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Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein in a Wild Web (nytimes.com)
212 points by ALee 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments

I find that the headline and the article mischaracterizes what is happening. The "Wild Web" was reigned in long ago by commercial interests. A distributed web with many small nodes would still be hard to control and police effectively. However as much the web has been centralized by the likes of Google, Facebook, and large media conglomerates effective government censorship is once again possible.

This is like a wild meadow turning to a manicured lawn. The near-monoculture of the web will have a much harder time withstanding legal assault by state actors than a distributed web would have.

The wild Internet is definitely still there. The problem is that it got too hostile for most users due to spam, viruses, malware, phishing, trolls, doxing, and so on. It will get worse, as attackers adopt machine learning techniques and automate social engineering at scale.

So users have a problem. Companies that solved it the right way became enormous, because protection from all that crap is something people want, and they want it to be easy to use. In the early days it was anti-spam (Gmail). More recently, Snapchat helped teens avoid creating a permanent record of things.

Sure, you can go outside the walls at any time, but how many people really want to? The way to win users is to provide better protection than before, including defenses against new privacy threats, not to somehow convince people they don't need to care about it.

Sometimes providing better protection results in more freedom (of a sort). For example, a well-maintained app store means users don't have to worry about malware and viruses, so they can download whatever games they want without worrying that they'll infect their machine. This wasn't true of Windows in the old days.

Ironically, the web started out pretty safe (or so we thought) and degraded as more adtech came along. These days you can hardly click on a link without getting ads in your face. There's opportunity for someone.

The result, though, is not actual privacy protection. It's more that you choose to surrender your privacy to someone, in exchange for protection from other nasties.

It's almost like some kind of weird digital feudalism. You're free to come and go, and if you want, you can live in the wild and take your chances. But if you want the safety of the walls and armed defenders, that comes with a lot of strings attached. And if you ever want to move out of those walls, you leave your plot and your house, with everything valuable on them, behind.

Well, "feudalism" is an exaggeration since you can belong to as many as you want, and sharing some things (such as republishing links) is not hard.

But there is always going to be some kind of a speedbump when sharing between places with different policies. When you have borders between things that are genuinely different (even if they're gratuitous differences), you have border issues. Bigger social networks mean you reach more people without going over a border, which encourages growth.

Borders are everywhere. In the enterprise space, you can look at the growth of Amazon and Google Cloud. In devtools, each programming language tends to be its own domain. (Which is why we call them "foreign" functions.)

> Well, "feudalism" is an exaggeration since you can belong to as many as you want, and sharing some things (such as republishing links) is not hard.

I'll grant you the first part, but sharing is actually a lot harder than it used to be, these days. Try sharing a Facebook post or comment with someone who doesn't have a Facebook account...

> In devtools, each programming language tends to be its own domain. (Which is why we call them "foreign" functions.)

True, but we also develop FFI as a way to call those foreign functions, and meta-frameworks to enable cross-language interop (WinRT being the most recent prominent example of such). Worst case, you can use standard formats and protocols to at least exchange data. Whereas "walled gardens" tend to be deliberately hard to interop with, or even to extract your existing data from.

>Snapchat helped teens avoid creating a permanent record of things.

Why isn't Snapchat more popular than Instagram? I assumed that it was the case that more people have stage fright than don't. Is this a faulty assumption, or are people just acting in defiance of this fear?

Not to be old, but I had many friends get into Snapchat for a hot minute. My wife and I never did. Instagram let us share photos. Snapchat seemed like just gimmicky cat ears and showboating. The platform very much feels like "look at me" not "hey I had this cool experience and I want to share it."

Full disclosure: I bought a bunch of snapchat stock at the bottom because I fully invest in the self-centeredness of humankind. Worked great w/ FB.

From a user perspective, validated only by other engineer-friends, Snapchat is a pretty sketchy app.

The UX diverges from common design principles of both major mobile OS, making it feel awkward. The app slaughters batteries in Android phones, occasionally you can actually watch the % drop.

That's not to say it isn't popular, wildly so in younger users, Instagram just has more ad value because of its maturity (reportable metrics) and unbridled desire to be an ad platform.

