Our society has more dependencies than node.js, and the incentives in facebook’s world are skewed toward big payoffs for bad actors who will benefit at the expense of all others.
I’d classify this comment as fitting a very common paradigm called ‘If I were the god this would be my simple solution, so let us dispense with further discussion of the matter.’
The same is true for Facebook. They have thousands of very smart people who are incentivized to do everything they can to get you to scroll, scroll, scroll. To think it's going to be useful to tell society at large to "just walk away from the dopamine pushers" is not going to change the situation.
As the number of people that can freely access the internet grows, you see them focusing around a single social media platform. That's because social media strongly benefits from centralization, it's easier to talk to family and friends if you don't have to manage fifty different accounts.
The idea that there was a 'multitude of cultures' before Facebook is just wrong. There was the main social media platforms and a bunch of niche offshoots. That's why this is such a tricky problem to fix because even if Facebook vanished tomorrow, eventually there would be another platform which absolutely everyone would circle around.
One solution is open, decentralized protocols.
The article addresses that a little bit here:
> ...the internet platforms were able to pursue business strategies that would not have been allowed in prior decades. No one stopped them from using free products to centralize the internet and then replace its core functions.
It's easy to talk about open and decentralized protocols but social media is a popularity contest, not one based off the best or most free platform. As the article mentions nothing was and nothing is stopping them from capitalizing on open and free products, followed by gutting and replacing them.
XMPP, RSS/Atom, and HTML are three examples of EEE in modern times.
- XMPP => proprietary chat that locks users in
- RSS/Atom => algorithmic news feeds that lock users in
- HTML => AMP -- if you want distribution, they tie your hands with markup and monetization restrictions
If this was the standard model, you'd have greater utility as you wouldn't have siloed platforms and you'd get greater control over your personal data (as EU has already recognised and is legislating in any case).
In retrospect, at least their business model wasn’t opaque.
With the current deck of politicians, it is highly unlikely that anything will be done to address this
Fix these laws (which doesn't necessarily mean abandoning their core concepts) and the floodgates will open with fresh competition. This is never discussed because these legal mechanisms undergird a massive part of the tech and media industries. It is better to fix the anti-competitive mechanisms at the source than to use the anti-trust kludge to break down people who have simply exploited them too well.
I block all of their sites in my hosts file so can't even view a Facebook event page or group. It has only provided benefits, and I haven't missed out on anything. Productivity is up. Social life is better.
Ideally that would be perfect.
Realistically, the people running the groups and events have 99% of their time dedicated to non-communication activities and standing-up a mailing list or website is outside their time-capacity AND experience.
As an example here in Ireland we have a group called Airliner Experiences that organise enthusiast flights on rare and interesting aircraft. They exist only on Facebook, I have asked why and it's because they "don't have time" to run a website for the few non-Facebook oddballs. So I've missed many potentially-interesting experiences but they haven't missed my money because there is such a huge audience in Facebook.
I unfollowed everyone years ago and it has made a huge difference in how I think of Facebook. Without the persistent feed and flood of ads, it’s just another tool for communicating with people, one that is seldom used when faced with other alternatives. Facebook is now mostly harmless, and I only spend maybe a minute or two on it every few days.
If a problem as 300 million causes, you still have a problem if you cut that down to 299,999,999.
The real question is whether an individual checking out from Facebook harms themselves in some way e.g. less able to find work? We just need to make sure Facebook never gets endorsement as some kind of identity / passport.
True. And people have always murdered each other. But when millions of people are murdering each other we call it war.
My body is fighting some millions of germs right now. If you add an order of magnitude or two to that I'll be sick. Or dead.
A camel can carry a lot of straw. Enough straw can crush a camel.
At some point we have to deal with the problem.
(I don't mean that everyone should get off Facebook. But I do mean it for the crowd that somehow they hate facebook but yet think they are dependent on it.)
To change society, we indeed need to fix ourselves, but those fixes would be essentially getting rid of wanting to poses. Once that's gone, we can finally think ahead, but for that, countless steps are ahead of us.
( One of the first, in my opinion, should be a base income, but no necessarily in money; cover the physical needs: food, water, warmth, shelter; and motivate people to achieve something in order to gain anything above the basics, but remove the fear of lacking safety.)
