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With Facebook at ‘War,’ Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style (wsj.com)
120 points by dcgudeman 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments



The company is most comfortable being at war. That's the first thing I noticed when I started working there. People glorified the days when they were fighting head-to-head with Google or before that with the other social networks. They reminse with pride about the "lockdown" periods when everyone would not leave the office for days to fend off a competitor. It's kind of an intoxicating feeling when everyone around you is driven to win, and I liked it.

However, I don't think it's the best environment to be creative, that's why I think FB has to rely on acquisitions to keep the growth going (except that on the infrastructure side of Facebook it is very creative and has the time and space for innovation, hence all their awesome open source stuff).


> everyone would not leave the office for days to fend off a competitor. It's kind of an intoxicating feeling when everyone around you is driven to win, and I liked it.

This is such a Stockholm syndrome. How productive are you if you haven’t slept for three days?

I really don’t care about what Facebook does but these are just such blatant examples of mismanagement and I don’t want them to spread.


The people downvoting you probably are people who are "hustling" right now and maybe actually enjoying it. For every sadist there is a sadomasochist so I'm not suprised there are people that enjoy working their ass off for above average wages while neglecting other parts of an "average" life.

There's more to life than work and money people. Once you realise that you'll look back and agree with the poster above.


Not leaving office != not sleeping


Can we at least agree it means not changing your underwear?


Even then it's a kind of perverse modern slavery.


Please don't trivialize the horrors of actual slavery by throwing around the term for 6-digit-salaried folks hustling for something they enjoy doing.


You're right, it's more like the formation of a cult. The money presented to them really doesn't matter very much, what we should consider is the mindset this sort of thing creates and whether or not it is a good thing to have it spreading to the rest of society. There's a real societal impact to having large companies getting more and more powerful and their employees being fanatically devoted to it's well-being.


I was baffled at first by this comment, but then I realized it's the recent tend in the USA to somehow make up for the mistakes of the past, hence the attempts to erase words like "master/slave" that are perceived as sad reminders of unfortunately not-so-distant past.

In Europe, we don't see this way as we don't have this particular trauma. We did have different forms of slavery centuries ago, but it was newer a thing in mainland Europe (although the feudal system was close to it). So this word is not that emotionally marked for us. It's quite normal to say that someone is a slave to something (fashion, fear, alcohol). Some people even use it in a positive way, e.g. a slave to God. All these figurative uses are quite common and are not intended to trivialize the original meaning.


Indeed, world's smallest violin, definitely not slavery.

Like, I don't know if they enjoy doing it, but if they're getting FAANG salaries and the name recognition that comes with working in such places then they likely have options, and can easily find a less insane gig if/when that's too much for them.


It is in no way slavery. Making that connection just undermines legitimate criticism of modern corporate workloads.


In most other contexts, a burst of activity towards achieving some goal would be congratulated, or at least not derided.

If you heard that a mathematician suddenly struck upon an idea and spent the next 3 days and nights working it out, I am sure that story would be shared here on HN with everyone sharing their own favorite anecdote of when they were highly driven about something.

But when it comes to startups or $hated_megacorps, suddenly it is a stupid and evil thing?


"Lockdown" and "fending off competitors" are key hints here.

> In most other contexts, a burst of activity towards achieving some goal would be congratulated, or at least not derided.

That highly depends on the goal.


Sorry to break this to you but this idea of working on something for 3 days nonstop is stupid. Your productivity decreases very fast without sleep. Like the problem is still gonna be there. You'll be a lot wiser tomorrow.

It's double stupid if you forgo sleep for the sake of your employeer's profits.


When people say they are working on something non-stop it doesn't necessarily mean they are literally not eating sleeping shitting or whatever for 72 hours. It usually means they are in a period of heightened activity when they are not doing much of anything else. Maybe you haven't experienced that kind of thrill so far, which is fine. But it is a very real thing if / when it does happen.


I have however i can't imagine being forced be in the office. That is the most certain way to break that flow.


> i can't imagine being forced to do this by being forced to be in the office.

Just because you can't imagine it doesn't make those who think / experience otherwise victims of Stockholm Syndrome...


What about people with families and other responsibilities? Were they exempt from the “lockdown”? If they were, did they create a division between those who stayed and perhaps would have been labelled as dedicated or part of the core workers, and those who could not? I’d be concerned that any such policy would discriminate against people with responsibilities outside of software development.


The excerpt from Chaos Monkeys book about lockdown that happened in Facebook when MZ decided to take down G+:

In what was perceived as a kindly concession to the few employees with families, it was also announced that families were welcome to visit on weekends and eat in the cafés, allowing the children to at least see daddy (and yes, it was mostly daddy) on weekend afternoons.


What did the call the money they used to pay when people lived in company towns in the 1800s? Scrip? You lived in company housing and got paid company scrip and could only spend it at the company store, at outrages rates.

This sounds like step 1 of returning to that sort of system. Hyperbole to some degree, but it already happened once...


It's an American company so they probably said screw you and your life outside work.


> In October, Facebook hired former U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as head of global policy and communications, the company’s most high-profile external hire since Ms. Sandberg joined from Google in 2008.

When Mr Clegg became deputy PM to the tory leadership he forever condemned the Lib-Dems to be classed as a poodle for the tory party. The Lib-Dems voters of 2010 deserted the party for this act of treachery which cost Clegg his constituency in 2017.

So if Facebook hope this failed politician can save them then it's going to be a tough way ahead for Zuck.


While I dislike Nick Clegg for all of the reasons you have laid out, he’s arguably an appropriate hire for this role, regardless of one’s opinions of his politics.

Facebook is facing potentially a lot of serious legislative recriminations following the Cambridge Analytica scandal etc. Hiring someone as familiar with European politics as Nick Clegg strikes me as a relatively sensible move, given his experiences as a British MP, Deputy Prime Minister in the UK, political party leader and former Member of the European Parliament, at least if you think impartially about the future challenges facing the company. A hire like this is as much for his Rolodex as anything else I suspect.

It’s arguably a little unfair to consider his political popularity as a measure of his ability, the political situation the Lib Dems found themselves in following the 2010 election was pretty complex.


On one level you could say that popularity amongst voters is the only metric that matters for a politician, but I agree there are other ways of evaluating a politician.

I’d argue that Nick Clegg is a poor politician because he was outmanoeuvred by David Cameron (the PM to Clegg’s Deputy PM). The best example is the AV vote on introducing proportional representation, where Clegg was setup with a poor alternative that would be hard to sell, and the campaign was savaged by the Tories and their media allies from the start. And there are many other such examples.


I don't think they are capable of attracting better talent at this point. Come to think of it, I'm surprised they ever were able to attract any serious talent at all.

