This is the oddest thing to me. I would imagine that people who post rarely should be given preferential treatment and have their post included more often than if the feed was just a chronological timeline.
Nowadays, a professional engineer (a phrase with a precise legal meaning) can be held criminally and civilly liable for negligence even when they are "just following irders." Unfortunately, we're at the very early wild wild west stages of the industry, before some big exposé or calamity completely shakes up the industry (i.e. Sinclair's The Jungle did for food, Carson's Silent Spring for pesticide use, or the 1906 SF earthquake for building codes).
I think of these algorithms as being algorithms created and vetted out by algorithms, therefore, its negligent to not understand what they are doing. Since its difficult to know what they are doing, then the risk to use them in this way should be viewed as too great
The only way to ensure nobody is killed is to add "0 people killed" to the target function of the black box.
peopleKilled() < ε
It would make a good novel, but it would be too confusing and depressing, like the Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman, but more frustrating and confusing.
Facebook is trying to get people to be miserable because then they are using facebook more, and its engineered in such a way that it makes us addicted to facebook and want to use it more anyway.
Is this enough reason for our society to revolt against facebook? How do we actually make it go away when everyone is addicted to it. Does anyone have any practical tactical strategies to get rid of it?
It's a bit like a parasite - it needs to control and extract usefulness from the host but not let the host die quickly because well it won't get the resources anymore and it would die with it.
> Does facebook have enough power that it can chose to kill off certain people? A
I never signed up for Facebook to start with, but I got a glimpse of this power with Netflix. The movie recommendations were so good that I end up liking them if took its advice. Where normally I wouldn't have watched them based on rating, synopsis, or title. I had realized some algorithm at Netflix seems to know me better than I knew myself. Then thought what if it suddenly decided to use that against me, because it somehow would be more profitable for it.
It's like time spent watching TV. I enjoy it; sometimes it provides value; it's tendency is to take over and create an unhealthy life for me.
Anyways even if this friend posts about visiting on facebook, this is not guaranteed you will be shown this post, as demonstrated by the actual HN submission you're commenting about.
And yes, there was no facebook 15 years ago. That is great, 15 years ago everyone new to SMS or email you. Now, everyone expects you to be on facebook. See the difference?
I'm lucky in the sense that I made a FB account, tried it out for two weeks, realized it wasn't for me and then cancelled so I never got hooked. But I can see that once you are in it takes a bit more effort to get out. But being 'on Facebook' should not be a prerequisite for normal social interaction.
Why not? Collectively it's proven to be the easiest way for groups of loosely and moderately connected people to communicate and coordinate socially, so it's what virtually everyone I know uses. We all use Facebook for events and for Facebook Messenger. The set of friends who live within train/car distance who I communicate with via something other than Facebook Messenger numbers around...four? Out of dozens? And it's not because We Don't Use Facebook, it's because we share a Slack and had an IRC channel before that.
By not using it, somebody my age and in my neck of the woods relies on making people who they ostensibly call friends treat them as a special case just to organize beers on a Friday. And it does make that person a special case: why would people use group-SMS anymore when Facebook chats are right there and you don't need to track down phone numbers to include everyone (and deal with sharded SMS threads if people are added, etc.)? The expectation that people special-case your edge-case life decisions has to be balanced against not being a pain in the ass for people you claim are your friends.
So, yes, in many quarters Facebook is a prerequisite for normal social interaction (unless you're That Guy, and it's good life advice to never be That Guy). And, TBH? It works fine. It's nothing special. It works fine. I very rarely see a news feed (I use Social Fixer) so I have no real opinion on the way it does likes/shares/etc.; I did tag some people as "close friends" so when they post it does reliably surface, but I don't remember the last time I even scrolled down the news feed and its existence has no impact on the other features of the platform.
It is just not that big a deal. It's certainly not worth the airs put on--not from you, but the I-don't-even-own-a-TV levels of smarm from people who don't use Facebook makes my eyes roll out of my head and bounce down the stairs--by people who don't use it.
>Why not? Collectively it's proven to be the easiest way for groups of loosely and moderately connected people to communicate and coordinate socially
I'd be happy to have a source for this outlandish claim.
As to answer your question, there are many many reason not to let a private transnational company take control of your social interactions.
Easy one: what happens to your social interactions when facebook disappears as every other so called social network before it did (remember friendsted, myspace, etc.)
Another easy one: what happens when your account gets locked and you get banned from facebook ?
Harder ones are not so obvious for people who do not stay informed such as the deep impact on shaping people opinions and thoughts, the disappearance of empathy, intelligence dropping, destruction of internet, support of foreign dictatorship, massive tax fraud and tax evasion, emotional manipulation, organized abuse, sextorsion, and a lot more.
