“For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: Social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral,” Mr. Cox said in a note to employees on Thursday. “As its builders we must endeavor to understand its impact — all the good, and all the bad — and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good.”
“This is our greatest responsibility,” he added.'
When the Chief Product Officer says on his way out that "social media is not neutral" and encourages all employees to bend it towards the good... you barely have to read between the lines to understand what's really happening.
The real story here isn't the "spin" from the NYT. It's the fact that Facebook is hemorrhaging its best people as those on the inside finally start waking up to the fact that Zuckerberg's vision of Facebook as a good thing for the world was a lie.
If the guy who is officially in charge of product and who has been there since 2005 can't make a difference, what chance does anyone else have?
Recently my friend group switched over to a non-facebook-owned messaging service, and the hardest part was breaking old habits. The facebook specific features? Messenger actually had fewer features to help us communicate and more features designed to distract us and make us mindlessly consume.
I could say the same thing about WhatsApp really; everyone is on it so why switch to Facebook?
I constantly tell people that my favorite social networking platform is email. I get laughed at a lot.
I'm not even saying the "open" experience is not often without frustration. It absolutely is. Part of Facebook's success is connecting the frustrating parts about the internet and making it usable for normal people. But it's not like Facebook achieved some amazing technological advancement, nor is connecting the communication mechanisms of the world something that cannot be done without harvesting all of our personal data.
Maybe Facebook also produces a lot of ill. Any claim about the final impact of Facebook is claim to be able to sum up the good and the evil FB does and get a definite value. That's a pretty challenging argument.
The internet forms the basis of this core technology and Facebook simply made it easier to use.
It's not like if Facebook goes away we're going to go back to SMS and expensive international phone calls. This method of communication was going to happen regardless. And there are clearly alternatives that exist today with different funding models.
Can you name a single alternative at their scale with a business plan that is viable long term and not state run or state supported?
But that's the structure of any logical argument. If someone says X is only A, I will describe how I see plenty of B in X, which by itself doesn't say there is not plenty of A in X too. IE, One person makes a generalization, another points to an exception or several exceptions.
I do think it's important to remember that Facebook is really doing nothing technologically amazing to allow that communication -- voice or text -- across geographical borders.
Indeed, Facebook pretty much only amalgamates blogs, chat, forums and such. But given it's only making technological steps of some small-to-medium degrees, if the love isn't justified, then neither should the hate be justified? Currently, Facebook gets both.
Facebook did a lot of difficult things (if they weren't difficult others would have done them sooner) whose end result is that humans around the world get a lot of benefit. Focusing on whether Facebook's advances were "technological" is beside the point. (If anything packaging the technology in such a way that people can actually use it can easily be more of an "amazing advancement" than making the technology in the first place).
> nor is connecting the communication mechanisms of the world something that cannot be done without harvesting all of our personal data.
I'm not convinced. Making communication usable may well require an interface that adapts to the individual user. Again, ultimately, if it's so easy to do it better then why hasn't anyone else managed it?
And also a bad thing, is a major theme of the parent comment you replied to.
"Lie" is a stark word for what Zuck is doing, but it's not wrong assuming he understands the dark side of his monster. But he also may not know if he's actively deluding himself, and eliminating everyone around him that doesn't support that pretend worldview.
> Now, Mr. Zuckerberg is barreling ahead with his shift to focus Facebook on private messaging and away from public broadcasting, even if it means shedding some of his top lieutenants.
That sounds a lot like "understand[ing] the dark side of his monster". Maybe an extreme overreaction, it's true. But a clear acknowledgment that "sharing will make the world a better place" is rather too idealistic.
Even so, I've done lots of work with est / Landmark Education, and some with Lifespring, Tony Robbins and NLP. So I'm familiar with concepts of building relationships with family and friends, and broader social networking and community building. And a major aspect of that it honesty and open sharing, both 1:1 and in groups. it helps us see how much we're all the same, and builds empathy and love.
So when he talks about social hacking through sharing and strengthening relationships, I hear it through those filters. But I also hear his cynical comments about oversharing fools that sucks into Facebook.
so anyway, I'm curious where this will go. Facebook now allows signups via Tor, apparently with no texted authentication. And if he creates a privacy-frirndly version that emphasiuzes P2P communuication, that woutld be very cool.
You are trading ease of use and convenience for the next generation's walled garden where Facebook sees and provides everything.
Sure, the impact doesn't feel as such. And supporting Facebook's plan by talking to your relatives on it doesn't seem like a big deal. Neither did it feel like a big deal when the generations before us decided to sacrifice our entire planet for a few decades of economic advantage.
I understand somewhat why it's working, but still find it kind of depressing that it's being actively cheered on.
FB was founded in 2004 as a crappy for-profit startup. How many for-profit businesses born out of the goodness of the owner's heart? Yet you seem to make it sound like it's FB's fault.
> I understand somewhat why it's working, but still find it kind of depressing that it's being actively cheered on.
Social network has enormous benefit because we human being are social animal. Simple as that. I'm surprised that you only "understand somewhat why it's working". Just because there are bad sides of it doesn't make it a mistake. In fact I firmly believe the benefits it brings to the society should be cheered on.
Condemn FB for their shady tactics, but don't forget the positive effect. Get out of your bubble. Put yourself in regular people's shoes.
I judge Facebook by its actions and the intent of the Free Basics program is clearly shady, I was responding to a parent who was presenting it as a god thing full stop, so am simply pointing out that there is more to FB's motivation here.