Dark ages with manipulative priests didn’t end because people decided to fix themselves. They ended because people decided to fix their society. Namely, they separated church from government, instilled compulsory education, etc.
I strongly doubt anyone believes that their actions alone can stop global warming or destructive financial cycles, however, there is still merit in individual actions. They do have an impact, though you have to consider these actions over the long term to see it.
Consider how the market for electric cars developed. I'd suggest the electric car market started getting mainstream acceptance after the launch of the Tesla Model S. However, it took a long time to get to that point. Consider how the market for electric cars looked in the 1990s. There was some activity, but it was largely a hobbyist market. However, those early adopters, though small in number, kept the market progressing until it was ready for mass acceptance.
Using your recycling example, it also took many years before people took recycling seriously. There's still plenty to be done to improve recycling practices further, but it's clear that the situation now is far better than it was 30 years ago. If you consider the work that had to be done to get us to the point we're at now, it's clear it would've taken the work of dedicated individuals to go against the grain to start making recycling normal, even if their initial impact was small. We can either build upon this foundation, or squander the progress that has been made.
Y'know, I suspect that Leave voters thought leaving was in their self-interest — or at the very least that voting 'Leave' send a message which was in their self-interest.
What I find perhaps most interesting here is how the narrative about political campaigns has changed in four and eight years. When Mr. Obama won twice, his campaign's adroit use of the Internet was praised by the media; when President Trump (for whom I did not vote) won, his campaign's — and other actors' — use of the Internet has been reviled by the media.
I think all of this is just due to psychic aftershocks from the 2016 election: folks just can't believe that their candidate lost, that they live in a country which rejected her. The sad fact of the matter is that Mrs. Clinton was easily the worst candidate that the Democrats have put forward in a generation — she makes Mondale, Dukakis & Kerry look charismatic! Pretty much any Democrat in the country could have won the election — heck, Tim Kaine (the Democratic vice-presidential candidate) would almost certainly have won handily.
My own theory is that outside meddling in the U.S. election was intended to weaken Mrs. Clinton's administration. I don't think anyone expected Mr. Trump to win.
> It reads like the plot of a sci-fi novel: a technology celebrated for bringing people together is exploited by a hostile power to drive people apart, undermine democracy, and create misery. This is precisely what happened in the United States during the 2016 election.
You know, there were an awful lot of folks who felt pretty similarly in 2012. I don't think many of them tried to undermine the freedoms of association & speech, although perhaps some did.
I saw this sentiment floating around Reddit a lot amongst disenfranchised Democrats supporters. It sounds exactly like the type of meme the article is discussing. Does being charismatic actually matter? It makes sense to make this a talking point if the candidate you want to win has no political experience but is a great showman.
Charisma has been attributable to popular opinion since we figured out how to talk to one another.
If you still think charisma doesnt matter, pick up a history book.
Trump didn't just beat Clinton – he beat a whole bunch of pretty decent Republican candidates. He beat them by saying and doing things that hadn't been done before, appealing to the worst elements and instincts of Americans, and relying, in the last few months, on the Republican establishment to acquiesce to a man they would not have near their daughters.
Trump's victory is not Clinton's fault. It's America's.
I've never understood this line; she always seemed charismatic to me.
I'm curious -- can you name a female politician you consider charismatic?
I hate to say it, but the first example which leaps to mind is Mrs. Palin. There's no there there (as anyone who watched her vice-presidential debate performance would know) but she was, at the time, quite charismatic.
Senator Gillibrand might count, but I've not seen her speak often enough to have an opinion.
Certainly with someone like Baroness Thatcher one knew that she had a brain, and she was keen to use it, but I don't know if she was charismatic. I don't think that's a word anyone would apply to Mrs. Merkel, either. Maybe Indira Gandhi? I don't know enough about her to know.
She's certainly smart, but that's not the same as charisma.
The trope about rubes voting against their interests is easily my least favorite of this political season.
1. First of all, when a group of people consistently vote in a way that surprises you, perhaps it's time to update your understanding of the world, instead of assuming -- over and over -- that theirs is broken. At the very least, one might admit that they don't actually know much about those interests.
2. An inability to understand why somebody might vote against their most immediate economic interests isn't something to be proud of. There is an enormous gap here and it's increasingly a gap in a belief in the transcendent. Yes, for a lot of rural American voters the transcendent is god, but it's more than just that. Are there or are there not ideals worth dying for? It shouldn't be so surprising to the left that some people actually behave as though there are.
