The frustrations are real, though. Primarily it's around events and photos. There are some communities I participate in that regularly organize events through Facebook, and now I don't really get invited to those anymore. It's also harder to organize events where you casually invite people you don't know as well.
It's also occasionally annoying not being able to dig up a certain photo you wanted for reference. Even if you have a copy of the photo somewhere, if you don't have it hosted online then you can't really bring it up to show it to someone.
Still, frustrations aside, it's 90% great, and I recommend everyone try it for themselves.
As far as events go, the neckbeard in me hasn't actually minded. I still get invited to "high quality" events (things my real-life friends are going to) and haven't really missed the lower quality events.
Photos I just conveniently had solved by having all my photos on Google Photos anyways (I stopped trusting offline storage long ago).
I think my Facebook account is reactivated at the moment (due to logging in to search for something) but I disabled notification when I'd originally left and haven't looked back. Life's easier (and way more productive) without the Book.
Interestingly, I still find a lot of value in Messenger. But they've split concerns so you can use that without reactivating your FB account.
Life is generally more rewarding. I'm much more in contact with the life that I want to live, instead of the life that I want to portray. People I know have "unlearned" Facebook - I actually receive emails and phone calls to catch up.
I think that Facebook must be dealing with some unknown human behavior. Back when I was on it, everyone I knew (myself included) would have registered as psychopathic. Photos in relationships revolved around posting to Facebook, not creating a treasury of memories. "Not being official until you're Facebook official" was a thing; such a belief was acceptable back then, even though it's absurd and cold in retrospect. It really brought out the most disgusting part of me and everyone that I knew.
Being off the Book is great. From day one it doesn't get easier; life gets better - especially in terms of avoiding the lower quality riff raff.
However, that just may be that I don't live in the US, and it just might be more pervasive there.
For example: not being on Facebook means you actually have to keep in touch with people to know what they are doing. That sounds like a "duh" moment, but it's also key to how FB is replacing real social interaction with "social interaction".
The knock on effects of this are deep, because without it you have to have meaningful and importantly intentioned social interaction with people.
That changes things.
If anything happens in any of the first two groups, I hear about it because I'm directly invited. There aren't things that I hear about from Facebook, unless it's some club organizing an event or something similar.
How do you* interact with people, generally? Do you talk to them less but see what they post on Facebook?
* By "you" I mostly mean "people who use Facebook for socialization".
I also have the same three tiered social circle. The first circle I have regular contacts with on the phone, WhatsApp or in person. The second circle tells me when something happens in their life like them getting placed, winning a competition or getting into a relationship.
Facebook helps me immensely with the third group. I can get to know when people are placed in jobs and can then call them up to rekindle the acquaintance (so that I can later get them to introduce me to other people to expand my professional network). If I call regularly (like maybe once each two months) then it quickly turns into silence because we don't know what the other person is doing at the moment, where they are or even what has lately happened in their lives. I can't also talk about common acquaintances due to the same lack of information.
Personally for me Facebook events serve no purpose because if any of us want to plan a meeting we can do so by phone, email or WhatsApp. It does help to plan school reunions though. Facebook's utility to me exists because the people on Facebook keep posting parts of their life on it and I can keep interacting with them without too much effort of having the pain of keeping track of over a 100 acquaintances.
I deal with it slightly by checking the "See updates from these people first" for certain people. It causes them to appear in a cluster at the top of my feed. The best thing is that the cluster is collapsed to show just two stories and I can then expand if there are more.
No, that's exactly what it doesn't. Rather, it leaves them as they were before this stupid and insufficient replacement was invented.
Just to run a counterpoint to this, there are Facebook groups that have opened up whole new social circles for me and provide opportunities. I'm into whitewater kayaking and the "Where's the Whitewater at?" group has people planning informal trips at a few hours notice when someone drives by and notices a river is runnable. You go out and paddle with people you haven't met before, make new friends who share your interests, etc.
Also, it is great for learning about new hazards in a river, i.e. fallen trees, that make a certain trip either possible or much more dangerous.
Funnily enough, I found Messenger to be the worst of all their offerings. The lack of searchable history, the terrible (terrible) scroll-back, the default always-on-screen notification bubble, the way they forced the standalone app down users' throats by disabling messages in both the FB app and the mobile web version, all really turned me off to it.