> Social network has enormous benefit because we human being are social animal. Simple as that.
I was talking more about the various free data deals Facebook has set up in developing countries, which effectively make it so that a lot of people see only Facebook when they first get online. I was not talking about "social networks" as a concept being bad.
> I'm surprised that you only "understand somewhat why it's working". Just because there are bad sides of it doesn't make it a mistake.
I understand it has short-term benefits, however over the long term, do you really want billions of people to assume that Facebook is the internet, to have everything they ever said, every picture ever taken stored there? Maybe even more, considering a lot of them are unlikely to have access to timely information on internet privacy, given they're pretty much limited to FB, a party not known for its strong stance on such matters?
And how about startups from the very countries affected? You're hardly going to compete against FB in such a situation.
> Condemn FB for their shady tactics, but don't forget the positive effect.
I am doing precisely that; condemning shady tactics. The benefits of FB are achievable without these tactics, or even without FB itself for that matter.
What are some of the benefits unique to FB?
>Just because there are bad sides of it doesn't make it a mistake.
Lists, can be used for good or bad. The only way to ensure they're not misused is to minimize or eliminate the data collected. The centralization is problematic, as always.
Edit, formatting :/
What I am calling out as a lie is the premise that Facebook’s guiding principle was “for the greater good” (which was how it was sold to us at the beginning, in sharp contrast to other corporate entities), as opposed to “win at all costs” (which it has demonstrated again and again, from the “move fast and break things” mantra to the infamous Boz memo).
It’s fine if your corporate values are to win at all costs. I mean, it’s how most companies operate in our society. The problem is that they pretended to be something else, something inherently virtuous, and capitalized on this perception to win the early battles for top talent.
I use email to keep in contact with my family. CC everyone, then reply all. No Facebook required.
It seems like the situation of Facebook-anger today involves some people looking at particular interface of details that allegedly make Facebook in particular "more addictive" than email (or whatever unspecified social activity) but with this group with this narrow critique being joined by those with a broader critique of social media that essentially calls for nothing but face-to-face contact.
We face a difficult question of "at what point is a communication medium a tool of its users and at what point does a communication medium merely act on the users without them being truly conscious agents". I don't think we can really address this question by demonizing Facebook (the problem has existed since the dawn of mass media, with nearly all these media forms accused of doing terrible things and with the accusations at least have some support). Just for example, Zuckerberg may indeed have made some terrible choices but Facebook seems to signal a desire to take on this difficult question.
I disagree, for me this isn't about being addictive. Email doesn't quietly let websites I visit add themselves to my apps list and periodically reset/redefine my permissions so everyone can see my (and my friend's/family's) personal information.
If Facebook was just addictive I would still use it (I ditched it over 10 years ago).
I consider the lack of emojis a bonus. Old school smileys are just fine by me. :-)
(Actually, emojis work just fine with gmail, but I won't be embracing them any time soon)
Then you don't know "normal" people. Try managing a school mailing list for a while to learn all the different ways email fails for the average user.
Also you missed my sister off the last reply, please re-add her and resend your message, again. But without me in the CC list.
I'm sorry but I don't buy this at all. There are so many alternatives to facebook that are also free (i.e. skype or email) beyond "cel phone calls and sms".
You've simply become accustomed to the __convenience__ of facebook. That convenience has enabled you to interact with more people, and given you a sense of increased / improved connection with the world. But has the quality of those interactions improved? The world (including these execs) says no, on the contrary, interactions on facebook are oftentimes shallow and insignificant.
I also think it is possible to enable others to make such cost-saving use of the internet without also doing the objectionable things Zuckerberg has done.
There were, before Facebook, hundreds of apps that did the same thing, and there still are.
Both can be true of course. Zuckerberg may well have been driven by a less than altruistic vision but nonetheless still enabled some to benefit from the service.
Without defaulting to listing what bad Facebook does: Do those benefits really justify all the negative impacts? I hardly think so.
Nobody argues that Facebook keeping families in touch is a bad thing. It's the rest of it - the collecting and selling of data, the paid targeted propaganda campaigns, the intentional manipulation of user emotion - that people say is bad.
But if you don't believe the number of Facebook employees who have quit in protest, even Chris Cox, then I guess my comment here isn't going to persuade you.
The Russian campaign that you’re dismissive of is consistent with the heritage of Russian intelligence services. Lenin’s newspaper was called “Iskra” (spark) in the context of “from a spark a fire will flare up.” The army of trolls is there to foment dissent, motivate nutcases on the right and left and create scenarios difficult for the battleship that is American democracy to navigate.
Facebook is being attacked because it’s controlled with an iron fist by a guy who is over his head and possess extreme power without the foresight and vision to be a steward of it or the humility to delegate it. The company is harming the republic and the world.
It's not so simple, because not all employees would go along with it. It's possible that Zuck is stalling so he can figure out how to deliver what he's being asked for without creating too much turmoil.
> consistent with the heritage of Russian intelligence services
And also consistent with US intelligence services and a historic tit for tat. Russia's alleged $150K spend is being amplified because it fits the desired narrative, which is that social media needs to be much better controlled/censored, in this case for alleged national security reasons.