I still remember a highly respected veteran industry executive talking to my entrepreneurship class in 2010 about how he couldn't bring himself to work for Zuck despite a strong offer on the table, and the joke he made about missing out on millions in stock options. This person today continues to lead entire businesses at one of the leading companies.


I’m not saying I’m a serious talent, but I’d sell my soul for the right price. Assume many others would do too.


I certainly wouldn't. And I assume many others wouldn't either.

There's plenty of jobs that offer just fine livings in relatively neutral ground areas. I guess they certainly have their workforce, so there's plenty of people who either don't care, or don't think it's wrong.

I met a youtube engineer who thought privacy was dead anyways, so what was the point?

Weird frame of mind for me.


Exactly, I wouldn't even calling working for fb selling my soul.


That sounds terribly sad.


It's easy to have principles when they're not being put to the test.


Heck it's probably a lower number than most people think too. Every always says 1 million or 10 million or something super ridiculous, but ~$500K/yr is life changing for most people and when you're looking at that over say ten years... you would be crazy to not sell out.


But you can make that ~500k/yr at a half dozen (at least!) other companies without compromising yourself and selling out. I think FB has a reputation as paying at or above the market max. It's not like the other FANGs or unicorns are slouches in the comp department.


They are not paying most of their engineers close to 500k/yr.


$500k a year in Palo Alto is not a lot of money. I don't think you could even buy a standard family house earning that much there.


Not true at all. Source, earned less than that much, bought a house in MV in the last 1.5 years.


>>you would be crazy to not sell out

Its not exactly sell out. What exactly are you doing writing code at other companies any way? Writing code for Mahatma Gandhi?


If it's not a sell out, how can it be "selling ones soul for the right price"?


Just because he's politically unpopular doesn't mean he won't be valuable to them.


Clegg's resume makes it clear he's on the influencer inside team.

FB is a natural home for him. (Not a compliment, by the way.)


I don't think the point made was that he is unpopular. I think the point is he is incapable of making good decisions.

With some things like the failed alternate vote referendum I have read people blame Labour more than the Lib Dems. However, he clearly lacks charisma and skills in hindsight.

I don't think anyone at Facebook will force Nick Clegg to do or say anything but I'll be shocked if he has any serious decision-making power within Facebook. I'm trying to avoid saying he is a rubber stamp but it is difficult to say he is much more when even ex CSO Alex Stamos clearly had restrictions (if you read between the lines).


You're assuming that Clegg has expressed his true aims in public. Given his record of spectacular outright lies - such as the famous u-turn on tuition fees, or the way that he denied being a Young Conservative at Cambridge, in spite of the evidence - it's possible his affable victim-of-circumstance brand is just a cover for someone who is essentially manipulative and dishonest.

Given the successful spoiler/enabler role of the LibDems in UK politics, there's a good chance he doesn't think of his record as one of failure on any level.

Interesting, he has already deleted all of his tweets, including the anti-Brexit ones - not quite the action of the absolutely committed anti-Brexit campaigner he claimed to be.

(To say "FB wouldn't let him keep them" misses the point. Someone who was genuinely committed to stopping Brexit would never accept a job which might conflict with keeping them.)


> it's possible his affable victim-of-circumstance brand is just a cover for someone who is essentially manipulative and dishonest

In that case, he has a long and productive career ahead at Facebook or perhaps at a company like British Petroleum.


Is there a Facebook smear campaign going on or people just love to pile on Zuckerberg? Facebook is an advertisement company and collects data, but so does everybody else. Gmail launched in 2004. Snowden leaks in 2013 were greeted with general apathy. But know it's the time to crucify Zuckerberg for what exatly? Make use of targeted advertisement? Or letting Facebook have user-generated content, that may or may not have influenced votes in the past?

Either way, the ongoing collection of all kinds of data has been obvious for many years now. And it's not going to stop, so some advice: Instead blaming this one actor, better get used to it.

Platforms also can't fully and completely be responsible for political views expressed by user-generated content.


Local and state governments in the US build most roads and are responsible for them. When the roads are built in a way that causes lots of accidents at a particular intersection (even though the people "at fault" in these accidents are the drivers themselves) people expect the government to improve the roads and reduce the harm.

So likewise, Facebook's choices in how it presented content (giving equal weight to the NYTimes and fake news generated for profit in North Macedonia) and mechanisms for maximizing likes, views, and engagement, allowed lies and nonsense to blossom on its platforms.

This isn't an issue that's restricted to any individual political party or cause, though the people in North Macedonia have been clear that "right" fake news sold much better than "left" fake news in 2016.

Facebook build the roads here and made decisions about the tools to navigate those. Users are using those tools as designed to get maximum engagement and profit, causing the propagation of memes, trolling, and lies over quality content that doesn't generate the same metrics but costs much more to produce and fact-check. That people lie isn't Facebook's fault, but like any local government, now that they know their design is contributing to problems, some expect them to address that. Same would go for the owner of an event venue that's being used weekly to promote a violent cause, even though that owner isn't responsible for the tenants, they do choose to give them space to organize.

I'm not taking a position on what exactly they should do, but I want to be clear: regardless of if there is a scapegoat effect or not, claims of Facebook's degree of measured responsibility have clear precedent.


> So likewise, Facebook's choices in how it presented content (giving equal weight to the NYTimes and fake news generated for profit in North Macedonia) and mechanisms for maximizing likes, views, and engagement, allowed lies and nonsense to blossom on its platforms.

Isn't that the default choice everywhere? On HN links from NYT and trash sites look the same. On Youtube videos from ABC and conspiracy theorists look the same.


It's far more profitable to promote outrage and that's exactly what Facebook's algorithms have done and are doing. And that's what you find in your news feed.

Youtube has pretty much the same problem on a different level.

That's despite the mealy mouthed bullshit that the dear leader spouts those days.


Outrage leads to mob rule and genocide, which indeed happened and is happening currently. That is the main reason why FB should be regulated and stripped of it's outrage algorithms. And the main reason why Mark Zuckerberg should be brought to a large war tribune to be procecuted of enabeling and abetting genocide.


This in itself sounds like outrage, only you want to have a scapegoat be in prison instead of lynched?


I am not outraged, I only know that people were sent to the tribunal for less. He did nothing when his superdeluxe algorithms helped genocide in Myanmar.


HN’s culture is pretty good at sniffing out and giving appropriate context to bullshit in ways Facebook emphatically isn’t, and I don’t think it’s true to say that people aren’t also taking YouTube to task for the same kind of malfeasance.


> Platforms also can't fully and completely be responsible for political views expressed by user-generated content.

Maybe, maybe not. But in Facebook's case, they did not hesitate to commoditize disinformation and propaganda.

