Zuck: "I need to get back to you on that"
Zuck knows this is generally feasible - he's a talented software engineer. The question was ambiguously worded, and Zuck could have clarified or answered that it's generally feasible but that Facebook has tight controls around the usage of that information. It's the panel's responsibility to not let him get away with that type of maneuver, and they don't have the type of real-time support that, say, a news anchor has (with earpiece and live research staff) to handle interviewing domain experts in an optimal way.
What's really sad is that nobody has been addressing just how creepy the internet is getting. Like the fact that with just 500 likes the social network can insinuate more of your personality than your lover. Or how Google can predict what you will likely like to eat for breakfast tomorrow based on the kind of stuff you are buying at the store whenever you use reward cards that is gets cross referenced to your browsing habits that insinuate moods.
We are really over engineering the internet to the point that we have a "don't touch that red button" being installed into our lives where nobody knows what it does until it gets pressed, we end up wrecking our cars and are left wondering why the car manufacturers thought it was smart to install NOS in our cars without our knowledge in order to remain on the cutting edge (and thus competitive).
He ends the talk with a warning that unless the tech sector is careful, they will have their own Three Mile Island, and will forever afterwards be regulated into the ground. Facebook and Google are almost begging for it. May we see them become a shadow of their powerful selves in not too distant a future.
...with just 500 likes the social network can
insinuate more of your personality than your
(Glancing over the footnotes it seems to be (b), some other algorithm)
The beauty of adtech: it's perfectly fine to be wrong as long as advertisers think you are right.
On meta level, this "better than your lover" meme/study is surprisingly enlightening.
The fear is that big data tech will become radioactive.
Imagine a bus full of school kids crashes because the driver was a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon.
Some smart SV engineer realizes their tech spotted the driver visited AA groups regularly & his wife just left him. The algorithm knows this data makes him an excellent target audience for _new alco-energy drink!_.
It doesn't really matter if the technology is even capable of that yet, what matters is that this is the sort of outcome that adtech engineers are trying to create.
I just realized we are not even talking about AI.
I think you could say the same thing about IP addresses. A website might log the IP addresses of people who visit them, or they might not, but quite a lot of tracking is feasible. The problem with focusing on feasibility there, is that you end up with an answer like "yes, just like every other website in the world, Facebook can track you when you're logged out." Assuming Zuckerberg has been coached to High Heaven not to gives answers like that, it seems fair to respond to the question as though it was asking about the internal details of what Facebook does with cookies / IP addresses / browser fingerprints.
Cookies are almost certainly irrelevant to FB's ability to track people, and Zuck certainly knows it.
His response there was an unequivocal lie.
I am guessing because I used the app at some point on my phone it fingerprinted it, then Instagram goes and fingerprints it when you install and links your account even when you decline to do so.
Think about the times your phone is near your friends phones, how your phone probably sits in the same space every night, the overlap between your IP location to whatever other devices connect behind your NAT which also send data to FB.
3 years ago uber got popped for this:
I can tell you that fingerprinting is still possible today.
By definition, ad tracking (cookies etc...) is opaque to most people and explaining it publicly would make it seem like FB is doing something more nefarious than others.
It's an important discussion but his response would just make FB seem way worse on that specific issue than highlighting how the entire ad network ecosystem works.
Even those of us without FB accounts (with forgone networking opportunities) are at risk because we all have friends without the same cynicism.
The only ad network in front of Congress today, was Facebook. 'Everyone else is doing it' or 'this is the nature of the business' doesn't qualify as an excuse. Perhaps it could have been good for the large public to know what goes on with ad networks these days.
Any legislation that comes out of this hearing wouldn't apply only to Facebook. Facebook admitting the extent of its tracking could help clean up the "entire ad network ecosystem."
Found it, Question from Mr. Wicker ~1:36 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAZiDRonYZI
Senator: How do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?
Zuckerberg (in a disdainful tone): Senator, we run ads.
Edit: I directly transcribed the exchange
Think of it as like when you're on the witness stand and the attorney asks you a question. It's not because he doesn't know the answer. It's because he wants you to say the answer, to make it part of the public record and to have the jury hear it.