My entire friend group and extended friend group in the Boston area. Somewhere between ten and twenty thousand people within two hops of me and in the local area, geometric expansion's weird like that. If I want to talk to any of them, we will end up using Facebook. If a friend intros two people face-to-face and they want to talk later, we use Facebook. If I meet a girl at a bar, or if I meet somebody who might be cool to work with on a project, and we want to hang out later, we use Facebook. Suggesting SMS is usually tolerated but makes you a little weird and makes you harder to get ahold of and you're likely to be ignored and left out later; suggesting email (outside of an explicitly business context) makes you a dinosaur and makes it very likely that you are ignored.
I cannot remember one time in the last five years that somebody suggested SMS as a contact method to me. I have phone numbers for folks I knew before Facebook was a thing, sure. And phone numbers are a good-enough "front door" for stuff like online dates. But actual interaction? Overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly via Facebook Messenger.
Nobody's saying you have to use it. But, in my experience, making it harder for people to contact you means people don't. The fumfuh about "well my real friends" ignores that there are both social and transactional benefits to not being sand in the gears, not being a pain in the ass, for people who are not your real friends. Being sorta friends is still both fun and useful.
> As to answer your question, there are many many reason not to let a private transnational company take control of your social interactions.
The assertion I am making alongside that rhetorical statement--which, TBH, I'm not quite sure why you thought was not rhetorical enough to need a soapbox stand--which is missed in the less friended corners of HN, is that all of this matters a lot less than keeping in touch with people.
Datamining--whatever. Oh, no, Facebook knows I go out for a drink on Fridays. Oh, no, the like button on pages (which don't actually phone home, because I have a hosts-based ad-blocker on my phone and my browser) shows that I read the Times. The tradeoff of that whatevermining versus not having a functioning social life in the year 2017 is immense and the types who don't-own-a-TV about Facebook display a distinct lack of understanding that maybe that trade-off is okay for some people and that it does not necessarily come from ignorance but is weighed and calculated--because having a social life is really nice and not having a social life really sucks.
Facebook is often annoying and is kind of shitty, sure. It is also the only game in town. In plenty of social circles, you play or you don't participate. The lack of understanding and empathy out of the "oh, just don't use it" camp is not shocking--tech people choosing not to understand things they might not agree with and choosing not to employ human empathy is not and never will be shocking--but it remains profoundly annoying.
It is really, really good at that stuff, and you can--you really can!--pick and choose what you want to use and what you care about.
It's akin to "I've used this email address for years and decided to stop checking it and use another one but did not tell anyone about it. Now I'm missing messages people send me to my old address I do not check anymore".
 A decent review with code, a Noble laureate, and a top notch Computational Economist: https://lectures.quantecon.org/jl/rational_expectations.html
I have no interest at all in a solution that can’t be explained. That’s not a solution, that’s a remedy.
I don’t have a lot of time for humans that know things but can’t articulate them. Why would I make time for a computer that does the same? It doesn’t even earn the courtesy of give a human.
I was drawn into this field by the idea of understanding things and solving problems with them. If AI can’t “show it’s work” homework style, then it might find me a shorter route to the mall but it hasn’t solved anything.
Not all things that humans learn are easily articulated or explained, not because those humans aren't articulate, but because they learned actions that are more easily intuited.
Also, on this topic, explainability of machine learning models is a hot field: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP7-JtFMLo4 https://arxiv.org/abs/1602.04938 https://github.com/marcotcr/lime
I agree, but far from being an unique or surprising property of Facebook and the way it (as a company) works, I'd say it's almost in the nature of any system built by a large enough group of people that "nobody there really understands how it works".
Physical products have reasonably comprehensible user experiences. That's even true for much software. Microsoft Word is a beast, but the user experience is tethered by the external reality of what people do with it. Memo writers and novel writers and PhD dissertation writers all have different needs, but it's reasonably clear what their goals are and what successful outcomes look like. There are approximately equivalent tools that can be swapped in.
Facebook, on the other hand, is creating an ongoing experience. My needs are jumbled together with that of my friends, their friends, strangers, news organizations, advertisers, companies, non-profits, celebrities, would-be celebrities, and Facebook itself. And each experience is deeply individualized, adding yet more complexity.
It still probably had some intellectual coherence at a much smaller size. But they have so many people working, and so many of them beavering away at optimizing semi-conflicting metrics based on so much data that I don't believe it makes sense to anybody there. Much less sense than Word makes to its creators, for sure.
