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Internal emails cause more trouble for Facebook and its C.E.O. (newyorker.com)
342 points by jaytaylor 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 241 comments

I wonder when Facebook is going to get disrupted. It seems to me their key feature is having everyone connected, and while anecdotal, my friends list sure hasn’t been affected by these scandals.

What has been affected is the perception. It’s no longer considered cool to have a Facebook account. Meet-ups and interest groups are still heavily used in my social circles, but it’s almost always with an apology for being on Facebook.

Instagram has suffered less, but instagram isn’t really useful for anything but wasting time.

Facebook on the other hand serves as a modern day yellowpages and meetup combined, but with its popularity dropping and people slowly adopting privacy concerns, it seems like the right company with the right business model could displace Facebook.

Of course you could say something similar about google and how it’s search engine is so terrible at finding anything interesting.

Maybe it’s my little anecdotal world playing tricks on my perception, but to me, the whole web seems ripe for another revolution.

Agreed - though at least in my contacts in the UK, everyone uses WhatsApp (and whatsapp groups) instead of FB. People used to make a FB event for a party now make a WhatsApp group which everyone gets invited into.

I think what Facebook is very very good at is tracking the market and identifying potential competitors and buying them up.

My previous thoughts (and still are) was that FB would become a media holding company, similar to Comcast or Fox/News Corp.

The problems I now see for them is they are really starting to piss off regulators, who will probably not look kindly to future acquisitions, especially larger ones.

They also have a problem that WhatsApp is IMO cannibalising their core 'social media' offerings and I can't see how they can commercialise that product without eroding the privacy and/or simplicity aspects which make it so popular.

In hindsight I think Apple locking iMessage to iPhone was a mistake. If they'd released an Android version Apple would have surpassed WhatsApp in non-US markets where iPhone penetration is lower, and would have dominated the messaging space like it does in the US, as they'd be preinstalled on every iPhone to seed the market.

iMessage (and more importantly, FaceTime) is the single most important reason why I buy apple devices for my whole extended family, so that we can communicate without ads, with privacy and with proper security in place.

So that's pretty decent market strategy on Apple's end, i'd say.

I'd kill for a way to use iMessage on my Windows desktop, so Apple is doing a great, albeit frustrating, job selling the Apple ecosystem.

Wish I could at least use icloud.com. Even went as far as to look into how hard it would be to use VMWare to get a OS X desktop going. 4 GB and a processor core would be worth it, but unfortunately it looks difficult.

Well, yes and no. The iMessage app is really, really awesome when you’re sitting with your Mac. Until you want to message someone with an android phone. :p

If you enabled Handoff in your iPhone, you can text SMS numbers on your Mac.

but unfortunately it looks difficult.

More difficult than just getting the VM up and running, IIRC. Something, something, hardware security key to get iMessage working. Or something. Anyway, there are workarounds with which others report having success, but at that my point my interest ran out.

You could get an old macbook that still runs iMessage, hook a KVM switch up to it and use it as if it was local (through a connection over a VPN or something). It sounds like a lot of work, but if you really must have it...

In the most recent builds of Windows 10, there is a new Windows Phone app what enables you to link your iOS device. Not sure if that's exactly what you are looking for but you can use iMessage on your Windows Desktop. Good luck!

The Windows Phone app only works well with Android devices. Messaging sync with iOS is not supported yet according to their website, and I doubt the Windows can ever get the iOS API access needed to make it work.

> Wish I could at least use icloud.com

why can't you? or you mean for iMessage?

Oh yeah, sorry about the confusion. iMessage through iCloud.com

You can do it in virtual box but there's no graphics drivers, so it's not the most pleasant user experience.

You wanna buy my MacBook pro from me? Lol

I feel like this makes it sound worse than it is. I run El Capitan in a VM on a 6 year old ThinkPad with a 3rd-gen i5 and it's fine. I use Safari with developer tools to debug web stuff and I've not noticed any unpleasantness. I don't use iMessage so maybe it's particularly graphics-intensive or depends on a lot of GPU acceleration (would seem strange in a chat app). Video chat might be affected I suppose? Anyway it may well be worth trying so I didn't want people to be unduly put off.

What resolution do you run the VM at?

Also it's possible that El Capitan has graphics acceleration in VM's, whereas the later versions of macOS definitely do not

Bottom-end WiFi iPads are in the $300 range now. You might find one cheaper on swappable, ebay, etc.

think what Facebook is very very good at is tracking the market and identifying potential competitors

Well, they did that with Onavo didn’t they? Snooping VPN traffic to see who else their users were using. It remains to be seen if they can be as astute without that backdoor.

Agreed about iMessage. Didn’t mind deleteting my Facebook and Instagram accounts (with couple of hundreds of followers) but WhatsApp is almost a requirement in some respects (work, school, family over seas). Would love to get rid of it ASAP for a product from a source I can trust... wish Mozilla were in the messaging business...

What's wrong with Wire or Signal?

People. Nobody using it. My mom is not on it. What the point?

All my programmer / enterpreneural friends are on Signal / Telegram. All business communication is there.

