Well, the press probably is ganging up on Facebook. That's what the press does. They are sharks. When they smell blood (a story), they move in. Breaking new stories and scooping the other guys is what they live for.
Welcome to the world outside the bubble.
Suddenly, everybody is absolutely horrified by the fact that Facebook is selling people's data. Despite the fact that it's always been their explicit business model.
Facebook is absolutely a horrible idea, but the news are hardly being impartial. It's incumbent publishers trying to knock out a new rival, using their reputation and power to get the newcomer dragged through the mud by politicians. Nobody should be surprised that the most news-sensitive, not the most privacy-sensitive governments were the ones to attack Facebook most directly. The UK, for instance, is perhaps the most invasive surveillance state west of China - and yet, they've been leading the charge against Facebook. Despite the fact that the same government has floated ideas about monetizing government data about its own citizens!
1. Russian interference in the election and the fact that FB knew about it and did nothing.
2. FB running psychological experiments in the newsfeed not only to see if they can make you spend more time there (questionably ok) but also to see if they could affect your mood (definitely not ok).
3. Facebook censoring news in the newsfeed based on political leanings.
4. FB tracking you even after you log out.
5. Zuck lying on capital hill about what he knew and when.
6. FB hiring a pr firm to right negative articles about an investor.
Also to be clear, even if Murdoch was the catalyst for the media turning a critical eye on FB, which is at best unsubstantiated conjecture, it is undeniable that very valid, very concerning stories have been revealed as result of the media's renewed scrutiny.
"the fact that FB knew about it and did nothing" is unsubstantiated. The person I trust the most on this is Alex Stamos, who actually left Facebook due to tensions over this, and he's gone on record saying there was no obstruction.
> 2. FB running psychological experiments in the newsfeed not only to see if they can make you spend more time there (questionably ok) but also to see if they could affect your mood (definitely not ok).
From 2014. I'd also disagree with running A/B tests to increase time spent being "questionably ok" though.
I can't find anything online about this? Unless you're talking about filter bubbles, in which case I think that's a reasonable criticism although I think describing it as "censorship" is a huge stretch.
Again, from 2013.
Can't find any news articles about this.
The fact the media are sharks doesn't absolve Facebook's sins. The media ARE sharks though.
a) Journalists ignore your PR team.
b) Journalists just parrot and re-write was other journalists report.
c) Some journalists are doing real investigative reporting to reinforce these views.
How does it end? The news cycle changes. People forget things. Worse things happen somewhere else.
I’m a lot more concerned about what is being ignored. Facebook has apps which people can, despite what is claimed, fairly easily stop using. Google owns the full stack, operating system, browser, ad platform. It’s a lot more difficult for users to fully exit that environment in the event of abuse.
So does Apple, so does Microsoft. Why bring up Google specifically?
I'd like to see some documentation for that claim. Company financial reports? What percentage of Apple or Microsoft revenue comes from selling ads or user data? (Not revenue raised indirectly by them spending on their own advertising)
> that also doesn't explain why Google's stack is harder to leave than the rest.
Parent comment wasn't comparing the difficulty of leaving Google with the difficulty of leaving Apple/Microsoft. The comment was about leaving Google in comparison to leaving Facebook, in the context of a discussion about personal privacy.
I think bringing up Apple & Microsoft is a non sequitur in this context.
Microsoft owns LinkedIn and Bing which very large ad revenue services.
>I think bringing up Apple & Microsoft is a non sequitur in this context.
Bringing up Google alone was the non sequitur. You could argue its nearly impossible to leave the big three all together but switching between them isn't a significant burden.
Murdoch’s threats are well documented. At a 2016 meeting, “Murdoch conveyed in stark terms, Zuckerberg could expect News Corp executives to become much more public in their denunciations and much more open in their lobbying.” 
The fact that they sell data is probably the only thing that hasn't been a purported scandal. Rather, what the media started claiming was a scandal in 2016 was that Facebook had an API in 2007. Which somehow became an issue as soon as FB kicked media companies out of the newsfeed.
When FB does it: Psychological Experiments
> To test that, Facebook data scientists tweaked the newsfeed algorithms of roughly 0.04 percent of Facebook users, or 698,003 people, for one week in January 2012. During the experiment, half of those subjects saw fewer positive posts than usual, while half of them saw fewer negative ones. To evaluate how that change affected mood, researchers also tracked the number of positive and negative words in subjects’ status updates during that week-long period. Put it all together, and you have a pretty clear causal relationship. The results were published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, which, for what it’s worth, is a pretty prestigious journal.
Sorry, let's rephrase. "Harmful psychological testing"
Sure, A/B tests have a psychological component, although the tests don't specifically test for that or they'd be after the reason WHY they clicked on blue vs green. They don't care why, they only care about which got more clicks in order to choose which one to go with. They usually also tend to actually test something, like a feature. What feature was FB A/B testing? They weren't. It was a pure psychological test, with harmful results. You honestly don't see a distinction?