While a lot of platforms are/were susceptible to this vector, we now know that Facebook knew what was happening and didn't care as long as the money came in.

Which brings us back to "maybe, maybe not." Corporations use profit (and variants) as their natural reward function. Look at FBs stock the last few months. People are speaking. We, the users, may be demanding some accountability from our platforms we previously did not.


>But in Facebook's case, they did not hesitate to commoditize disinformation and propaganda.

They're just in the business of making the world more open and connected (TM).


In a sense it's not inaccurate.

But if you have no filter, no ethos, decisions about what's allowed and distributed are prone to malice, prone to exploit or both.

Of course, Facebook has these things. But they go out the door the minute you have money to spend.


So true.


I might have missed something from the news, but what does "did not hesitate to commoditize disinformation and propaganda" mean? Did Facebook do something other than just allow users to post content, just like Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, or any other social media website?


No. They're just a well enough known target for the latest round of hyperbole. News isn't news if it isn't bad.



This is a very good comment and I hope it rises to the top of the heap.

I wrote this post on an HN comment, but I wonder, "Is there an actual Facebook crisis, or media narrative about Facebook crisis?" https://jakeseliger.com/2018/11/14/is-there-an-actual-facebo...

It seems to me that Zuckerberg doesn't know that he's in a media scapegoating situation. When you've become the scapegoat, there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can observe the scapegoating mechanism, but even that will likely do very little to halt it in action.

The media cannot accept (or comprehensively address) its own culpability for the 2016 election. So let's put the blame on those guys, over there, instead of looking at ourselves.


It is not a good comment at all. I know its the go-to reaction for engineers in SV to empathize with a fellow engineer and portray him as a martyr in the altar of an east-coast elitist media. But please look at the facts and details of what NYT has uncovered.

> It seems to me that Zuckerberg doesn't know that he's in a media scapegoating situation. When you've become the scapegoat, there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can observe the scapegoating mechanism, but even that will likely do very little to halt it in action.

He's much much smarter than you give him credit for. A lot of folks think of him as a clueless programming genius, but this is brilliant guy who understands politics a lot better than most engineers in SV. All the feel-good tours were not for his personal political ambition, but to create goodwill for his most precious, valuable child, Facebook. And he has done every thing in his power to cut the criticism, scapegoat critics and regulation.

> The media cannot accept (or comprehensively address) its own culpability for the 2016 election. So let's put the blame on those guys, over there, instead of looking at ourselves.

Certainly there is some aspect of that. But please lets look at the facts. Facebook did hire a PR firm that spread Soros-based conspiracy theories against its critics. They fired Stamos when he exposed the extent of Russian intervention and kept quiet or dismissed the magnitude of Russian activity until it became untenable for them to do so.

All the steps they have taken to become better, have been forced onto them ... by who? Its by the Media. The media uncovering facts about the company. That's their job: to bring to light these facts. Let them do their job, and lets hope Facebook does its job as well.


"But please lets look at the facts. [...] They fired Stamos"

They didn't fire Stamos.


> Facebook did hire a PR firm that spread Soros-based conspiracy theories against its critics.

Nope, they didn’t!

From facebooks newsroom Statement:

“The New York Times is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf – or to spread misinformation. Our relationship with Definers was well known by the media – not least because they have on several occasions sent out invitations to hundreds of journalists about important press calls on our behalf. Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of “Freedom from Facebook,” an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company. To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

And if you don’t believe Facebook then why don’t just take it from Definers (the PR firm Facebook worked with) themselves: https://definersdc.com/our-work-with-facebook/


I'm not hearing anyone dispute these facts. Media-driven fervor is rarely devoid of facts. Rather, with story choice and interspersed op-eds, the narrative becomes clear even if not untrue. For every fact-based article, there are dozens of opinion ones (happening with all big-web tech) and my flag-clicking finger grows weary. These digital opinion pieces sharing the same domain become much harder to differentiate than in print. Even if you're focusing on facts, many don't care about them or at least don't consider them or their consequences as damning as the coverage might deserve.

At this point, I'll take my bulleted lists of uncovered facts and eschew the rest of this crap. Sadly my peers, pitchforks in hand, can't do so and are hastily cheering on government oversight. Something none of us can ever recover from (a one way street in almost all instances).


I keep hearing about this fear of Government overreach. I won't go as far as to dismiss them, but I do think its important to recognize that regulations do have an important role to play in a Capitalist Economic system, to prevent the accumulation of power, as happened in the Gilded Age.

Your comment talks of fears of Government oversight but I haven't seen a better solution to the menace of Facebook. They have repeatedly failed to curtail bad actors in their platforms. Government oversight may help increase the penalties for bad behavior to an extent that forces them to think seriously about these issues.


Too often, discussion on nuance of a specific topic devolves to general politics. Fear of government oversight for me applies specifically to internet laws being bandied about.

> I haven't seen a better solution to the menace of Facebook

There doesn't have to be. Sometimes recognition that there is no winning move is acceptable. With open models like the internet, we must take the bad with the good. I don't see them as a menace, and they don't really affect my life at all. Many of the harms are either blindly assumed to have effect (i.e. political advertising) or are ones that are endemic to large amounts of humans in an open space.

I'll take the status quo. If media or others wants to help educate the populace on harms, awesome. If others such as myself just don't participate on some of these social sites, awesome. Most thought around FB harms centers around the uneducated masses and only if they knew what they were doing. A similar mindset many would say lost the last presidential election. What if I told you they do know, implicitly agree, and unlike this echo chamber we comment on, are content? Let's avoid legislating their wants in this case and also avoid the unintended consequences on the rest of us with internet businesses. The harm caused by this fly isn't worth pulling out the shotgun.

I get this deja vu... now it's big web tech (and the rich and immigrants but that's another topic), previously it was terrorists, before that druggies, before that communists, before that alcoholics, on and on. We've got to learn to face this hysteria with a pragmatic approach at some point.


I think you're conflating a lot of issues and trying to portray what we have today as inevitable and just the way things are. If we make a little more effort and isolate the issues, I think it makes a lot more sense to take actionable steps in this direction.

> There doesn't have to be. Sometimes recognition that there is no winning move is acceptable. With open models like the internet, we must take the bad with the good. I don't see them as a menace, and they don't really affect my life at all. Many of the harms are either blindly assumed to have effect (i.e. political advertising) or are ones that are endemic to large amounts of humans in an open space.

There definitely can be better solutions. Throwing up your hands and saying: "Its just the way this system is" isn't an answer to the specific changes being recommended. Its in the nature of people to be addicted to tobacco; yet we do have regulations around tobacco to stop tobacco companies from advertising their products, to add disclaimers and health warnings to their product, to forbid them from advertising to children. We didn't just throw up our hands and accept it as a failure of the human nature.

