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Twitter’s deletion of its FB app caused old cross-posts to temporarily disappear (techcrunch.com)
324 points by prostoalex 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 212 comments

Facebook did not purposely remove the cross-posted tweets. Twitter removed their app from the Facebook platform which had this as an unfortunate result.

Source: https://www.axios.com/how-cross-posted-tweets-disappeared-fr...

> Twitter removed their app from the Facebook platform which had this as an unfortunate result.

> TechCrunch also heard from a source with understanding of the situation that the deletion of the app took Facebook by surprise, as well as the fact that Twitter didn’t immediately tell them to restore the content

These statements seem to indicate that Twitter was to blame for removing their app. However, from the axios link:

> ...the Twitter app for the Facebook platform was essentially made useless earlier this month once Facebook officially removed the ability to cross-post.

> With the app's sole function eliminated, Twitter decided to delete it from the Facebook platform, having no reason to think that doing so would remove old tweets that were cross-posted.

> It's not clear whether Facebook knew this would happen, either.

Looks like Facebook did not know that Twitter would delete their app, and Twitter did not know that deleting the app would delete the content. I can understand why Facebook would have such a policy for deleted apps, and I can understand why Twitter doesn't want to have a "dead" app that's active on the Facebook platform. They probably just ought to have spoken to each other.

> They probably just ought to have spoken to each other.

Twitter probably should have just done the dive to verify what deleting an app does. I would guess this is mentioned somewhere in the docs.

Ok. So I spent a while on https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ and in particular on https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/ trying to find documentation on deleting your app. Wasn't very successful, and the search-box on the site wasn't very helpful either. In fact, the most useful documentation I could find on deleting a facebook app as a developer was on stackoverflow (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/9962072/how-can-i-delete...).

Perhaps someone who is a facebook app developer can chip in to say if this info is in their docs somewhere...

I stopped developing Facebook apps a few years ago, but when we wound down our games, we did not delete the apps fearing precisely this problem, or related future problems like app name impersonation, squatting, etc. It just seemed too easy to imagine scenarios where deleting the apps could cause trouble, and the docs were useless for this.

We simply turned the apps off (don't remember exact wording). Last I checked my dev email, I was still getting emails from Facebook warning of API changes and informing of our games' metrics and activity (!), so it is true that deleting an app is cleaner.

Facebook probably shouldn't be destructive by default..

I've always asked this question, who exactly are "They"?

The person at Twitter about to press the delete button and a member of Facebook's developer relations team.

They will almost certainly have assigned reps in the other company they can reach out to for things like this. They may be competitors but they're still active on the other platforms.

> almost certainly

Present situation leads me to believe otherwise..

So we have two billion-dollar companies here, with billions of users, and not one person thought about sending an email to check what would happen.

The title has been changed to "Twitter’s deletion of its Facebook app caused old cross-posts to temporarily disappear" on techcrunch.

The Hacker News title should be updated as well.

It should, but since the mods appear to be in one geo, HN goes unmoderated half of the time.

Given the actual content of the update, the "temporarily" sounds more hopeful than factual.

"Move Fast and Break Things"

This is a great example of big tech companies not thinking about the consequences of their actions.

I guess that works or might have worked when Cybersecurity wasn’t as equally important as it is now. In addition, people are getting smarter and more aware of what happens on the “internet’s” these days. So that approach of allowing anyone accessing everyone information had to run its course and reach the end of line.

This is pretty crazy. For people whose job is social media, this is basically the equivalent of Github just arbitrarily deciding they're going to delete all of your startup's source code without telling anyone in advance, or like Google Docs just deciding to disappear all your spreadsheets.

With only a couple months until election season, Facebook is now literally editing politician's pages and deleting the campaign material they've created to communicate with the voters in their districts.

No, it’s the equivalent of GitHub deciding to remove all the code that you automatically re-post from SourceForge.

In what way, AT ALL, was this this feature good for FACEBOOK?

It meant people could be “on” Facebook and “active” without ever actually logging in or using the app or engaging in any way.

Why would they want to just be a dumping ground for copies of another social network’s posts?

I guess I’m surprised this was allowed in the first place, or at least not removed many years ago.

It's the other way around. Why does Facebook think it has the right to remove years of their users' contributions?

As the years march on, I think we'll see more and more data protection laws in favor of users rather than companies. Data is the new uranium, not the new oil. It needs to be protected and taken seriously.

You can argue that it's Facebook's site and that they can do whatever they want. I argue that they cause material harm to users by removing years worth of social interactions among their family and friends. Emotional harm is still harm, and it should be treated as such.

In other words, it's a shame that they didn't catch this use case sooner, but that's really not the users' problem. The fact is, users were doing this. And now that they've been doing this, it's unethical to wipe all of their conversations just because you feel you can.

The largest companies are mostly monopolies. When there's nowhere else to go to have a conversation with the people you care about, what are you supposed to do when companies suddenly tell you that your conversations are violating their terms of service?