> guy who is over his head ... without the foresight and vision to be a steward of it or the humility to delegate it... harming the republic and the world
I would rephrase this as follows: A guy built an incredibly successful great firewall with built-in social credit system. In spite of his youth and inexperience he created something that governments have sought to create and control since before the modern information age. Now that he's created it and its value is (finally) understood by political leaders, there exists a desire to confiscate/control it to use it for the benefit of the republic.
The impact of FB's news feed algorithm on the 2016 election dramatically accelerated the power grab. Zuck saw this move early which is why he testified to congress that "Facebook should probably be regulated". He is insisting on overt, public regulation of something he sees as a public utility, but officials have their eye on the much bigger prize which is the great firewall + social credit system. Such a thing requires secrecy and of course does not resemble Zuck's concept of a public utility.
If Zuck is trying to do distance the company from this shit and make it _more_ impartial, he's making the right choice for the long run. From what I've seen of him in congressional testimonies, he knows this is a problem, and he deliberately chooses not to pick a side as the company's CEO, even though he's under severe pressure to do so.
Cool. In other developing countries it lead to a massacre.
They include: "Don't be snarky. Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."
That's like saying that telephones or the postal service lead to massacres when evil people call each other or mail propaganda flyers to the public. Yes Facebook should have done more to remove that content, but you can't really say Facebook caused the problems, and they probably would have happened on other platforms if Facebook didn't exist or had better moderation.
Subjective... many believe it's hardly anything (i.e. basically free to them, which is an ok belief).
I wish that were true, but this is a rather naive perspective.
Facebook has a well documented history of requiring outgoing employees to sign non-disparagement clauses. For someone as high up as Chief Product Officer you’d better believe that they would have Chris sign something expressly forbidding any overt criticism of the company. Any severance package which in this case is worth millions or tens of millions would be contingent on signing.
I’m actually surprised he was able to say as much as he did.
But ethics can become a lot more flexible when someone's dangling a few million in stock options in front of your face.
You can still talk about literally anything else if you sign a non-disparagement clause or an NDA.
That's why these things come with payment -- or for NDAs, a threat to make you pay them.
> @tedlieu I am authorized to make the following statement: If you feel silenced by an NDA and need help from a Congressional committee, please contact, or have your attorney contact, the House Judiciary Committee.
For topics of societal and national concern, House subpoenas could be a good way to force disclosure — of things companies are trying to hide, via paying off employees in exchange for NDAs.
what's probably more likely is that his net worth is highly correlated with facebook's, and disparagement could materially affect that.
Ya, everyone does until they look at their bank account.
...said everyone ever who was asked to leave or decided to resign because of irreconcilable differences with the organization.
I think that the people leaving also knew this all along, but now they are finally coming to terms with the impact that FB has really had on people, the world, privacy, and the way it has desensitized everyone to this type of behavior.
Facebook hasn't changed, that's not why people are leaving. They're leaving because they've finally been able to look in the mirror and realize that this isn't worth the paycheck anymore. That's gonna be a tough pill to swallow for most.
Human morality is cheap and SV has showed that.
You can also choose (if you decide you are free to choose) the set of morals that makes you the most happy (hedonism) or give you the most utility. Or you can decide to be a nihilist.
So it's not the same.
It's already been built for the US government, so why not profit by selling a US supervised version to the Chinese? Better than China building its own tech.
I think you underestimate the degree to which Google is a top defense contractor and in building this stuff for China is acting at the behest of the US Government.
These are people who were part of the first scaling out of single platform to 2 billion people. Their skill was in building out such a network and keeping it running. The skills required to do that well, came from people with business and compsci backgrounds. That work is done.
Now what matters is who joins. And what happens next to such a network.
Compsci and biz people won't make a difference to vision. The next phase will be driven by ideas from social sciene, ecology, history, psychology, economics, politics, religion etc. People who have a deep understanding of the value of human networks and what they can do, will drive the next chapter of where Facebook goes.
I think, at the very least, it would have to be a not-for-profit organization.
1. Either this reflected a sincere belief by Zuck to build a different kind of product/corporate entity governed more by ethics than by money and power, or
2. This utopian positioning was a calculated recruiting strategy to attract the best and brightest recent grads from Stanford and other elite universities, who were extremely attracted by the idea of getting paid six figures to work on a fascinating product without having to sell our soul, like our friends in finance etc.
Or it could be some combination of those two.
My point is that if the underlying motivation were truly to do good, Facebook would have done something differently over the last 5+ years as the capacity for its product to cause harm became abundantly evident.
Instead, at every crisis/opportunity to fix the underlying issues, Facebook chose to brush problems under the rug in the pursuit of growth.
From my perspective, as someone who drank the Facebook kool-aid more than just about anyone in the early days, this represents a painful betrayal. I feel like one of the "dumb fucks" who trusted Zuckerberg's pitch to me back in the day.
Sure, he might have changed since, but there's nothing wrong with rational speculation. Selfishness and greed are real phenomena in human relations so it would be as foolish to ignore such possibilities as to believe them uncritically.
You're reading a lot into a (admittedly stupid) quip/jab/whatever-you-want-to-call it by a 19 year old.
I don't even disagree with your fundamental assertion here, just that this is incredibly weak evidence.
It's very presumptuous to think a single person or company knows better than the entire world on whether something is "good" or not.
People who argue for its value mostly point to the fact that grandma can see pictures of the kids and other pedestrian examples of things that were just as feasible over email/instant chat before planetary scale social networks.
At this point it’s becoming pretty clear that open by default social networks à la Twitter/Facebook are generally a bad thing for our societies.