Instagram became more famous because it had the same feature of self deleting posts with a user base. Also people would rather use 1 app for doing everything (posting permanent posts or temporary ones) rather than use many apps. That's why WeChat is became huge too

Instagram has auto-deleting photo streams now, I hear.

> The wild Internet is definitely still there.

It was there before Eternal September. And yes, it's still there, and far richer than it's ever been.

> The problem is that it got too hostile for most users due to spam, viruses, malware, phishing, trolls, doxing, and so on.

It's arguably those mainstream users who are problematic. In large part, they're the trolls. And the ones who are trolled, of course. And they're the bloody flesh in the water that's attracted all the sharks.

> It will get worse, as attackers adopt machine learning techniques and automate social engineering at scale.

No doubt.

> Sure, you can go outside the walls at any time, but how many people really want to?

Anyone with any sense will. The rest can have their AOL/CompuServe experience. And good riddance.

> It's arguably those mainstream users who are problematic

That sounds a bit ignorant. Those mainstream users are the vast majority, they make a lot of internet business models worthwhile and made the internet the success that it is. Of course they also attract sharks as you rightfully say, but we should try to improve their experiences instead of denying them any sense or intelligence and putting them in walled gardens.

I'm curious what you propose to improve their experiences.

I think you need walled gardens for mainstream users. The reason is that the weakest link in any security system is people. Especially normal, pleasant, trusting, non-confrontational people. People like my grandparents, who just install whatever a guy who claims to be tech support tells them to install.

Should people like my grandparents have a good experience on the internet? Absolutely. Can they have it without taking away all their freedom to make mistakes? I don't see how. Any freedom we give them will be exploited by the sharks. Education is a good thing which can make them more shark-resistant, but not everyone will take it upon themselves to be educated.

> internet business models

Many idealists considered that a ridiculous idea.

And many didn't. Weasel words abound.

Do you deny that commercialization of the Internet in the mid 1990s was controversial?

OK, I gotta repeat this dead comment, because it's so good:

> Incredibly so. But I have realized that the large majority of Internet users today have no point of reference to that time because they were either not alive, where very small children, or weren't paying any attention to what was going on. But for a brief time, humanity was being uplifted instead of being loaded onto digital cattle cars. There truly is a threat here--technocracy is turning America into a gulag and it needs to stop. No, I am not kidding. It's not just the Internet, it's all the companies collecting massive data "to better serve us" that are creating the . chains.

> I'm just glad I experienced that early period. Sunsite at UNC was the greatest. There were many true humanitarians back then. Today, we have the growing evil of Google and the Never-Was-Anything-But-Evil Facebook!

Yeah, it's been very sad to see possibility crushed, and people pervasively surveilled and manipulated.

> A distributed web with many small nodes would still be hard to control and police effectively.

I would guess that today's distributed web (IPFS, etc.) has more content, and users, than the "wild web" of 1992 or whatever era you fondly recollect.

Yes, centralized players created tools that produced exponentially more content (and control). But it's lazy to blame that peripheral phenomenon for a perceived "loss".

The wild web still exists, and has the potential to grow (cf. Urbit). What's stopping it?

IPFS is stopped by its insistence on things that are considered anti-features by non-cryptopunks, like immutability.

There's a lot of promise behind the "distributed web" or "P2P web" prototypes, but they haven't been effectively commoditized, and their value proposition over the top-level "spyweb" isn't strong enough for normal users who don't understand the inner workings. In fact, they tend to offer less end-user benefit, since a P2P web is necessarily slower as peers negotiate connections, deal with vaporizing peers, etc.

Consumers care only about getting their desires fulfilled as quickly and easily as possible. If you want a new web to dominate, you must make something that gives the consumers and/or the companies upstream from them an incentive to exert the effort to change.

Personally, I believe the web is already sufficiently "decentralized" in the necessary sense. We just have legal restrictions that prevent true competition with the tech conglomerates, as they're allowed to effectively claim exclusive domain over all user-generated content.

There's no reason I shouldn't be able to go to NewGoog or NewFace and multiplex in the available data streams hosted by the web nodes at google.com and facebook.com, except that this violates the CFAA and the Copyright Act, and Google and Facebook can and will sue you to make you stop. This is the primary constraint that has led to the recentralization of the web.