Speaking of juries, the arrogance of Zuckerberg's answer wouldn't win any points with a jury, either. He walked into a trap right there.
It's fun to bust on our parents & politicos but I'm pretty sure anybody who managed to raise you, or especially get into the Senate, has a much more extensive and nuanced understanding of life (and politics) than you think.
This has never been secret and has been "on record" for a very long time. I think most people will see the absolutely dismal lack of technical understanding by Congress rather than any arrogance by Facebook as they too get fed up with these aimless questions.
Questions like this are really just asking Zuckerberg to introduce his business in a controlled way.
Been a secret to "whom"? Not secret to technical people, no. There are plenty of non-technical people who still don't understand the "you are the product not a customer" trope. They see this free "talk to your family" service which sometimes shows ads which they ignore. They might answer the "how FB makes money question?" with "I don't know, maybe some people pay for it. Or maybe they are just nice and give it away for free".
Other questions might have been stupid but that particular one was typical of how a police investigator might start questioning or how a lawyer might cross examine a witness.
> I think most people will see the absolutely dismal lack of technical understanding by Congress
Back in the day I used to think of lawyers asking witness questions on the stand the same way: "Why do you ask him if he knows the victim, of course he does, these lawyers are sure not very bright..."
You really think most people have more technical understanding than these senators?
Also yes, based on their questions and age, I do think most people have a better understanding. Just the expressions of the other audience members and staff in the room shows the frustration.
When Google first showed up and just tossed some ads at the top of your search results based solely on the search terms, that was actually helpful. It wasn't something that people were creeped out by until they were tracking you everywhere to sell even more targeted ads.
Since newspapers and TV don't have that tracking capability, the advertisements are annoying but not unsettling, I think.
You say that, but I'd just like to remind you that Louie Gohmert (my home state fwiw) was a judge. And is now in the house.
I think a lot of these questions have been like that, but ultimately the senators couldn't figure out how to phrase what they were getting at and both sides floundered to understand what was going on.
edit: as an example was another senator, "mr funny guy", who was trying to ask if facebook tracks how people use other apps or devices, I'm still not sure, even when they aren't logged in or something. I saw 3 possible questions that he was trying to ask and they all would have been good but I don't think either of them understood what he was asking so they went back and forth uselessly. Could have been some hard hitting commentary on the bundling of permissions, or the bundling of fb with a phone, or the ability for fb to track other app usage, or the ability of fb to track users on websites even when not logged in. oh well.
Just in case, FB ARPU in US in Q4 2017 was $27. People who talk about "i ready to pay 10$ per year if im not tracked and not exposed to ads" _seriously_ underestimate FB money-printing ability.
Think about it, FB makes almost as much as NFLX per US user (admittedly in Q4, the hottest quarter in advertising), but you dont need to enter your credit card. At all.
There is no large audience in any developed market willing to pay $15+ per month for Facebook just to remove ads.
The problem is getting from zero to critical mass with that model. Though I guess that doesn't stop a lot of other companies with less plausible revenue sources from getting seemingly endless money thrown at them.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it would ever work, because I may value my privacy at more than a few bucks a month, but it's a near certainty that the vast majority of the population disagrees with me. They don't see the cost there, so they ignore it. By the time they ever realize what it was they gave up and for how little, it's too late.
But you just said you just need your family and some friends. That doesn't sound like critical mass is needed. Just convince your family and some friends to join with you, and enjoy the service together. Then your friends can invite their friends and family, and so on and so forth.
Yeah I understand the goal of capitalist companies is to endlessly print more money for the shareholders and the promise of ever better advertising enables FB to keep pulling in the dough. But maybe something like social media shouldn't operate in that context.
Maybe there needs to be an old-lawyer to SME translator doing the talking too. This person questions a SME on behalf of the senators and they can speak up or seek clarification when needed. Proofread questions and competent speech.
And right there is where your plan fails.
Absolutely! Github, Dropbox, etc, that's how tons of "freemium" companies work.
That's how WhatsApp started to fund itself, I remember there being a nominal annual charge ( £1 ) for some users but not for all. There didn't seem to be any obvious rule as to who was pinged to pay-up, perhaps it really was random.