Ditto, I was pleasantly surprised to see a huge number of people at work / industry acquaintances already on it when I switched it to my default SMS app. I love how SMS/Signal are seamlessly together in one app if you choose to combine them.

Signal requires a mobile phone number. The iPhone app isn't bad, but it's buggier than Messages and doesn't rotate. The desktop app has the usual Electron problems.

iMessage arguably serves as lock-in for the iPhone user base. If it were supported on android, many people would switch to the less expensive Android + iMessage ecosystem, likely enough to really make a dent in their cash cow

There are many reasons to move off iphone (not least the lack of earphones), but imessage is so integrated with SMS that I don't know anyone who considers it different on any level other than geeks knowing it intellectually. On the other hand there are benefits to the ecosystem - find my iphone for example. Personally I, and wife, and motherinlaw, are on SEs because my mother's android phone is crap. It's just stopped ringing again -- last time required a software update.

iphones still Just Work. In my experience of people with half a dozen Androids over the last 6 years, they are Just Shit. People buy them because they are cheap, not because they are good. People buy iphones because they are good, not because of messaging lockin.

However that aside, across android and iphone, people constantly use whatsapp though because of groups and simplicity.

>People buy them because they are cheap, not because they are good.

This is quite the overarching generalization. Especially on a site like HN where there are tons of financially well off people choosing to use Android. Do some people buy Androids because they are a cheaper alternative to iPhones, sure. Do some people buy Androids because they don't like things like Apple intentionally slowing devices down, like having access to things like Termux, the ability to flash their own ROMs and root, etc? Absolutely. I don't even want to make this an Apple vs Android thing, but please don't reduce a valid choice down to people's financial situation.

Statistically the average selling price of an Android phone is $200. Even Samsung’s ASP is $250.

An “overarching generalization” doesn’t mean there aren’t outliers. But most people aren’t buying Android phones so they can flash ROMs and run Termux.

On the other hand, the “slowing down phones” meme is outdated - it was a choice between slowing them down and then shutting off completely. All batteries degrade over time.

It was a choice between telling the users that they do and don't telling them. They chose... poorly.

I don't want to argue about Android vs iOS at all. You should buy what you like, I just provided a couple reasons why I use Andoid. I'm assuming your numbers are worldwide since you did not provide a source. If they're US centric, I'd be very surprised. Living in the US, I know plenty of people with Pixel 3s and S9s. These people did not buy these expensive flagship Android phones because they were cheap. There are plenty of valid reasons to buy them.

We have real numbers for the US also as far as people who bought Google Pixels.


If Samsung were selling high end Android phones in volume, how many cheap crappy phones are they selling for the ASP of all of their phones to be $250?

The high end Android market is minuscule.

I don't know how many expensive phones Samsung sells, but Google hardly sells any Pixels at all. Last time I checked, they made up less than 1% of Android handset sales.

Simple, effective, cheap and ecological solution: make phones with batteries that can be swapped easily by anyone.

Radical concept, isn't it?

So in the case of Android, you would have phones with replaceable batteries running old OS’s that the manufacturer abandons unpatched security holes.

Give me a phone that can run the latest OS for five years that I can take to the Apple store and get the battery place for $79 ($29 until the end of the year) any day.

Besides, the processors that are in most low end and midrange Android phones are so horrible compared to 4 year old iPhones, I can’t imagine them keeping up with new software.

No updates is another issue. But it is a problem created artificially. Somehow my 10 year old Core 2 Duo I'm using as HTPC is still getting updates and is working perfectly fine.

> Besides, the processors that are in most low end and midrange Android phones are so horrible compared to 4 year old iPhones, I can’t imagine them keeping up with new software.

Again - it's mostly software problem. I have Motorola Moto E LTE(2015 - 2nd gen) with 1GB of RAM and it's working perfectly fine with Lineage OS [without google services] + F-Droid. I'm using it for Jabber communication (Conversations), podcasts (AntennaPod), GPS (Osmand), e-mail checking (mostly notifications from my bank ;)), calendar (DAVDroid), searching web (Firefox) when I want to check something on the go (bus/train timetable, address etc.) and everything works fine.

My friend had same model and he replaced it because everything was slow with "official" android.

I also have to change my phone. Reason? Battery. Changing it is difficult(https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Motorola+Moto+E+2nd+Generation+...) and paying someone to do it doesn't make any sense (labor + new battery would cost more than this phone is worth...).

No updates is another issue. But it is a problem created artificially. Somehow my 10 year old Core 2 Duo I'm using as HTPC is still getting updates and is working perfectly fine.

The issue is not artificial. Before around the Core 2 Duo, processors and hardware were getting faster at such a rapid clip and the software was taking advantage of it that you really had to upgrade often to use modern software.

My Dell Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz laptop from 2009 has:

8GB RAM - still the standard amount of RAM on most consumers.

A 1920x1200 display - it was one of the last laptops that had screens with that resolution before everyone moved to 1929x1080 and that resolution is still better than the average consumer laptop.

Gigabit Ethernet - most laptops these days don’t come with Ethernet at all and for those that do, gigabit Ethernet is still the standard.