“Data is the new uranium, not the new oil”.

Looks like Facebook is sitting on the largest legal liability of the 21st century.

It’s kind of like being a major manufacturer in the US in 1970...you’re about to get screwed by 40+ years of environmental law (considering the river in Cleveland caught in fire in 1969, one can see why some of these laws were passed).

*caught fire 13 times

(river is the Cuyahoga)

The Great Lakes Brewing Company has a Burning River Pale Ale as a toast to that. https://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/burning-river

Just some?

I'm all in favor of restricting what companies do with our data, but mandating that they continue to host everything we post ad infinitum? That doesn't seem reasonable to me.

At the very least they're completely breaking the social contract they have with their users. Users post their data, they get the service, in return for Facebook making money off of that data. If Facebook decides to stop providing a service that keeps people on Facebook, Facebook will stop getting the data.

Users paid for the service with their data, which Facebook can turn into money. The idea that users don't "pay" for Facebook ignores what Facebook does.

I feel like you're conflating what I said with a sibling comment. Paying has nothing to do with my point, and I don't see what social contract that Facebook is obligated to host anything and everything they once allowed forever.

They built the feature that people's post histories stay forever. They promoted it, with things like memory posts. People used it with the expectation that it would stay.

They took the posts down, with zero warning, zero hey we're deprecating this, back up your things. If your stuff was taken down and you care about it, one would hope that you would trust facebook less.

Yes I agree but didn't this just happen? It's not like they actually deleted anything, maybe it's an initial twitter purge for impact, and they'll restore the old ones after some breif period? Toward your point, Facebook is currently promoting themselves as newly invigorated protectors of your data, which certainly implys retention.

and this is exactly why Archiveteam has to exist: https://archiveteam.org

They try to stay ahead of troves of data going dark so they can save them somewhere first.

I'm uprading my current storage capabilities so I can make a few backups of some sites as well (HN might be a good first test)

Why does Facebook think it has the right to remove years of their users' contributions?

Huh? We're talking about Facebook refusing to keep reposting stuff from another site. That seems like exactly the opposite of the stuff Facebook might have some responsibility for, if it did have responsibility for stuff.

I mean, obviously, it's ambiguous whether Facebook is a repository, a gate-keeper, a community, a blogging-site or what. But the situation of stuff being reposted from other sites seems to be the least repository like. Deleting years of stuff that might not exist in other places would certainly be much more draconian.

> We're talking about Facebook refusing to keep reposting stuff from another site.

We're talking about how Facebook not only turned off the API that enabled reposting, but removed all past posts that were made via that API. Which, at that point, was exactly the kind of user data that they had responsibility for.

Well the good news is that Facebook seems to be incapable of actually deleating anything so I’m sure this data is not lost forever ;)

> We're talking about how Facebook not only turned off the API that enabled reposting, but removed all past posts that were made via that API.

No, they cut off the API. The old posts were still there, and tied to the apps that were used to send them. When Twitter then killed their app (apparently, because it wouldn't be usable going forward and in ignorance of the way existing posts were tied to it), then the old posts that were made through that app were deleted. Not because they had used the API, but because they were associated with a removed app.

I'd assume posts made with the API would exist still on Twitter.

The fb discussion threads those posts initiated are gone, though.

If this happened to me I'd be extremely upset: I've had many very good discussions on Facebook that it would hurt to lose.

I assume you haven’t downloaded a copy for yourself yet?

I would not assume Facebook has any duty to maintain historical posts. That would be up to the TOS.

Legally, they do not, of course. But it's generally considered rude to do something like that with zero warning.

Another angle is that I would like to have the right to demand that FB remove any and all mention of me, my handle(s), or posts I have made on any non-FB property.

I would want to ensure that FB can't host data which I submit to twitter/reddit/HN without providing me the authority to be able to request its removal from FB.

I'd think that this could set some precedent to allow for this.

Clearly, though, the FB anti-stance would be that it cannot do so in such granular fashion, which clearly is not true given the fact that any data/posts are tied to both source site and source person...

This is a point I hadn't considered.

I'm guessing it may be temporary. Either a by-product of change or intentional(wipe Facebook of the tweets to drive home the message they've eliminated this feature, then silently start displays the old ones in a few months). Seems unlikely that Facebook deleted something.

> I've had many very good discussions on Facebook that it would hurt to lose.

I genuinely don't mean to be snarky, but that's a surprise. I have literally zero Facebook discussions I even remember, let alone "would hurt to lose".

> Deleting years of stuff that might not exist in other places would certainly be much more draconian.

This is exactly what the report says they did. The original post may exist on Twitter, but the conversation that happened on Facebook does not.

I just checked my feed, and my Twitter posts do seem to still be on my FB profile, at least when I look at it.

> Why does Facebook think it has the right to remove years of their users' contributions?

I'm guessing that since their fleet of lawyers wrote that wall of legalease everyone must have clicked on, they are pretty sure exactly what their rights are w.r.t who owns the contributions voluntarily sent to their servers.