No it wouldn't. Only to a person who knows nothing about psychology or about experiments would that phrase accurately describe a psychological experiment.
There were a lot of ethical failures on the part of Facebook, such as the failure to get informed consent, the failure to review the experiment with an independent review board until after it had occurred, misleading said review board to say that the dataset was previously approved, etc., and all for results that the authors think were not very valuable: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/every...
Why is it ok for a bakery to spray the smell of fresh baked goods to affect your mood, but not ok for Facebook to attempt the same?
Second direction of effect. A baker can spray scent to make you think about food, positive or at best neutral effects. Facebook can manipulate what your see to induce rage, fear, hate, xenophobia, anything it wants if it is effective.
Again, I think it really just comes down to scope. Regardless of what precedent there is for corporate interactions with the populace, we are at an unprecedented time with regards to the reach, immediacy, and ubiquity a corporate entity can exert on its users. And when you have a company whose product incentivises immense social pressure on others to join you can end up with huge amounts of influence in a very short time.
Again, looking at it from the precedents of the past you can say there's nothing wrong or different about it but we do not live in the past and these entities are having large and possibly damaging effects on our societies and the precedent with regards to that is to attempt to eliminate it, either through media shaming or governmental regulation.
Your second argument is just incorrect. Given that obesity is arguably the foremost health issue in the country, inducing appetite is not "at worst neutral."
The bakery example actually seems pretty comparable to FB. IMO they are both fine because the magnitude of the negative effect of being made hungry by the smell of a bakery and being made angry by seeing a FB post are both insignificantly small.
I think your argument would make sense if Facebook was "dumb" content delivery platform and had no advertisements. But it isn't: its a smart one, collecting data on its users constantly, and making that information available to anyone who wants it to push possibly misleading content to its users.
> FB running psychological experiments in the newsfeed [...] to see if they could affect your mood (definitely not ok)
I don't understand how anyone could have a problem with this in principle. At Facebook's scale any change they make to their website will affect people's mood in one way or the other.
Would you prefer they didn't do experiments and just rolled out those changes without testing and hoped for the best? That would also be a sort of experiment, the experiment of closing their eyes to data they know is there.
The trolley problem doesn't go away just because you close your eyes as you blindly flip the switch.
Now, if we find that they ran such an experiment and found it was more likely to make people sad but also to spend more money we'd have a stand to criticize them.
For something like that, the name of the game is informed consent. Let people opt into or out of the experiment. That's what people conducting an actual study would do. Not just randomly start experimenting on the public which is essentially what FB did
So color me revisionist, but I smell a rat when it makes the headlines.
Stop jumping in front of the rotting corpse of FB. No Software firms hires right-wing PR firms to propagate anti-semitic conspiracy theories. They have repeatedly played fast and loose with the laws. With the amount of revenue and influence under their control, they're no longer a tech-startup that creates wealth by innovating/discovering a useful technology or service. They're a media company with tremendous influence, and need to be treated as such. Which is why the press is trying to hold them accountable. Open your eyes and stop imagining conspiracy theories where none exist.
Facebook does not sell data. Facebook simply provides a platform for advertisement and to their credit because of the scale of facebook its easy for people to run ad campaigns.
Other than that I absolutely agree with the arguments here. Traditional media is hardly impartial or even a good source of news.
I wonder if it's even some mix, an organized PR attack that makes the number and depth of stories seem a critical mass, and so the rest of the news gangs up on them cuz it's the trending topic that gets the eye balls, self fulfilling prophecy, etc..
When I worked in television, for 10 years in the 70s, the news reporters were former newspaper journalists who were hired for their news gathering abilities and not their good looks. In network television, the news department was a separate, independent division from the entertainment division and did not fear marketing or ratings for the stories they wrote. None of the above has been true for a long time and television "news" is as much about selling advertising and appeasing sponsors as any entertainment you see on television today.
Does the press turn non-stories into stories and circle them like shark? Absolutely they do! And having a conversation with my nephews fiance who works for one of those network television "news" divisions disheartens me even more.
Today one needs to do what newspapers and televisions in the past did themselves. Vet the information and use stories that matter. It is now we the people who have to do the vetting and editing to find who and what we will believe but there are far, far too sources making it far too much work and most people will just rely on the most entertaining. Popular magazines and fun TV anchors.
I don't disagree with you that the drama at FB plays, but that doesn't make it any less valid journalism. There is more media today than there has ever been. It's not all up to the same standard. But the reason FB can't manage to get out of the spotlight is their own fault. Maybe they close ranks and right the ship eventually but there is something going on at the highest levels of that company that is off and the media is going to keep investigating until they get to the bottom of it because that's the whole point of the profession. Yes it absolutely plays, but there is also a whole lot of substance to it.