But that was discontinued after they were acquired.
Maybe but that particular quote "Zuckerberg (in a disdainful tone): Senator, we run ads." is not an example of it. Sometimes they ask really basic questions, not because they don't know the answer to it, but to enter it into the record. It's how a police or how cross examination starts, get them to admit basic stuff then later make them contradict themselves. Another reason for basic "stupid" questions is to provide information for others who many not be aware. We all know how FB makes money, but that might not extend to people who aren't proficient technically (think grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles...).
Zuckerberg: "WhatsApp messages are fully encrypted."
S: "But can it spit out some algorithmic thing that will affect ads?"
Z: "Facebook's systems don't see the content of your messages."
S: "But could they talk to each other, even if no human ever sees the content?"
The way they scoped that question to WhatsApp and not Messenger seemed quite deliberate.
WhatsApp is sold as an E2E encrypted service, and an admission that WhatsApp message data (or even metadata) is somehow used for advertising as well would be a huge admission.
> Him admitting they serve ads based on Messenger content means nothing, we already know that they do.
I don't think that has been confirmed (source if so?), and I think that's what the question should have attempted to confirm.
But they're probably doing so much more with Messenger and their 'shadow profiles'.
WW2 generals were very arguably some of the greatest military minds the world has ever seen. They rapidly adopted what was radically new military technology at the time and figured out how to use it extraordinarily effectively through understanding it.
Eisenhower, Montgomery, Rommel, MacArthur, Patton, Bradley would immediately understand drone strikes.
I guarantee their questions would be vastly superior in every regard to what I just watched at the hearing today.
Z: "No, you would not see ads about Black Panther". (Paraphrased, don't have transcript)
I'm just a bit miffed that we're effectively holding another obscenities hearing while the only thing going on with the Equifax debacle is that a tech manager has been charged with insider trading.
Assuming you're only considering the computer security definition of "exploit", I'm not totally sure why this matters.
User data was obtained via means not allowed by Facebook. Facebook realized this & didn't disclose it to the US government or its users, as required (or, at the very least questionably required) by its consent decree with the FTC. Based on this, it's not out of line for the government to question Facebook about this.
That's what I'm asking. 1) Is it alleged that CA found a flaw in FB's design and 2) did something illegal with it? I've seen accounts alluding to that, but that makes me think that it is entirely by design and it's just be framed negatively for the greatest political impact.
I don't know for sure if Facebook can be seen as being complicit in breaking US election law. I think their issues are completely domestic as it stands right now. But I'm not a lawyer.
Whether you consider that an 'exploit' or not is subjective. It's certainly not an 'exploit' in the more common infosec sense.
But the real issue here is that Facebook was complicit in electing Donald Trump. It's political.
This bit is really terrifying to me. I don't support Trump, but the idea that we're going to make it even harder for "unapproved" political candidates should make everyone's skin crawl.
Simultaneously, there were tens of thousands of foreign nationals demonstrating in the streets of major cities all over the country, and this is "approved." This is why I'm left wondering: what are we after?
First it's Russia and now it's Cambridge Analytica. Unless you can trace CA's business activities to foreign hires or somehow devaluing the influence of the former for the latter, even though the Russian angle was what was being pushed around for a good while as The Reason Trump became so favoured (rather than actual failures of the Democratic party!), methinks it's just the alphabet agencies and co. looking for excuses.
1. FB users took a personality survey conducted by some researchers at Cambridge University.
2. Then one of those researchers sold the data they'd collected on FB users to the newly formed Cambridge Analytica.
3. The Trump campaign employed CA and CA used this data to directly message FB users who'd completed the personality survey
At some point, FB learned of this unapproved resale of this data and requested that CA delete the data set. But CA did not delete the data set.
Assuming I have the story right, what I don't quite get is: why didn't FB start aggressively suing people who'd taken this data and misused it? FB could have started with a lawsuit against the researcher who sold the data in the first place.
So ... what about now? Wouldn't it be a good move for FB to start taking legal action against CA, the survey group, and anyone in sight in order to create the impression that they want to protect user data?
I'm thinking of corporations like Oracle, Microsoft, and Disney (very litigious corporations) -- isn't this a good time for FB to start acting more like those companies?