What do you expect when you make it a crime to send any type of undesired communication to a server? The CFAA doesn't just prevent harmful or disruptive access, but all unauthorized access. In practice, this is almost always used to stymie small innovators who are putting the data from a data source like Facebook to better use.

This is fundamentally anti-competitive, and again, it's no wonder that the web is coalescing into the hands of a few central controllers. It has never been more apparent that the user is the product being sold and peddled.

We need to reorient our perspective of the internet with users, not services, as the central entity, and give them full control over the data that they generate. Then, the user will be free again, without the need for complex P2P solutions.

I don't know, I think IPFS has at least a good few use cases. For example, it's great for posting censorship-resistant content, and I wrote something to do just that: http://ipfessay.stavros.io/

There are also things like OpenBazaar and a whole host of other applications running on IPFS that are quite useful. Sure, it may not be mainstream, but nothing starts out being mainstream.

I have always wondered about IPFS and its relationship with DNS.

What's stopping authoritarian entity from poisoning/redirecting ipfs.io to static page?

Nothing, but that would hopefully primarily encourage people to set up IPFS clients themselves instead of relying on the public bridge.

(Which is IMHO one of the weaknesses of IPFS, that they haven't made that more prominent/easier, through browser plugins or a dedicated IPFS-browser. Compare to e.g. the publicity boost Dat got from Beaker Browser)

This is a very nice Chrome extension:


It'll redirect all IPFS URLs to your local daemon.

Ohh, interesting, that seems to have most of the things I was looking for. Not sure why I missed it when I went looking for one recently. Thanks!

No problem, I had missed it too but someone here pointed me to it. I wish we had one for Firefox as well!

What stops that one from running in Firefox? I haven't dug into its code, but nothing in its description or screenshots looks like the FF web extension implementation shouldn't support it. I mean, it's just a little chrome, a content script doing link rewrites, and an occasional HTTP request to fetch status info, yeah?

Nothing stops it, I guess it's just that nobody has bothered to make one yet. It's works exactly as you describe, though, pretty simple.

https://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/23/install-google-chrome-exte... might be worth a look. Haven't tried it, but the claim is that it mechanically transforms Chrome extension metadata and containers into Firefox's formats, and supports automatic signing via AMO for permanent installation. Assuming that, the rest should Just Work modulo possibly still incomplete WebEx API support in Firefox. If you try it, I wouldn't mind hearing how you get on.

Holy hell, it just worked! That's amazing, thank you for that. I bet it helps that the extension is just redirecting and collecting stats, but everything seems to work fine!

That's great to hear! Most welcome, and glad to know there's a plausible option - with the rapid deprecation of the old API, this might save a lot of time. (I can't rely on replacing all my old extensions with shell oneliners, after all...)

Nothing, but what does it matter? There are loads of public gateways. I run one at https://www.eternum.io. Also, running your own node is trivial.

It's pretty trivial to run an IPFS gateway as a Tor hidden service. Also IPFS branches into Tor OnionCat's IPv6 /64. And nodes that link resources between clearnet and OnionCat /64. Or any other overlay network.

IPNS is a layer on top of IPFS that allows mutability.

And, to complete the thought, the behavior of those corporate centralizers has rendered it politically acceptable for the government to do so.

Censoring speech has been politically acceptable for every single Western government, besides the US^, since at least WWII.

It has not yet brought about the collapse of civilization, or a descent into despotism.

^ It has also taken place in the US, but to a different extent.

>It has not yet brought about the collapse of civilization, or a descent into despotism.

That's quite a short time scale.

>"The "Wild Web" was reigned in long ago by commercial interests."

Perhaps, but the "reigning in" referenced in the title is now being done by commercial interests at the request of governments in exchange for staying in those government's good graces.

what a concept, the diversity fitness of the web to various forms of assault. Good thinking.

This is par for the course for the NYT, the noble corporations are painted as heroes keeping us safe from the dirty wildlings who are about to topple the wall any day now.