Use https://m.me - It's the web app just for Messenger; on my desktop I launch it via Chrome with the --app= param so it runs in it's own window.
Click on the ⓘ that's located in the top right of a conversation, and you'll see the search option (among other things).
I've long since abandoned Facebook, but I wouldn't be surprised if a similar IFTTT feature exists to export tagged photos into Google Photos. If I recall this only works for 'new' photos posted that you are tagged in, it doesn't appear to pull images from before you enabled the IFTTT service. At any rate, this lets you see photos you are tagged in without ever having to actually use your Facebook account.
No more accidental or ambiguous re-activation...
Filtering: not just for censorship.
Do you trust online storage? Meaning, do you have backups of your photos offline somewhere, or are you only in the cloud?
Afaik when you deactivate your Facebook account, you have the option to keep the Messenger account, but just deactivate/delete the Facebook account.
No ads, no political spam, no viral garbage, no pictures of what your friend ate for dinner, no psychologically manipulative algorithms. Just people talking to their friends and posting pictures of themselves hanging out.
If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today.
That seems to be depressingly true of any social website. There seems to be a sort, sweet spot that exists briefly between the implementation of a good idea and when the parasites catch on and move in to ruin it.
Wow that happened 27 years ago. Time does fly.
I am blaming Facebook. The parasites I was thinking of are the people and impulses that pervert the successful formula to push some agenda (e.g. push for some "engagement" metric, push people to use this or that app, unscrupulous monetization, etc).
But year after year they've stepped back on privacy, while still being a completely closed platform compared to the open web.
Facebook does the opposite now, which leads people to use it as a content consumption platform rather than a social network. Obviously that's what Facebook wants, since content consumption is infinitely more profitable than people posting on each other's walls all day.
Yes, you'd have to manually curate some things, but otherwise I think it's mostly just a matter of not hiring any marketing people, and creating the features first and looking how to make them easily usable second. Especially if the goal isn't to "kill FB", but simply offer an alternative to those who want the good bits and actually like, uhh, reading manuals and being proficient with the tools they use.
They can't come if there is nowhere for them to come to, and then it's easy to pretend they don't exist. But they do, even among the old and young and not so technical.
AI can help with that. Facebook already has automatic alt text for images, for example:
* Image may contain: 1 person, standing, selfie and phone
* Image may contain: cat
* Image may contain: food
And for an end-user, simple filtering can help with that. I sometimes use the FBPurity browser extension to hide everything that's a link or shared post, leaving almost exclusively original content. It can filter on that automatic alt text too if you hate cats, but I don't mind frivolous posts that are original content from my actual friends.
Make your own.
Here's what I did for my local network of friends (who also all hate Facebook). Install Wordpress, add the free Buddypress plugin, purchase $50 BuddyPress theme. Throw on a server.
There you go, your own private social network in under a week.
Or you can make your own social network with Diaspora* (https://diasporafoundation.org) or GNU Social (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11062757)
> If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today.
Get into the world of finstas, that's basically the concept behind them.
Lots of people have. There was for example Ello a couple of years ago. Me and many of my Facebook friends created accounts, used it for a couple of weeks and slowly kind of ended up back on facebook. Apparently no one else stuck around either since Ello seems to have turned itself into something else.
Manipulative algorithms can be taken out though, I suppose.
In a short period of time, that would solve 90% of your problems.
Just looked through settings and wasn't able to find anything for order of posts in news feed.
> And mute your obnoxious friends from appearing in your newsfeed.
Yep this is pretty easy to do.
> You can also hide posts from particular websites from appearing on your newsfeed.
This isn't helpful since you cannot block the entire class of "transitive" posts. Eg a Honda ad because a friend of mine liked a Honda page. Sure I can block Honda. But Toyota or Volkswagen can still show up until I block them individually...
And I think after a couple weeks hiding posts you'll significantly reduce the variety of content hitting your newsfeed.
Posting pictures of your food should be a criminal offence. Nothing too serious, just a couple of years in prison or something.
"Look, honey, we got something in the mail from Katie and John! It's... oh... just a bunch of pictures of food. That's odd."