This used to be a power that was held only by a small oligopoly of mass media corporations.
> And it has always been the press' job to hold powerful figures and companies accountable to the public.
The question is, "who watches the watchers?".
Prior to the explosion of the internet, the narrative consensus established by the mass media was the truth, as far as most people knew. The voice of Walter Cronkite might have well been the voice of God. The press, itself, was seldom held accountable to the public, save from a few propagandists or, at best, contrarians like Noam Chomsky who usually had some particular ideological axe to grind and some biases of their own. (Chomsky himself was very self-aware about his place in the world at the time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent)
Now we live in a world where there are a million Noam Chomskys for each Walter Cronkite, and the Cronkites are getting scared. Instead of the seemingly benign and well-hidden biases of the mainstream media, we are bombarded with obvious, radicalized biases from a plethora of outlets, all with varying levels of honesty.
> Facebook has been, especially over the past few years, at best an amoral actor. That has to be news. It has to be.
Facebook built a platform for disseminating media. It's a platform where propaganda can be disseminated to people at a very high level of granularity and precision. It's a platform that lives in a place where national borders have less meaning, enabling bad actors to cross these borders. Facebook talks about making the world more open and connected. It turns out that the world is a terrible place and there were good reasons to be closed off and disconnected from certain parts of it!
The issues discussed above arise because Facebook optimized for easily measured and monetized things like engagement, and discovered some unintended consequences, so now they're being called on to address those consequences. Maybe they and other social media companies should block fake news, or incitements to violence, or political advertising, or female-presenting nipples, or whatever. The problem is, Facebook is a monopoly, and if you have a mass media monopoly acting as the arbiter of truth and social harm, you've just made matters much, much, much worse. This solution also doesn't appease the legacy mass media, which themselves used to be the arbiters of truth, and are loath to relinquish that power to some nerds in San Francisco.
Many non-"hard news" articles are spawned by PR agencies or PR arms of large companies through relationships with journalists or non-stop pitching of ideas to reporters and editors. They may be disguised as a human interest story, profile, or something else lighthearted. The Sunday New York Times is filled with them.
They're not hard to spot, though. Some are obvious (a profile of celebrity X, who happens to be releasing a new movie).
A casual mention of BigCo or a BigCo product is another giveaway. Example: the sudden flurry of articles about the ISS robot this week. Oh, look, it's powered by Watson!
6 x GHW Bush
2 x "Wisconsin Republicans Approve Stripping Power From Incoming Democratic Governor"
3 x CBS' Moonves showed dick to actress, tried to get her roles to keep it quiet, lied to investigators
3 x New data on World-Wide Greenhouse gas emission
"The Best Movies Of 2018"
None of these come anywhere close to what Graham describes, i. e. "Dude Ranches are the New Trend in Gender Reveal Outings" or whatever. Except maybe the list of movies, where it's generally understood that reviewers enjoy the luxurious bribes that are free tickets (and still dare to publicly rubbish films, with no discernible trends that neatly align to some production companies figuring out how to reliably buy good reviews)
You can make this conspiracy theory work by insisting there some groups that profit from each of these stories, in some convoluted scheme. And most of these groups probably engage in PR, because everyone does. But then you have just arrived at a useless truism.
So what's the purpose on insisting that everything is manipulated, and that there's some dark powers scheming to manipulate us, apart from the smug feeling of superiority? There's a point where critical thinking just becomes nihilism.
I actually had to narrow down my search in order to find this article in the haystack of every other media outlet on the entire planet breathlessly repeating the exact same claims.
(The press always do this, from what I can tell. They're so absolutely confident of their righteousness that anyone who doesn't also believe in it must be deluded, or irrational, or part of a cult, or...)
Though I actually meant to link to the previous article in the series, which sets out the New York Times' astounding spin more clearly - this is the one where they claim that it was somehow an attack on user privacy to not make the setting which stopped companies like Cambridge Analytica getting all your data also force all your friends to install the official Facebook app to interact with you: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/03/technology/fa...
Like, in one part of the article they literally had network logs of their reporter's Blackberry device, after he logged into Facebook on it, pulling down information from Facebook which he was authorised to access directly to that device - and they presented this as though it was proof that Facebook were being incredibly dishonest in not treating it as though they were giving Blackberry, a third party, access to all that incredibly sensitive personal data. They took advantage of the fact that most people are too technically clueless to understand that Blackberry in actual fact didn't have that data in any way, shape or form, that it never left the pocket of the person who was granted access to it and they knew it.
How do they (you) know that? How hard would it be for Huawei or Blackberry to exfiltrate that data?
What that and other incidents show is that Facebook had a widespread pattern of sharing data and trying to control the reach of that data through contracts and legal power rather than actually controlling it. This strategy makes leaks inevitable.
They control the kernel. They can read it from the screen, from the app memory, from the TCP stream with a minor patch to the TLS code. Seriously, the "how do you know" rabbit hole has to start from first principle.