Facebook's position is that they should have done more to stop companies like CA from being in a position to abuse user data - and implicitly, that there's no need for strong regulations to make them do it. Suing everyone in sight would make it seem like they're trying to create a narrative where they did nothing wrong.
When you ask very specific questions you get "I need to get back to you on that", right?
There is clearly a conflict of interest there. In a public hearing the CEO of his own company is basically forced into giving up their trade secrets on how and why his company even got so successful in the business of ad targeting.
The question is: In his place, what would you do? Tell everything and potentially break your own company, your system, life achievement, whatever? Or be careful and vague to save it? I'm not trying to defend his position, but rather to understand it. In any case, he maneuvered himself and his company in a situation where it'll be impossible to keep secrets anymore. Nothing will ever be the same, and he is responsible for it, because it was his idea and his intention behind enabling his company to connect people by selling ads.
I imagine the story of Facebook as this. In the beginning Facebook was just another campus project gone wild. But then there was an idea to grow beyond the campus, somehow. The question arose: where do we get the money? Answer: Well, we do online ads. Later: How do we grow world-wide? We need even more money, we need to bring in and convince investors, that we have a vast network of ads and that's basically a dead-sure cash cow. So, Facebook mutated from an innocent campus project into a cash cow, just because that's the way it goes. But, it doesn't mean that it's right. So, the question is: What does Facebook do to keep ahead of its competition (Apple, Google, ... as Zuck said)? It's a trade secret, right?
Would this not be adequately explained by the first movers advantage (or maybe not the very first, but very early), coupled with the network effect?
It's just the network effect. Google Plus was ahead of Facebook in multiple ways, but it just couldn't take off (sure the fact that Google set unrealistic goals and followed an awful strategy didn't help)
There's always a middle ground. You give up a bit of privacy and benefit from some product "free of charge". See? The questions are how much is "a bit", who decides what is in it and who decides who gets what? To agree on middle ground there need to be ground rules/terms. So, the problem is that Facebook alone is deciding upon which rules users get to use their services.
I agree with you that there needs to be ground rules/terms, but in the form of regulation.
If Google chose a middle ground, they'd give away the Pixel phones for free, or at least heavily subsidized. But they don't have to, so they don't.
If no one stops you, sell on both ends.
There's arguments for and against this:
For: Newspapers and magazines are an example of selling a product full of advertising.
Against: However many online businesses and a lot of iOS/Android apps do offer paid plans that turn off the ads and nothing else.
It all revolves around what you define as 'a bit' and as long as there is a billion more to be earned by stretching that definition it will be stretched.
“Lots of stories about apps misusing Apple Data. Never heard of Apple notifying anyone”
Perhaps some service providers are only (or primarily) contactable for complaints via Facebook (and maybe Twitter and a couple of others), and therefore to contact them you need an account with one of those companies.
So perhaps to participate in society without a disadvantage, you need an account with Facebook Inc, or at least I think that's the idea.
(Also, there are alternatives to oil! If you don't like the service provided by Oil Inc, you can buy your energy from Electricity Ltd instead.)
IIRC, they're trying to become the blue collar linkedin.
They just launched that recently! Maybe soon!!!
Facebook as a monopoly is bad in the same way that Microsoft as a monopoly was/is bad because while you can still work on your computer using Linux, you'll have a hard time opening Word documents from the latest MS Office release that contain non-trivial formatting.
You can probably still use the document but you are disadvantaged.
It's a quasi-monopoly. They don't operate a resource necessary for survival, Microsoft never did either, but not participating in their quasi-monopoly puts you at a disadvantage.
Sure, but that doesn't mean we don't evaluate new issues as they crop up. If FB is unwittingly aiding in a genocide then it's reasonable to ask questions. People killed other people before nuclear bombs were invented, but they changed the playing field and allowed for far more destruction than was previously possible.
Sure Facebook could implement some system that uses AI and humans to catch hate speech. Then the debate shifts to what exactly is hate speech, should Facebook a private company be determing what hate speech is? Truth be told it is the Senators who should be determining what hate speech is and providing the laws that balance freedom of expression and hate speech. It isn't Facebook's job. Yes it should be discussed. I felt Senator didn't think through or didn't know what the implications of allowing Facebook to determine what content is allowed and what content isn't allowed.