They do the same thing with many (large) companies, the State Department, all military/intelligence branches, etc. It's how you get access, and they seem more willing to play ball and churn out these puff pieces over doing real journalism than anyone. The Times is the most prominent example of this pattern, but it's becoming more and pervasive.

Washington Post all the way. I still read it, but NYT often disappoints me when I already know something about the subject. New Yorker is good, but not science sections. The NYT Cassini coverage was good.

edit: I mistakenly put Wash Times. Yehowa.

Yeah I still think the NYT has the best science coverage out there, but business and tech has become such a joke over the past 20 years it's not even worth checking.

I wonder if scientists reading NYT articles that cover their own fields think the same.

Actually governments walling the internet in, results in lots of smaller local alternatives due to protectionism.

Which might- if freedom is allowed to fluctuate- may result in competition. Look at chinas weechat

Not just censorship, manipulation.

I don't trust any government to censor, but we know the russians engaged in shady tactics already.

Facebook is most likely a net negative in this world. I don't know if it's always been true, but I think it is now. I personally didn't realize how strong my feelings were until one of their recruiters contacted me. I'm far from a 'values' driven employee, but this was by far the easiest refusal of my career.

In the Guardian article[0], recently posted on HN[1], Franklin Foer argues:

> By the time Zuckerberg began extolling the virtues of hacking, he had stripped the name of most of its original meaning and distilled it into a managerial philosophy that contains barely a hint of rebelliousness.

I rather disagree. Indeed, I believe that Facebook has taken hacking to an extreme level. As the article argues, they're against free will. Not only are they're compromising users' privacy, they're arguing against privacy as a legitimate option. Because there's arguably no integrity in it:

> “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” Zuckerberg has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

That's an extremely authoritarian, "we have the Truth, you are Wrong, and we will Prevail", attitude. And it totally ignores power imbalances, where having different images in different contexts is the only possibility for any freedom.

Compartmentalization with multiple personas is essential for survival in a pervasively authoritarian world.[2]

0) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/19/facebooks...

1) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15284020

2) https://www.ivpn.net/privacy-guides/online-privacy-through-o...

Listen to "Life During Wartime" while thinking on this :)


I agree it is a net negative, but it kind of needs to be clarified because if Facebook didn't exist, it would be someone else. Maybe MySpace would have evolved to fill the niche, or maybe another company, or maybe even an open solution.

I tend to think that it would be quite possible for a company to fill the Facebook niche in a much more positive way, while still making a profit. But they certainly won't be able to do it as long as Facebook is there.

Was there really such a NEED for fb to exist that it was inevitable?!

Back in the early days of the web, I always wanted an easy way to have a personal "presence" online, to stay in touch with friends and have a sort of virtual "contact list". Friendster (in its original incantation) was probably the best realization of that. I'd say that sort of thing was more or less needed & inevitable, at least at the time. Facebook originally started as a "better" version Friendster (and its successor, MySpace).

Today, Facebook is nothing like those systems of the past. It's now a horribly gamified, ad-saturated UX anti-pattern nightmare. I'm pretty sure that was also more or less inevitable, but for different reasons.

How do things like blogs and rss feeds not fill this gap? Is it simply ease of setup/use?

>How do things like blogs and rss feeds not fill this gap?

Things like a standard WordPress/Geocities blog or RSS feed do not have an address book or shared group calendar.

Also, think about the "record locator" for a WordPress site or RSS: it's a _url_. In contrast, the "record locator" for Facebook friends is a [person's real name] or [phone number] or [email address].

It should be obvious that the ramifications of those differences are profound.

E.g. a new user signs up for Facebook, then uploads her contact listing, and then instantly sees suggested contacts including family members, coworkers, old high school & college buddies.

Yes, the sign up steps for Facebook is easier than WordPress but beyond that, the social dynamics of discovering other accounts and sharing are more optimized for the typical ~2 billion users.

Most users apparently aren’t tech-savvy enough to use an RSS reader that requires manually adding feeds. It has been noted how the demise of Google Reader played a major role in the demise of blogs overall, since so many of those following blogs could only use that one single portal.