Meanwhile Katie and John are still at home, furiously stuffing envelopes with the same food pictures so they can send one to everybody in their address book.
I also miss the "going to the beach", "this was a nice day" etc.
I don't miss "join me on farmville", "1000 reasons why Trump and/or Hillary are dumb" etc.
I deleted the app last year. Kept the account because as far as I can tell it's the same difference and I haven't summoned the strength to go retrieve my photos yet. Haven't missed it at all. Meanwhile my wife is increasingly addicted...
I don't understand your comment at all. What else would you be saying when you show a picture of nice food other than "this food is great"? I'm not in the habit of posting food photos but I've never understood the hysteria around it on places like HN.
I cannot remember thinking that about others but maybe I don't follow the same people as you.
"Look what I'm doing right now!"
Isn't this just like a smaller version of Show HN?
I mean: you make something, you post it and someone else chimes in with ideas or (hopefully) constructive criticism?
Is there any reason that I cannot see why making food isn't a form of making that we can be proud of?
No, but we were talking about why people post pictures of food that they buy, not that they make.
Because, yeah. Caning is totally commensurate with that.
With your help? The moment you declare (or any friend declares) a relationship in the profile, they 'have' you both.
If someone wants to talk to me I get a popup on my Messenger app on my phone, and if I get an event invite it shows up there too.
Good for them, but they seem to mistake it as some sort of universal lifehack.
Does it have to be universal to be useful? Helping 0.01% of the US Facebook userbase save 1 hour every week is still huge...
So, that's one downside, I think.
There's a few communities that I'm in that I wouldn't even know about, event-wise, if I wasn't on Facebook. I can't imagine missing those- I'm surprised others don't use Facebook more for events.
As others have mentioned, I also use News Feed Eradicator, so I don't even see anything on Facebook, unless it's one of my close friends. It's fantastic, and my time on the site is probably less than 2 minutes/day.
I'm considering making a dummy account with a few friends just for the purpose of finding out about events.
Side note, does anyone know of a service that allows you to track FB events without having to be in the Facebook app? Not sure if there's an API for that.
My point is the following: I was one day on the street and saw a flyer glued onto a wall, it looked kinda funky and hand-drawn, interesting; some DJ's were going to throw a party and spin salsa, funk, latin jazz, cumbia... And I didn't recognize any of the names or the venues, I was mildly shocked because I believed I knew the local scene pretty well.
Almost always I can contextualize a music genre/scene, and see their connections and collaborations. But this random flyer I came across was so obscure! No relations, no known names, and the mix of styles and originality was very interesting! For the first time in many years I felt again what is like to find an underground scene, which I like a lot (like when dancing drum&bass in a basement in Berlin or listening to rap in Mexico).
This is a magic that is sometimes lost in the believed omniscence and omnipresence of online/facebook. I bet people soon will want to have those kind of experience, and the new thing will be to find scenes that people don't even know about online.
Now I have to scroll through ads and a bunch of irrelevant "local events for you" just to find what I'm looking for.
I will say, however that they've stepped up their ad insertion and display algorithm a bit recently, in a bad way, which is unfortunate. But I certainly see much less of the spammy ideological content that I do on Facebook and Twitter.
In other words, most of what I saw on Instagram was people trying to get followers and likes, trying to be like some "adventure photographer", whatever the hell that means. The feeds became clogged with homogenous shots of feet over the same beaches, curving roads, VW vans, etc. It became about the aesthetic you show, rather than the person and events that you are.
That still happens, and it can be a pain, but it's also easy to ignore.
And I do play the hashtag game; not to garner followers or likes but for the rare occasion where another photographer with a similar interest in "real photography" happens to be checking that same hashtag and comes across my photos, or vice versa.
On average I'm getting about 100 likes and 4 or 5 followers per shot. A lot of that is noise, but some of them are real photographers with an interest in the hobby and it's nice to meet people based solely on their photos. I've had conversations with some folks on Instagram local to me suggesting what parks I should shoot at, and I've chatted with others different film development techniques, and so on. For those situations it's worth it.
I will say that Instagram's saving grace is that it's hard to blindly share content since it requires a separate app currently. If that ever changes, and it probably will, I'll be gone.