> I'll take the status quo. If media or others wants to help educate the populace on harms, awesome. If others such as myself just don't participate on some of these social sites, awesome. Most thought around FB harms centers around the uneducated masses and only if they knew what they were doing. A similar mindset many would say lost the last presidential election. What if I told you they do know, implicitly agree, and unlike this echo chamber we comment on, are content? Let's avoid legislating their wants in this case and also avoid the unintended consequences on the rest of us with internet businesses. The harm caused by this fly isn't worth pulling out the shotgun.

Its not in the nature of the internet to act as an amplifier for conspiracy theories disguised as truth in respectable internet properties. We don't expect nytimes.com or the websites of any news organizations to peddle in conspiracy theories and we should expect the same from facebook.com; if not, we need to call them out for not being valid source of information and make them add that disclaimer to everything they show.

> I'll take the status quo. If media or others wants to help educate the populace on harms, awesome. If others such as myself just don't participate on some of these social sites, awesome. Most thought around FB harms centers around the uneducated masses and only if they knew what they were doing. A similar mindset many would say lost the last presidential election. What if I told you they do know, implicitly agree, and unlike this echo chamber we comment on, are content? Let's avoid legislating their wants in this case and also avoid the unintended consequences on the rest of us with internet businesses. The harm caused by this fly isn't worth pulling out the shotgun.

But that's not what the situation is at all. Instead of the uneducated masses being content with facebook, they're angry, so angry at: Immigrants for taking away their jobs and benefits, at liberals for taking away their privileges etc. This is exactly why we want to control the medium: apparently, they're not aware that the things they see aren't facts, they're conspiracy theories.

I'm sorry, I can't justify not doing anything just because it has the potential (not even proven what side effects it might have really) of ruining your next/current internet venture. We unleashed technological changes on American (and the World) society, and its about time we took responsibility for the harms that this technology can cause and place reasonable checks and controls.

> I get this deja vu... now it's big web tech (and the rich and immigrants but that's another topic), previously it was terrorists, before that druggies, before that communists, before that alcoholics, on and on. We've got to learn to face this hysteria with a pragmatic approach at some point.

Every generation has to deal with the problems unique to it. I don't think we will ever run out of problems that need to be addressed. What is your point... that we just stop trying? Everything we try gives us more data into what works and what doesn't and we have to continue trying.


I'm not sure we'll change each other's minds here. I'll just make one more quick point:

> There definitely can be better solutions.

I totally agree. I just divorce the ideal/utopian/theoretical from the actual and believe the societal cost/benefit to favor non-interference at the current time. At the very least, I hope we're very slow and measured as opposed to the hasty whims of those frothing at the mouths from these articles. We might never run out of problems that need to be addressed, but maybe we can become smarter about how we address them.


> But please lets look at the facts. Facebook did hire a PR firm that spread Soros-based conspiracy theories against its critics.

I find this funny because I'm seeing it repeated a lot now. It's repeated so much that I'll go ahead and guess that these "Soros-based" conspiracy theories are true.

Of course, they're not particularly horrible. The "conspiracy theories" are what, that some of Facebook's critics are linked to or even backed by Soros? As far as I know, George Soros is wealthy and funds many things. He's like the Koch Brothers of the "left". So it wouldn't surprise me, nor would I really care, if he funded some people who also don't like Facebook.

In fact, if it weren't true, I'd figure the headlines and repeated statements of fact would be, "Facebook accuses X of being backed by Soros and by the way, that's not true." No, it's always just the first half of that sentence. Because, let's admit it, no one who repeats this fact really cares whether or not it's true that George Soros backed anyone. Doesn't matter whether or not that is a true "fact" (hey, let's look at the facts, as some might say), it just feels bad that someone would mention a fact about George Soros.

What I do care about is the dishonesty here, this willful ignorance that (1) George Soros backed something critical of Facebook and (2) Facebook pointed out that it was backed by George Soros, which is technically true, and (3) we want to pretend this is awful.

You have a problem with Facebook telling the truth, although I understand your specific problem is you think it's a dog whistle and it's thrown into a pot with a bunch of other conspiracy theories, except that this specific fact is true, George Soros did back some of these critics of Facebook. So it's not even a conspiracy theory, it's an actual fact, but yes, Soros is the target of other conspiracy theories.

And just to be clear, I looked this up, Soros absolutely did back at least one of the groups mentioned:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/14/facebook-...

> Another tactic was to cast Soros as the driving force behind groups critical of Facebook. The firm circulated a research document connecting Soros to “a broad anti-Facebook movement”, the Times reported, and pressed reporters to look into financial links between Soros and groups such as Freedom from Facebook and Color of Change.

> Color of Change is a not-for-profit civil rights organization. It receives some money from Soros, Robinson said, in addition to many other funders, including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz’s foundation, the Open Philanthropy Project. Robinson also said that over the past year, he has been asked numerous times by journalists about funding from Soros.

If I cared enough, I'd do more research on it, but this is all I need to know.

What do you think you're doing when you call facts conspiracy theories? Do you suppose that your lack of care for the facts (sorry to say, invoking "lets look at the facts" isn't enough) might start pushing some people in the direction of actual conspiracy theories (by this, I mean conspiracy theories that are not true).


Facebook received largely anodyne coverage for most of its life; it's only been the last few years that people took a critical eye.

And I don't understand your media argument. "The media" spends a tremendous amount of time analyzing and criticizing its own output, even within institutions. If anything, the media tends to catch flack for too much navel-gazing instead of covering actual news.

Facebook would benefit from some of that introspection, rather than top-down order-following.


> Facebook received largely anodyne coverage for most of its life; it's only been the last few years that people took a critical eye.

No way. You're totally forgetting how much fear the media heaped on Facebook in 2005 first over children having (gasp) photos of themselves on the internet, some people even listing their phone numbers publicly, and then in 2006 and 2007 it was about college kids posting photos of themselves drinking alcohol, which (it was hypothesized) would prevent them from getting jobs when their future employer went through their facebook account.

Please. The media narrative around Facebook has been exaggerated fear from the beginning. The only thing new today is the choice of fear to exaggerate.


The examples you give are all “people behaving badly” on Facebook, not Facebook explicitly acting in bad faith.


Exactly! That was my point.


> The media cannot accept (or comprehensively address) its own culpability for the 2016 election. So let's put the blame on those guys, over there, instead of looking at ourselves.

After all this time, do you still not realize that Facebook is part of the media, perhaps even the biggest part.


Interesting point. I am not entirely sure that Facebook can't do anything to get out the scapegoat situation though.