I also blocked cnn.com, and couple other sites that I habitually go to. I may even add HN to the list. Sure there are some gems to be found here, but I find myself coming here more to read comments and headlines. It has essentially turned into reddit for me.
The problem is that even if we give ourselves well meaning instructions that will benefit ourselves in the medium to long term, invariably we will come to betray ourselves.
Personally I think it stems from a censor-breaker strategy that emerges from the complexity of the limited hardware we have that needs to quickly solve real world problems.
> This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides.
Sadly this does not contain the obvious fix: tax ads.
Assuming election meddling is the thing you want to avoid, even a 50% tax wouldn't take this out of the price range of even the thriftiest of governments.
If true, that would indicate that these ads are dramatically under priced. If it was simply a matter of spending money on facebook, things will balance next election, as the price of those ads will go up dramatically
Of course, the fact that Clinton spent so much more on facebook and still lost the electoral college would indicate that if the facebook ad campaign was decisive, that it's more about how you use it than about what you pay Facebook; I would bet rather a lot that Facebook is spending a lot of effort right now to reverse engineer what the Russians did so they can sell it to their more wealthy clients.
Regular campaign advertising (like the stuff done by Clinton in the last election) is at least partly constrained by things like the truth and the semblance of accountability. I.e. if I run an ad saying "vote for me I went to harvard" there would likely be a major scandal because I did not in fact go to harvard. The words came from me, and they were lies.
A 3rd party, dumping thousands of fake news stories on to facebook, disguised as real news and using a little ad spends to pump them up - is not constrained by the truth, and because they are not easily linked to the candidate there is no accountability.
If you're allowed to hide your identity, lie, and disguise your lies as valid information, yes of course you can be more with your ad dollars than if you have to be accountable for what you are saying.
My motivation is treating ads as mental pollution and force for centralization and monopoly, not preventing election manipulation. Complaints abut the latter are nothing but extreme hypocrisy coming from the US.
Without commenting on the wisdom or relevance of the proposal, this seems really simple. Taxing activities disincentivizes them, so you could expect a tax on a specific activity to have the first order effect of reducing that activity.
Tldr: lower advertising budgets
But I don't think that would change their negative influence on the society.
(And Google? Does TFA actually contain an argument against Google, or did he just mention it a bunch of times? Oh right, they stopped funding a think tank. To a Washingtonian that would probably constitute a high crime. Out here in flyover country, that doesn't even rate a "meh".)
If the author really wanted to help, rather than insert himself and his cronies into the regulatory state, he'd be getting Sanders and Warren on a reality show with Snoop Dogg and Mama June, right away. Or he could act like what he claims to be, a "technology investor", and start funding the innovations that will eat the heart out of an increasingly old and ungainly Facebook. It's interesting that he made such a big deal about his visionary investment in Facebook without bothering to tell us if he is still invested. (Which, obviously, he is, which is why he wrote TFA about this wonderful "movement" which coincidentally totally aligns with Facebook's interests.)
I am wondering how someone seemingly oblivious to what Facebook is can be a successful investor.
Interesting. Although if this applied to all software platforms, I suspect startups are going to be hit a lot harder than the big co's. Maintaining this level of "forking" seems like a nontrivial engineering task.
> Eighth, and finally, we should consider that the time has come to revive the country’s traditional approach to monopoly
Feels unclear how this would help. It feels difficult to craft anti-trust laws that big co's can't reason their way out of. But IANAL, so please correct me if I'm wrong here.
It was, however, a good read about social engineering, and I've summarized the points made and the solutions proposed below:
>Fear and anger produce a lot more engagement and sharing than joy.
>The result is that the algorithms favor sensational content over substance.
>Continuous reinforcement of existing beliefs tends to entrench those beliefs more deeply, while also making them more extreme and resistant to contrary facts.
>The Russians appear to have invested heavily in weakening the candidacy of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary by promoting emotionally charged content to supporters of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, as well as to likely Clinton supporters who might be discouraged from voting.
>We also have evidence now that Russia used its social media tactics to manipulate the Brexit vote.
>A team of researchers reported in November, for instance, that more than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted pro-Leave messages in the run-up to the referendum.