Sure, there are ways to ask some ML systems why they made a decision after the fact, and they can elaborate which variables had the most effect. But before the algorithm gets the training data, you don't know what it will decide - nobody does!
It picks actions that maximise a value it was told to maximise. It does this based on "well, when I encountered a situation like this other times, I did these 5 things, and this one thing maximised that value I'm told to maximise in most of those cases, so I'll do that.
At the beginning it will try random things. After several iterations, it will find things that "stick" i.e. maximise the value. There are sophisticated techniques to get unstuck from local maximums and minimums, too, in order to find even bigger maximums.
When you have enough data, enough users, enough actions in a system, you can very quickly try a lot of things and learn a lot of stuff. But what those stuff would be, no human can predict.
The main problem is that its unethical to train a machine learning system with a value function that doesn't take into account basic ethical behaviour. There are 3 challenges here
The first challenge is technical, and its the easiest one - how to come up with a value function that encodes additional measures of human ethics. Its easy as in, you take a bunch of ethicists, give them various situations and ask them to rate actions as ethical/unethical. Then once you have that, you try to put it into the value function, so that the system can learn some decency. All done. (If only it were that easy!)
The second challenge is a business one, which is, how far are you willing to reduce your value maximisation to be ethical, and what to do if your competitor doesn't do that. One way to solve that is to have regulations for ethical behaviour of machine learning systems. The system could be held responsible for unethical actions. If such actions are reported by people, investigated by experts and found true in court, the company is held liable. Public pressure and exposure seems to help too. Perhaps we could make machine learning systems that detect unethical behaviour and call it the ML police. Citizens could agree to install the ML police add-on to help monitor and aggregate behaviour of online ML systems. (If these suggestions look silly, its because they are)
The third challenge is philosophical. Until now, philosophers were content with "there is no right answer, but there have been many thoughts on what exactly is ethical". They better get their act together, because we'll need them to come up with a definite, quantifiable answer real soon. On the more optimistic side, lets hope that any generally agreed upon ethical system is better than no system at all.
i propose that all legal actions are ethical, and all illegal actions unethical. There shouldn't be actions that are considered unethical, but legal (and, for completeness's sake, no ethical action is illegal either).
Then, society will need to continue to codify their ethical framework as law.
Laws are based on ethics, but not everything that is unethical is also unlawful.
It's usually legal to lie, break promises, exaggerate, and other things that I would consider unethical. I also submit that the should remain legal and unethical. Lying to my parents about some detail of my personal life I don't wish to share is unethical, but shouldn't be illegal.
Maybe it's feedback loops: people that post infrequently tend to have learned to do so because they made genuinely less interesting posts and got fewer engagements and ipso facto less psychological reward from posting to Facebook. So, they post less frequently. The algorithm notices that posting infrequently is a sign that your posts are less interesting ends up amplifying the effect, driving even fewer engagements to these people, and so on. It doesn't self-correct because the posts are genuinely less interesting, but the would-be posters are penalized disproportionately more than how relatively less interesting their posts are.
Probably, but with primary goals of ad clicks, prolonged FB time on site, etc.
Worth noting that the old, unoptimized system would have worked fine for this case.
Facebook's goals just don't align with visitor goals.
Or rather, Facebook's goals are (or should be) to balance optimally between visitors' goals, and advertisers' goals such that profit is sustainable. They need people to stay on and return to the site in order to bring in advertisers. They also need advertisers' ads to get clicked to remain attractive and profitable.
Might change as their current demographic ages and dies off. Teens and college kids don't seem to care much about FB.
> Facebook's goals just don't align with visitor goals.
Britt added a new photo.
You have a new friend suggestion: Gloria.
Tiffany updated her status.
Jeff updated his status.
June updated his status.
Lily updated her status.
These are people that I assume the algorithm thought would "suck me back in". It was really fascinating to see how the algo was stuffing my notifications to fuel that dopamine release.
Maybe my Facebook posts drive people to close their Facebook window or otherwise engage with ads less, so Facebook is encouraging me to stay away.
I know that as a sporadic user myself, I get mobile notifications telling me things like it's been "6 weeks since you've last posted", or that it's about time I change my profile pic.
With that being said, the FB algorithm beast is far too complex to figure out by guessing, so experiences like the one being outlined in this twitter post are probably all too common.
Finally there's the bugs in facebook that randomly causes my feed to refresh. And on these refreshes, I'm shown an entirely new/different feed. Maybe Facebook thought they showed me a post, but the bug and auto page refreshes caused me to miss that certain post.