The real issue is human nature. Social media is just a new medium that facilitates instant (and optionally public) communication but its still the same people at the end of the day. Email, chat and phone calls still have have vast amounts of scammers and propaganda and that will continue into any new comms that people use. There's no magic solution for that and never will be.
So is theft, murder, and the intentional infliction of pain for amusement. You can't dodge responsibility that way.
You're also ignoring several aspects that makes FB different in kind than a lot of what came before it. As but one example, they are the world's largest blackmail machine. Maybe you trust Zuckerberg & pals now, what happens when they're gone? When FB goes in to decline? When an internal threat hacks them? When Singapore or Russia or worse approaches FB systems folks with carrots and sticks? Has that happened already? How would we know?
I'm personally of the opinion that it was a terrible idea to build it in the first place.
Likewise social media is not just Facebook but a tool for communicating, and any use for good or evil is up to the individual. Facebook is also just one company and has at least a dozen major competitors. The companies will come and go but the tech is here to stay.
Mark Zuckerberg has long held the belief that a more connected world is a better world - and 10 years ago, I was as optimistic as he was. Today, I know for a fact that connecting my grandpa to people in Russia paid a few hundred dollars a month by activists to spread FUD is a terrible idea.
Yes, email, chat, IMs, etc are also being abused - but they all have a certain amount of friction and properties that put them nowhere near the kind of scales that social networks enable.
You can only have one phone conversation at a time due to the nature of the medium, and when it’s over, it’s over - whereas partaking in a Facebook/Twitter thread will feed you an addictive slow drip of notifications over the next few days. People don’t really get their news (in the formal sense) by phone conversations, so media companies aren’t incentivized to flood you with phone conversations about increasingly controversial topics to keep you engaged to generate ad dollars. Because phone conversations are real time and decentralized, no entity can prevent anyone from saying a certain word or mentioning a certain event for instance, the way social networks can and have.
Email is an interesting one - sure there’s spams and scams, but it’s fairly non instantaneous, and the decentralized aspect means that no single entity can choose what emails people will see. Email users also don’t expect their email server to be injecting content in their email queue, or reordering their emails to try to get them to read things that will generate dollars for them. It has its flaws, but people just don’t feel manipulated by their email as a medium (although of course individual emails can manipulate people) .
Social media is just the perfect storm of tapping into human compulsions, a product controlled by a single company which seeks to derive profit above all else, misaligned free market incentives between platforms, advertisers and consumers, etc. This all makes for formidably harmful forces, and responding to the fact that these social networks have determining roles in genocides with vague platitudes such as “but they enable people to find loved ones and report crimes” comes across as a tad disconnected.
And avoiding censorship? Facebook, Twitter, etc cooperate with governments to enable censorship! If you want to avoid censorship, you are much better served by the broader, open, decentralized internet.
In case it isn’t clear, I’m a huge fan of the internet, email, instant messaging, message boards, and so on. Social networks in their current incarnation though are a very destructive virus for human culture.
There's no use in trying to argue why something shouldn't be done when it inevitably will be and already has, what we need is to think of ways we can adapt as a species and society to handle it with the proper care and concern.
After all, don’t people get enough value out of cigarettes to smoke millions of them every day?
...No offense to anyone's democratic beliefs.
From a psychological perspective, when you escape a cult, there is a process known as "exit counseling" which is often required to help former members process their experiences and return to reality. I suspect that former Facebook insiders will undergo a similar process. And I view Chris' quote as an indication that he has begun his own transition.
At least, it’s probably something along these lines.
In the end we don’t have enough information, and probably never will.
We're not in some wake up call scenario here. Those decisions happened very, very long time ago, in internet years an era ego. This now are just consequences of a carefully laid path.
Or maybe they have acquired Enough money and have decided that sleeping in to noon every day is more valuable than making an app for people to share drunken photos of themselves?
My point is, there can be many reasons.
These people are vested, super rich and probably a little bored.
As long as FB is a 'darling' they can ride that - now when the narrative is darker, it's just a grind for them. They can move on, do nothing, do something fun, and possibly get out before any ugly things happen.
Just as FB was over-hyped on the way up, the negative narrative is also a little too much. There's a lot of grey in the details.
I think Zuck has made some mistakes, but FB is not trying to do evil.
Also: FB may have been a fad, not a trend. It may be kind of slowly dying as other things take it place, and while they continue to make money, some of the underlying metrics might be heading down. Usership certainly is. So it's easy to see people wanting to move on as FB moves into a more 'grind' stage of either limited growth, maturation into a boring corporation, or even downward stagnation.
The koolaid party is definitely over, the money is in the bank, so the impetus to stay is much less.
The problem is this means something different to every employee.
- I had to do that to survive - would be rather lame excuse.
I would say that if these people are the best, they it couldn't have taken them this long to figure out what's obvious to so many of no.
No, these are rats leaving the ship.
I don't consider people that oversaw one of the biggest cases of user data misuse in history which, by the way, could've been easily prevented, as the "best people". Sounds like Facebook is making the changes necessary to rectify the mess they oversaw.
What outsiders who focused on the PR never knew is that there was a balance of power in FB that kept things going forward. Now, with these changes along with Jan Koum leaving last year, I don't know if there is anyone with enough influence to counterbalance the Sheryl-driven short-termism view.
For people without real defined values, "privacy centric" is yet another empty cover to do exactly the opposite.
