is harmful to market competition. So, Google needs to go back to just being a search engine, and needs to spin off Gmail, Android, Flights, GCP, etc. into their own businesses.

It's utopian, but at least it's an idea beyond "idk. this problem is hard."
posted by bl1nk at 6:15 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


I've heard of several women in tech who have been unable to block creepers on Keybase.

You might want to let them know that if they open the creeper's profile page in their own Keybase app, then tap the ... menu button, there's now a Block option. When I go to exercise this against some random Keybase user, the confirmation prompt tells me that the effect will be that
This will hide them from your followers and suggestions, and prevent them from creating new conversations or teams with you. Note that they may be able to find out that you block them.
That strikes me as pretty much equivalent to a Facebook block.
posted by flabdablet at 9:39 PM on October 7


I don't have a clear vision about how to put this particular genie back in a bottle to where it won't be harmful. I don't know if anyone does.

Pretty sure it's going to involve spending time in some kind of adjustable reclining chair with a huge spike stuck into the back of my head.
posted by flabdablet at 9:57 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


[Deleted earlier "killing puppies" comment. (Folks, please flag; we don't see every comment on the site!)]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:22 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


It's utopian, but at least it's an idea beyond "idk. this problem is hard."

I guess I'm coming less from the direction of "this problem is hard" and more "if you have to do this much to mitigate the harm, why leave anything of the company intact instead of bouncing the rubble?"
posted by PMdixon at 7:01 AM on October 8


Trump Spent $2 Million On Facebook For ‘Official Impeachment Defense Task Force,’ Researcher Says, Forbes, Lisette Voytko, September 30, 2019:
Laura Edelson, the researcher, said the ads have been viewed between 16 million and 18 million times in the past seven days. She also estimated that Trump spent between $600,000 and $2 million during that period of time.
...
What to watch for: How Facebook does⁠—or doesn’t —handle political disinformation campaigns heading into 2020. Over 70 countries are running online disinformation campaigns, according to [NYT, 9/26/2019] Oxford University researchers, and Facebook is the platform of choice.
You know who else would have given their toothbrush mustache for a propaganda platform like this?
posted by cenoxo at 12:02 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


And to prove my point, here's Zuckerberg openly lying to justify plutocracy. From his lies about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (if you give money to your think tank that you control, you aren't giving it away) to his lies about government funding, his comments show that he feels that he - not officials elected by the people - should be in control.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:06 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


"if you have to do this much to mitigate the harm, why leave anything of the company intact instead of bouncing the rubble?"
Because despite the problematic nature of Facebook as a platform, its success derives from a recognition that people, not just in the US, but around the world, have found value in some form of digital community, and if you simply destroyed Facebook, you still need to consider what would you'd do if, say, Google were to build a successor, or if another social media platform were to emerge in Canada or the EU or China. Or are you simply going to ban social media from entering the US?

The approach that I'm thinking about (and am happy to get feedback on) is essentially extending some of the ideas that the EU has already started toying with in their formulation of GDPR. Take the stance that people have a right to own and control their data. Now take that further than what the EU has done because all GDPR does is install a bunch of half-measures that are hard to enforce around allowing us to have the right to be forgotten or audit what others have on us. The EU approach has been weak because they have a limited ability to compel American companies to play by their rules. It's one thing to simply deny Apple or Facebook a European market unless they do the bare minimum to comply, it's another to actually take them over and break them up because you view their control of personal data as dangerous and irresponsible.

So, if we're going to break up Facebook, we have an actual opportunity to seize their social data and turn it over to the control of people. You can't simply disintegrate it because then you'll just let the hydra grow again, stronger and smarter than it once was before. Seizing the data feels problematic and fraught to me for a number of reasons, but I don't think fining the company out of existence actually accomplishes much in the long run.
posted by bl1nk at 7:13 PM on October 8


Regulation suggestion: Facebook has to pay every user for data it gathers on them, which is what they are profiting off right now. It's resource extraction without paying any "land fees" or whatever gets paid. Change that, redistribute the wealth, make them change their practices.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Facebook has to pay every user for data it gathers on them...

$5,000 per bullet user would be a good opening bid.
posted by cenoxo at 8:13 PM on October 8


Facebook has to pay every user for data it gathers on them...

This seems kind of untenable and anti-competitive in the worst possible way. Why Facebook specifically? How isn't some other company just going to move into that niche if Facebook are thrown off it? Or are you applying this charge to anyone who gathers data about people? What about pollsters, for example, or other online (or traditional) advertisers or advertising agencies? Is it a flat amount? If not, how are you determining the exact cost? If it is, aren't you just encouraging going all in on data gathering: paid the five grand or whatever for this guy, might as well get to know EVERYTHING about him now - hell, having paid they practically have a right to. Which, how are you expecting companies to square that with their GDPR obligations elsewhere? Etc, etc, etc. Requiring payment for user data would require a massive reconfiguration of how we do business across many different industries. Requiring it of Facebook only sets you up for them to sell all their assets to TotallyNotFacebook who then aren't subject to those requirements, or having their lunch eaten by Google Social or whoever.
posted by Dysk at 9:45 PM on October 8


I am in favor of breaking up Facebook only if we can call the broken-up companies BabyFaces.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:51 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


I'm fairly certain that regulation of any industry never applies to a single company, and I think that data collection on internet users should be paid back to those having their data collected for profit by any company doing it. Google is also complicit as well as many other companies.