You don't know. And the special API made is easier if it did happen. But it was not an enabler or anything - if they wanted to, they did it without, before, or with Facebook's help.
There might be better moves to make, though.
Calling people crazy for disagreeing is a sure sign of being trapped in an echo chamber. This happens a lot when a politician breaks ranks with their party. You start to see the "suddenly <obviously sane person> went crazy" narrative.
The press is a gestault that can ultimately take actions beyond what any individual component is capable of taking. Facebook is a threat to the press, and of course it is working to protect itself.
The problem was when we gave the press access to the internet. It was capable of acting more quickly than it was before.
The topic or integrity of stories isn't even that important. The focus is engagement and attention.
Press is not doing even a thousandth part of what Facebook has done to others.
A few of the 33,606 people  working at Facebook anonymously complaining about their employer and management in the midst of a bad press cycle is remarkably unsurprising.
In the end, most of the critics seem to miss the point that Facebook grew really fast, and just wasn't ready to police the world. A lot of it focuses on the negative aspects of Facebook conquering the world, but what about the positive aspects? Is there another app that, indeed, connects the world?
It might not be clear to people here, who are not heavy users of Facebook and reside mostly in the US. But for me, I have hundreds of friends scattered around the world and Facebook has been the only way to keep in touch with them.I've met so many people through Erasmus groups and Communities on Facebook as well. No, the alternatives are not everywhere in the world.
Growth rate is not an excuse for the evils that have been enabled by Facebook. It is perfectly within Facebook's power to slow its growth to a rate it can actually manage.
And don't play the "shareholder" card. Zuck is the majority shareholder, and can do whatever he wants with the company, including making it not be evil.
Is there another app that, indeed, connects the world?
E-mail. The PSTN. Text messages. Actual mail.
WhatsApp, YouTube, and probably several hundred others that I don't know about because I'm not much of an SMS person.
Also, I've had the same cell phone number for approximately 20 years (and I only changed the number then because I wanted one with an area code in the city I was doing business in...which seems like a quaint requirement today). I am legally allowed to take my number with me when I change carriers. I have no legal right, or technical means, to carry my facebook profile URL with me if I move somewhere else. I hate phones, but if we're talking about longevity of connectivity...phones do alright compared to social networks.
It is still a minority in my personal experience (which is what matters for me).
> Also, I've had the same cell phone number for approximately 20 years
I think you're probably a few generations above me, probably none of my friends still have the same phone number, I know I've changed a dozen of times in the last 10 years. It's easy to keep the same cellphone number if you live all your life in the same country, but that's not my life or my friends life.
It looks like most of the election stuff was normal humans reposting things of their own volition. Yeah, there were lots of lies in it, some of it was actual fake newspapers being run out of Macedonia or whatever, but are we making facebook a scapegoat just for being the medium? Before 2016, I never heard anyone saying FB had an obligation to fact-check political speech..
Maybe we, as a society, need to figure out how to handle social media rather than expecting a guy like Zuck to do it for us.
Here's my beef, though: People still did that. Facebook isn't your daddy, and Zuckerberg will never be a different person.
Facebook isn't the problem. We are.
Especially if you go to great lengths to keep the bidders anonymous, or even merely allow them to make themselves unknown to you because “we can’t scale that”.
You make it sound like FB knew that the accounts that "...posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes" were run by a military operation.
> because "we can't scale that"
And how would you scale that?
I don't think there is any easy solution (or even an "ideal" solution).
Not to mention that FB is on now dealing with actual dam military operations by an authoritarian government. How would you defend yourself against that?
If I was Facebook, ot if I was a government?
If Facebook: First idea, probably naive, is to require large minimum spending per advertiser so that all can be checked manually.
If government: I’d pass a law requiring all advertisers be checked to some standard, which is what I care about, and let Facebook invent its own solution.
I want to be clear: I don’t care if that bankrupts them, any more than I care about bankrupting surgeons who can’t afford soap.
Obviously in hindsight some posts should have been censored and accounts banned to prevent violence, but I'm honestly not surprised they failed to.. We're expecting some dweebs in the valley to understand Myanmar social dynamics?
If they do business there? Yes! If they cannot hire people who can understand it for them, that is still a problem. If they merely forget, that is still a problem.
Facebook is directly responsible for mass murder (not only in Myanmar, but feel free to look up Sri Lanke, The Philippines, Cambodia and probably a few other countries).
The "Well, Facebook is only a medium and those evil folks could have performed their genocide with the help of postcards" excuse really doesn't cut it.
They knew for years and didn't do shit! Let that sink in...
Yes. At every social gathering, every online forum, etc. where I mention (or people already know) that I work at Facebook, the most common reaction has gone from "wow cool" to harsh glares. It interferes with all of those relationships. I know a whole lot of people will say "you deserve it you scum I hope you die" but I'm not here to argue deservedness. A question was asked, and I'm answering. Yes, we feel it.