> MZ: "There will always be a version of Facebook that is free.
Coming soon, Facebook Pro(TM)! Literally putting a price on your privacy.
I imagine that will play out like Apps on iOS and Android that you buy the Ad-Free version of only have have Ads show up a year later.
You buy your privacy and they change the ToS sothat you're not.
Facebook isn't useful to customers without wide adoption.
Facebook can't have wide adoption if it's paid.
Facebook needs revenue.
People want to guard privacy.
If you mean purged, then do you also mean that it is zeroed off of the disk by a multiple low-level pass?
This would be hard to prosecute for perjury as the definition of "deleted" can be construed in many ways.
"Did you delete the data or not?"
"Yes, we deleted the data."
"Then how is it that we're all sitting here looking at it?"
This modern fiction of pretending something is deleted just because someone set a flag called "deleted" has about as much relevance to actual deletion as the evil bit in an IPv4 header has to actual Internet security. It's not deleted in any technical sense, nor in the common English meaning of the word.
Sure, but no-one is testifying before a senior government committee that such files were "deleted" in a context where deletion is clearly understood to mean making permanently irretrievable. If the committee called any IT expert to give evidence and asked if data had really been deleted under those conditions, surely no-one who understood the technicalities would say yes.
Computers have worked this way since forever.
A lot of things have been done "since forever" in the computer age. The fact that some of those things might not be good ideas and public awareness has finally reached the point where something might actually be done about it is rather the point here.
If there was a requirement to do something with the data and it was not done then you failed, technical jargon and implementation details are irrelevant.
Delete is a technical word that has a specfiic meaning. Unlike most language, technical terms are (to some degree) clearly defined and should not change over time or with common usage. Whether people misinterpret the word arbitrarily is not important when experts are being consulted - they use the word as defined. The word delete means what it means, and any expert giving testimony about it would use the same definition. It certainly doesn't mean removing information completely from existence with no possibility of it surviving in any way or ever being retrieved.
Let think of an example where a government employee has a requirement to destroy documents and computer records as part of normal operations. Would marking the document as "destroyed" and then put in the basement be acceptable? Similarly, would marking the computer record in a database as "inaccessible" be enough? I personally doubt that the court would accept either method.
Respectfully, if that were true, we wouldn't all be having this discussion.
I understand this is perhaps a cultural difference to the US.
There are ways to design data retention around deletable constraints like this. The bigger question is more like “do we trust facebook to agree with us on what deleting an account acually means?”
For isntance, i’m curious if you delete your account whether they still do the shadow account tracking. I’m betting they do.
Are you operating at scale? I hope you have a very robust backup system (including enough that you can even recover from something like the Sony hack), and so you're going to need to ensure that you delete it from those systems. And then, you're dealing with 100s (1000s? 10000s?) of these deletions a day. Do you want that to be instant? Are you really that confident in your deletion that you want it instantly overwriting your backups? How are you resistant to the Sony hack in that case? ...
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is," Clinton responded.
Tech illiteracy is on full-display; we're not even talking 'power-users' (who were on UseNet, btw), these people are lost. Zuckerberg had to be gracious and say his team would follow-up on many things that it was clear the Senator didn't even understand. This is supposed to be our smart chamber.
That entire testimony was very unsatisfying, in my opinion.
Regardless of the technical literacy of the individuals, they need to ask questions that their constituents will want to know they asked. They are covering their bases so that the media can't play a "Gotcha!" game and say "You were representing the people of the Great State of $YOUR_STATE_HERE, and you didn't even ask Facebook why they invite hackers into their own systems?!". This would look bad for the politician if, by some crazy happenstance, the bug bounty becomes implicated in the boogeyman of the big bad "Russian hackers".
While I don't discount the possibility that many such lines of questioning were borne out of sincere ignorance, the public perception is what matters, regardless of individual competence, knowledge, or ability.
These committee events are just exhibitions to allow politicians to score points back home. Any real work will be done by grossly overpaid lobbyists writing policy that benefits their clients, and grossly underpaid Congressional staffers just trying to work it through the session while protecting Their Guy from potential damage/backlash.