I should add that very few of the people I follow post anything about themselves. Lazy selfies get them unfollowed. I'm in it because it's a more active photographer community than flickr/500px/whatever.
Same social media rule applies: if you don't like it, just unfollow. I'd argue that it's easier to do that on IG than FB as it feels less personal.
I also use Google photos, which has all of my photos, not just the ones I've uploaded to Facebook. Plus the search is great.
Maybe these suggestions could help your problem and clear that 10%.
So far it's been about a week, and it's been 90% great, and 10% meh. I just logged out of facebook on all of my devices and don't save the password, so it at least makes me think before putting in my password. The meh part is the services I use "login with facebook" on, but it's not that big of a deal.
And while my reasoning was less idealistic than Gruber's, I think he makes a bunch of great points and I very much agree with the spirit of his post.
I was almost done with college when FB suddenly became a cross-generational phenomenon and started being about more than photo sharing and event planning; I still fondly remember those days.
The one advantage I would add is the rare occasion when someone needs to get in touch with me easily: I've had extended family who lives on the other side of the world get in touch with me through FB on short notice when they were visiting my city. I could definitely imagine that some of these cases wouldn't have happened without Facebook, since they would be required to 1) know that I happened to live in this city and 2) go through probably three separate people across different continents to get my phone number. This is infinitely harder than searching their FB friends for my city and going "oh dang! wutbrodo lives there now? I haven't seen him since we were kids, I should reach out!".
That being said, all of the 90% downsides of keeping Facebook are, to some extent, within your control. I won't pretend that I'm congenitally immune to them, but all it took was a little discipline and a little time and it really wasn't that difficult to avoid the timesuck/endless scrolling/notification issues.
I've never really been able to relate to the idea of completely deactivating Facebook and losing the 10% benefits, with the possible exception of the few people who have a completely insurmountable psychological compulsion to use Facebook. This is especially true because of all of the levels of FB exposure you can have without going all-or-nothing: Chrome extensions to remove the newsfeed, disabling notifications on your phone, only visiting FB on the web and not the app, etc.
They scrape Facebook events, allowing you to browse them without a Facebook account. It's not perfect but it's better than nothing.
I have to say though, FB tries really hard to reactivate your notifications. It's especially annoying when it hooks into your mobile Chrome browser notifications (took me a while to figure that out!). And the fact it can't be uninstalled on Samsung devices - at least you don't have to login.
I'm really not that worried about it any more. FB is gufe, but so was AOL. It will in turn be disrupted by a future innovation.
You're not able to exercise self control? I have Facebook, but I never use it apart from the events and Messenger for chatting with certain friends.
Ability to exercise self-control most likely varies significantly among people. It's not like the ability to breath. Also Facebook is explicitly designed to "engage" people, meaning that a piece of information shared on Facebook is going to engage a larger fraction of people than that same piece of information in ... a newspaper (for example). Engagement/attention hacking is a different issue than the walled-garden issue for the most part though.
I treat facebook like i treat my phone. Its a tool. Not a way of life. Been on the internet since '95, back when i was at school i was the only one who would spend hours on the computer, they called us nerds. Now its the opposite, i use the computer at work everyday, and when im home, i stay away from it, my phone, tv, as much as possible and call everyone else geeks who need to stop obsessing over there hands (cause they dont know about computers, they just use them)
(Shameless plug to my own open source, lightweight and tracking-free comment engine alternative to Facebook, Disqus and the rest: https://github.com/adtac/commento)
And as much as facebook sucks, most web sites suck. It's amazing to me how many sites I read on my phone are basically unusable until I fall back on Safari's reader mode.
It didn't even make sense from a layout perspective. It was a comment with one reply, and in place of the reply, was text that said, "show one reply".
Maybe they're doing it to drive analytics.
Other things about AMP are pretty annoying to me -- the URL getting hijacked, the way on mobile safari the URL bar never shrinks when scrolling (how do they even break that?), and the ribbon with the fake URL bar that keeps popping in and out of view as you scroll.
You think Google basically replacing the entire web for news sites because their sites are so shitty might encourage them to focus more on basic usability and speed, but so far, no...