If you have any better suggestion about how to remove this giant abuse of power and manipulation of the populace at its own expense other than requiring the companies profiting off of mining data currently being given for free to data-collection companies (of which both Facebook and Google are, amongst many others) in a way which would be capable of legislation, I'd welcome your suggestions.

It seems to me that right now we are living in a world where the populace is the motherlode being mined for profit, and there is nothing being given back to those being exploited.
posted by hippybear at 6:15 AM on October 9


A good start would be making it illegal to resell or otherwise share others' private data, under any circumstances. Another would be to limit how it is permissable to target advertising. Strict limits on how long data can be held. Make the data useless, unprofitable.
posted by Dysk at 7:07 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Has anyone talked about creating a regulated standard for social media profiles and posts, and forcing sites above a certain size to interoperate? What if, for example, Facebook was legally required to federate with Diaspora? You'd still need to add and enforce real privacy protections, but the problem of userbase monopoly would be mitigated if switching platforms didn't mean effectively moving to a ghost town.
posted by contraption at 7:57 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Elizabeth Warren targets Facebook's ad policy -- with a Facebook ad.
The ads, which began running widely on Thursday, start with a bold but obvious falsehood: That Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have endorsed President Trump's reelection campaign. "You're probably shocked," reads the ad, which has already reached tens of thousands of viewers nationwide. "And you might be thinking, 'how could this possibly be true?' Well, it's not." The ad's own admission of a lie seeks to draw attention to a controversial Facebook policy Warren has spent days criticizing.
There's a screenshot of the ad in this tweet.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on October 12 [7 favorites]


Haha, nice move! Lots of respect to Elizabeth Warren.
posted by Monochrome at 1:02 PM on October 12


What the actual FUCK, Facebook?

I don't have a Facebook account so I'm never logged into one, so I'm guessing that what I'm just seeing here is as non-targeted as Facebook ever gets, and wow. Just wow.

So I just got an email from the Australian Greens following up on the completely expected failure of the Australian Parliament to support a Greens motion declaring a climate emergency. The mail included a "watch and share" button whose link resolves to this Facebook-hosted video:

https://www.facebook.com/Adam.Bandt.MP/videos/508716959710713/

I watch Adam Bandt putting the bravest face possible on this predictably disappointing result, and then he's done, and I'm distracted for a few seconds by the cat, and then Facebook does an auto-play and now my laptop is showing me a propaganda clip having a crack at Joe Biden posted by Donald fucking Trump.

I click Back and check the Related Videos attached to Adam Bandt's, and in order, they are
  • The Trump attack on Biden
  • Biden calling for Trump's impeachment, from CNN
  • "WWII Navajo Code Talker: Diversity Makes America Strong" from NowThisPolitics
  • "Rand Paul Destroys Hosts Of 'The View'"
  • "Real News Update: Week 136", again from Trump
  • "MSNBC Refuses to Air Part of Trump Rally Where the President Criticized Hunter Biden" from Conservative Edition News
  • "Watch: ABC News Airs Phony Syria Footage" from Sean Hannity
  • "Indigenous People's Day" from Bernie Sanders
  • "Kanye: The Republican Party Freed the Slaves" from PragerU
Nothing else from the Australian Greens. Nothing from any Greens. Nothing from Australia. 100% US-politics noise machine.

So out of morbid curiosity I just skip to the end of Bandt's video and then each subsequent one on the Up Next trail for a while, and this is what I would have got:
  • Bandt
  • Brokaw questioning Biden in 2008 (fuck's sake, Donald, is that the best you got?)
  • "Crooked Hillary Clinton", from Trump (2016)
  • "President Donald J. Trump departs Joint Base Andrews", from Fox (eighteen minutes of literal content-free noise)
  • "Woman Goes On Racist Tirade On New York Subway", NowThisPolitics
  • "President Donald J. Trump departs Joint Base Andrews", Fox
  • "Woman Goes On Racist Tirade On New York Subway", NowThisPolitics
  • ...apparently looping indefinitely.
CNN may well consider Warren's claim that Facebook and Zuck have endorsed President Trump's reelection campaign to be "a bold but obvious falsehood" but from where I sit it's looking more like straight-up fact. Because if that foetid quagmire of allegedly related videos was indeed related by some blind corporate algorithm, it's pretty clear what the propaganda aims of that algorithm's owners are.
posted by flabdablet at 2:08 AM on October 15 [4 favorites]


Zuckerberg: I Only Wined and Dined Right-Wingers to, Um, Engage in a Meaningful Exchange of Ideas (Tom McKay, Gizmodo)

Useful link dump / summary of right-wing interactions with Zuckerberg which led to his current circumstances. Or, as McKay puts it:
I am mad you little people know about this. Also, I absolutely either do not understand that right-wingers are just trying to game me into making policy changes favorable to them, or am otherwise fine with it so long as it takes some of the heat off of me.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:42 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


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