> Author Shoshana Zuboff called Sandberg "the Typhoid Mary of surveillance capitalism."
I fail to see how he was a good leader vs riding the wave of Facebook's success. Sounds like Facebook eventually outgrew him anyway so they fired him.
Well that just tells you everything you'd want to know about FB culture, regardless of his actions in those situations
I really hope the smart people at Facebook see the obvious parallel, and choose another career.
History will judge you.
Facebook has a lot of positives to go along with its negatives. For me, it's the only way I stay in touch with a lot of my friends from high school. And I know that it's only because of Facebook, because Facebook didn't exist for the first 10 years after I graduated, and most of my friends didn't get on it until about 15 years after graduation. It was great finally reconnecting them with them all.
They are people whose company I enjoyed, but we just didn't have the time to have individual conversations every week with the 50 people we knew from school. Having a way for them to broadcast updates has been super helpful.
Also, the Portal is great. I got a pair when they came out, and it's easy enough that my four year old will call her grandparents regularly without my help. It's the only platform that we've found that is easy enough for both the four year old and my parents.
I use messenger and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends in other countries. They are easy to find because we're friends on Facebook.
So yeah, Facebook still has a lot of positives for society. I don't judge someone who works there just for working there. I hope that they are working to enhance the positives and minimize the negatives. From what I've seen with the folks I've talked to, that is always the case.
Ask a reluctant smoker why they won't quit, beyond the addiction it's
1. Social. People talk during smoke breaks. They form bonds over smoke breaks. A 5 minute smoke break per hour means you spend 40 minutes around a friend, co worker, in relative private.
It's even a top way strangers meet each other, bumming a cigarette or smoking together.
I worked with a smoker, the best way for me to get his time so that I could get my questions answered was on his smoke break.
I've heard the argument of "I don't care what it does to me", or "I'm gonna die anyway, what gives if I shed a few years at the end", but never "I won't be able to connect to other people if I quit smoking" (in fact, I know people who quit smoking due to social reasons).
I know people who think they look cool when they smoke, or who get thoughtful when they smoke, but I've never heard of tobacco as a "social" activity like drinking alcohol is, for example.
I'm not advocating others smoke, nor am I saying this is a reason most other smokers do. The GP's claim was simply familiar and valid, which is why I'm sharing.
Facebook is a cancer and executives will jump ship while they can to claim ignorance.
Don't get me wrong, I think that communication is great. It's fantastic that grandchildren can talk to their grandparents without their parents having to get off the couch and help. But is it worth people literally dying? Is being able to post funny memes worth giving violent communities a place to thrive?
At the end of the day people have to make their own decisions about things, but I think that tech workers as a whole are way to eager to wash their hands of the matter, take a paycheck, and blame others while ignoring that these companies could not function without them.
Regulating tobacco requires regulating the sale of a substance. Regulating facebook requires regulating speech (that is what advertising and a like button are) that happens to incite an emotional response. I'm very uncomfortable with regulating that.
It almost ends up that there are so many people with a thread of responsibility that everyone involved has someone else to blame. Resulting in there being no one to blame.
Fascinating to think about.
They can claim this, but if everyone is responsible, everyone is responsible. If this structure is the case, everyone shares in a little bit of the claim. And then you get into collective action ideas, like recycling persay, where only by many people doing it is there an impact. Except in this case, everyone being complicit means a large negative impact.
I do also think that regardless, the people that allowed such a system of non-responsibility to exist, by whatever means, are inherently more responsible. Especially when they have the power still to change the system and choose not to. This then points to Zuck and other higher ups who kept steering the ship forward and refused to change course. No, Zuck's "omg I like privacy now" PR show does not count as changing course.
Tobacco and Facebook really are a good parallel. The top level leadership knows what they are doing. The rank and file employees take orders but are responsible still to an extent, particularly if they have other employment options. The shareholders are simply greedy investors who value profit over societal effects.
I don't think you go attacking individuals publicly but yes, people should absolutely be forced to have conversations about the morality of their job, especially those well off enough to have freedom of choice in where they work. It's not an easy conversation, but we all need to be encouraging this more.
Everyone is aware of the risks of smoking. People still want to do it. So people can, and should, produce cigarettes. If you don't like it, don't buy them.
But to suggest minimum wage earners working at Marlboro should quit because of some vague "morality" is insane and extremely elitist.
> But to suggest minimum wage earners working at Marlboro should quit because of some vague "morality" is insane and extremely elitist.
Not once did I say this anywhere. There are still high ups at Marbolo that did have the ability though, and plenty of people between minimum wage survival and top level execs. It's a spectrum of both power and responsibility.
Someone's salary is not a measure to use when attacking them for not resigning.
There is no valid argument to support the claim that Marlboro executives should resign because cigarettes are unhealthy. People resigning does exactly nothing to the market demand for cigarettes.
Guns are legal, so people will manufacture them and people will buy them. What people "should" do is not murder.
I'm over it.
It's useful for groups, some of the ads really are useful, it's nice to sometimes keep up with people that are far away, but the news feed has had done way more harm than good for our society, including my own life.
After the 2016 Election, Facebook posts lead to so much drama in my family that certain "branches" of the tree have unfriended and blocked each other and we haven't spoken since. My dad and I constantly argue because he will see some comment I made on someone else's post and have to give his own opinion, or read to me what the other person said back. There is no way to turn this part of the feed off.