Of the top of my head, they could say that they want to focus more on your friend and friends, so for the next 2 weeks it will not be possible to share news articles at all and the feed will prioritize messages from people you have lots of mutual friends with.

It is kind of hard to argue with, and it would show the media exactly how much power Facebook has over them.


Plenty of blame to spare, but "the media" is a vast and wide net without any specific claims. Regardless, it's whataboutism here.

And let's face an uncomfortable fact: the "media" once meant the gatekeepers for information. Facebook is absolutely fulfilling that role in 2018. You cannot separate the two.


Facebook is ‘the media.’ Newspapers, magazines and TV are just advertisements with enough other stuff in the middle to get you attention. Facebook is the same thing.


There's a ton of things which impacted the 2016 election (disproporionate representation, 24 hour news cycle's obsession with Trump, foreign interference, people seeming to get most of their media from social media, disinformation, billions of dollars of dark money, disenfranchisement, Comey, etc).

However, Facebook's stock has dropped from a high of 220 to 140 (today) in less than six months.

That seems like an actual Facebook crisis to me.


You’ve been reading Rene Girard it would seem. And he’s a good guide to what’s going on: they were all at it, but Zuck is soaking up the blame not just for the ills of the social media biz model but the ills of late capitalism.


He may be soaking up undeserved blame but a lot of it is deserved. He has demonstrated time and again that he has little care for user privacy when that got in the way of selling an ad. People are (hopefully) starting to wake up to how dangerous that is.


I think its the danger part that was not sufficiently recognized and is only now being realized. When the personal data was used to sell soap, nobody really cared. When its used to instead sell political agenda and conspiracy theories... that is when the danger starts.


To be fair, it has always been used to sell political agendas. Politicians have advertised in online platforms way before 2016.


> To be fair, it has always been used to sell political agendas. Politicians have advertised in online platforms way before 2016.

Agreed. Perhaps a better way to phrase it is that its only in 2016 that the true power of the platform to spread misinformation with a political agenda was realized. Which naturally people care about a lot more than product placements.


For sure it’s deserved, but as is often the case with scapegoats, FB is not the only one. The Gusrdian collects and sells used data to advertisers, for example.


Making matters worse, the legacy media blame the tech industry for their own decline and fight back the only way they can, with hit pieces. The NYT did the same to Amazon a few years ago. Facebook, which is a more direct competitor, is an even bigger target.


> Snowden leaks in 2013 were greeted with general apathy.

The only mass domestic collection (phone metadata) that was ongoing at the time of the leaks was shut down soon after and had been known about since 2006. Why would you expect more of a furore than what we had? https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-n...

> Gmail launched in 2004.

Email servers collect emails. This has been the case since long before 2004.

The reason people are pissed off at Facebook is that Zuckerberg has not only been collecting users' data but also using it in shady ways (including to attack critics and competitors) since he was at Harvard and has shown no sign that he's changed.


> The only mass domestic collection (phone metadata) that was ongoing at the time of the leaks was shut down soon after and had been known about since 2006

That's some amusing phrasing gymnastics. The mass collection was not stopped at all.

May 2018: "N.S.A. Triples Collection of Data From U.S. Phone Companies"

"The National Security Agency vacuumed up more than 534 million records of phone calls and text messages from American telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon last year — more than three times what it collected in 2016, a new report revealed on Friday."

"Intelligence analysts are also more frequently searching for information about Americans within the agency’s expanding collection of so-called call detail records — telecom metadata logging who contacted whom and when, but not the contents of what they said."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/us/politics/nsa-surveilla...


This NSA surveillance is going to be a waste of energy and money, in addition to eroding privacy. Therefore, it is extra extra extra bad.


A fraction of a percent of phone call metadata is a far cry from 100%.


Facebook's behavior kind of goes beyond mere data collection tho. They have hired paid shills/astroturf orgs like Microsoft and Oracle did to go after rivals or plant fake stories.

And then there's the Onavo VPN fiasco, wherein Facebook was using VPN snooping for competitive intelligence, so they could buy up any threats early, at least according to leaks.

There's some questionable stuff you could say Google has done (Disclosure: I work for Google), like fund think tanks on free speech that end up coming to the conclusion that 'Search Algorithms = Free Speech' and that you can't regulate algorithms (although some of those orgs, like the ACLU and EFF likely held those positions prior, and the EFF is not beyond publishing critical pieces on Google), but I think funding researchers who end up writing favorable opinions is a different category than funding people to plant fake stories and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Like, the Koch Brothers funding a college researcher that studies global warming, and it publishing a skeptical review of existing papers, is more defensible than the Koch's funding a bunch of online trolls that post non-credible rumors or conspiracy stories on regulators who want to crack down on carbon.

The former is at least philosophically defensible if the criticisms of the academic literature actually expose real flaws. The latter is just immoral.


I don't think it makes any difference whether it's a smear campaign or not, through the lens that most media companies are pushing an agenda one way or another as their bread and butter.

Rupert Murdoch wanted the Australian Prime Minister replaced, and within a week his wish was granted[0].

News media is a powerful force, and Facebook is no doubt stepping on those powerful toes that have enjoyed the ability to influence elections and political leadership for a century. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal put some blood in the water, and the Old Media sharks have gathered.

If there is a smear campaign going on, it's another case of elephants fighting and the grass getting trampled. Old Media want Facebook to be better regulated so the trajectory of Old Media's declining influence is temporarily improved. Facebook will implement relatively ineffective reforms with all the enthusiasm of an aspiring sportsman writing an english literature essay, and the users will continue to slowly leave the service as they grow weary of it for their own reasons as opposed to some spectre of manipulation; if they're not off FB already, there's no further scaremongering that will make any difference.

The scale of Facebook's user numbers means that this attrition rate will probably still see it more powerful and influential than Old Media for the foreseeable future; Old Media are just trying to tilt the playing field in their favour. Same ol' same ol'.

[0] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-18/liberal-leadership-sp...


This isn't a case of Facebook influencing the election. It is a case where they outright took money from a foreign government to help them interfere in the democratic process to the foreign governments benefit. It's borderline treason, not simply using it's resources to speak louder via lobbying or broadcasting as many other companies have done.

This is not a case of "all sides same" as much it seems that many posters here want to keep pushing that narrative.


"outright took money from a foreign government to help them interfere in the democratic process to the foreign governments benefit"

That gives the idea that it was Facebook's intent. They took money for advertising from someone who was gaming the system - FB didn't know the system was being gamed. They're just selling targeted advertising (reprehensible for different reasons), which is just what FB does as a business.

That's also somewhat why I used the example of a media mogul obviously having enough power to have a Prime Minister of a country replaced. That's well beyond what should be considered legal. It's not treasonous because it's in corporate interests as opposed to a foreign power, but how big does a 'corporate' need to be before it's considered a foreign power? It's still against the interests of the country.