It was the straw that uninstalled the camel’s app for me too, the app would refresh itself whenever you switch to something else and come back
I’m almost positive Facebook thinks I’ve successfully seen the post because it completely vanishes from then on and I have to visit the person/page’s profile to see it again
The only reason I dealt with Facebooks nonsense is because it was a useful tool, but now it is no longer a useful tool.
That said I'd rather have a strictly chronological feed of everything/everyone.
Now that it is gone, the value of Facebook to me is near zero. Even if I saw MOST RECENT, posts are missing. When I come back it's switched back to TOP STORIES.
I have no idea why companies decide to make users work hard for what they want.
The best thing I did recently was turn on 2-factor auth for Facebook. Now, because it's mildly annoying to log in, I haven't logged in in weeks. I still can, but I don't.
Facebook changed from an extremely high engagement niche product to a nearly free-of-utility product with the goal of capturing the entire planet as users.
> “We’re always listening to our community and working to make Facebook a personally relevant and real-time experience,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We’ve heard from people that News Feed is the best place to stay up to date with the people and Pages they follow, so we are removing Ticker.”
Reports of the ticker disappearing can be found over the past years. Presumably they've been doing A/B testing to figure out how many people actually use it, compared to the potential of using that space for something else.
For those (like me) who forgot what the ticker looked like on the web: https://techcrunch.com/2011/09/20/facebook-news-feed-gets-sm...
How is it good for advertising that I dont use their product much anymore?
This is the one thing that made me so angry, especially during the election. I thought they were posting things onto their feed that was overly political, but then I realized all they were doing was liking things. It's not their fault.
Facebook needs to get rid of the Likes from my friends from my stream. It's the worst part of the feed and the least useful.
*obviously FB would never allow that, but you can stop (or severely slow down) the firehose of information you are sending them by doing this.
I have had a lot of online friends, though not through Facebook, which I mostly don't use. But I can agree with this logic. I would also be horrified to learn that an internet friend had died or had been hospitalized without me getting the memo, even though they posted about it.
I think this is a reasonable assertion, regardless of what people here think about whether or not this was a "real" friendship.
A friend recently took his life, and his FB account was deleted so I can't verify anything, but I can't help but wonder. Was there anything he had posted that I didn't see, that could have told someone (me) how he felt? It was loneliness apparently, and took all by surprise - how much did Facebook play a role in that? I'd do anything to have been there for him - I'd be devastated if an algorithm had prioritized my alt-right classmate's latest infowars share over a quiet plea for help because it generated more engagement.
I am sometimes suicidal. I have extremely good support. My adult sons don't leave me alone when I am suicidal, because most suicides occur while alone, so simply having company is a deterrent.
But they also don't bother to try to reason with me because I am not rational at such times. There is no convincing me that my warped perception of my life is completely unrealistic. Rebutting my crazy statements with facts to the contrary makes zero difference.
I'm sorry for your loss. And I agree that this is something social media has an obligation to do better on.
The Facebook feed has become an awful way for communicating with friends.
Organically, it reached 149 people (smaller posts reach 3-5x as much on average). It reached 1,471 by a paid promotion. Number of people who liked, commented, or even clicked to see all four paragraphs is 45.
My point is: you're a minority. And people who post like that get punished greatly by their algorithm. My ad was even postponed for like 30 minutes because images contained "too much text for an ad" until I clicked on "manual review" because I saw in their help pages that they let book covers slide.
I have no issue with preview images and preview text even for ads. Although I wish Facebook accurately labeled them as ads
The reality is that Facebook doesn't assume your Friends are your friends. It assumes you want to keep interacting with the same people you most recently interacted with. It also assumes you want to see things you're likely to Like or comment on. On the whole, this probably leads to them more reliably providing that dopamine hit when users check in, at the cost of being useful for actually staying in touch.
“Great hotel rates near the hospital! Act now!”
I know a lot of people that work at Facebook and they're all highly intelligent. It's a great place to work at but incidents like this makes me question if their talent is all being put to good use.
The algorithm has definitely a lot more "machine" learning to do to prevent these incidents from happening again. Close friend, related to death and health, gofundme campaign all scream that the statuses should've been shown. (if FB can be so good at showing relevant ads, why can it show relevant feed)
That said, I have experienced FB hiding something bad in someone's life for an extended period -- a relative I'm not directly linked to passing, cancer diagnosis, someone's dog getting very sick and having to be euthanized, etc. Again, I found out, but not fast enough, even with friends that were in the second ring out from my very closest friends.
Why are the ads so terribly targeted? They are an ad company with immense data collection and at the end of the day the ads are equivalent to a niche cable network
Let me be a bit more specific. You remember the weirdness of seeing ads for mesothelioma lawsuits on network TV? It seems way too specific to be worthwhile to advertise to general audiences. But that's missing how profitable each lead is - if a lead is worth a hundred times as much for mesothelioma as buying a Star Wars toy, you only need a hundredth of the audience interest in order for the ad slot to be price competitive.