>[B]ad actors plant a rumor on sites like 4chan and Reddit, leverage the disenchanted people on those sites to create buzz, build phony news sites with “press” versions of the rumor, push the story onto Twitter to attract the real media, then blow up the story for the masses on Facebook.
>Facebook and Google responded by reiterating their opposition to government regulation, insisting that it would kill innovation and hurt the country’s global competitiveness, and that self-regulation would produce better results.
>Polls suggest that about a third of Americans believe that Russian interference is fake news, despite unanimous agreement to the contrary by the country’s intelligence agencies.
1) [I]t’s essential to ban digital bots that impersonate humans
2) [T]he platforms should not be allowed to make any acquisitions until they have addressed the damage caused to date, taken steps to prevent harm in the future, and demonstrated that such acquisitions will not result in diminished competition.
3) [T]he platforms must be transparent about who is behind political and issues-based communication.
4) [T]he platforms must be more transparent about their algorithms.
5) [T]he platforms should be required to have a more equitable contractual relationship with users.
6) [W]e need a limit on the commercial exploitation of consumer data by internet platforms.
7) [C]onsumers, not the platforms, should own their own data.
8) [F]inally, we should consider that the time has come to revive the country’s traditional approach to monopoly.
This article was at the very end of my one-sitting article-reading endurance, but it had enough of a flow for me to finish with only a bit of skimming near the end.
Thank you for preparing a great summary :)
After reading a few paragraphs I realized it was going to be largely anecdotal, so I figured paring it down would save some people ten or twenty minutes. I agree, however, that the flow made it more manageable to enjoy.
Denmark, Norway and Finland have a populist, far right party in their respective government coalition, Sweden and Iceland are the only Nordic countries that have resisted. I fear this will stop being the case. The Sweden Democrats are already polling highly and something bad, anything, wether it’s a recession after this long bull market or a politically charged murder could quickly be blamed on immigration and spread like wildfire on social media by people who love simple answers to complicated questions.
We already know this is possible. The media has managed to influence elections multiple times, so has celebrities and religious officials (in Sweden, one of our most beloved children's books authors is credited with influencing the 1976 election a lot) and Facebook makes the angry person with a catchy meme as influential for a few weeks.
The thing is that too many don't trust traditional media even when it's revealed Russia were influencing elections. As the piece stated, more than 30% of Americans believe Russian meddling in the US election is fake news, even though the US intelligence community has no doubt they were involved. 30% is absolutely enough to swing an election.
So, I'm not really suggesting censorship, neither is the opinion piece linked in the OP. Let Facebook be responsible for the defamation resulting from these malicious posts and you can bet your ass they'll throw money at stomping out this problem.
I am not American and from my point of view Democrats totally own media attention in the US. They own the artists and famous people space, they own most important TVs and newspapers and so on.
In fact Trump won because of their support, as they only talked about him in preelection time, as they believed Trump was way weaker than other Republican candidates.
Now this man is socked not because Facebook is a manipulation media, like TV or Newspapers, but because other entities could control it as well as they can.
For this man it was obvious that Hillary was going to win (because they control most media) so it was a big surprise that people could actually vote on their own in a democracy system.
The day they lost the election he wants to talk with Zuckerberg to "make them aware of the problems" of facebook not being a totally biased platform like the New York times or Washington Post is.
Again as a non American I don't want to be manipulated by either side. I don't want to be forced to go to a WWIII just because some people can't deal with losing a democratic election or because some guy impulsive action.
So it looks to me that the best solution is to design alternatives to facebook that are not as centralized and to start using them even if they are not as good.
You making this out to be about Democrats vs Republicans is a pretty cheap move, and detracts from those real (hopefully non-partisan) issues.
One of the other commenters gave a succinct bulleted overview. I recommend you check it out, if you're interested in what the article was actually about.
Yes, visceral content has high engagement. But is this really new information?
How can you recommend content regulation without exacerbating the problem?
You're still using and supporting Facebook services, then.
Yes, you do run the risk of being seen as a Don Quichote who probably even uses Linux but so be it.
Sometimes it is necessary to warn people about something. They can make up their own mind about what to do instead, it is not as if the internet is useless without Facebook (et al) after all? Do you really think it is necessary to tell people what to use instead of Facebook when the options are so abundant and clear, not to mention the fact that they were around when Facebook was naught but a glint in the eye of whomever M.Z. got the idea from?