The shame of it is, most efforts to increase transparency and close loopholes in political bribery (cough donations cough) are watered-down: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-15/labor-and-coalition-r...

Facebook were passively, not actively complicit. Greedy and naive, stupid and blind; not malicious. The irony is that they ARE actively malicious when it comes to selling out their users' privacy to the highest bidder, but that's not what this is about.

I haven't read everything about all the angles on this topic, so if I'm obviously missing specific information about how Facebook actively colluded with foreign powers (allegedly or otherwise), please point me to it.

Fundamentally, Facebook shouldn't be used as a scapegoat for Trump winning the election. (US) politics has been a cesspool of corruption since long before Zuck had any influence on the world. Wholly and solely blaming FB would be an injustice whilst allowing the more fundamental injustices to continue unpunished.


Important point here: groupthink can be functionally identical to conspiracy, even without explicit communication or coordination. There are a lot of people in media who hate Facebook because as a new medium it's killing their own business model. This creates a cognitive bias in which they'll be hyper-aware of anything bad about Facebook and oblivious to anything good, which is reflected in what they write. There are others in tech who have a similar bias. For example, anyone at Google probably hears lots of messages distinguishing between the two and portraying Google as the good twin. Then all of these factions feed on each others' signals that such views are virtuous. The net result is a massive piling-on equivalent to conspiracy, even though there isn't a literal one.


There's even a term for this, Stand Alone Complex:

> Accidental collectivism made up of detached individuals, resembling a highly organized conspiracy and lacking a deliberate origin. The stand alone complex is from Ghost in the Shell. — https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=stand%20alon...

More here: http://ghostintheshell.wikia.com/wiki/Philosophy

See Also: There Is No Cabal:

> There Is No Cabal is a catchphrase used on Usenet. Its common abbreviation, TINC, is used humorously to suggest that people should lighten up and not see a conspiracy around every corner. It is alternatively used as a pseudo-ironic statement, since presumably an insider or someone who knows "the cabal" would inevitably deny that there is a cabal. It was used extensively by members of the backbone cabal. — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_Is_No_Cabal


Never heard of Stand Alone Complex. Thanks! I had heard of TINC, having been active on Usenet at the time. I remember it a bit differently, more like "it doesn't matter if there's a cabal" perhaps, but then I probably hung out in different cliques and every one had its own flavor.


There is, but there are things Facebook could have done to curb it. The problem with blatant insincerity is it quickly gives everyone else the moral high ground.


> Is there a Facebook smear campaign going on or people just love to pile on Zuckerberg?

How about "neither"? Facebook has been abysmally led on the subject of misuse, in fact going so far as to tell themselves explicitly it was OK if they got people killed[1] as long as they grew the user base and its monetization.

They are just now coming out from under the default presumption that tech == good, and a fairly prodigious PR campaign aimed at suppressing criticism, indeed even smearing critics and misleading the US Congress.

There is very good evidence that FB employees knew, and that executives either should have known, or were grossly negligent in not knowing, the extent of the various types of abuses, up to and including genocide, that were being conducted using FB as a primary platform for the campaign.

No matter how you try to frame this as the tech biz equivalent "just boys being boys" and "business like everyone else" there is a lot, a whole lot, about FB and Zuckerberg's leadership that deserves exposure, criticism, and ultimately a change of leadership.

[1] https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/this-facebook-executives-s...

Edited to add: Take note that Zuckerberg's response to these events is to concentrate power, use a "war" metaphor for his approach, and generally follow the authoritarian play book. Anyone thinking that FB is any kind of "western liberal values" kind of actor is fooling themselves. It will always be more in line with the kinds of things conservatives find attractive, especially today.


For those of us who think that 'get used to it' is not an acceptable answer for Facebook, Gmail or anything else, a little heat on any one of them is a good way to bring the problem to more public light.


So long as it's recognized that, as the problem is continually forced into the public light, lots of people may think that 'get used to it' is an acceptable answer when weighing all options.



> a coordinated

Being a single newspaper, it absolutely is coordinated. Ever newspaper is coordinated. It would be surprising if it wasn't. So this is largely irrelevant.

It would be relevant if there was coordination amongst multiple newspapers.

And even then, it might not matter: coordination doesn't imply the the news aren't true.

So, no. There isn't a coordinated media blitz, and even if there was, it wouldn't matter.


That's true, it would be weird not to coordinate at some level for a single paper, and I could have said "Coordinated by the NYTimes" which is what I meant. I don't think it's irrelevant. The NYTimes is a competitor to Facebook for advertising dollars and eyeballs and influence.

It's true that coordination doesn't imply the news is false. But a lot of this Times coverage comes across as an attack.

For instance, they published an article "‘No Morals’: Advertisers React to Facebook Report", which is just a bunch of color commentary by some ad people they interviewed. It's pretty easy to see how you can go interview a bunch of advertisers and quote the ones who are most negative on Facebook to fit a narrative that you have planned to release together with other stories.

Which is obviously coordinated, because they released the same day.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/business/media/facebook-a...

They also published on how "New CompSci grads don't want to work at Facebook", for which it's similarly easy to find people with that opinion.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/technology/jobs-facebook-...

If they wanted to end the articles with "Full Disclosure: Facebook is our competitor" then go for it haha. Maybe I'm being naive, but I think it's worth pointing out that just like there's a behind-the-scenes at Facebook, there's a behind-the-scenes at the NYTimes too.


That's called milking a story. Writing a single piece can't address all different aspects of a story, such as covering the impact, reactions, etc.

It is pretty much standard fare, and would be surprising if they didn't do it. You can also see the same in any big story the NYT or other papers publish, good or bad.


Responsible newspapers don't coordinate news coverage with editorial pieces, as evidenced here.


This looks to me like you got hung up on one specific word and ignored the substantive point being made.


Yea I installed Signal yesterday. Open source, funded by a non-profit, default end-to-end encrypted, peer-reviewed encryption protoocl.


> Snowden leaks in 2013 were greeted with general apathy

This really isn't how I remember it. I was at Google at the time, and it very clearly marked a decisive shift in Google's public reputation. And not just among the privacy-conscious HN crowd, but for the first time I had laymen acquaintances accosting me about how Google exploited users and their privacy etc etc.

There were always rumblings of this kind of thing, but there was a clear discontinuity: in the layman's imagination, Google went from "generally liked, with occasional mirthful teasing about being a Panopticon", to "indispensable but mostly evil (like Microsoft/Amazon/Facebook, etc)".


> Is there a Facebook smear campaign going on or people just love to pile on Zuckerberg?