Now add a continuous stream of revenue and the only people that notice or care are technically oriented people.
Facebook Comments aren't designed to be a great experience. They're designed to funnel users into Facebook's ecosystem and to get them to use Facebook more. It's a marketing tool for Facebook.
The core issue here is spam, and whether or not it's possible to make a non-centralized open source self-contained spam figthing engine is still unanswered.
I'm not going to go into details, but I invite you to read this article for some background:
This is an issue for a really small segment of users. Not really a cause for concern in 2017. Especially when most of that stuff is already cached.
That's oversimplifying it. You are loading 37 assets to support a social commenting platform.
Not really. I'm from India; while my home network connection is pretty good, when I'm travelling anywhere outside the metros, the mobile network speed is abysmal. However quite a few news outlets employ Facebook's comment system. You can imagine what a nightmare it'll be for users to load all that with a 2G connection.
> You are loading 37 assets to support a social commenting platform.
You would lose that bet.
Basically, what it comes down to is that if all 37 requests are done in parallel, then you're only loading the page as slowly as the slowest. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Most browsers will only make 6 concurrent requests from a server, which you can see in Firefox via the about:config page and the network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server. Worse, some of that JS is probably downloading more JS, which means that you will have multiple requests going out.
On mobile, this means you're running 8-30 second delays for each "group" of requests, especially if you have poor reception. Good news is that after that initial latency, the actual transfer should go fairly fast.
On the other hand, a social commenting program should need at a minimum 1 JS file, 1 CSS file, 1 for the actual data (3 comment texts, 3 base64 encoded profile pics at a small resolution). So FB is running at ~30x the optimum (87 assets, of which 35 are JS).
If you think it's not that big a deal, I'd suggest taking a trip abroad or just out to some smaller towns in your area, and really experience why users feel the internet has not really gotten faster since the 90s (keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency).
> keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency.
Users do care about data size since there are still a lot of people on data limited contracts even in the UK which has a fairly healthy mobile market.
What people don't necessarily realise is the connection between the two, I'd quite like it if the mobile browsers had a running total of the total amount of data transferred in that tab on each new visit/refresh.
I'm a programmer and I still don't know which pages are heavy or not (given fixed bandwidth the time to interaction would be a clue but mobile internet latency is all over the map so you can't tell if it's a big site/page or just the mobile internet shitting the bed).
Thinking about it, there's got to be a plugin for firefox/chrome that show the data size of each page. For mobile, you can install firefox which allows you to install plugins (pretty much essential for blocking ads in mobile browsing).
For me that is enough, if I load a page and see it sit at 200kb/s for more than a second or two I'll often nuke the page. I have 1Gb of data on my phone package (simply don't use mobile data much, I have unlimited fiber at home and the office).
Doesn't apply here. Facebook is using async and downgrades the experience for mobile clients.
> Most browsers will only make 6 concurrent requests from a server, which you can see in Firefox via the about:config page and the network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server.
The limitation is per host not per server.
> On mobile, this means you're running 8-30 second delays for each "group" of requests, especially if you have poor reception.
We are talking about an asynchronous implementation.
> On the other hand, a social commenting program should need at a minimum 1 JS file, 1 CSS file, 1 for the actual data (3 comment texts, 3 base64 encoded profile pics at a small resolution). So FB is running at ~30x the optimum (87 assets, of which 35 are JS).
That's the payload for the desktop clients. Furthermore, try finding a website that follows 'the optimum' standard you are describing.
> If you think it's not that big a deal, I'd suggest taking a trip abroad or just out to some smaller towns in your area, and really experience why users feel the internet has not really gotten faster since the 90s (keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency).
If you are still using 90's technology, you won't be able to consume most of the current websites.
An asynchronous widget will not be the 'breaking point,' far from it.
The scenarios you are describing will not trigger the loading of these widgets.
You are correct, but I will be a little more terse with words, per hostname (domain). There is also a max connections limit as well which is generally 10-17.
Love the sarcasm. What devices are you talking about here?
Name ten popular websites that will function on low-powered devices with limited battery life connected via an unreliable, metered wireless internet connection.
Heck, give me a site that will properly work on Motorola Razr.