Overall, it is a totally unpleasant product to use now. The only reason I want it to succeed is because I own stock from when I worked there.
Unfollow everyone, and you don't get sucked into interacting with the facebook feed. Use it for Messenger, groups, and events. I've been doing that, and facebook is a perfectly good communication utility without any of the grief.
Honestly, we as users should demand a simple switch that entirely disables the feed. It turns facebook from a socially messy skinner box into something benign and generally quite useful.
Periodically I go and read through the feeds of family and friends when they happen to be on my mind.
I know the feeling as I HAD the same situation with amazon. The problem with such thinking is that yes you'll make some money off of it by enhancing human misery but when I sell the stock I will still be a human being.
Fortunately, when you are not a part of the company there is a easy justification to sell, its that you are no longer have a 'better sense' than market about the direction of the stock. so for me the question then becomes of the universe of stocks available out there why hold on to this (& if you have a good reason then why not invest more of your 'own' money into it). IMO its just endowment effect.
care to elaborate how amazon "enchances human misery"?
Plus, most people seem less concerned about the negative effects and/or basically believe they can be fixed or mitigated.
>>Most people who work at facebook believe the company is positive or neutral
Yeah, you can be smart without having any guts (to demand change). That many Facebook employees still believe the company is positive or neutral is a good example of this.
"this" reads as though Cox's departure is a result of the decision to build out a "privacy-focused social platform".
"The departures follow two years of scandals for Facebook around data privacy and disinformation. The issues have buffeted the Silicon Valley company, causing internal turmoil and a redirection in strategy."
The media isn't being too aggressive now: they've been too lenient for the previous decade. The outrage has finally caught up with the outrageous reality.
This is something I've not really been able to understand about those who defend Facebook against these "attacks". Nothing reported (AFAIK) has been untrue. Facebook is one of the richest and most culturally central companies of the 21st century. It seems fair game to examine what they do.
"Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages." 
Netflix and Spotify have Messenger plugins that allow you to share movie trailers and songs from directly within the Messenger app. Spotify's desktop app also used to connect with Messenger to enable similar functionality. NYT equated having standard "read/write" permissions necessary for basic app functionality with Netflix and Spotify being able to access, store, and modify all of your private messages.
Read the comments on that article and any prior discussion of it on the internet and you'll see that many technology illiterate people misinterpreted what that meant.
Also, it's fair game to examine what Facebook has been doing, but it's also fair game to examine what NYT's motives are for scrutinizing them so closely. When Google, Twitter, Equifax, and others have been largely ignored one naturally begins to wonder if there's an underlying agenda at play.
The point isn't that somebody at Spotify was sitting there reading everyone's messages. The point is that they could have been doing that, and Facebook had nothing in place to know if they were doing that, and none of the users sharing a song with friends would think that doing so would enable them to do that, and such extensive privileges were not necessary to implement a simple sharing feature.
What do I see as the real issue with FB (and Instagram in particular)? It rots people's brains out. It's like crack. I know multiple people spending their life savings to travel the globe for the perfect Instagram shot. I know many, many relationships that have been utterly destroyed by Facebook. Turns out staying connected to all of your ex-partners on a social network kinda makes it hard to get into new relationships. Facebook has been an absolute blight on humanity, just not for the reasons the mass media tells you.
It's not just facebook. Google, Twitter and Reddit have also faced tremendous media pressure. Facebook gets most of the attention because they are by far the largest social media player.
For all the talk about how powerful tech companies are, traditional media is proving they are no slouches. Of course traditional media has far greater political backing so you could say they have an unfair advantage.
All we can do is have ourselves some popcorn and watch the entertainment. One thing that perplexes me is why the social media companies don't band together and help each other from these politically motivated attacks. There is strength in numbers and they'd be able to fend off these attacks better if they acted together. Maybe the tech environment is just too competitive for that?
To add two datapoints to your observation above:
"Facebook’s top executive in charge of all products, Chris Cox, the longtime confidant of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is leaving the company, the highest-level departure at the social media giant amid nearly two years of sustained crises." (WAPO) 
"Two Facebook Inc. senior executives said Thursday that they would leave the company—surprise departures that come days after CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a major shift in direction for the company." (WSJ) 
That would mean publishing around 19 articles a day. So, uh, .
I'd say that both WaPo and NYT have a clear editorial and political agenda of questioning those with/in power. Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google (who have had their own fair share of bad coverage) are enormously powerful, rich companies that own a huge amount of data about all of us. It's only right that they are held to account when they do things with that data that users don't want. It's something Wall Street banks and oil companies have had to bear for a long time.
I still maintain that NYT in particular has a strong editorial bias against FB and an underlying agenda, but I should definitely do a deeper analysis to support my claim.
It's just a shame they never apply that agenda to their own industry. The NYTimes and the WaPo have power.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
It's just that generally, press releases don't make for great HN stories. This is a bit of an exception to the original-sources rule in the site guidelines.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
1. Rebranding Facebook as secure and private
2. If this increases usage, more opportunity to display ads
3. Their data shows they gain more information by monitoring what people publicly share, not say in private
4. Removes all responsibility to work with law enforcement and governments for illegal activity, since it's encrypted
These are users who didn't even use it. But just seeing the Facebook login option there next to email (it was the only OAuth) gave them the creeps. These aren't tech savvy users either, just regular small town businesses
I think Facebook has a long, long, long way to go towards brand repair before anyone can 'trust' it in any way
One client really wanted Facebook login so I had to make a Facebook account. That was a dark day.