Today, plenty of blogs still offer RSS feeds, but without Google Reader around to easily allow people to subscribe to them, they just aren’t being used as much. Also, because nowadays blog owners feel such pressure to monetize, RSS feeds tend to be hidden and discouraged because they could allow users to read content without viewing advertisements. I know one cranky and avaricious blog owner who will automatically ban you from his site if you point out that the site has an RSS feed.

Not all users are tech savvy. Some people just want one site to be their go-to when connecting with other users.

I think so; not because it is so great but because it's more 'cheap tv' for people. Just stare at videos and how great your 'friends' are doing. Hype yourself up and feel your did something today as you wrote something or posted something and got more than your own like. My contacts are 90% people I know well and see regularly (a lot of them smart people) and yet my timeline feels fake and plastic; it is just easy watching and chewinggum for the eyes. All the cool pages and feeds catered to their audience, making headlines more sensational but providing nothing in terms of article behind it; who wants to actually read that stuff right? You can tell your mates that the apocalypse is coming this Saturday and noone will ask you what/why anyway and the headlines told you so.

It is some crazy ultimate circle jerk and echo chamber, made for incredibly easy consumption (the latter getting worse). For countries where deep thought about some subjects is forbidden, I guess it is worse.

I stopped using Facebook; only use messenger and occasionally upvote someone's birthday. But yes I believe it was and is inevitable because we are human and it is in us to consume mostly.

> only use messenger and occasionally upvote someone's birthday

If someone means little enough to you that this is how you wish them a happy birthday, maybe you shouldn't bother at all. If they mean something to you, pick up a phone and call them.

All you're accomplishing, is helping Facebook encourage that person to continue using it by giving them that little dopamine hit from your "upvote".

If people looked at Facebook "birthday wishes" for what they are, they'd be seen as a negative.

"This person put in as much effort wishing me happy birthday as random people on reddit do upvoting cat memes"

You have a good point and it was more to say I don't really use it anymore, so maybe bad example but;

> If they mean something to you, pick up a phone and call them

that is nonsense imho; calling is also nothing (I also don't see the difference between calling and chatting) (ah, I mean so much to you, you couldn't be bothered to get off your couch). If they mean something you meet them; people important to me I fly out to go to their birthdays, weddings, divorces and funerals.

But yes you have do have a good point in general which I agree with.

> > If they mean something to you, pick up a phone and call them

> that is nonsense imho; calling is also nothing (I also don't see the difference between calling and chatting) (ah, I mean so much to you, you couldn't be bothered to get off your couch). If they mean something you meet them; people important to me I fly out to go to their birthdays, weddings, divorces and funerals.

I agree with you, and probably chose the wrong example/wording to get my point across. My point was just that you'd put more effort in for people you care about.

Removing my birthday from facebook a few years back was a very enlightening experience. I went from ~100 people wishing me a happy birthday to probably 5.

Need is a strong term. But it doesn't have to be needed, it only has to be desired. And yes I think a way to make communication between acquaintances more efficient is desired.

People want to keep in touch with other people? Yeah, I think so.

TIL Facebook is the first human invention that lets you keep in touch with others.

Yup, for that reasons you still write letter with pen and paper, and print out photos when you want to show them to someone who doesn't live in the same city as you do.

There's clearly no value in sharing digital photographs, videos and links with other people with ability to get feedback from them.

By extension, there's no need for HN, right?

Please refrain from such blatant mischaracterizations, they really don't help the discussion.

True thing. A friend of friend was banned from facebook for 7 days just because he posted anti government thing. This happened in India!

You want to talk easy refusals? I just had a recruiter come to me with a position at Monsanto.

I had one come to me with a position at Elsevier.

Instant no from me.

>The diplomatic game that unfolded in Vietnam has become increasingly common for Facebook.

Yes, At least this should ring a bell to all those who still think they can write anything on FB about a Government and get away with it. Facebook while being pushed and portrayed as your personal diary is actually your digital repository only accessible for the most elite like Government.

While an average FB user can easily shame anyone around him (like how frustrated boy friends shame their ex girl friends), fellow average FBians can't do much. This reiterates the capitalist world that we live in where Democracy is just a myth.

> At least this should ring a bell to all those who still think they can write anything on FB about a Government and get away with it.