Facebook's dominance is even more pronounced in parts of the developing world. I've met people in Asia (Myanmar and Nepal) who have just accessed the internet for the first time in the past 12-24 months (through their Android smartphones).
But they don't know the true internet - they only know the internet through the Facebook app. They use it like we use Google and web browsers.
To them, Facebook is the internet. They don't have email accounts. They don't use the browser. They don't search the web. I met someone in a small town who never even used the maps feature. I tried to think of what value the true internet might bring them, but when I suggested that "you can search for news and read other things", the response was that they already did that with the Facebook App.
One guy handed me his phone, so I could add myself as a friend on his Facebook. While I started typing my name, I noticed his search history... and to him, Facebook was even a substitute for what people in the USA might use Incognito mode for!
I would call Facebook their internet portal, but it's not really a portal to anything - Facebook is just the entire internet to them.
Buzzfeed (yes, Buzzfeed) did an excellent writeup of Myanmar, that mirrors what I saw there:
“Nobody asks, they don’t care about the email,” he said, explaining that most don’t know that creating an email address is free, and easy. “No one is using that. They have Facebook.”
Now there are "digital agencies" who take care of the celebrity/company FB pages, post click-bait articles, run campaigns and throw money for advertising.
I don't think these things are going to change anytime soon and I don't have an answer. So, either promote yourself, things you are doing, on FB or your online presence is mere. Just sad.
Like do people start with Facebook and it later becomes a gateway to the internet, or do they start within only Facebook and stay within only Facebook?
I also assume people in the bigger cities (especially Yangon, but also Mandalay) use computers+the actual web for work, university and pleasure... right?
Maybe. I can't say for sure. People start with Facebook and they stay with Facebook for now. Most businesses (tech agencies or startups) are also forming around Facebook. Of course, a few companies are doing okay by doing games, marketplace, and entertainment related apps/websites. For them, a big problem is an online payment method and non-existent infrastructure. For the government, there are just more important problems for the government. Eventually, online safety and education are necessary, I think.
Yeap. I see people, especially younger folks, use laptop/desktop computers for work, school and for entertainment. The margin of mobile users are desktop users is still a big gap, I suppose.
This idea of posting "public content" on Facebook is inherently flawed. I agree with the article on that much.
However, what I haven't figured out yet is if this is actually an evil-Facebook issue or just a user issue. Is Facebook actively encouraging this web breaking behaviour or is it a "mis-use" of what the tool originally intended (e.g., a safe place to post content/blog/etc. with privacy restrictions)?
I have a side rant that has been bubbling in me for a long time on this issue. My city's alternative weekly paper, The Dallas Observer, switched from Livefyre to Facebook's commenting system about two years ago. Livefyre was bad but the Facebook comment system is worse. With Facebook forcing "real" people accounts, comments plummeted on stories that presented alternate takes on local stories that didn't fall into line with the Dallas Morning News's traditional power structure patriarchs (mostly land developers).
The editor's suggestion to people that wanted to comment on a story without using their "real name" was to create a separate Facebook account. Un-fucking real.
My conspiracy theory is that The Dallas Observer, and probably all Village Voice Media properties, were promised better exposure in Facebook user's news feeds if they used the Facebook comment engine. Seems like a devil's bargain to me.
I put the Facebook comment system squarely in the evil-Facebook pile.
it discourages thoughtful users who happens to have dissenting views and exposes groupthink, people who care to create fake accounts as well as people who don't care.
So I'm going to be generous and agree with your statement at face value, it probably did have nothing to do with any of the things you mentioned.
Indeed, and since the beginning of the web there have been ways to create private content. The old-fashioned solutions give real control to the user.
> Facebook is a fantastic place for web content that isn't meant to be public.
Not really, because: a) you have no control over the platform -- the notion of private can change on a FB's whim and there is nothing you can do -- and b) you have no control over whom your content actually reaches, FB's opaque algorithm does.
> Is Facebook actively encouraging this web breaking behaviour or is it a "mis-use" of what the tool originally intended
Can you remember FB ever complaining that people should use the open web for some of the stuff that goes on in there? I don't mean to offend you, but I would say that you have to be a bit naive to believe that they do not desire to turn the web into a walled garden under their complete control.