Property rights must have seemed a radical idea at the time they were first introduced. And the time seems right for data rights. Actions like this only solidify the need for such protections.

One of the central questions of our generation is, who owns the data we create? Do we, or do the corporations?

Seeing as Zuck was dragged in front of congress back in April, I think questions like these will only become more important over time.

> Why does Facebook think it has the right to remove years of their users' contributions

Why would they not have the right to control content posted on their platform?

If someone lets me and all my friends communicate by posting signs on their front lawn for free, should they have an obligation to keep my signs on their lawn until I decide to remove it?

Saying it causes emotional harm is a pretty weak defense. Basically any action can cause emotional harm to someone.

FB might not have that right, in practice, if the poster feels that their posts are their own.

My "wall" is not generally referred to as "FB's wall documenting ISL's interaction with friends", but rather, "ISL's wall".

If a society believes a thing to be true, it will tend to vote in politicians to make it so, whether it is presently contractually written that way or not.

If it becomes an established practice, over several decades... probably?

Over several decades, they definitely do have that obligation. With just signs, it'd be hard to make a case for adverse possession, but easy to make the case for an easement.

If you're a little more permissive and let someone live in a little hut on your lawn, then after several decades, they'll own the lawn, and you won't.

> Why does Facebook think it has the right to remove years of their users' contributions?

How much were they paying for the service?

Exactly as much as Facebook would allow them to.

And exactly as much as Facebook asked them to.

That's a clever re-framing, let me try: how many users would Facebook have if they charged $0.01 to sign up?

In terms of money, as in "pretend you can insert your penny into the front of the computer", probably about the same number.

(But even a 0¢ credit card requirement would have an enormous negative impact.)

Thousands of dollars worth of my time.

They paid with their attention.

The concept of "emotional harm" is absurd post-modern nonsense. I am responsible for my own emotions, not Mark Zuckerberg.

> No, it’s the equivalent of get hub deciding to remove all the code that you automatically re-post from SourceForge.

People do regularly mirror repositories to github, and there'd be serious problems if github prevented that or somehow tried to force you to have your github repository as the "canonical" home of your project.

Honestly it’s not a great analogy because GitHub and SourceForge exist to promote cooperation and open code.

That’s not really what Facebook is for, it’s not supposed to be ANOTHER place to find your tweets.

I’m trying to come up with a better analogy but I’m not doing very good.

Analogies only derail arguments into being about whether the analogy captures the issue. Alex3917's analogy was bad and unnecessary, you called that out, it's now ok to leave the analogies buried and discuss what facebook did and why, rather than hunt for another hypothetical different-website-doing-different-thing analogy to start the process over.

"Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

Yes. On Facebook. They want people to login and use Facebook.

Auto posting tweets so that people can use Twitter and still appear to be on Facebook doesn’t help that mission.

It does help them build a better profile for that specific user though.

Facebook was not losing by this. If someone had connected their Twitter account, it meant they cared enough so they would be visiting Facebook, even if it was sporadically to check how their posts were doing and to see the necessary ads.

Actually "Platform" was a core pillar of the hoodie:


I liked the cross-posting because some people would comment on those Tweets on Facebook -- and then we could engage there. It did add value and wasn't just shoveled content.

Anyway, I'm not particularly upset. Seems more like Facebook shooting themselves in the foot, as now I really have no reason to visit the site.

And all those comments are gone now. That's the real "oof" of this for me, as someone who did most of my facebook posting via twitter :(.

Same here. I would regularly post to twitter and wait for it to appear on Facebook and track the conversation there. The majority of old high school friends and distant relatives _only_ keep up with me through Facebook.

When a post from two weeks ago didn't show up, I should've listened to my gut instinct to grab a recent dump of my FB data.

I kind of wonder how big/common this ever was in the first place. Except possibly companies.

Over the years, the few times I’d go on Facebook is when someone would respond to one of my cross-posted tweets. I set the feature up years ago, and naturally stopped interacting with Facebook, except again when someone would respond to my very active twitter through this feature.

I probably will basically not use Facebook now. I’m not super mad about it or annoyed, so hopefully this doesn’t come off that way - I’m pretty nuetral about it. I am perhaps abstractly annoyed that a comment someone made on my wall is now gone maybe. But to directly answer your question, I think at least with me, this was a very useful feature for Facebook. Again, I don’t care that I won’t be using Facebook anymore now, so just one instance of this being useful for Facebook and neither here nor there for the person.

Sure, it allowed you to just never log in, but practically speaking if you were using this feature but primarily active on twitter it actually tended to bring you to facebook when people engaged with you.

I used to use something like this (it was a third party app that only cross posted things tagged #fb) and honestly it made me use facebook more. Now my facebook is a ghost town because fuck if I'm gonna post something on two different sites when something happens to me in my life.

I can definitely see why people think this leads to lower engagement with facebook, but I actually expect that for the vast majority of users who used it, it was the only thing keeping them using it.