On a somewhat related note, that business is no longer operating. I still host their site for free, partly out of smugness as they took none of my advice.
What’s surprising to me is that it still works!
I imagine that Gates played to win in business, as many others do, it's just that he was particularly good at it.
Now he's playing hard and to win in philanthropy.
I doubt he gives 2 bits what the average person thinks of him, at least not enough to throw money at rehabilitating his image. If that was his goal, his philanthropy targets would be different.
Personally I believe he should pull a Bill Gates, hand over the reigns and take his philanthropy private.
Legally, he has a duty to maximize value for his board and investors. And there hasn't been a business model that provides a free consumer web product without monetizing user data.
Please stop repeating that nonsense.
You should probably stop using the word "legally" in this context. There have been thousands of companies over the decades that put other things before shareholder value, and somehow managed to not run afoul of the law.
Also, it might help if you provided a citation to this law to bolster your argument.
And there hasn't been a business model that provides a free consumer web product without monetizing user data.
There's all the Redhat / enterprise open-source examples, but I'm specifically talking about consumer web products. Redhat's product is enterprise infrastructure.
There's free as in a trial or limited functionality to get you to buy the premium offering, but then the business model isn't really based off a free product... the free product is a promotion, not a business model.
You can have one group of premium users subsidize all the free users. In social, the main examples would be LinkedIn or Angelist, but again, access to the user data is the product these companies eventually sell.
There's Wikipedia, but that's a non-profit. Nothing wrong with that, people make a living that way and we need more like it, but I'm talking about companies where profits can serve as a strong motivator. This also excludes government services.
Maybe Google Maps qualified as free in the beginning, but any free service that Google makes is pretty much some clever way to acquire more user data to support other parts of the enterprise. HN itself falls under this category: HN is an ingestion pipeline for YC (the YC app asks for your HN handle, hello future YC app reviewer!).
I know it's a trite and a tired saying, but it really is true: if you're not paying for it, you are the product. That's not bad per-se... another way of looking at it is in the same way the sharing economy unlocked underutilized physical assets, these services have unlocked a new source of wealth not measured by our wallets: our attention. Lets describe it as we pay for these services with our attention-dollars.
My point is anything that's a "free consumer service" business model is really some kind of machine that converts attention-dollars into cash-dollars.
I would love to see a discussion of non-cash-dollar, non-attention-dollar business models. If you can think of a way of giving away Something that People Want (TM) for free without the corrupting influence of optimizing for their attention, well, you've found the next genuinely interesting unicorn.
Some CEO's like Elon and Jobs can spin a great story and hold on by sheer force of personality, but pension funds aren't buying FB in bulk to get more green cars on the road.
It is not illegal to have other goals than maximizing shareholder value.
For example, Costco. Publicly traded company but the employees are paid well, customers are well taken care of, and the CEO is rewarded for this. In the short-term, Costco could generate an enormous amount of value by automated, reducing wages, and finding cheaper supplies and lowering quality, selling their customer's membership information, etc.
But they don't. And there is nothing illegal about it.
Could you ever believe that's not all that he does with ads?
Why would a person who believes those things have made the "dumb fucks" quote?
That's the upside-down society we live in today.
He very obviously hasn't.
People need to understand, ANYTHING you use on the internet opens you up wide to privacy violations. Anything you use on the internet can end up in the hands of law enforcement. And certainly any SOCIAL network is, by its very nature, NOT private.
There is no way to be on the internet, and be completely opaque to the larger world at the same time. Zuckerberg is lying to you. So are Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, and Wire. If you're worth it, the US can track you. (Not just the US, several other nations and organizations can as well.)
Your buddy who told you that they couldn't find you behind that pseudonym as long as you were using a VPN? Yeah... he lied.
But here's the real problem, no one cares.
No one cares about privacy, because they all feel that they have nothing to hide. I know the feeling, I understand the feeling. But this is bigger than us as individuals.
The internet needs to be rearchitected, bit by bit. In concert with that effort, we need to agitate for some laws that prevent data sharing. Some laws that have real teeth.
This doesn't interfere with tracking.
Most people, when they think about privacy, think about the disclosure of specific posts to unintended audiences. They often don't think about the tracking beacons silently categorizing everything.
So in short, it's perfectly possible to have "privacy friendly" Facebook - if your definition of privacy doesn't extend to being free from ad trackers.
Advertising dollars are far more lucrative if you think you can trust where you're sharing your deepest, darkests...
Imagine what people would share between themselves if it wasn't "public for the world to see". Imagine how many more data points that would produce for targeted advertisements on the Facebook platform, alone.
Edit: Including necessary reference to Bill Hicks.
 - https://youtu.be/GaD8y-CGhMw
You mean like a Google search?
If you don't mean a Google search, I'm not sure what you could mean. What could possibly be more intimate than a person's lifelong history of general queries in their pursuit of knowledge and personal identity?
Oftentimes those queries are even natural language sentence fragments that directly convey the person's intentions.
What more are you claiming a company could infer by convincing their userbase that their data remains private?
If you're considering buying a motorcycle and have a friend (or a group of friends) that own(s) a motorcylce, are you more likely to ask that friend (or that group) the pros/cons of owning a motorcycle and for their recommendations or are you far more likely to use "nature language sentences" in Google to illicit that information (e.g.: "I'm thinking of buying a motorcycle")?