FB is horrible because it nurtures psychological pathology, not because it's not open. Everything you need to know about FB can be summarized from Zuck's generous offer to let employees freeze their eggs so that instead of having kids and leading normal lives they can work for him. Dude is gross, and so is his platform.
It's not as though Facebook is coercing people to do this in order to lengthen their careers. People will do it anyway due to a culture that already exists and because they want to; from that perspective, Facebook is providing a nice benefit for people who don't want to compromise their career. It's not for you to say that this decision constitutes "abnormal" behavior - its characteristic of a lot of peoples' rational career optimization.
I'm not claiming it's altruistic, but I am claiming it's a poor heuristic for judging a company.
>...internet.org and Free Basics...
Last week I met someone who spent the better part of two years in Mozambique and other parts of Africa for the Peace Corps. He spent most of his time in areas that had little to no internet access.
He used Free Basics a lot while he was there and considered it integral to his work and sanity (in his words). Based on his experience, I would consider your specific example web enabling, not web breaking. There are many people who want to connect to the internet even if it's not the open, platonic ideal that is passionately endorsed message boards like HN.
From what he told me, his alternative to using Free Basics was climbing a tree and waiting for a signal so he could send emails for work. It's not a perfect system, but it's fairly uncharitable to call it web breaking just because you don't believe one company should have control over it.
As well, it literally is "web breaking" when one company has control over the entire network. This is not a matter of mere dissatisfaction with the current state of events; it's a description of the seismic shift in control.
But the longer term risks of facebook net far outweigh the help for your friend in Africa.
I don't believe one company should have control over the internet. In fact, I really really don't believe this. Attempting to be the sole gatekeeper of information in the modern world is in my estimation something that should not be allowed. Anywhere. Ever. I guess I can't blame facebook for trying to do this. But I recoil in moral disgust at the implications.
Nobody is saying don't have private silos, but I believe Gruber and co are saying don't pretend like a private silo is public, when it isn't.
In Facebook's defence, there is a difference between "public" and "discoverable". They don't go out of their way to make things discoverable. That's their business and may be evil or not depending on someone's given values.
But "public" content on Facebook could potentially be seen by anyone - and that's staying true to the definition.
Zuckerberg was on to something. He saw the web connecting pages, but not people. So he created a web connecting people and now it has grown to what it is. With both MySpace and Google+ practically buried, Facebook has no competition.
We desperately need an alternative, and not just one for the sake of not being facebook, but something that works. The open web needs a way to connect people.
But frankly this still was at a time when the internet was more nerdish. Writing blogs was work -- intellectual work -- for reward that was only tangible because we saw everyone everyday and could physically high five or thumbs-up.
So of course blogs declined because of Facebook. I myself find myself periodically using Facebook as a blogging platform -- to write and read and debate long takes; but also because most people are not nerdish enough to have blogs. I think we're watching horrified at the de-nerding of the internet.
Relatedly. I'm really really jealous of kids and their snapchats. I wish my generation used some such platform. I remember when we used IM status lines as short-lived messages into the world -- "Hi friends, I feel sad", maybe with some song lyric. For a very brief while (like a week, maybe less), Messenger Stories started picking up steam in my network -- until it was integrated on Facebook. Facebook has too many people.
Disappearing stories encapsulate the whole reason someone my age (I'm 34) needs online social networks: you drift away from your great friends from yesteryear, have less and less time and energy and emotional need for new ones -- at least at the investment it takes -- and everyone in your cohort is either doing the same or trying too hard to be artificially social.
If, instead, I could access a significant section of my circle of acquaintances/quasi-friends/might-have-been-friends-if-I-had-met-them-earlier-in-life, etc. and just take a picture of a really good fresh-squeezed OJ I had somewhere or a pretty sunset or some Counting Crows lyrics? In such a way that everyone who is kind of paying attention is aware, but everyone else just misses? It would make a significant dent at this need for a semi-social life. Maybe I could even make a couple of really fucking great friends out of the interesting acquaintances I have.
I'm rambling, of course. But hey, startup people. Make Snapchat for adults, please!
I haven't checked the landscape in a minute, but I wonder if there are any new projects out there.