Essentially, you're seeing the most valuable advertisement in the eyes of the advertiser, given the tracking and metrics that Facebook exposes to advertisers. It gets some weird effects, like getting tracked visiting the website of the coding bootcamp you graduated from, putting you in an "interested in coding bootcamps" category that Facebook sells to advertisers, getting you the least relevant ads possible.
And all that real world demographic data that gets bought and sold and tied to these online identities, it's not very accurate.
That's my guess anyway. And I work in (and/or closely with) marketing.
Come to think of it, I want to elaborate on that.
Think about search engine optimisation. It's in a similar vein. "A guy walks into a bar, bars, pub, tavern, pulic house, irish pub, drinks, beer, acolhol, bar stool" etc.
My point is; people that are trying to sell 1 thing, might focus on reaching AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE, over focussing on getting the right (but smaller) audience.
Don't blame the tool. Blame the person wielding it.
Facebook often has local events, and small businesses advertising to me. That is more like the advertising that I want and I have actually clicked through and purchased from them.
> Now, I'm a meticulous FB feed peruser. I always set it to Most Recent and browse until I see the stuff I saw last time. I keep up.
Despite her claim here, it's possible that she missed her friend's post because her surveillance of her own feed is likely to be imperfect, especially if she has a non-trivial number of friends.
edit: I bring this up because, ostensibly, the whole point of FB's (or any social network's) "most important" algorithm is to mitigate the problem of how "most recent" can be too overwhelming to consume if you have a non-trivial number of friends. If OP has a lot of friends, such that there are a few dozen new items per day on her newsfeed, even if she were meticulously reading her feed, daily, there's no guarantee that she didn't miss the post because of imperfectly skimming them. That no one else in her social circle noticed isn't much proof since, as a mutual friend admits, they don't know how many of them are active on FB: https://twitter.com/FRENDEN/status/942918637576441857
That said, I swear I've seen FB's algorithm point out users who have posted for the first time in a long while. This kind of notification/signal presumably would not be part of a "Most Recent" timeline:
How does that make sense?
At the bottom, it says "there are no more posts to show right now." If I change the sorting order back to "Top Stories", it shows far more posts and the first four are in the same order as the ones shown in the other sorting order.
Given that, I don't have much incentive to use the "Most Recent" sorting order it seems.
> In the desktop view of Facebook, there's an option to change from "Top Stories" to "Most Recent", but Facebook only maintains that setting for about 24 hours and then it automatically reverts back to Top Stories.
You: personalization is not accurate enough. Go back to most recent.
Computer: got it. Changing algorithm. Trying again.
But it doesn't provide that value any more. It shows me ads and posts from a handle of the hundreds of people I'm friends with.
So you're right that caring is a proactive act, but that doesn't invalidate that initial value proposition at all.
>A friend I've known mostly online for 15+ years died this weekend. Our friendship started on an old gaming forum, but continued on Facebook.
yes. curated is the keyword.
fb used to be a legitimate communication system - you could write on walls, you could poke, you could do a lot of stuff with fb apps that solicits an immediate response.
fb today is not the fb of 2007. I know a lot of users grew up with fb but fb did not grow up with us.
I assume that you met your wife in person before getting married - would you propose to her if the only way to contact and know her was through social media?
The facebook feed is one example.
Recent changes in google search, another.
I'm sorry for her loss.
Families would call all the close contacts and relatives to make sure that they knew.
For several years after my father died in 1985 people called our house to speak to him. Most were not close acquaintances but some were still pretty shocked to hear of his death.
I think people generally still do this? When my mother died a few years ago we took turns calling her relatives and close friends. We wanted them to hear the news verbally.
Such a Hacker Newish assumption. In the so-called real world, most people travel for all sorts of other reasons than conferences.
It was never received.
And therein lies the difference.
Still much better than the obituary world of yesteryear. You could then also say the info was transmitted but the rate of receival probably low.
I just did a sort of impromptu 2.5 month posting hiatus from FB (which also included no commenting or liking), and when I returned I got a ton of likes and comments on my fist couple posts.
I wonder how people can avoid noticing what Facebook has become after all this time and still use it.
If you re-read the post, this is inaccurate. The friendship began elsewhere.
>Facebook isn't reality, and it's a company trying to make money
It is a company whose value proposition (to non advertisers) is its being reflective of or enhancing reality. This as opposed to, say, warcraft.