They should be able to. Free speech is a human right. FB should not be helping governments violate human rights.

> This reiterates the capitalist world that we live in where Democracy is just a myth.

Those are two different things.

> Free speech is a human right. FB should not be helping governments violate human rights.

I think it is usually framed in as a human right against government intervention. That is the government can't shut you up if you want to criticize it. However FB is not the government. FB can stop and censor people because it is a private entity. Nobody has a right to use FB's resources (server time, bandwidth) for free to say whatever they want. They can be kicked out without any legal repercussion.

Now wonder what happens if the government gives incentives FB to act on its behalf. Maybe a carrot and stick approach, it can tax it higher, raid its offices or pay it off with contracts in response to FB silencing or blocking certain users. This is where it gets interesting.

What about if a 3rd party wants to silence some opinions and it has nothing to do with the government. Does free speech still apply. Let's say multi-billionaire wants to shape public opinion so it pays billions of dollars to FB or Google to silence and suppress competing opinions. No government in sight here. But it does feel like free speech is being violated. Or is it? Kinda interesting to think about.

And this is not just hypothetical after the election Facebook, Google and Twitter all jumped on the "we will work hard to fight Fake News" bandwagon. It was a nice impulse on the surface, but I think what they really meant was that they are offering those who have money to spend the ability to manipulate and control opinions and discussions since they are essentially monopolies of online social interaction and news dissemination.

While you raise some interesting discussion points about 3rd parties that's not what I was referring to. FB can have whatever internal content guidelines they want, independent of governments. What I'm talking about is creating tools that allow oppressive governments to violate human rights.

This is exactly what is happening. The guardian article talked about an arrest made for a anti govt post. FB is being used for these purposes.

Facebook, for better or worse, seems to adapt to local laws. I haven’t heard anything about FB removing anti-government posts in countries that have strong speech protections for non-internet speech.

>At a White House dinner in 2015, Mr. Zuckerberg had even asked the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, whether Mr. Xi might offer a Chinese name for his soon-to-be-born first child — usually a privilege reserved for older relatives, or sometimes a fortune teller. Mr. Xi declined, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Laughed out loud at this. I can understand wanting access to the market but this is just embarrassingly desperate.

The secret to a good kowtow is a very slight audible confirmation that your head has touched the floor. The person performing the kowtow needs to adjust the force they use depending on both the flooring material and the hearing ability of the audience (who are often elderly).

By that reckoning there should be a good sized dent in Zuckerberg's forehead (and the floor).

It shows what kind of person Zuckerberg is.

"Please sir, let Facebook enter China. Here, I'll even offer you my first born!"

If he's willing to do this with his kid, what is he willing to do with our data? Sorry, I meant Facebook's data, according to their ToS.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb fucks.


The thing about that is that people, including Zuckerberg, will say "hey he was just a kid when he wrote that". But, he was old enough to know better, and it's a real tell on his character. A lot of who you are, including your moral foundation, is well formed by that age.

And, if anything, his actions since have only underscored that fact.

Interesting to point out the age of reason culpability here.

Wow. That is gross.

Ya. Zuck is not a good person.

Personal attacks (which this is) are not allowed here, regardless of who the person is or how unlikeable you find them.

Please stick to substance and comment civilly or not at all.


I dunno, I would think it's an honour to have the president of China give your child a Chinese name. But I'm not Chinese, and neither is Zuckerberg.

I think his wife is, though. Which makes it slightly less odd to give the child a Chinese name, but really not less so to ask a total stranger to decide it.

This story somehow makes me really warm in my stomach. Zuckerberg facing a more experienced player.

This comes off to me as an insult directed at the Chinese president.

It is with the greatest obviousness that strategic important sectors — such as defence — can't trade with foreign countries without specific permission from the government. The tech sector is an sector of strategic importance and it can't both serve the Chinese communist party and the US democracy. The Chinese understands this.

There is now a history of American tech companies operating in China. The lesson is pretty clear: play politics if you want, but know that if you do (i.e. Google), you are going to lose access to the market. Thus, it comes down to a business decision and it becomes increasingly hard to argue on principles if things look so binary.