Especially on my way into the office in the morning or after lunch I've been caught up in a problem I'm solving, an approach I just discussed with someone, an idea, etc and have walked into the elevator without realizing there were people inside.
This is in an office building where FB rents multiple floors and is tight on elevators, so I think we might be talking about the same office and I wouldn't be surprised if I maybe I did this before. It's also the first time I'm living in the city, so I did get elevator etiquette wrong a few times when I first moved in.
I never heard any comments about the making the world worse though. The people in the office tend to be quite nice. I did meet someone in the elevator once with whom I had a good conversation about lunch options at the different companies in the building.
In any case, I do suggest pointing it out next time something like this happens. It might be people like me (or me!) who just aren't always aware of their surroundings. And it case this was me, have my retroactive apologies.
Seen lots of groups display inconsiderate behavior in public, to inconvenience others. Most common example - small group spreads across a pathway to force passers by off the pathway to get by. Always thought it was more of a unconscious dominance sort of thing.
Two words: Stock price. A big part of compensation is in stock.
Back in 1998 when a company I helped start was acquired by a publicly traded company, and by 1999 the stock price was over $100 and everyone was feeling "super good" about the future. The internal dialog goes something like this, "This may be an anomaly but damn! even if the stock drops to 50% of its value I'm still doing great!."
In my case the stock dropped in value to below a dollar a a share, 99%+ drop. That feels really really horrible, especially if the future doesn't have anything in it that would rescue or recover the value. Even though there was nothing that I personally could have done (legally) to change the outcome, as an engineer and a person who solves hard problems, it made me feel like a total failure. Like I had let down my family, my friends at work, and people who I knew who had bought stock in the company as a sign of confidence in me.
It is really hard to understand that kind of feeling until you've been through it I think.
That's not an accident: the reason stock compensation is given is to further align employee interests with the long term performance of the company.
Or did you have a specific scenario in mind?
I had to work long and hard to convince a friend of mine to diversify at least half of his investments away from Shopify which was his only asset.
I would argue that Twitter does a much better job of connecting the world than Facebook.
Have you tried quitting facebook? I found it the easiest of all the social networks to leave because there's pretty much nothing to miss about it. Are you really gonna feel distraught over missing the bajillionth picture of your high school friend pretending to like holding a baby? Or fake macedonian garbage shared by your most racist family member?
But Twitter can _not_ replace events, groups and messenger.
My web browser.
I've still had people ask me for referrals, be interested in what I do and think my job is cool-- just not as much as before.
No, they are still rolling in money. If that ever changes, then FB are in trouble.
Until then, carry on everyone.
You're not going through anything unique. There were plenty of bankers that felt that politicians, the press and the public were being unfair to them.
Weren't they? One rule that pretty much seems to be a law of the universe is that popular sentiment will be completely wrong on almost every particular point even when its conclusions are completely right.
Like, I want to meet the person who said “you know what this successful publicly traded company needs? More 4chan.”
No way I'd give my corporate email to give blithe and scathing criticisms. What's their data (in)security like? Do they sell that data off? Blackmail your job if they got desperate?
Big tech company surveillance culture is well documented and the outside pressure against FB seems INTENSE.
For real problems, like Cambridge Analytica or the recent API token breach, by trying to fix whatever is broken. A lot of the other scandals honestly don't seem to have any basis in reality that we can discern, so we spend a fair amount of time looking puzzled, then shrugging and getting back to work.
Ballmer to Nadella would be another example.
For me, this hints at an interesting shift in tech culture, away from the unquestioned mythography of the original founder. Typically the departure of the founder has been seen as the biggest challenge for evolving startups, and the return of the founder as a moment of salvation. Think of Apple, or Twitter.
Now, there are examples of where the departure of the founder acted as a release valve for public pressure, and a chance for the company to reset and evolve.
Or maybe it's more like an addition to the culture--a new set of stories that illustrate a different path for startups toward long-term success.
This might also reflect a shift in how the public views tech companies. They're not just fun, harmless get-rich-quick stories anymore. The consequences of their success (intended or not) weigh more on people's minds.
When Eric Schmidt was the CEO, he had his own opinions, but whenever Sundar was asked any question on TGIF, he was just looking at Larry to see if what he's saying is what Larry wants to hear.
Sergey doesn't really care about politics, he just wants to do cool stuff.
Another former senior employee noted a growing sense of paranoia among current employees. “Now, people now have burner phones to talk shit about the company — not even to reporters, just to other employees,” they told BuzzFeed News.
Facebook employees so afraid of Facebook spying on them, that they need burners. Presumably, not loaded with any Facebook apps.
Calling these "burner phones" is a little silly. They are just completely private, non-corporate phones.
I've never trusted any company to either pay for my own phone or plan, if that requires allowing it special access.