After watching dozens of hours of congressional hearings over the past 2 years, this is not at all surprising. These committees have no teeth.
The goal was not satisfaction. The goal was to allow the Senators to be able to tell their constituents they did something about the Facebook problem, to the vast majority of whom "Congressional hearing" will sound serious and consequential.
edit: The downvotes tell me that most people don't understand how these committees work. Here's a hint: they have no teeth. Nothing will happen as a result of this hearing.
If you're receiving questions that weren't published prior to the interview it's perfectly understandable that not all questions can be answered immediately. In fact, I'd be more suspicious if he answered everything without needing to follow up. If however you're the one raising a question, I think it's your responsibility to ensure that you or someone on your team someone does some basic research and due diligence beforehand.
Saying that oh look it's okay they're not incompetent, it's just they just delegated to people who were incompetent doesn't make it any better.
Right so I'm not expecting him to answer _every_ question without referring to his staff. There were, however, key controversial questions which he did not answer by claiming he didn't know something immediately.
> If however you're the one raising a question, I think it's your responsibility to ensure that you or someone on your team someone does some basic research and due diligence beforehand.
Zuck was brought in front of the committee to discuss troubling behavior and troubling allegations. While you don't want to ask a nonsensical question, I don't think there's a requirement to be very informed about the subject matter. A number of questions by the committee seemed exploratory or seemed to be simply looking to clarify some rumor/allegation, some were indeed technically misinformed or misunderstood questions, but by and large a lot of the questions that were asked were competent and necessary.
Why would you think that? This is a time limited, one day high profile public hearing.
Can you give some examples please? Having not watched much of this live, nor read the paraphrased feed, I'm interested to know what controversial areas you think were dodged.
- John Cornyn asks whether all of a user's data is deleted when their account is deleted. Zuckerberg says, "We should delete all your information." Cornyn: "Should, or do??". Zuckerberg: "We do".
- Later on, Cory Gardner reads parts of Facebook's terms of service stating that backup copies of data may persist for some time after an account has been deleted. Zuckerberg pulls the old, "I'm not sure how it works, I'll have my team follow up". He really seems to want to avoid saying outright that 100% of your data is deleted, because it isn't, "log records" (open to broad definition) are only somewhat anonymized: https://www.facebook.com/help/125338004213029
- Gardner also asks whether Zuckerberg thinks users are aware that they are tracked every time they are logged in in another tab and visit a website with a Like button on it. Zuckerberg says, he thinks people are aware, they should be able to infer that from the context we show them about their friends liking the page.
- During questioning by Sheldon Whitehouse, Zuckerberg says users can download all data Facebook has about them. This is false. The "download your data" button only gives you data from your direct interaction with Facebook, and definitely does not include the sites they've tracked you on around the Internet.
Not sure whether any of these dodges bordering on lies could be prosecuted for lying to Congress, but sure would be interesting to see that tried.
The fact that they called Zuck out on "what hotel did you stay at last night" and "if you messaged any friends in the last week, can you please share the first names of the people you messaged in the last week?"
and Zuck: "no I will not share that publicly"
Senator: "Well, thats the reason why we are here, isn't it?"
The fact that they were prepared with these questions only makes the matter worse with the majority being irrelevant and aimless shots in the dark. They are the designated lawmakers with the power here, they absolutely need to do a better job.
Facebook has to stay competitive and work with realities with the world. Politicians are paid from taxpayer money and don't have to pay for their decisions.
Politicians are not stupid. They can hire smart tech people to ask smart questions but it does not matter to them. Ted Cruz will still keep his job even if he asks stupid questions. Marc on other hand lose billions of dollars if he makes stupid decisions.
The politicians there do not care about privacy or you and me. That is just pretence. All they care about is how they can benefit from Facebook's $$$$. How can they use Facebook's success to gain more power.
Most of these politicians support unauthorised searches and snooping. These hearings are all farce and I hope Zuck comes out as a winner.