I'm going to posit that the former occurs far more frequently than the latter and that this is the potential "untapped market" for targeted advertising that a "private social network" would be after.
Regardless, it's pretty easy to infer from the person's Google searches what their friends told them. And if that user has an Android phone Google also has their location data to cross-reference with it, plus data gleaned from CC purchases and probably lots of other sources I haven't yet read about.
For a company so regularly beset by scandal, this feels like a bold assertion.
Culture of what?
Whatever your thoughts about Facebook, the fact that some of the smartest people have worked, and continue to work at a company "beset by scandal" should give you pause.
They pay many people salaries that they’d have trouble getting elsewhere. If these people stick around for the dream even after the money dries up, then I’ll be impressed.
The sentiment I’ve heard so far is “let’s wait this out, and hope it goes back to business as usual.”
The ethical have likely left already. Those who are most talented and in it for the money will likely be next out, if things don’t turn around. Then they’re left with the untalented and overpaid, who will cling on for as long as possible while the ship sinks.
I think people really underestimate the value of sheer impact on end users. I know the news about FB hasn't been positive, but as an engineer a lot of people would jump at the opportunity to literally change the world every month.
Facebook forgot that “change the world” isn’t the end goal. It’s to change the world for the better. At that, they have failed.
Their AI platform is a also ran in pretty much every aspect.
Where exactly are the smart people?
Just because they're the best ones talking about what they're doing, doesn't mean they're anywhere near the best.
2. Even humoring that assumption, you’re conveniently forgetting React, Hive (+Hbase, hipal), presto, rocksdb, Cassandra, graphql, oauth 2, open compute, phabricator, hhvm, buck, and that’s just the open source stuff.
PHP could have died, but no, it got a new lease on life.
Hive is a bad copy of a google tech. Buck is a bad copy of a google tech. Hbase is a bad copy of a google tech. Rocks is cute, but it's a bit sad that it's at the center of literally everything in the company.
Phabricator isn't bad, but it's a pretty close copy to things at google.
And I think Google only joined the open compute initiative to try and talk facebook out of it's weird ideas.
2. Even if he wasn't, the fact that we're making the comparison reflects how important he was to FB.
Not to be rude, but this has been my universal experience in the tech industry for the past 20+ years.
Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Whatsapp have all been (and continue to be) exploited to spread messages of hate and ignorance. It seems strange to me that Facebook is coming under so much criticism relative to the other platforms when, from my perspective, they've also been the most proactive about trying to address these issues and dedicated significant resources to moderation. That isn't to say that these moves have been successful or productive, but I haven't heard anything from Twitter recently regarding trying to minimize hate speech and ignorance on its platform (and its the worst service for divisiveness, in my opinion). Google only just recently demonetized anti-Semitic and anti-vax material on YouTube and only after significant backlash from its advertisers (not its users who have been calling for a response for years). Why is this?
Repeating what I said earlier
This company is the drug dealer of Silicon Valley. They have consciously destroyed a generation attention span using psychological tricks.
"Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, the people said." 
(An outline version for those tracking aware or blocked on corporate nets)
"Primum non nocere."
I cannot help but laugh at this statement. I think Facebook has done, and is still doing, way more harm than good for society. Like many other addiction-based services, it generated massive revenues for very few people, at the expense of society.
Even if we don’t mention some of the darkest practices like defrauding children of money, FB is intentionally evil, and they know it.
I just re-watched Cal Newport’s talk on social media and I’m enjoying my second week without fb and Twitter.
I'm mystified as to why Zuckerberg would let them leave over this. It very simply doesn't seem like a good idea (how many WhatsApp users know FB even owns it? What good does it do to remind them?) and when you've got major product heads disagreeing with you it's time to make a clear argument. So far I haven't seen one.
1. Facebook itself (built on multiple harmful feedback loops)
2. Facebook's business model (selling eyeballs, etc. to advertisers)
3. Mark Zuckerberg (expansion justifies anything)
4. Facebook's customers (advertisers who only care about influence)
5. Facebook's users (rotting apples in a rotten barrel)
If the co-founders of your only significantly growing products (Whatsapp and Instagram) leave (publicly in disgust about product direction) and your Head of Product for similar reasons now too this makes me wonder what working in Product Manaqgement at Facebook is like these days.
It's the Zuck way or the out-the-door way? Why would any semi-creative person want to work under those circumstances?
What are the upsides and downsides of merging the messaging apps? I wonder if there's any way that could turn out to be a good thing.
Some pretty big power struggles going down it seems.
“sobriety-focused keg party”
“health-focused donut shop”
But people have since realized that facebook collects far more than what you give them. It pays for data. It mines data from millions of web sets. It follows you around in ways people don't understand.
maybe "key part where the host sneakily follows you around on a daily basis to better understand your drinking habits" would be more appropriate.
I've heard that ebay's culture has a sense of responsibility to the people who make a living on their platform. As an outsider to both, it does seem like they owe their existence to their users so that sense of responsibility is appropriate.
Comments like some above make me think that facebook outages maybe aren't taken as seriously as they should be.
OTOH, having a subscription based service in specific going down can be catastrophic because you lose so much customer trust (think Azure, Spotify, etc.). In that sense, I guess amazon.com can be bad too with things like prime video, etc.
Whatsapp is huge here, so it is only natural to be used as a commercial tool as well.