Can you please stop using allcaps for emphasis on HN? It's basically yelling, and the site guidelines ask you not to.


It's more the equivalent of GitHub deleting repos that are mirrors of other repos on other sites. This is something a lot of high-profile FOSS projects do, including Linux, to get more eyes on the code and make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Why should Facebook care where the post came from? It's still a post, and still gives Facebook the same access to the same data that it harvests and monetizes in the same way.

> In what way, AT ALL, was this this feature good for FACEBOOK?

This sums up the rationale of the platform economy rather nicely.

> It meant people could be “on” Facebook and “active” without ever actually logging in or using the app or engaging in any way.

Why would they want to just be a dumping ground for copies of another social network’s posts?

I could naively answer "because you actually want to provide a useful service for your users and not just make them hooked to your platform" - but yes, in the real world, your question is justified.

>In what way, AT ALL, was this this feature good for FACEBOOK? It meant people could be “on” Facebook and “active” without ever actually logging in or using the app or engaging in any way.

Active users? https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly...

This is why we need federated social media. I can port all my data to any platform and keep a copy of my own. then when facebook does this, I can just jump to another platform with almost no friction. EG a git repo of all my data/post and linked media that I can move from github -> gitlab

Okay, but don't get the illusion that things like Mastodon currently let you port your identity and your data.

Moving from one Mastodon instance to another involves starting over from scratch, just as much as moving from Twitter to Mastodon does. Federated portability sounds like a nice goal and I hear that some people are working on it, but nobody really knows what form it will take.

matrix.org is a great place to start. This can be the groundwork that you build all platforms from... maybe.

So, I work with a school that has several Twitter accounts that cross-post to a Facebook page. Many of the parents interact with the content on Facebook, rather that Twitter. This is a plus for Facebook.

> In what way, AT ALL, was this this feature good for FACEBOOK?

One of my friends only cross-posts from Twitter. He doesn't engage with Facebook, but if his posts stop appearing in my feed, I engage less.

Well if it's not good for a corporation then that's that, case closed, pack it in boys, we're done here.

Except for Github, every person using it has a copy of the repo and they can restore it. But for Facebook, only Facebook has the copy, and if it's deleted you're done. That's why Facebook is a terrible social platform, at least for social interactions that happen more than in one minute. Older social sites - like forums, etc. - had archives, could be backed up, etc. - but on Facebook, not only you can't properly hold a discussion, but everything you wrote can be removed at any time without any notice.

I think it would be a very smart move to plan for all of those things to happen.

I guess it’s not that big of a deal as there’s basically no interaction on past posts and not many people scroll down to see olds posts.


Why so? Do you think marketing is not a real job?

It's PR, but on the web. Unless PR is also not a job?

In my estimation Noam Chomsky has the best take on this:


Lots of companies use social media as an outreach channel to their readers and users. From Tmobile's offering of tech support over Twitter, to live tweets of news events by journalists in the field.

I can guarantee you, every large corporation has a social media team, possibly a sizeable one, and the people working there are kept very busy.

Holy shit... Literally ten years of Facebook posts and people's comments on them just up and disappeared from my profile. How is that ok?

How can this be an issue? Since when you can claim anything posted on FB and expect it to stay online forever? It's a private company in an unregulated field, they can do whatever they want. They could decide to close shop any time if they wanted.

Hopefully it's just a 'soft' delete, and this can be undone. I can't imagine FB actually hard-deleting any information that might help them in terms of ads etc.

It's 99.9999% not a hard delete. They have fail overs and multiple backups.

Especially since it is practically impossible to delete anything there intentionally.

It sounds like it wasn't intentional, as Facebook has said they are looking into it, rather than putting out a post explaining their reasoning behind it.

It was intentional and posted about here


and there was an HN story about this 19 days ago


why is TechCrunch just picking up on this now?

Intentional on Twitter's part, yes. They're the ones who deleted their app.

Because Facebook can do whatever it wants??

It's crazy the amount of people who think Facebook owes them something

If you are really that attached to your Facebook page then do a backup.

If you really think it's unacceptable that Facebook can do whatever they want with your data (and they can), just don't use it.

I'm not sure why you were downvoted for this. It's right there in their ToS.

Hanlon's razor, anybody? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor. This could just be a mistake.

The article contains a quote from Facebook which strongly implies it is a mistake. I guess no-one read the article.

“Reached for comment, Facebook says it’s aware of the issue and is looking into it.”

Finally someone reasonable, thank you.

It looks like a mistake, FB is actively communicating it's trying to restore the content but still everyone is witch hunting.

I thought people here were more sensible to the fact that developers at all companies leave bugs/undesired behaviour behind them.

This may very well have been spec'd and developed 10 years ago, and now the reality have changed, but not the code. Because let's face it, it's not exactly an everyday use case.

Doubtful such a big change made it through Facebook's tight release process by mistake.

How familiar are you with Facebook's release process?