>it can't be accountable for the way we manage our friendships
Managing friendships is exactly facebook's purpose. If it claims to be the best way to manage a friendship, and bad things happen as a result of presumptions the company makes in the course of managing said friendship, it's sane to associate facebook's tooling around friendship management with the actual management of friendships.
If I sign up for facebook under the pretense of "see what happens to my friends", and then sort by recency, if recent things that happen to my friends do not appear, that is, IMO, a legitimate grievance.
Facebook might not owe this user anything, but that doesn't mean they can't wish for better service. A person missed the death of their friend because they were second guessed by an algorithm that has gradually torn control from the hands of users and downgraded reality and chronology to foster "engagement". That sucks.
You might be able to give up control over something, but never the responsibility that comes with it. So in this particular case, we are free to let the algorithm decide for us, but we should all be aware who will suffer when the algorithm goes haywire. It's that simple.
Yes, but it didn't begin in the real world(irl) either. Quoting the tweet: "Our friendship started on an old gaming forum,". I used to play WoW: do I keep up with any of my online friends now ? No. Why ? Because I moved on and found friends irl.
> It is a company whose value proposition (to non advertisers) is its being reflective of or enhancing reality. This as opposed to, say, warcraft.
You pay NOTHING for Facebook. Any value they claim to bring you is subject to their discretion. If you expect anything else, go to a different network. Oh wait - you can't, since social networks are only valuable if everyone is on them. And please do not bring open source software as a counter example: open source software exists because it is more rational for companies to use it by cooperating to share the cost of projects that would otherwise be too big for each of them to handle (and also independent open source project are done by people out of curiosity, and to allow them to stand out when searching for a job). So the FREE in FREE SOFTWARE is not the same as the FREE in FACEBOOK. Also, as you correctly noted, the value proposition of Facebook is to advertisers (and also shareholoders), so to use the annoying cliche, you are the PRODUCT, does the product get to have a say on how it's handled?
> Managing friendships is exactly facebook's purpose. If it claims to be the best way to manage a friendship, and bad things happen as a result of presumptions the company makes in the course of managing said friendship, it's sane to associate facebook's tooling around friendship management with the actual management of friendships.
Does it? I didn't manage to find that product description on their website. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, so can you please share it? What I did find though was in the terms and conditions (https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms):
>WE TRY TO KEEP FACEBOOK UP, BUG-FREE, AND SAFE, BUT YOU USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE PROVIDING FACEBOOK AS IS WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS >OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON->INFRINGEMENT. WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS BE SAFE, SECURE OR ERROR-FREE OR THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS FUNCTION >WITHOUT DISRUPTIONS, DELAYS OR IMPERFECTIONS. FACEBOOK IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS, CONTENT, INFORMATION, OR DATA OF THIRD >PARTIES, AND YOU RELEASE US, OUR DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AND AGENTS FROM ANY CLAIMS AND DAMAGES, KNOWN AND UNKNOWN, ARISING >OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY CLAIM YOU HAVE AGAINST ANY SUCH THIRD PARTIES.
Facebook's feed algorithms don't care about whether your friends die, they care about maximizing profits. If you care about your friends, you won't let that be managed by a stupid, free of charge piece of software, but you will call them regularly, or go meet them in person, so let's all be brutally honest not rationalise lack of empathy as failure due to external factors.
OP clearly states he met the person online and they communicate online and that might involve irregular but deep, friendly exchanges and meeting up once in a while. I.e. exactly a kind of communication Facebook is supposed to facilitate, yet it completely failed him here which is absolutely valid to criticize and call out.
She knows better than us whether they were friends or not.
This whole X is realer than computers is silly to me.
Furthermore, Facebook is totally to blame here. For most users, the whole point of their service is to keep in touch with others. That Facebook failed to tell the user of something as important as the hospitalization and death of a dear friend is a clear red flag: Facebook's algorithms are failing. Sure, you can also blame the user for using the "wrong medium", leaving communication to a for-profit company. But then what's the lesson here ? That you should only talk to people in meatspace ? Well, I guess we're not living in the same reality here.
Sure, Whatsapp is owned by Facebook but you can send messages to each other and see their response pushed to your phone. It doesn't have an algorithm choosing not to show their messages sometimes.
Friends are not always those who you meet every day, but those that give you the feeling of happiness when you have them around, at least for me.
I really dislike Facebook, but blaming it in this case doesn't even make sense.
They do appear when my friends switch to 'Most Recent'. But most recent is pretty much unbearable for friends with many friends because it shows every tiny thing like 'Mike is interested in an event' and stuff.