Facebook fucked up twice, leaking user data. First Cambridge Analytica and about a month ago an even bigger leak.


A platform can't be held responsible for every opinion some idiot posts, true. When nations weaponize your platform to disrupt foreign elections[1] and facilitate outright genocide[2], you don't get to shrug and ignore it.

This is not just about selling data to advertisers anymore.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/05/facebooks-election-interfe...

[2] https://www.lawfareblog.com/facebooks-role-genocide-myanmar-...


This is the actual issue. Everyone suggesting a smear campaign here is ignoring the facts. Facebook most likely did not have controls or processes or policy to prevent foreign actors from abusing the platform even when reported by legitimate organizations and governments aligned with US interests and policy.

It's actually in Facebook's best interest to fix these problems because people will leave for another network to share their photos with friends and these issues will accelerate a decline.


They aren't ignoring facts, they just already accepted them dozens of articles ago. Questioning coverage frequency has nothing to do with the facts and definitely is not a sign of ignoring them.


Facebook essentially facilitated genocide and has done almost nothing to correct their "mistakes" or accept their role in the tragedy. They also went out of their way to run backdoor smear campaigns against their critics, including using anti-semitic attacks. And that's just the drop in the bucket of their faults, bad behavior, and crimes. This isn't just about data collection, stop pretending it is.


Trump is deeply unpopular with about 60% of the US population.

People don't forget about Cambridge Analytica. FB doubled down when they defended one of their higher-ups who went to support Kavanaugh in his time of need. Then they aligned with a GOP ooo research group, etc.

Facebook's problems are the result of its own-goals.

It doesn't hurt that FB's app has sucked more and gotten less generally useful/addictive as people abandon it.


But know it's the time to crucify Zuckerberg for what exatly?

Trump, and rightfully so.


[flagged]


>- A Democratic Party that failed its middle and lower class

Republicans blocked almost all efforts to get anything done. Blame would lie equally with them. Their specific motive was to shut Obama down and render his presidency mute. As such he expanded the executive which Trump has taken advantage of.

>- A media industry obsessed with growth and sensationalism

Ad dollars and there was a repeal of the fairness doctrine. That lead to Fox News not being news but entertainment and pushing the right wing agenda.

>- A cultural obsession with money and so called "success"

It's reported this way but is it actually true? Most Americans make less than 50k so I maybe money is a concern.

>- A deep-rooted racial problem

Probably true. It's been codified into law, not explicitly per se anymore but effectively so.

>- A population trained to not be skeptical, and be responsive to advertisement

Americans do learn what propaganda is in school but a vocal irrational minority tends to saturate social media. But there are political agendas driven by state legislatures to write the curriculum as well as a lot of revisionist history in school textbooks.

>- A shared obsession to "be the greatest country on earth"

Only because it drives headlines.

- A two-party political system with sports-like irrational rivalry

This is about guns, abortion and taxes mostly. Most of the time it is about the economy.

- A democracy where the popular vote of the majority doesn't seem to matter

Well this is a founding of the country problem.. basically the rich people at the time didn't want a true democracy and instead opted for a republic. And politicians exploit these properties to shift the balance of power in their favor. The mechanism to power here is the vote and they suppress voters they don't want etc...

- A tradition of long-standing political dynasties disconnected from the people's needs

This is not really true. I think the bigger issue is that a lot of money is needed to fund a campaign and most people don't donate and as such politicians have to court big business or big monied interests. McCain wanted campaign finance reform as well as a repeal of super pac funding. At a minimum we need full transparency so people can make an informed choice.


I'm not a Trump supporter, but blaming fake news and facebook for Trump election is exactly the reason why he got elected. We better look at the underlying reasons that draw him to power. Smart use (and abuse) of social media helped, but there's waaay more to his story.


Honestly? Snowden's leaks implied Obama did bad stuff; the Facebook scandals invariably point to mr. Trump.

(I'm comfortable with downvotes.)


Snowden's leaks showed that Obama shut down programs instituted by his predecessor (including bulk email metadata collection). There was one bulk domestic data collection that was ongoing at the time of Snowden's leaks, and Obama immediately called for its end, which happened soon after.


> some advice: Instead blaming this one actor, better get used to it.

I think you've nailed it with this bit, but you're not respecting the side effects of being an unsuspecting victim of their model.

Youth were the people who first adopted social media, and that was before our data was considered either sensitive or valuable. By the time we've realized that our content and behavior are being targeted, we have become hooked and addicted to social media. At the same time, we really shouldn't expect ourselves or others to understand the potential side-effects and consequences of this kind of collection. That would be a disservice to the ourselves and the public.


> we really shouldn't expect ourselves or others to understand the potential side-effects and consequences

I am somewhat with you, but people have been warning about the potential side-effects and consequences of this collection a long time[0]. I don't fault anyone who is only just now figuring out that Facebook might be problematic. I don't fault people who ignored those warnings. That is what it is, that's just what people do, and that part of human nature is never really going to go away. I can live with it.

What annoys me is that when I read articles like this, there's this undertone I pick up of "we've uncovered something crazy and we need to start having a conversation about this." And no, we don't. If you're just now figuring out that Facebook might potentially be maybe evil, you don't need to start a conversation, you need to join the conversation that already exists.

This might sound like bitterness, but there is a real point beyond, "serves you all for not listening." The vast majority of criticism I see on Medium/Twitter/Cable/Outlets in general ignores the perspectives of people who have been thinking about this problem way longer than they have, and as result people come up with, frankly, really bad solutions that are equally problematic.

To make a comparison, this is like everybody waking up one day and realizing that climate change is a real problem. And then instead of going and talking to the scientists who have been warning about it for years, we get a bunch of very reactionary takes on Cable news that ignore the nuance of the situation and say stupid things like, "this is all solar's fault because the mirrors get really hot", or "Facebook should just filter everything that gets uploaded from anywhere for hate speech."

So no shame to people who are just now figuring out that advertising and data collection have downsides. Yes shame to people who feel like this is a novel problem that requires completely novel solutions, or who are using Facebook as an excuse to avoid the broader problem that literally everyone is doing this and many of the other actors are just as bad as Facebook if not worse.

[0]: https://www.xkcd.com/743/


Absolutely no disagreements here.


Large companies often get stuck in analysis paralysis, so a decisive leader can be a good thing. I think the more important question is whether the decisiveness originates from core values the company projects our, or if it’s just about defending turf. If it’s the latter, Facebook is in its long slow decline phase as a company


This article and others I’ve read depict Zuckerberg as angry. An angry CEO makes decisions based on emotion and ego and that is a recipe for disaster.


Facebook needs a credible trustworthy leader at this point in time. I don't know who Zuck thinks trusts him. His rep is more a liability than anything else at this stage.