It easily could be a bug such as the refence to the Api being removed. Posts that reference it could raise an error leading to them being hidden. I’ll wait to hear if Facebook makes a statement.

Based on the article, the intended behavior was to disallow third parties to post as the user, going forward. But what actually happened was that historic third party app posts also got hidden/deleted?

I feel like that's a pretty obvious problem you would anticipate and write tests for, isn't it? How did something like this manage to get to public rollout?

Facebook, unlike many services, has the luxury of not having to worry about backwards-incompatible changes and data migration when it comes to their user-facing experience since that's not where their money comes from. I doubt this problem was intentional, and is probably being fixed, but seems characteristic of an engineering culture that can afford to be apathetic towards such concerns, if not downright contemptuous (i.e. A/B testing user psychological/emotional state thru content manipulation).

The two issues are disjointed - Facebook didn't foresee a situation where, after a feature was blocked, the disgruntled app developers would completely pull their integrations - or at least no developer the size of Twitter. Had they not reacted like that, the new blocks alone wouldn't have deleted anything.

The problem here is the dichotomy of "ownership" in social media platforms.

Facebook (and others) know that giving you that feeling of ownership and customization keeps you coming back. The Twitter Avatar, the Facebook profile, the MySpace page. All those posts on your profile add to your collection, your customization. They let you control that little bit so that you feel like you own it in some way. Did you love that old car so much that you put a bumper sticker on it, or did putting a bumper sticker on it make it more "yours" and so you loved it more? Same idea.

But you don't own it. Nothing you post on those platforms belongs to you anymore. It's theirs, to do with as they wish. And in this case, Facebook decided that retroactively deleting all that content that lets you be aware of other platforms was good for their bottom line- do they did what they wanted with their property.

Facebook deleted their posts. You only thought they were yours because Facebook makes more money if you think that.

MySpace and Geocities gave people more customizability and it kinda made for easily tacky pages. The only major platform that still allows this is Tumblr.

The clean looks of Facebook and Twitter have oddly kept them on top.

But yes, to your point, you aren't the customer. You're the product (unless you're buying adspace .. in which case you're both).

I recently started my own Mastodon instance and am just following random people on random instances and so far have some pretty funny/interesting feeds. It's actually a pretty friendly little fedverse.

It's not like that.

All your content is still yours, and with the GDPR you can request a copy of it at any moment.

However, Facebook has no obligation to preserve copies of your posts, there is no provision in that respect in the TOS, so if you don't actively preserve your posts, that's your problem.

Before everyone starts overreacting, please read the article first. There is no formal announcement from FB for this. Few users noticed their tweeted posts getting deleted and they suddenly arrived at conclusion that this is FB’s new policy. The article itself says this might be some bug that could have occurred due to recent API related changes.

Having said that, I really hope this is not the new policy from FB. Not only posts gets deleted but the conversation around it are also getting deleted. Many high profile people have setup FB accounts so everything is cross posted from Twitter. If this is new policy, it’s going to be the most boneheaded one so far from FB. So let’s hope this is just a bug.

Even if it's "just a bug", it's not over-reacting to be horrified at the loss of content. Even if it gets restored, it's a wake-up call for who decides what gets kept and what doesn't.

This thread is not just horror at the loss of content, it's FUD about the platform.

Had this happened to just about anyone else, the response would have been "whoops this obvious mistake really sucks!"

But it's Facebook, so HN's reaction is "wow fuck these guys for this clearly purposeful event!"

What do you think about the idea of classifying social media as a utility? I've heard a lot of people mention that lately...

Water is a utility. Electricity is a utility. Gas is a utility. Roads are a utility. Social media is a utility?

sm seems to fit out in terms of scale and importance. We don't need social media like we need roads. Call me a crotchety old guy but I think quite the opposite, we'd all be better off with less social media. No need to enshrine it with the status of "utility".

Telephones are considered utilities. Many think that internet service providers should be considered utilities as well.

I'm still uncertain where I stand on social media being a utility though; I'm not sure what that would imply.

Then people will have to come to terms that banning Alex Jones was a bad idea too. You can't support a companies right to ban people you don't like while simultaneously advocating protections as a utility.

Utilities are limited in how they can raise money... tariffs are the core of utility regulation.

Alex Jones and other fringe elements with disproportionate large reach wouldn’t exist on a regulated utility because the advertising practices that allow Facebook to monetize Jones would likely not exist.

Yes, universal access to the utility makes sense. But what would the utility be? Could FB possibly be nationalized? It's international at its core. If governments created a copycat, it could fragment social media by country, which seems bad. I like the protective intent, but barely have an idea of how it might be implemented.

Centralized social media isn't long for this world IMO, look at what is happening to Twitter (userbase erosion) & Reddit (people are flooding there from Facebook, hurting site quality). Meanwhile notable figures have moved on from both sites, in part due to bans or purely due to the degradation of their former social home.