If we're going with the wild-west analogy, what's happening now is the transition from a Territory to a State. It was wild and ungoverned, then corporations moved in and created some order, and now governments see order and are moving in to take over management.

It is a terrible analogy all around.

What is happening is that Facebook is shifting from being AOL 2.0 to being a government contractor. They'll eventually be more entrenched and integrated (in the US) with the IRS, police, intelligence, etc.

The first step is to get them over a barrel, with public opinion against them. The rest is easy, and FB will embrace it.

lol the AOL 2.0 analogy. I will never forgive my parents for signing us up for AOL Broadband. What is AOL Broadband you wonder? Well you sign in to AOL just like you did with dial-up, the experience is almost the same so old people didn’t freak out, and then it drops you into AOL’s shitty shitty browser. Oh and it even blocked our other browser from ever working due to how the tunnels were configured (Internet Explorer), and you couldn’t use a wireless router with AOL Broadband in Texas until 2006 (ruining Xbox Live which was on the 2nd floor).

What a difference 20 years makes...


I actually don't mind a little censorship of illegal-ish stuff (or at least warning, that hey, this person is trying to metaphorically sell you something illegal !), but what really bugs me is the subtle (and not so subtle), targeted manipulation I sometimes feel I experience, where there might be like many different usernames all targeting you but somehow all controlled by the same person / interest, and you just think it's normal conversation... (Apparently Reddit is mostly bots?) I think we saw some (heck, a lot of this) in the 2016 election, and personally I try to keep myself to a human-usable number of usernames (I think I have like 5 to hackernews as I forget passwords, but tend to use at most one, or two obviously linked ones for an extended period of time, and then switch if I say something too stupid and want to get a clean start) I don't think something like necessitating a real id is a good idea, since then everything you say is tied to you forever (hail satan), but I'm sure some kind of manipulation detection would be possible... would be an interesting project to work on actually.

I think its perfectly fair to scrutinize and regulate a company that has such an immensely pervasive presence in the every day life of so many citizens. Yes, that applies to google to. Why should I trust them to be responsible?

Facebook and "new world" just sounds scary.

I really do not want facebook's new world.

The Great Myth of cyberspace was that individuals in it or the servers that ran the software were not subject to the laws of the nations they existed within.

The cold reality is that this is not true. And, thus, in time, to exist within a repressive regime requires importing the repression within the software. This is the bargain Facebook wants to make.

I think its more of the opposite. Technology creates spheres of influence in the countries that they operate. Traditional governments attempt to reign it in (this is usually effective if they are a company with ad revenue or they want to follow local laws. But when you cut down one sphere another grows to replace it.

the web is still as wild as you want, if you hate facebook then write a better facebook. That use to be how it worked, not sure what changed. Maybe people just aren't as creative as they use to be.

When i was single and had free time public IPs were golden because then you could run a webserver and DNS and once you've registered a domain name you could get whatever you wanted out on the web.

I can get a public IP, server, and DNS for basically free now with a few clicks. If something sucks and you think it could be better than go do it and let the world be the judge. The web is more accesible now than ever.

Seems more like FB is reeling in official policy but ok...


Please don't take us on generic tangents. You can tell if it's generic if you'd post it on any thread with a certain word in the headline, like "Facebook".


Fair enough but it seems particularly applicable here where trusting FB's "what's on your mind box" = jail time.

Please people, try to avoid facebook and they agenda much as possible.

> Facebook is racing to gain the advantage in Africa over rivals like Google and Chinese players including Tencent, in a 21st century version of the “Scramble for Africa.”

That is a really scary thing to have read. Perhaps the New York Times is out of line in using it, but if that metaphor is even 10% accurate that would be very bad.

To give some background, the “Scramble for Africa” is the only time I’ve ever read the words, where the writer had a serious argument, “was worse than the holocaust”. This was in reference to the mass deaths in the Congo under King Leopold of Belgium, as documented in the book “King Leopold’s Ghost”.

I know a ton of people have died in history and there have been so many wars, but the Scramble for Africa was really really really bad.

Yeah so I guess in conclusion, NY Times shouldn’t have used that phrase, Facebook sucks, and if they (Facebook) mess up almost everywhere please please just not let them mess up the African continent.

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