...and something of a change in policy. They seem to keep making choices and decisions that are asking for criticism.


I think its great. What better than a scumbag like Zuck to actually wake people up?


The advantage of deploying a war metaphor is it resists leadership change. An at risk leader can always say "You don't change want to change horses in the middle of a river, do you?"


Exactly the wrong tack. Firstly, Facebook is 100% in the wrong here, they did bad things (including helping to facilitate genocide) and there needs to be consequences for those. They need to accept that they have done wrong they need to accept that they need to accept responsibility and they need to accept that they need to make big changes. Instead they've been avoiding taking full responsibility and issuing wishy-washy press releases. It's going to catch up with them sooner than later and the public is going to stop giving them a pass for their awful behavior.


So many articles written about a company that adds so little value to human life (at least in its current form).

If you spend just 1h/day on Facebook, over the course of 10 years, that's approx. 150 days or roughly half a year. I'm sure plenty of people spend more than 1h/day scrolling through their pointless feeds.

So my question to you is this: What could you achieve if you could spend half a year of your life, fully immersing yourself in something meaningful and of value?


There’s a big difference between what you can accomplish with an hour here and an hour there vs contiguous, high quality focused time. I suspect that the average user’s Facebook time is of the former, low quality kind.


This is a great point and too seldom raised when comparisons like this are made. I only have so much capacity for highly focused engagement in a given day, and even within those periods there is variability to my focus. That Facebook, or any other activity, occupies time that I am less engaged is not an indictment of those activities or the choice to spend that time in a less deliberate way; its just how most people work.

A better criticism in my mind would be to weigh Facebook and its value against actual competitors for people’s attention in those time periods.


what you can accomplish with an hour here and an hour there vs contiguous, high quality focused time

Yes and no. Swap your FB time for MOOC time and I bet you can do a lot of worthwhile study in bite-size chunks. Or reading books or... anything really.


That's funny because I probably spend more than an h/day on HN sometimes, and I wonder if it's equally as pointless or even worse than FB. At least on FB I can keep in touch with people in real life, on HN I get to participate in semantic arguments with strangers.


This is a false equivalency. The alternative is not an hour of work, but an hour of some form of either news browsing or social interaction.

If you think facebook does those poorly (I wont take a position on that now, though I certainly have opinions) you should focus the comparision on what you would consider better versions.


You are correct! It is a false equivalency. My comment's goal was to remind people that being mindful of one's time, and reallocating and juggling it could lead to more productive outcomes. I was too sloppy in how I phrased it.


I’m 35 years old and haven’t immersed myself in something meaningful and of value so far. I know who I am and I’m not capable of much. Not everyone can do something great, meaningful, or valuable.

What’s wrong with just scrolling mindlessly through facebook to help pass the time?


I don't think there's anything in particular which is wrong with that at a micro scale, but at a macro scale when literally billions of people are being subtly influenced without realizing it by powers that may have no interest in the truth... I think there's a lot that can go wrong with that.

I believe it was in Myanmar where everyone uses facebook and started getting news from there and anti-Muslim voices spread messages of hate which tinged the entire nation against Muslims and caused acts of violence.

That's a lot more sinister than the mindless passing of time.


That's not true and it sounds like you have self esteem issues. Everyone can contribute.

The problem with Facebook is that we want people to have meaningful friendships. You can only do that face to face.


What? Facebook is singularly keeping me, my family, and my friends together on a single platform. That provides immeasurable value to me.

I'm not spending 1 hr/day on Facebook, not even 1 hour/week, but when I do want to plan something, or reach out to someone, I know I can get to them via Facebook. I know I can coordinate anything and everything over Facebook because everyone I care about is on there.

Facebook is a tool. If it's not useful to you, maybe you don't have the problems others have, or maybe you're not as proficient at using the tool.


> a company that adds so little value to human life (at least in its current form).

Only place I hear this is on Hackernews and Reddit. It's not a coincidence these are two sites where a huge portion of users are socially awkward single males in their 20s. For pretty much every other demographic on the planet, Facebook adds incredible amount of value to people's day-to-day life. They discover their long lost friends/classmates through Facebook. They can keep in touch with each other's life events from thousands of miles away. If that's not "adding value to human life", then I don't know what is.


I added the qualifier "little" for a reason. Unfortunately, you decided to misquote me and paint my views in more absolute terms.

The value you get from using Facebook comes at a cost, so you ought to offset that "incredible amount of value" you're talking about. Some people incur a huge cost, as they become addicted.


> the value you get from playing video games, or watching anime comes at a cost. Some people incur a huge cost, as they become addicted.

you could say this about almost any activity in life. the fact that facebook adds nothing meaningful to your life doesn't mean that others feel even remotely the same way, there's no need for the social media bashing that gets regurgitated ad nauseum across reddit/hackernews.

clubm8 12 months ago [flagged]

Some might think becoming belligerent in the face of criticism would be a poor strategy, but it worked for Brett Kavanaugh...


It's the primary play in the modern conservative playbook.


Right but the deck was stacked in Kavanaugh's favor. House and Senate investigations into Facebook in 2019-2020 would be disastrous for them as they have to appease two political parties who may decide to go full bipartisan on them. I expect strong lobbying to drive the narrative.. the problem is though that there are a lot of extrinsic issues that pop up. The seemed to survive the midterms though relatively unscathed so really it will be data privacy and maybe global events that impact them. Most of Trump's focus is local though so that may help Facebook avoid the news cycle (say with social media induced violence in Asia)..


Paywall



Use this handy bookmarklet (which, ironically, uses facebook to circumvent the wsj paywall):

  javascript:window.location.href='https://m.facebook.com/l.php?u='+encodeURIComponent(window.location.href);


[dead]


Why does HN encourage this type of copyright infringement?


The only "encouragement" on HN's part is allowing anyone to create an account and comment. You have at least two options at your disposal: flag the comment, and email the mods using the Contact link in the footer. Complaining about it in a comment just adds to the noise.


How do you flag a comment? I can only flag a post.


Click the timestamp to view the comment directly. You should see a "flag" option.


Yep that worked! Apologies for the briefness of my reply. I have a lot of flagging to catch up on this evening.


The article is paywalled. They either need to allow this or ban paywalled links.


Seems like there’s a third possible option as well. Allowing the links but not allowing copyright infringement?


That excludes 99%+ of people from the conversation which defeats the purpose of a site like HN.


A fourth option is for WSJ to display the article when people have ad-blockers disabled.

I don't use ad-blockers at work, and this article is surrounded by ads but still only shows first paragraph.

So I've viewed their ads for the "pleasure" of reading just one paragraph? That's not worth clicking, so people should really stop linking to WSJ.


It's getting boring.




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