So a phone used to duck surveillance from a powerful entity to conduct discussions about things you don't want that entity knowing about, colloquially goes by what other name then?
I get it if the implicit association between a "real" burner phone and these devices might not be a complete and perfect parallel but I think here the term is apt (unless we're legitimately just talking about someone's every day personal phone, but that wasn't the impression I got-the article doesn't really talk more about what these devices are)
If a company provides your phone, then it has access to it, and if you don't want your company to have access to what you do on it, you use a different phone. If you want the convenience of a personal phone that you can check your work mail (or work facebook groups) on, then you grant access to that company.
It isn't any different from when a law firm or bank provides its employees phones. If you don't want that firm or bank to read what you write on it, then you need another phone.
A "burner phone" gets thrown away--"burned"--to prevent the someone from tracking you. You don't allow anyone to know you use it.
No one at facebook cares if you use a second phone. So some better terms would be "personal phone" or "non-corporate phone".
Right, and as I said in another comment, my statement here isn't to suggest I don't know what a burner phone is. My statement above is because I'd think someone would either say "We use our personal phones" or something similar to describe how they talk about FB without FB knowing it.
Describing your personal phone as a "burner phone" seems odd and possibly telling that there's something else there.
There very well might NOT be, but as I mentioned before: the article doesn't really say much further so it's hard to know.
Doesn't seem odd to me, in the context of a) a former employee sensationalizing the situation and/or b) hiding behavior from any employer.
I would see this as a tertiary characteristic of burner phones that is certainly optional. Almost every usage of "burner phone" you see in media, film, and print, is used to indicate a phone that is unmonitored.
Queue scene of FBI in room with monitors showing camera views of Jason Bourne talking on a phone. "He's got a burner" is more likely to be said when Bourne is talking on the phone, not when he's throwing it away.
But the law firm and the bank aren't in the business of snooping on cell phones. Facebook is. I've had phones from both a firm and a bank. They didn't look at what someone was doing without cause and they had very strict procedures to follow to get permission to even look even though it was a company phone.
Some people use once and burn, some burn one a day, or once a week, and some -- like you said, burn when they think it is compromised.
At my last job I was given a corporate phone as well as my own personal phone. Some coworkers decided to do everything on their corporate phone. I chose to keep the two separate, but I wouldn't say that I was using my personal phone as a "burner".
Definitely do not want to rule that out, you're right to bring this up, but agreed. Calling your personal phone a 'burner', seems novel? Not sure if there's a better word there.
A "personal device"
Yes. A burner phone is a device you use once or twice, then dump (burn). I seriously doubt bookface employees are dumping their personal cell phones after sending a couple shit talk messages to their friends about their employer.
A non-corporate phone. “Burner phone” is something very specific and refers to prepaid phones without attached identity at the network level. Which, as the name implies, can be “burned” (discarded) after use.
Burner-like if it works better for you.
We don't know that as a fact, do we? In this specific case I mean, I know how burner phones are used, but we have from the piece an interesting nugget that isn't really fleshed out.
Maybe the employee just used 'burner phone' to get the point across quickly of the lengths employees were going through, maybe it's an allusion to something more but it's a nugget I found interesting nonetheless.
Calling a personal phone your "burner phone" is silly. But if you work at Facebook, you're aware your personal phone may be leaking data. A phone purchased specifically to talk about things you don't want Facebook to hear is roughly accurately described as a "burner," even if it isn't discarded after use.
(Broadly speaking, this is a prudent step for whistleblowers to take. Buy a cheap phone, turn off all non-essential services, and install Signal.)
I have wifi access when I'm on my company, but I don't feel the need to buy another phone just to be able to speak freely.
If you aren’t whistleblowing, that’s reasonable.
Companies have every tool available to pursue NDA breachers, trader secret stealers and insider traders on their hands to chase whistleblowers. Phones are cheaper than heavy litigation and the threat of prison time.
If you leave a company unexpectedly (which can happen), it's good if you don't give up the ability to be contacted.
I made this mistake in my twenties, and never again.
there is significant difference.
Private non-corporate phones are usually connected to your name just by virtue of you having an account with cell phone provider in your name or activating the phone in a way that still naturally leads to you.
A burner is typically cash-based bought/prepaid phone activated without any direct/indirect connection to your name or any other of your accounts/profiles/etc.
Given the power of FB (and money involved - i mean every scandal moves like $100B of valuation - the cost of one year war in Iraq) i think it is very reasonable and prudent of its employees to use actual burners not just private phones.
I agree, but it's still not as silly as how many people are commenting in here about whether or not its ok to call it a "burner phone" lol
It's not a perfect, but one way to tell that the startup you're in is monitoring you is that they hand you a computer with your login already created. If you're opening up the Apple box yourself then it's much more likely to be free from keyloggers, etc. But don't trust shared sign-in stuff like Google Apps for Business to be private.