They don't want to be regarded as a utility as that would suggest that regulation is a reasonable course of action. They banned Jones in part to demonstrate that they can "self-regulate" and don't need regulation. Being seen as a utility is the last thing Facebook wants.

I mean, you can get expelled from public schools.

Not for constitutionally protected speech (under the limitations on student speech set by Tinker's "substantial disruption" test, Fraser's "indecent" limitation, and similar jurisprudence).


Thee need to own your own data is clear - only you should have the right to redact your posts for any reason. We should adopt systems that are fundamentally amoral, non-censoring, and non-competitive for our data being on their platform. Systems where we can profit from the success of our content. Can anyone think of some examples?

The average Facebook user would receive $10 per year if they were to distribute all of their annual profit to the userbase. That's the best case scenario. What's the point?

So users can profit from their content? They won't profit from their content, it's nearly worthless per unit. It's only in the vast total sum that there is any value, and only because it's held by one entity. If you distribute it per post or per person, it's very close to meaningless. $20 billion is a lot per year to one entity; $20 billion per year to two billion people, is not.

If you were generous with Twitter and assumed they can generate $400m per year in profit and then chose to distribute that to the userbase, you're talking about ~$1.30 per active user per year. If you tilt the value distribution toward the most active, famous users (whose tweets are far more valuable in regards to monetization), then you're just destroying the distribution premise to begin with by concentrating the wealth in a slightly different manner: Taylor Swift doesn't need to worry about earning $35,000 per year from her tweets, and Joe Smith getting $7 from Twitter for their 1,278 economically worthless posts also does not matter.

Ultimately you just end up with a YouTube outcome if you value tilt. A small group of rich users earning millions of dollars on FB or Twitter, and everybody else entirely failing to earn even minimum wage for the time put into their economically low value posts. How does that really change the equation vs the people that are capturing most of the value today? Taylor Swift can already capture the value generated by Twitter and Facebook, she can buy the stock.

Where do you get that $10 from? What is included in that? Total profit per user? Do you think that the sale of data for all users (bots included) is the same? per post is easily gamed - not a solution to be sure.

steemit.com has some ideas - but not perfect ones to be sure - to build incentive based content.

Where is the $400M twitter profit from?

Ultimately it is not about the direct monetary ROI for this in my mind. But empowering choice of you as to who can use your data (and knowing what they are legally able to do with it) is critical. Thinking about reducing the supply of data will likely spike the cost of that data as well. Most of what is sold is not content - but your use of the platform and _who you are and what you do there_ and predicting things about you - not what you post.

Also you should have the legal right to clear your data. I deleted my LinkedIn profile a year ago, I unsubscribed from everything and still receive spam from them. I literally want every bit of data they outright stole deleted.

You nailed it! I've been trying to explain this to friends, now I'll just point them here.

Huh. Weird to retroactively pull content out of my feed. Now there's just, like, one post from all of 2018. Reveals to both me and the world that I don't actually really use Facebook that much... :-/

Yes from what I can see in my feed, Facebook is rapidly imploding. A lot of my friends, family, etc. have stopped engaging with it completely. Younger people are simply not on it at all. Long time active posters have gone silent one by one. As a consequence my feed is now completely dominated by just a handful of people that are still actively using it for whatever reason. It's less relevant to me now than at any point in the 11 or so years I've been on it.

Make your own website and you won’t have to worry about this.

I’m mostly joking. Who makes their own websites anymore?

Frustrating seeing users caught in the crossfire of policy updates for tech giants.

Or just go back to email, which is what I've done. Proton Mail is an excellent alternative to Gmail, and pretty much everyone, even Richard Stallman, has an email address. Reaching out to individuals or sending out a general update every once in a while will suffice. Unless one's friends are really immature, people will hesitate to send you photos of their food or their thoughts on some trite opinion piece.

What's wrong with GMail?

Google stopped mining it last year: https://blog.google/products/gmail/g-suite-gains-traction-in...

> What's wrong with GMail?

> Google stopped mining it last year: https://blog.google/products/gmail/g-suite-gains-traction-in....

Google stopped mining it for ads, but it's disingenuous to say they stopped mining, period [0]. How do you think those Gmail suggested replies are generated?

[0]: https://variety.com/2017/digital/news/google-gmail-ads-email...

How do you think Gmail writes the content out onto the page? Goodness gracious, they have to store it and process it!

I don't really see how running the contents through an quick reply generation function is different to running it through whatever function prepares the body for display, here. An implementation of that which involves wide-scale mining of email content is imaginable, but not necessary.

> Smart Reply uses neural networks to figure out the main intent of an email, and then suggest short and adequate responses. It’s an incredibly useful feature, it works surprisingly well — and it clearly requires for Google’s computers to “read” your email.

Would you stop using Protonmail if they offered the same feature?

I'm not sure who you are addressing, but I would stop using ProtonMail if they did. Then again, I've never found Google's response suggestions to be useful.

So now they only mine it for things that are good for the user experience?

