Facebook is the worst

edited September 2020 in Speakeasy

Good news:

103 more companies have said they are suspending advertising on [Facebook] in July. The group includes Starbucks, Ford, GM, Clorox, Reebok, Adidas, Best Buy, Clif Bar, Chobani, and Denny's.

"As America's diner, we offer an inclusive and welcoming environment where all people can enjoy a nice meal and we strongly oppose hate speech of any kind. It is our belief that Facebook has not done enough to address this important issue on its platform and we are calling on Facebook to make positive changes in its process for combatting hate speech and disinformation," Denny's said in a statement. 

(Subscribe to Judd's Popular Information, by the way, if you're interested in big tech and democracy. It's an excellent newsletter.)

I'll admit I have a self-interest here: a lot of the discussion in the steampunk and alternate-history community has moved away from message boards like ours to groups on Facebook.

I quit Facebook myself a year ago, after all the revelations about what it had done in the 2016 election. I hope others will follow. This is a terrible company that does not respect the privacy of its users and has a corrosive effect on civil society and democracy.

And then we should all get back to message boards ?


  • More from Slate:

    While only a fraction of Facebook’s 8 million advertisers have now pledged support, #StopHateforProfit marks the first time Facebook has been put under serious pressure to change by the companies from which it generates revenue. So far, discussions of policy or regulation efforts in the U.S. haven’t made Facebook radically readdress its hate-speech policies. A study in May, for instance, found that white supremacist groups are still “thriving” on the platform. And user boycotts and criticism have only pushed Facebook to change in relatively small increments: Every few months or so, the company announces policy updates, such as adding warning labels to content that may cause harm; it also established an independent oversight board to judge and address content moderation issues. But many critics say a complete overhaul of Facebook’s content policies is still necessary. Will a shove from advertisers make a difference where pleas from advocates and experts haven’t?

  • Your regular reminder that Facebook is a terrible, terrible company:

    As the US heads towards a crucial and contentious presidential election, the world's largest social network is facing an unprecedented cultural crisis.

    My recommendation:

    If you still have a profile on Facebook, take it down.

    If you manage a Facebook group, migrate it to a better company or to an open-source platform.

    It's the only thing we, as consumers, can do.

  • More Facebook being awful, from the indispensable Judd Legum:

    A new report by the international non-profit Avaaz reveals that Facebook's efforts have been inadequate. Facebook users are being exposed to far more misinformation than accurate health content. 

    Don't miss my blog post: Why a message board is better than Facebook.

  • More Facebook being horrible:

    Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

    The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.

  • At least the EU is taking steps to rein in Facebook and other Internet behemoths.

    The FT reports members of the European Parliament want to:

    • Make platforms more liable: Parliament wants products deemed illegal offline to also be prohibited online. They hope that this will give consumers the same level of protection when they buy products on large platforms such as Amazon as if they had bought them in a physical shop.
    • Target the big guys: MEPs are also pushing for so-called gatekeeper platforms to face extra obligations to stay clear of anti-competitive practices set out in a clear list of “do’s and dont’s”. A blacklist would include activities such as platforms giving preference to their own services or failing to be transparent about the funding of political advertising.
    • Clear rules on taking down content: MEPs will also be pressing for clear rules and processes for illegal content. “We do not want to put private companies in charge of policing the internet, but [instead] a clear notice and action system that provides legal clarity to platforms and guarantees the fundamental rights of users,” explained Tiemo Wölken, a German MEP who is drafting recommendations for the DSA.
  • I quit facebook.

    I had already only kept the account for messenger and BCM (now Rising Suns Gazette, at least if we ever publish another issue) but frankly, it was giving me so much anxiety I just walked away. I told the people I talked to via messenger on the regular and no one else.

    Incidently, they pretty much stopped communicating with me, which has been a little hurtful but its either sucking it up or suffering the daily stress from FB, so I'm sucking it up.

    FB is a sesspool of toxicity and for some reason or other it gives people the impression that they can be total assholes. Like twitter, but worse.

    Incidently instagram, which is owned by FB, seems to be doing better at the moment, but I full well expect it going down the crapper by the end end of the year as more people seem to be moving there from twitter and FB :(

    I can already see the same toxicity seep through and I'm not happy about it, at all.

  • edited October 2020

    Welcome to the un-Facebook'ed club!

  • From The Atlantic:

    People tend to complain about Facebook as if something recently curdled. There’s a notion that the social web was once useful, or at least that it could have been good, if only we had pulled a few levers: some moderation and fact-checking here, a bit of regulation there, perhaps a federal antitrust lawsuit. But that’s far too sunny and shortsighted a view. Today’s social networks, Facebook chief among them, were built to encourage the things that make them so harmful. It is in their very architecture.

    I’ve been thinking for years about what it would take to make the social web magical in all the right ways—less extreme, less toxic, more true—and I realized only recently that I’ve been thinking far too narrowly about the problem. I’ve long wanted Mark Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook is a media company, to take responsibility for the informational environment he created in the same way that the editor of a magazine would. (I pressed him on this once and he laughed.) In recent years, as Facebook’s mistakes have compounded and its reputation has tanked, it has become clear that negligence is only part of the problem. No one, not even Mark Zuckerberg, can control the product he made. I’ve come to realize that Facebook is not a media company. It’s a Doomsday Machine.

    The social web is doing exactly what it was built for. Facebook does not exist to seek truth and report it, or to improve civic health, or to hold the powerful to account, or to represent the interests of its users, though these phenomena may be occasional by-products of its existence. The company’s early mission was to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Instead, it took the concept of “community” and sapped it of all moral meaning. The rise of QAnon, for example, is one of the social web’s logical conclusions. That’s because Facebook—along with Google and YouTube—is perfect for amplifying and spreading disinformation at lightning speed to global audiences. Facebook is an agent of government propaganda, targeted harassment, terrorist recruitment, emotional manipulation, and genocide—a world-historic weapon that lives not underground, but in a Disneyland-inspired campus in Menlo Park, California.

  • How sad:

    Facebook's parent company Meta Inc. recorded its worst day ever on Wall Street. The company is also reporting a loss in users for the the first time in its 18-year history.

  • edited February 9

    While it's tempting to celebrate? We can't just carp at their mistortune. Otherwise we're rather like the people we denounce.

    For my part I find it too easy to do and so have to remind mself that it is not something to not indulge in.

    However I will enjoy a private chuckle.

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