I’m glad I don’t have that problem.
Lot's of companies provide a limited scope Wifi access for contractors, vendors, etc, when on campus. The level of insight might not be as high but the host company can potentially still track things like local network traffic without requiring "special access" beyond Wifi usage. If the FB employees don't want to acknowledge the existence of these phones then they are definitely "burners".
And if you have your employer manage your phone plan, I assume they have access to your call records.
Do you know that or is it just a guess?
Facebook engineers know exactly what surveillance powers the company has, and how easily those can be exercised.
Slack I always consider as something my employer can see freely.
For other means of communications, when I am on a company device and private network, I also have some paranoia that conversations are not private.
Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it's not happening.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Except on HN when it's about this year's boogeyman.
When I worked in adtech, I had a flip phone up until the point that my boss made me get a smartphone so that I could get hipchat. It's believable to me, because I was only inches away from having a burner phone myself.
I'm a heavy user of Blind since its inception and it is nothing but a cesspool of anger and bitterness. It's fun if you want to blow off some steam and engage in mass trolling, almost like 4chan with its memes, but if you believe for one second that any sort of honest discussion can occur on that platform, you are delusional. It's literally the worst of the worst, and only people who enjoy trolling will engage on that platform.
Facebook will claim that this is ethical because your Facebook account is linked to the work systems and therefore your chats are company property. I will pass judgement - even if it had been talking shit on a purely internal chat application, such as a corporate slack, it would not be okay for HR to bring up talking shit - They would need to have had a dang good reason (A complaint from the other party of the chat that you had made threats, reason to believe you were discussing illegal activity or actively causing the company harm). What Facebook did was absolutely immoral, and it is clear that it is standard company policy.
So I wouldn't have been surprised by this in the least.
I've been telling my kids not to bitch about their teachers in public, as there is a good chance they will eventually be overheard by ... their teachers.
Come on, grow up! Don't say anything bad about your employer via your employer's systems. Ever.
I don't remember seeing that last part before! Does this mean that they don't want to connect people who (they believe) will have a negative impact on the world?
Facebook has/had a near-religious devotion to the idea that connecting a globe of strangers is inherently good. I strongly disagree.
I'll be curious to see if this pops up again in the future.
I don’t think I’ve ever read such a deeply toxic comment in my life. On the surface polite, but underneath such a corrupt worldview. Good on Sheryl for just surviving in an environment with people like that.
Not saying this to nitpick or attack. I just wanted to point out that exaggerated outrage fuels the trolls and tends to make reasonable people tune out. I think it would be sufficient to simply state it was "a negative and misguided comment".
I find this pretty hard to believe, you must have read something on the internet more toxic than that!
I don't think the person being quoted means what you think they do, unless you assume the absolute worst about them, and I don't see how we have enough information to make a judgement one way or the other about this persons worldview.
In the previous paragraph we read another quote from the message boards “One does not simply fire the author of ‘Lean In’ and pretty much the sole female executive in top leadership,”
Isn't the part of the culture that is truly toxic that she is "pretty much the sole female executive in leadership"?
Agree on the last point too.
Should men be able to "play the male card" to get something they otherwise wouldn't have?
You either say yes to both, or no to both. If corporate politics has cultured an environment where there is even such a thing as a "female card" or a "male card", then that's a failing.
I suspect when you say that the male card is automatically in play, you aren't referring to something that men are automatically doing, but rather some facet of the system that favors men. In which case, changing the system is the correct approach, not introducing unbalanced social norms approving of women "playing the female card".
I also suspect that even I am taking this "play the card" analogy far beyond its usefulness haha. I'd much rather talk about actual systems or behaviors in concrete terms that broker little room for misunderstanding.
It can come up like, turn down a game of golf when women aren’t invited, or invite them. Suggesting people who aren’t like you for teams as well.
I can honestly say I have never seen this mythical company, and if it existed then the wast majority of the bottom 10% of the population would no longer be male.
> Blind performance auditions, much research has proven, often results in the hiring of more women and minorities because it eliminates the opportunities for bias to influence who makes the cut.
The point is not that there's a cabal of evil dudes scheming to exclude women. The point is that on a subconscious level many people stereotype each gender as having a specific set of roles. This biases their evaluation of the individual's performance.
An analogy: I have an alt account on youtube (to try to dodge Google's tracking) that has the gender set to female. When I'm logged into this account I get endless advertising for cleaning/laundry products, air fresheners, and diet solutions. This is despite the fact that my viewing habits are still those of a 30+ year old male developers and video game fan: coding talks, gaming stuff, and lets plays. Google's algorithms decided - based entirely on my set gender, and despite ample evidence to the contrary - that it should advertise stuff I obviously don't care about at me.
All I'd like you to consider that it's at least possible that the average hiring manager in a tech company carries the same kind of biased assumptions about what a female should be interested in and good at.