I'm sure that is the orginal intent but can quickly morph.

All the other reasons you shouldn’t use a “free” email service.

You can be locked out of your account for arbitrary-reason-of-the-day and good luck finding a contact number or email address for support.

If email is important to you, you probably shouldn’t be using a “free” service.

You can be locked out of a paid service just as easily, with just as little support, and with no recourse.

If my vps host blows up then I will start up a vps on another host, run the install script, import my backups and move the domain name. About 15 minutes work to resolved an issue that will probably never happen.

Get a domain and host it somewhere.

Why is this "Just move off the grid and live off the land" response so popular on HN?

Some people like independence more than others. Although it can be impractical in some cases, I do appreciate people who try to live "off the grid" in an age where we are born plugged in.


“just use an existing service / do what everyone else is doing”

probably isn’t very representative of the entrepreneurial / hacker spirit.

Not to mention your self-hosted BS will be considered spam by nearly every major provider

Not if you set your DKIM/SPF/DMARC/etc. correctly.

If you can't be bothered, just use a provider who will set it for you... like Google.

The big problem with email lock-in is that when you switch providers, you can't take your old address with you. Best case, you can set up forwarding. Worst case, if your account just gets deleted, or the provider goes out of business, everyone who only knows your old address cannot contact you anymore.

This, in turn, means that even when considering non-free email service providers, you need some reassurance that provider will be around and will not institute crazy policies in the future. Which favors large providers like Google over smaller ones, and reinforces the lock-in.

You register your own domain. Usually that comes with free email accounts. If the provider goes down then you still control the domain so that you can move to a new provider.

Fastmail has been around for almost 20 years and I've been using them for more than 10.

I use this with an rpi running offline imap read-only.

Transitions aren't really too difficult so long as proper steps are taken:

- Notify your contacts of your address change.

- Set your old address to forward to your new address and always reply to emails from your new one.

- After 2 months, set your old email to auto-reply to all messages saying that you have changed your address and the old one will soon be deactivated.

- Finally, turn deactivate the old email.

It's work, but I've done it on multiple occasions. I wonder if there could be a service that could automate the entire process, since it could all be done via IMAP.

It doesn't work if you suddenly lost your access without prior notice.

I have documented a few cases of such unnoticed termination in my blog post:


It's not so much that I don't like Gmail, but I don't like Google in general. All other reasons aside, it's not a very good idea to ever put trust in an ad agency. I'd much rather support smaller companies that make money off their service or product, as opposed to Google which tries to compete in a lot of spaces in order to suck people in to its ecosystem.

Over time, I've been replacing various Google services with smaller alternatives. At this point, it's down to Youtube, which is pretty hard to beat. But it feels a lot better to provide usership to smaller businesses that could use it more.

Shameless-plug https://neocities.org lets you do that for free. :) + letting you kind of be a part of a community built around helping other people with their websites.

Also github and gitlab let you host websites for free. Gitlab even let's you run arbitrary code to build the static content.

If you are interested in GitLab pages, this would be the best place to start: https://about.gitlab.com/features/pages/.

Isn’t this how the web was supposed to work?

> Make your own website and you won’t have to worry about this.

GAE/Github + Hugo is remarkably friendly and low maintenance.

> GAE/Github + Hugo is remarkably friendly and low maintenance.

And how do you make your static blog social? No Mastodon and other decentralized networks are the real alternative to Twitter,Facebook, Reddit and co.

> And how do you make your static blog social?

You can't really. That's the price you pay for running your own stuff.

You can fake it a bit with widgets or injected comments, but ultimately that's a pretty pale imitation of the social experience.

The upside, though, is that you get to keep all of your content forever, and you get to display it the way you want.

If only all this removed content already existed somewhere else. Like a different extremely popular social network.

Like the one all the content was actually posted on originally.

I guess I don’t see why this is such a big deal other than as a generic opportunity to be mad at Facebook.

I and many others I know post tweets and have them cross posted to Facebook. They get relatively little attention on Twitter, the likes and comments from friends on Facebook was what made them meaningful. Those likes and comments are gone now. It feels sort of like Facebook came and ripped pages out of my diary.

Curious, why use Twitter to post them if they get little attention on Twitter

This is exactly what the media corporations want. This is not an oversight. Facebook, Comcast, Disney, Google, etc will control information and as a result the general public's thoughts in due time.

Pretty annoying. This is following them completely banning any "posting" on behalf of users via API. (e.g the feature to cross-post tweets)

While this change was definitely made in the interest of preventing spam, it also made Facebook worse as a product. We've had plenty of requests from our users who want a "share an image of my book passage to FB" feature. Not possible at all with their new stricter APIs.

It's only worse as a product if it hurts advertisers. The user isn't the customer.

The user is the product. It removes another content source for the user causing some products to leave the platform because it becomes less useful.

Facebook was the most useful pre 2012. You could create widgets that changed the look of part of your profile. Facebook games were interactive and not siloed like they are now. People posted status updates and they appeared in the news feeds of others.