It's interesting from a social science perspective to have the expectation of the system / algorithms that it would have notified you of a friend's passing. This is an expectation that the model understands what is important to the user - something I doubt the model is optimized around completely.
Before Facebook, I think not knowing would be even more common than we realize - unless you had frequent contact with your friend. In a world disconnected, no email, no Internet, maybe only a telephone, or even further back, a telegram, or even less - it might be many, many times much less likely you would find such a thing out. Going back to the times of villages with no electronic technology at all, communication would have been only through immediate knowledge, written / recorded information or word of mouth.
I used to work for a website that tried to digitize obituaries, to serve as a replacement for the newspaper, way before that was really a "thing". It never really took off, because, the people who wanted to publish death notices in newspapers just kept doing that. Most people who wanted to read them preferred holding a newspaper than reading a website (although, it did help disseminate information quickly). Eventually, newspapers simply published the obituaries and death notices online themselves, and it all went to a big aggregator of obituary postings (or got indexed by Google), and then it was no longer much of a thing.
The most interesting thing, for me, having worked in this area, was seeing how users have taken to Facebook as a sort of memorial to those who have passed, help spread the news, etc. But with the conflux of marketing and so much personal news... I'm not surprised that this information slipped through the cracks.
I recall a book on this topic - "Bowling Alone" published in 2001, before social networks. The excerpt from Amazon.com -
"Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as 'a prodigious achievement.'
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do."
Even with Facebook/social media, I wonder if the same thing is still true, or if we have begun to heal the broken bonds of our disconnected nature the book identified.
 ISBN-10: 0743203046
Sometimes I miss some important emails just because the emails are classified as spam and moved into spam folder.
All because you've given Facebook responsibility for keeping in touch.
One suggestion for keeping in control and in touch: a less algorithmic address list in email.
"Oh, but I don't want to manage that."
Well, how good is what you're using now working? Is that chance of someone outside the list serendipitously stumbling across a post really that valuable?
And, sorry for her loss.
But you're ignoring the fact that Facebook is effectively the first opportunity in history for a universal "push" mechanism for friendship.
If your best friend died, would you really know how to contact everyone he/she was friends with? You could dig through their Rolodex in the old days, which would cover some percentage but also pick up a lot of outdated contact information and business relationships with no friendship involved; you could send email to everyone you could find in their mailbox, but that surely wouldn't hit everyone; you could dial all phone numbers in their phone, but same problem.
And obituaries are pull-based, and tend to be localized.
FB, for better or worse, has the potential to be the most effective way in the history of mankind to tell everyone who knew someone that person has passed on.
If my best friend died I would be notified immediately by at least three people. If I weren't (I would be) I would know something was wrong as soon as he stopped responding to my text messages/calls.
That's because we're actual friends and are actually involved in each other's lives. His wife knows me, his mother and father know me, his children know me. The people you're describing are not in any way best friends.
Where did I imply that? I literally responded to:
>If your best friend died, would you really know how to contact everyone he/she was friends with?
>Nor am I trying to redefine friendship as "Facebook friends." And I wish people would read what I wrote, not what they think about Facebook.
Yeah, didn't say that either. I wish people would read what I wrote too.
It's just absolutely 99% ridiculous to believe that _facebook_ would be the way you'd likely be notified that your "best friend" (your words) died. A true friend, let alone a _best_ friend, is someone whose life you're involved in at a deeper level than FB.
I left 1% for situations like elderly people who have been friends for decades and live half a world away from each other.
> If your best friend died, would you really know how to contact everyone he/she was friends with?
How did you make the leap to:
> It's just absolutely 99% ridiculous to believe that _facebook_ would be the way you'd likely be notified that your "best friend" (your words) died.
I didn't say: "I want to find out my best friend died via Facebook." My question was meant to imply: "I don't know how to find everyone my best friend considers his friends, but his Facebook friends list is an improper superset of that list"
Only because it has defined downwards the entire concept of friendship.
How would all of your genuine friends find out you've died, if they are widely dispersed and to various degrees ignorant of each other?
You posit that FB could be the "most effective way in the history of mankind to tell everyone who knew someone that person has passed on". Sure, but why stop at death? FB could also be the most effective way to tell every mutual friend when your best friend:
- Has a child
- Gets married
- Gets a new job
- Has a death in the family
- Loses their job
- Gets divorced
- Seems to be depressed right now.
The fact that FB has been highly-effective push notification has been key to its success but also one of the things that sometimes bothers people when it comes to privacy and other issues. You might argue that death presents a special case -- and I would generally agree -- but I would most definitely argue that significant parts of FB's userbase (which consists of basically every country and subculture) would disagree. FB's tweaking of things so that death is pushed as a priority would not make everyone happy, and every tweak means that something else gets untweaked, of course.