The average hiring manager has indeed some gender expectation. Based on some fascinating recent study done on judges, I would expect to see a major difference in how rational judgement a hiring manager do based on how long time it has been since last time they ate. The lower their blood sugar level are the more likely a person are to use shortcuts in their thinking.
Note that this has nothing to do with the belief of a "patriarchy", nor can it be translated into power cards that get played in some zero sum game.
The US government has engaged in identity politics for pretty much all of its history (consider the rhetoric about the "migrant caravan" today, or the way that every elected official has to at least pretend to be Christian). You don't get to rail against identity politics as if it's something SJWs came up with in the last decade.
Same with the comment from the black ex-employee about how there are more Black Lives Matter posters than actual black employees (which I don't doubt for a second). There is no way to play these progressive games at work that won't come back and shoot you in the foot from the left, right and center. Keep politics out of the workplace.
...which makes your take, i. e. That removing the posters would solve the problem sort of funny, in a very depressing way.
* Silence is consent.
* If you know what is good for you, you will be quiet.
Wait, what? Are you sure you want to assert that? Because that's going to make things really complicated for the #MeToo movement.
I understand what you're saying just fine. I don't think you're picking up on the issue I'm drawing attention to (and I'm choosing to ignore the misogyny comment - come on, you're better than that). Think about how this statement sounds when we apply it to what is perhaps the biggest issue today that is related to discussions regarding consent. You can't default to two opposite positions here, and I'm pretty sure after only a moment's thought you'll agree that we're better off sticking to the rule that silence is very much not consent.
It's very obvious that gender equality being achieved in the workplace is not via reduced discrimination, but by hiring women at a very flexible bar. It's so painfully obvious in my organization and frankly im embarrassed for the qualified women who are getting tarnished by the changes.
Or maybe you keep such shitty things to yourself and the painfully obvious is visible to anyone but you.
Its not shitty, its insanely normal (and its a joke) and youre just being dramatic.
It is true people would expect you to “change the way you act” so as not to make women literally uncomfortable around you, how outrageous that you should have to do this.
> The slightest criticism against women needs to be considered through a lens of misogyny and if it's plausible you keep quiet.
> It's very obvious that gender equality being achieved in the workplace is not via reduced discrimination, but by hiring women at a very flexible bar.
Wrong on both, and you have no evidence to support this.
Here are two meta studies based on 20 and 140 other studies, respectively, and they only find a weak to no link between gender diversity and productivity, so neither does the science prove that gender diversity is particular beneficial, nor that it is harmful:
Growing up Mormon, I felt extremely uncomfortable when co-workers drank alcohol in the office, even in after-hours social contexts. Does that mean I had a legitimate grievance to ask those around me not to drink?
We can certainly come up with gender neutral standards about what kind of speech or activities are OK and which are not OK, but if we go with "does it make women feel uncomfortable" then we also need to extend it to "does it make Mormons feel uncomfortable" and "does it make polyamorists feel uncomfortable," and so on ad infinitum.
I think the hbr article has cause and effect backwards.
It’s obvious that wealthy stable high margin businesses can afford to focus on diversity initiatives.
If we were actually confident that diverse teams were better then gender and race would no longer need to be protected groups.
I wish you could do a study on it, but you can't right now.
I don't know how to get through to people who are absolutely convinced that people who claim it's happening are just being paranoid insecure sexists leading to biased assumptions, and I don't understand why their mind refuses to consider the possibility that these people are correct.
Is it even surprising? Of course it's going to happen. Everyone is getting sued over this, and there is activism and PR wars everywhere. How do you think companies are going to respond? Nobody wants to be next, so they have to increase representation. Executives cannot actually do anything to increase representation, other than set goals for their employees to carry out. That is how execs manage. By the time it gets down to the rank-and-file, how to do it doesn't matter. They know it needs to get done, and nobody wants to be the reason that an exec's goals are not met, so they will just make it happen. This happens with goals all the time, and number of women hired is in no way different. Remember when Microsoft told shareholders they were going to get 1 billion devices running Windows 10, and what they started doing to forcefully upgrade machines? If the rank and file resort to force installing Windows to meet that goal, how do you think a company like MS are going to handle meeting their diversity targets? Or Wells Fargo with their account opening scandal that was motivated by executive goals for numbers of new accounts?
This sucks for everybody, but most of all for the people it's supposed to help. Now, those who did meet the bar look just like those who didn't meet the bar but were hired as tokens. Looking the same would not be an issue were it not for identity politics.
It's hard to separate one's ego from something as visceral as that.
It's easy to posit that those unaffected could form "more objective" observations when emotions are not in play.
I say this while aware of the potential biases inherent in both of these statements. So what can be done to better approach this? It's hard.
> those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.
Let's play spot the difference...
One could make a similar argument for not calling out racism to avoid making people uncomfortable.