Here is my interpretation of the complaints. Please point out what I am missing.
Square peg round hole.
>It's supporting their downgrading and killing the web...
Facebook posts being inherently (mostly) simple text is 'killing the web'? I don't buy it.
>Facebook might go out of business.
Just a generic SaaS complaint. Nothing unique to Facebook about this.
Am I missing a core argument here?
It's also misleading. If you want something more like a blog, then use notes instead of posts. The notes editing interface is actually better than most blog platforms, and IMO the results look just as pretty too. Then your notes appear in your timeline, searchable (within Facebook), with comments, etc. Is it everything an "open web" activist could want? No, but it's sure not just plain text.
BTW, I can't help but shake my head at people (like Gruber) who say Facebook is evil but also think absolutely everything should be searchable and monetizable by Google. That's just not logically consistent.
I think the problem is not really Facebook but its users.
Sharing a blog post on Facebook is as wrong as sharing your travel photos on HN.
I'm on Twitter, I'm on Hacker News, I'm on Reddit, I'm on Gitter, I send/receive dirty jokes on WhatsApp, etc. Plenty of opportunity to waste time, no need for FB to be in the picture at all. I've been composing this stupid message for the past 5 minutes.
But I'm using Facebook less and less. For me the "open web" is a necessity, not a moral high ground or anything like that. I don't like opening Facebook blog posts because Facebook sucks for blog posts. TFA mentions the Internet Archive or Google not indexing articles. Hell yeah, those are really good concerns.
Also, forget the open web ... how about the fact that if you give them permissions to access your photos, on iOS at least, they are uploading your photos to their services for making photo collages, without you explicitly allowing this.
I know this because I opened the app a week ago and I was proposed a collage with animated transitions and music in the background, titled "Your Sunday evening in Bucharest", that couldn't have been processed on my phone - especially since iOS restricts background activity, plus it would be pretty bad for battery life.
And I freaked out, so now Facebook is gone from my phone. Article mentions an all out assault on the open web. Sure, but it's also an all out assault on people's privacy.
I was 7 when Ceaușescu was shot and communism fell in 1989 and before that paranoia was at an all times high. People were afraid for example that their phones were tapped and that their neighbours were listening. Which was in fact true, but oh boy, that's nothing compared with what happens today.
> I myself have no issues with the social network, I keep up with friends, family and it isn't a time suck for me anymore than HN.
How dare Facebook provide limited internet to the developing world instead of nothing at all...
Agreed. The intent and likely outcome of that was pretty evil.
You may be fine with Facebook controlling the flow of information. I'm not. I don't live in the developing world but am delighted to see efforts to that end stifled (where it has happened).
Other than that, as a social network, I don't have a hard issue with Facebook. I'm sure it's fine for lots of people. Friends and family use it and seem to get something out of it. It's not my type of thing so never had an account but I don't perceive it as evil.
I guess I perceive Facebook something like a used car salesman or owner of a dive bar in a bad neighborhood or a porn aggregator. A little shady, probably not to be intrinsically trusted and not the kind of thing I want to be around, but not necessarily evil.
And Facebook, too, will eventually crust away when the underlying tech improves (universal 5G? who knows?) and the next Steve Case / Mark Zuckerberg visionary builds the next generally-centralized service for most internet users. But the open web will survive just fine.
But that being said, if we are just concerned with statistics, obviously Facebook's user numbers are much larger than AOL ever saw but I wonder what percentage of people using the internet use Facebook today vs. AOL "back in the day"?
Recommender reading: How to confuse a Facebook user (2010)
I've been trying for months to advertise on there but there's no such thing as a business-only FB acct, you need an organic personal account. And some combination of my activity (not friending anyone, not using FB for anything, using an incognito tab, my IP address? I don't know) looks like trouble to the powers that be so my account keeps getting shut off.
I hate them just as much as these other guys but for 2x the reasons.
Because they don't want to. They don't want to learn it, they don't want to be a part of it. So they stay in a walled garden where they can participate in groups they want to participate in, with their own culture. And they're not the ones complaining about it, the open web advocates are complaining about their voluntary association with each other.
But could you see an alternative that doesn't leave a single entity in control?