Facebook's Two Years of Hell

Not hellish enough in the executive suites, I’d say.


I read this earlier today and while I enjoyed it as a piece of writing, I think it gives waaay too much benefit of the doubt to Facebook, in a way that their actions don’t really seem to justify.

“Zuckerberg seems really upset!” doesn’t really cut the mustard, in the face of the widescale abuse of the platform that has been going on.

In related news, this article is about Twitter but it gives an excellent in-depth analysis of how exactly Russia is using the platform to spread FUD in the US. It’s a (very) long read but well worth it:


Agreed. It stops short of reflecting that this potential for abuse is built right into FB – and that Zuckerberg himself bragged about it in the early days.

I know people will point out Google does the same thing – but the difference, to me, is that Google has always been up-front about it. I remember when I got my Gmail account, the person who invited me (remember you had to be invited?) would randomly insert key words into mail to me, trying to alter which ads I saw.

FB claims to be all about keeping in touch with people, but even if you don’t have an account with them they keep tabs on you, and their tools for deleting that data are poor. Add third parties gamifying the algorithms, and it’s no wonder this like fake news and other disinformation are rife on the platform.


Not just Russia. It seems to suggest that the knowledge of how to use computational propaganda is being widely used. There is no reason at all to believe that the Republicans and their donors, and the Democrat political machine, are not doing it too - and much better funded that any Russian operation. Remember Russia has an economy roughly the size of Italy.
Facebook and Twitter have demonstrated that a lack of human intervention, failure to verify identity, failure to control post rate and other gatekeepers, leads to a very flawed system that facilitates malicious propaganda. It doesn’t only affect the US, the reach is almost global. But what is the US going to do about it?


Bomb some foreigners, invade Afghanistan again. Wait, what was the question?


What I never got is why FB is so adamant about having a news feed anyhow? Especially in light of this quote right in the Wired piece:

Emissaries from Facebook …. wonder: What’s the point? News makes up only about 5 percent of the total content that people see on Facebook globally. The company could let it all go and its shareholders would scarcely notice.

which was never answered. I don’t get it.


I think it’s just yet another effort to drive all the traffic to them.


Well, quite. “An informed populace making rational decisions about governance” seems to be a lot less important than “Ohemefgeelookattheclickrevenueandhowrichitmakesus!!1”

As long as the click-revenue bubble exists, democracy can take a back seat. Until something pops that bubble (and it is exactly the same mindset that propped up the first dotcom bubble), we’re going to get shitty, profit-minded people giving us shitty, profit-minded solutions.


We’ll always get that. The issue is whether we get to stop them.


The ability to distort the news and manipulate elections is not an accidental side-effect; it’s a key feature.

Zuckerberg’s just pissed that Trump used it before Zuck got his own Presidential campaign together.


So I finally read the whole thing. I’m still confused about how the new newsfeed thing works. It seems worse, and like there’s more editorializing than the old one. In the past couple weeks, I’ve had all caps headlines in mine like “EVIL; Dems block 20 week abortion ban” and “BREAKING Someone in administration contradicts thing they said before”.

It’s still fun to occasionally look at.

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It was because Twitter did news, and Twitter is a direct competitor.

From the article:

“If you could reproduce Twitter inside of Facebook, why would you go to Twitter?” says the former executive.


Let’s just call it “Fascistbook” and be done with it.