I really hope this isn't intentional. Deleting a ton of user data from their site on a whim is pretty ridiculous.

They definitely would not delete any data. Just remove any display or access to it.

There's zero chance that it's truly been deleted - it's just not available to users anymore. Facebook wants that data with its associated discussions and interactions just as much or more than the person posting it does.

They could remove the Share content instead, so feeds empty down into what friends and family are doing instead of whatever Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: manages to press the most viral buttons.

/one can dream

I don’t know what people are complaining about. You should’ve known when you signed up for America Online that it wasn’t the “full internet”. If you want that you should buy dialup from a real ISP.

AOL was an actual ISP. They just also had a walled-garden thing they pushed you to stay in. But you could go visit whatever sites you wanted in a regular web browser, you could do FTP and mail and stuff.

I'm not sure I understand how this would help Facebook. Isn't it better for them the more content they have? More content more readers more advertising revenue.

On the other hand there has been a lot of concerns of illegitimate accounts spreading propaganda, affecting US elections, and it may be harder for Facebook to validate accounts that basically only exist on Twitter.

It seems unclear if this was actually on purpose for what it's worth, but I wouldn't give them the benefit of the doubt by any means.

> Reached for comment, Facebook says it’s aware of the issue and is looking into it.

Sounds like it may be a bug?


"In theory, the API changes should only have prevented Twitter users from continuing to cross-post their tweets to Facebook automatically. It shouldn’t have also deleted the existing posts from Facebook users’ profiles and business users’ Facebook Pages."


I honestly didn't think anyone cared about historical posts on any of the platforms, I'd be happy if they just auto-deleted after 30 days.

Also, cross-posts from 3rd parties make up the majority of crap on my timeline. Happy to se it go and happy to see people being exposed to the fragility of relying on these free services as a backup service for anything they consider important. I hope it prompts people to consider their relationship with these types of platforms and what is being exchanged between you and them exactly.

Nothing about this comes from services being paid or not. Paid services blocking (or being blocked by) third parties can and does happen.

It might just take a few more decisions like this from the social media incumbants before alternative social media structures (federated or distributed) actually make sense for the masses...

They already make plenty of sense but people aren't moving because nobody else already has. It's chicken and egg.

Are we talking about Mastodon? Can you provide any more information to what you two are talking about?

The other direction seems unaffected from my own cursory look around. I.e. Facebook posts still can become Tweets seemingly, although that may be from these people's third party tools.

That is going to improve the trust!


People will notice things just being different. Good object lesson, and I hope robust discussion.

I'm no longer to cross-Tweet to Facebook anymore, but my old Tweets still appear. I added the Twitter integration back in 2009-10- maybe it's from a version of the API too old to be removed.

Given that this consequence seems to be unintended, it seems surprising that two companies this large couldn't/didn't find a way to test the effect ahead of time.

Facebook squeeze too tight. They always have, this is nothing new.

Empirically, this seems not to have happened with my account.

Does FB still allow instagram cross-posts?

If yes, why is nobody sueing?

All the more reason to post your thoughts to your own blog and then push those to Twitter and Facebook, then the core data is your own.

Always test migrations before running in production!

Either this has been fixed, or my account hat not yet been affected.

I'm sick of hearing about Facebook all the time and I'm sick of seeing the same old recycled opinions of why people dislike or like Facebook every time Facebook sneezes. Facebook is not that interesting, and it's barely even academically interesting. It's a half-trillion dollar joke, laugh while it's still funny.

Tweets cross-posted to Facebook was always a horrible user experience. I could never understand why anyone did it. But this hamfisted way of fixing the problem is just awful.

Well.. both companies will go down the sink as they have been heavily involded in rigging the election. Defaming trump. Disinformation.

Very strange product thinking at Facebook if they decided removing this feature was going to delete their data.

those actions for user benefits?

they put them back


Maybe so, but please don't post unsubstantive comments to Hacker News.

Or the people who rely on them.

Who "relies" on cross-posted tweets?

Apparently a bunch of people considering how mad everyone seems to be about this.

I mean we're in a forum of people who would absolutely use one social network and automate mirroring to others. Doubt very few normal people even knew the feature existed. This change pretty much affects spammers, social media managers, and powerusers -- exactly the kind of people you probably don't want to interact with anyway on social media.

Marketers, advertisers, social media consultants.

I’m having a hard time caring about any one of these.

These types of tweets always appear spammy and disingenuous so I can understand why they'd want to remove them.

I have friends who are FB employees and make almost all of their postings via tweets.

And then there's often FB-based discussion about them.

It seems like Twitter is in serious trouble and Facebook is going for the kill. Hootsuite, a Vancouver micro-unicorn, a word I just coined right here and right now. Micro-unicorns are almost billion dollar companies specifically for selling to FANG. built upon Twitter, social media platforms, has recently been seen in the local news (, seems to be in trouble as well.

> micro-unicorn




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