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> And you just figured this out now? This is like saying "wow, who knew we would get so fat by feeding only on pizza, hamburgers and coke, aren't those companies evil".

No. Zeynep Tufekci (the author of the article) has written about this for years, including a book about social media in political movements (Twitter and Tear Gas), a popular TED talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_we_re_building_a_dy...), a series of New York Times op-eds, and more besides.

A more productive answer to someone saying something you agree with is “I agree”, not mistakenly berating them for not agreeing sooner.




You're right. What upset me though was the conclusion that it's "impossible" to leave Facebook. Everything is possible, including walking instead of driving, not eating meat, etc. Some things are more inconvenient than others, but if convenience trumps everything and you can't accept to make any sacrifice whatsoever then maybe you deserve to be taken advantage of.


I wish there was a name for this fallacy because it comes up so often. When you have a systemic problem, you do not have a viable solution if your solution requires the conscientious choices of every affected individual.

If that worked, we would have already solved car accidents (obey all the traffic laws!), suicide (don't kill yourself!), obesity (don't eat too much unhealthy food), debt (don't spend more than you make), and basically every other social ill.

Effective solutions are ones that can be enacted by humans while fully taking human fallibility into account. It's poor engineering to design a system that requires every part to function perfectly with zero tolerances.


> I wish there was a name for this fallacy because it comes up so often. When you have a systemic problem, you do not have a viable solution if your solution requires the conscientious choices of every affected individual.

I think that's true of the general problem of data privacy, but I don't think it's exactly true of the particular "Facebook" instance of that problem.

Social networks have withered and died before, and there's no reason to think that Facebook can't be nudged in that direction, one user at a time, until the snowball starts. This seems like a pretty opportune time to get that ball rolling.


I don't mean to say that we shouldn't regulate Facebook, as a society; sure we should, and let's try to do it. But that will take years, if not decades.

But as individuals, there is something we can do today: not use it. Why dismiss this very simple solution?


I'm definitely not arguing that we shouldn't take individual steps that helps. But the parent comment says:

> if convenience trumps everything and you can't accept to make any sacrifice whatsoever then maybe you deserve to be taken advantage of.

Which basically sounds to me like, "If every fallible human on Earth can't individually decide to solve this problem, they don't deserve any solution."


There probably is a term for it, and tragedy of the commons is pretty close to being appropriate


I think there are two senses in which it is "impossible" to leave Facebook:

1) Even if you actively decide to deactivate or delete your account, nothing guarantees that Facebook won't retain the data. Nothing guarantees that they don't continue to build a profile of you by scanning photos your friends share. It's a Hotel California of personal data.

2) Even if you personally decide to leave, the rest of society may be using it for passing essential information that forces you to re-engate with facebook. Until you can convince your cohort to stop using FB to organize or converse, you might still be forced to use the service.


instead of deleting my account, i wrote an email which i bcc’d to my “real” friends: i’m deleting our facebook friendship, i love you and expect we can stay in touch just fine without. then i deleted all my fb connections, and left a public account with no friends and a publi message about how to find me. if i want to spam a post to my people, i use the bcc email.

i still have an account for logins. i could technically make messages happen.

i don’t have to eject all my pictures, or delude myself about the efficacy of “deleting” my fb account, but i can be sure nobody is going to benefit from selling my social graph to my “friends” or frienemies


I just said this in another comment but it so belongs here, I'll try to say it in just one sentence: there was a feel-good narrative to Obama that's just impossible now.


Obama had the Obama 2012 app (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nafYT7_i4as). Anyone downloading it knew that the goal of it was to help get Obama elected.

CA (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpbeOCKZFfQ) tricked people into giving up their data and used it to spread targeted propaganda.

How is this the same?


> Anyone downloading it knew that the goal of it was to help get Obama elected.

Was Obama 2012 restricted to collecting information of its downloaders? Or did it collect all of the downloaders' friends' information as well? Facebook certainly allowed for this (until 2014, that is).


They pulled the whole friend graph and used it to generate emails pushing supporters to reach out to specific named friends who live in specific states.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/facebooks-ru...


I wasn't talking about that, I was talking about this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden


So far, no POTUS' actions (taken as a whole) support a feel-good narrative. Unpleasant compromises, manipulation, and dishonesty may be inherent to winning a national election and then running a 330-million-person organization.


It is such an eye opening experience to see how media frames things when they try to support or sabotage somebody. This seems so far the clearest demonstration for anyone remotely interested in the topic.


So could you educate us by showing the comparable actions of the Obama campaign?


This Washington Post article has details. Obama Supporters clicked OK on apps, those apps pulled their friend graph (including the state of residence of friends) to generate outreach such as emails encouraging the supporter to evangelize specifically named friends on behalf of the campaign: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/facebooks-ru...


Didn't Obama's campaign hire Droga5 to do precisely the same sort of ad targeting that CA was involved in? Ultimately, it doesn't seem that CA did anything out of the norm for any marketing analytics company (from what I've read, correct me if I'm wrong).


Did you read the article? They paid several hundred thousand people via Mechanical Türk to download their poll app and then harvested 50M users data for political targeting.


Data they could have acquired directly from FB anyway? It seems like they found a way to make the data acquisition process more efficient (while also violating FB's TOS, which is the actual problem here).

But the point is, the methods CA used to influence voters weren't significantly different from Obama's 2012 campaign.


There is a giant difference here in the fact that the data acquired for CA was through a third party. Data obtained through the Obama campaign was through the Obama app.


Thanks for the video link. I am going to share that with friends and family who are sceptical that there is a problem with Internet super-companies collecting data and using it to change our behaviors to make money.


Timing is important. Oped and Ted talk is not the same as frontpage.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-obama-campai...




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