That said, it's worth pointing out that FB has recognized its potential to be a new kind of obituary/memorial service, and all of the complications and downsides of that. Here's a pretty good whitepaper on the difficulties: https://research.fb.com/publications/legacy-contact-designin...
Inevitably, they know that because they are FB friends, but really met through me.
I wonder if we lose something because the connection between Person A-B-C is weakened. Person C is presented info by Facebook, instead of through the original connection. Denies neurons a chance to fire together and cross-associate.
I'd see an announcement of my death on Facebook as an insult, as my death would essentially be creating engagement/ad impressions/clicks for Facebook.
That's an odd way of seeing it considering that paid obituaries, in Newspapers, have been a thing for quite a while.
The family pays the newspaper for the obituary, the newspaper sells advertisement space and then even asks people to pay for that whole package.
Compared to that, the Facebook version at least feels only like half a rip-off because your family wouldn't have to pay for it being posted and others wouldn't have to pay to read it.
But, I suppose that if I die today, someone will post something on facebook (statistically, at least one of the person I know should use it for that; although I totally condemn FB (FB, not the social network thing))
In Germany, at least, they are still very popular.
Working at an ambulant palliative service, one of my colleagues checks the local newspapers each morning, over the years it's happened quite a few times that we found out about one of our patients passing away from the obituary in the newspaper before we got a notice from the family or the acting physician.
> FB is based on advertisement and on social information commercial exploitation.
So are pretty much the majority of newspapers at this point, just because Facebook is better at the social information exploitation angle doesn't turn them into an entirely different beast, as I'm pretty sure newspapers are equally busy trying to categorize their customers for better ad impressions, their databases just ain't remotely as big and detailed as those of Facebook.
From a practical perspective, I'd still prefer a free obituary to a paid one anytime. Sure, it might not be completely free, as you are paying with personal information, it's at least more free than "Pay for the obituary, pay for the newspaper and then still look at advertisements".
The best solution would probably something like Facebook that doesn't finance itself through the commercialization of its user's data. I wonder how viable an approach like the original WhatsApp one (subscription services with very small fees) would work for a social media platform at the scale of Facebook?
I know a lot of people. Many of those people unfortunately use Facebook. There's a good chance that at least one of them will be posting something about it, regardless of my wishes.
Not really. Actual "social networks" have done that for millenia. They even include a much smarter filtering system than Facebook's: unimportant information dies out quickly, and people are told or not told about events based on human judgment. Ah, well... this is what we have now.
We can now build social "networks" which are much less locality based, and where your friends aren't necessarily friends with each other. And that's good.
It does mean that you've got less redundancy in the system though. Which is why it's not unreasonable to use new tools like facebook to keep up to date with people.
Do you have an email list right now that someone could use to share that news and hit 100% of your friends?
The nature of "Facebook friendship" as it pertains to real friendship is orthogonal and irrelevant to this question: in a world where genuine friendship spans continents and social circles, how do you notify everyone who cares that someone has died?
Most of my friends aren't actually "friends" on Facebook.
Anyway, it's clear that people are thinking I'm an advocate for the Facebook definition of friendship, which is in no way what I wrote, but whatever.
Yes, and my next of kin has a clearly written set of instructions to follow in that event. Plus I don’t have hundreds of “friends” defined by algorithms, just friends who would rapidly miss me and inquire as to why I vanished. It’s the kind of thing you consider when dealing with actual people, and not just text you’ve read to yourself and attributed to a set of imaginings you call your “FB Friend” and which may or may not bear any particular relationship to the real person.
Because let's face it: In this day and age it's the most practical way to do so.
It's the one place where you can aggregate all your personal relationships from different "communities" you interact with.
> One suggestion for keeping in control and in touch: a less algorithmic address list in email.
"I don't want to manage that" is a legitimate excuse in this case, just like it's a bit dishonest to compare "writing emails" with what social media does.
There's value to be had here, helping people connect with each other, in easy and obvious ways, is a noble goal. I don't want to explain to my grandparents how to manage mailing lists, but I'd still love for them to partake in the "digital happenings" of friends and family.
In that regard, social media also serves the function of a public diary for many people, giving opportunities to share and appreciate. That's a need that shouldn't be underestimated, but it most certainly could be facilitated in a better way than with this sole focus on commercialization through advertisement.
If you just want to send a message to a friend then there are a myriad of ways to do that which neither involve email nor Facebook.
If you boil it down to why people actually use Facebook, then Facebook is nothing but a fancier and comfortable version of "keeping a list of emails", just with very nasty side-effects.