IMO on way too many things, even when it was clear that the senators did understand what they were asking.. and it wasn't because of grace or politeness, it was the new 'I plead the fifth'
I’m pretty tech minded, and I fucking abhor Facebook and Google for the way they behave as a matter of business.
Don’t assume that because you might feel inclined to give tech a pass because it’s tech, that others would too.
.I work on Capitol Hill
Surely he can't mean this, right?
I tend to agree with him. Facebook just happens to be the most popular Internet social network, right now, but there is nothing that makes it a monopoly.
Anyone could replace it, there is nothing actively stopping them from doing so.
I'm sure for decades the Ford Motor Company was thought of as a Monopoly... and then they went bankrupt, and that's just one company that comes to mind right now.
Facebook, on the other hand, what other network can I use? Twitter isn't really the same thing. Most people outside of China don't have WeChat (and why would I voluntarily give anything to the Chinese government). Same with LINE (Korea, Taiwan) and VK (Facebook for Russia). Instagram, which really isn't the same as Facebook is owned by Facebook, as is WhatsApp. The only competitor is Google+, and is that even still going? Is it really a competing social media network if no one I know is on it?
Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
By your definition, nothing can ever be a monopoly, can it?
> I tend to agree with him. Facebook just happens to be the most popular Internet social network, right now
And it will remain the most popular one as long as it's allowed to continue buy the up and coming ones. People are fleeing Facebook for Instagram.
Sure there is; all of the people on FB already. The fact that the software can be replicated is not the only consideration. If, in practice, they have a virtual monopoly due to user lock in then it's a reasonable debate to have.
I'm certainly out of my depth on the legal end of this, but your definition is far too simplistic.
But users aren't locked in. They have not paid a yearly fee which still has 11 months left, they don't have to pay a fee to leave, and they don't have to pay a fee to join the other network.
Users can come and go as they please, and there are alternatives they can use, if they choose.
If they don't want to use the other network because their friends aren't on it, that's just their choice, not "lock in".
When you're actually dealing with human customers and users, it's nearly impossible to convince them to switch once they're comfortable with a product or service. Those people have to be tremendously inconvenienced to do so, while simultaneously being presented with a great alternative - often it requires a 10x-style superior product that isn't just great, it's a huge leap over what's already available.
Switching costs are immense with Facebook. If you have 100 friends on there, and you're the first to abandon their network and move to a new social network where none of your friends exists - that's a huge cost for the average person. It may or may not be a cost to you, it is an immense cost to most people. That also applies if you attempt to maintain profiles on both networks, it's a time and annoyance/inconvenience cost, people hate such.
While I don't entirely agree with this line of argument, it's usually argued that there is in fact a very massive cost in attempting to do so and that Facebook has a very large moat with its network effect. It's very difficult to unseat an entrenched & dominant company in any field first of all, second you need large amounts of capital to compete in such a set market. You have to change the minds of practically every adult American and switch them away from a product they already know and are comfortable with (that is also 'free' to use), that's beyond difficult.
Look at how much capital Facebook raised pre IPO, you will need more than that to unseat them; no venture capitalist is going to give you that (which is why nobody is seeding Facebook competitors with billions of dollars, despite the fact that they'll earn $20 billion in profit this year; it's the same reason nobody is seeding Google competitors by the thousands).
> I'm sure for decades the Ford Motor Company was thought of as a Monopoly... and then they went bankrupt
Ford Motor Company has never gone bankrupt. Perhaps you're thinking of GM, which has been dominant in the US over Ford since 1932.
Just within the US, I guess you have to conclusively define what it has a monopoly in, i.e. what is "social networking". For online messaging there is iMessage, Hangouts, Skype, Snapchat. Photo sharing - Snapchat again, Twitter, probably even just email. For videos there is YouTube. For maps and check-ins there is Foursquare, Yelp. And the concept of having an online identity tying all these services together is done by Google as well.
FB is about making $$ with ads, the social aspect is a drug for the eyeballs. Why didn't they just ask him if he considered himself the worlds digital drug dealer?
Congress acting all worried "you have our private information and going to use it against us", where were you when the net neutrality vote was the topic?
Is that no longer true?
He's smart and capable but I don't think he has perspective. Perhaps he never did.
Can we apply the same principles in the case of Facebook?