250GB hard drive - of course now hard drives are SSD but most laptops still only come with < 500GB hard drives.

In 2009, an almost 10 year old computer would have had much lower specs than what was then a modern computer.

You see the same ramp up in mobile hardware that happen with computers. It just happened a lot faster.

And it doesn’t matter why the Android ecosystem is such a mess when it comes to upgrades. But it is.

Not only is the 6S from 2015 still getting official updates - so is the 5s from 2013.

Also, the processors in iPhones are so much better than in the typical Android phone, the phones have more headroom for upgrades.

For instance, this is where things stood in 2015.


> Do some people buy Androids because they don't like things like Apple intentionally slowing devices down

Please read up on this point in detail instead of going by sensational headlines. You’d get a more comprehensive picture about how batteries work the same on iPhones and Android phones, and why Apple put in some software changes.

My partner switched to a Pixel because she got tired of having to restore her old iPhone from backup every 6 months when it complained it was running out of space - inspite of the fact that she wasn't doing anything that should be gobbling up space.

I've been android forever, and my experience of Android phones has been they are solid for about 3 - 4 years, and then they start showing their wear. But I'm pretty hard on them. There are lots of significant drops that occur in that time. Drops that would shatter most iPhone screens.

> when it complained it was running out of space - inspite of the fact that she wasn't doing anything that should be gobbling up space.

The reason could’ve been found by going into Settings and looking at the storage usage. The only case that annoys me on iOS is the download of a new version of iOS without permission and taking up space. But even that can be deleted from the same place in Settings (though this behavior shouldn’t be there in the first place).

Trust me, she tried that. She tried pretty much everything. There was nothing listed in settings as taking up the storage. She took it various apple repair shops and they couldn't find anything wrong with it. They were the ones who told her to just periodically do backups and factory resets.

The problem for me is that there is a large spectrum of devices, some of them are shit. Especially if you don't do your research.

Ive had Apple-like longevity out of all my family's Samsung "S" and Sony Xperia devices.

If you met my daughter (destroyer of USB cables) you would know that the fact her Xperia has survived 2 years is some small miracle on its own.

Just avoid LG, HTE and off brand crap - they eventually have issues.

That seems to be the way these conversations always go:

1 "iPhones are too expensive, people should buy cheaper Android phones"

2 "I buy cheap Android phones and the quality is terrible"

3 "You can get good quality Android phones, you just have to pay iPhone prices for them"

Every time a conversation about price vs quality comes up, the conversation starts at the price, goes into the quality, and then ends up at the same price and quality as the competition.

This is the exact conversation I have had with myself and others multiple times. If I'm going to pay a lot of money, I'll just stick with my iPhone.

The Google Nexus line really could have changed things. It was inexpensive, a great phone, and ran vanilla Android. I moved from an iPhone to the Nexus 5. It had some quirks, but for the price it was great. Then Google started chasing the iPhone money, and pushed me back to iOS.

I had a Palm Pre then was with Windows Phone for a bit, but the only Android phone I've owned was a Nexus 4. I liked it (for the price) and would have stayed with the Nexus line if the prices had stayed in the Nexus price range. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the hardware, I actually still use the Nexus 4 today to test my app on older Android versions.

But by the time I needed a new phone, the Nexus 6 was twice the price of the Nexus 4. For that price, I switched to the iPhone.

I went from the Nexus to the Pixel line and I couldn't be happier. The main thing I noticed is that the Pixels pull you further into the Google ecosystem (the assistant, hard-integrated Google calendar/weather, etc) while the Nexus phones tried to be a "pure" (read: vendor independent) experience.

Depends on where you are but here iphones are the new "grandma" phone -- phones you can get for $0 and are idiotproof. They're simply not fashionable anymore.

> Depends on where you are but here iphones are the new "grandma" phone -- phones you can get for $0 and are idiotproof. They're simply not fashionable anymore.

Good thing I don't care about fashion or if I'm carrying a grandma phone (do I need a glittery case or something to be cool again??). I need something that is fairly quick, works, and I don't have to tinker with. It helps that I prefer iOS, and there is an Apple store within walking distance from my office.

Not true. Me and my family are on Xiaomis, they're on a different level.

I have a company-issued S8 and an iPhone, and I wouldn't trade them for my Xiaomi.

Best part is, they cost less than half of an equivalent iPhone, have better battery and amazing performance.

I used to buy Samsungs (and Nokias earlier before they suicided).

I have an iPad and it's a great piece of hardware, but I don't stand the Apple ecosystem (iTunes in particular is a piece of crap).

Currently waiting for the Pocophone F1 to be distributed by the local carrier. Another slam dunk by Xiaomi.

You just need to unlock Xiaomis and install Lineage OS. The unlocking process is the most ridiculous I have seen, requiring a windows tool that works only after you've tried their Android version a week. And the tool requires some black magic to even work. The Xiaomi OS talks to many Chinese tracking servers all the time regarding to Blokada reports.

I have a Mi Mix 2 and I love the phone. Just be aware of the unlocking procedure before buying one of their phones.

I agree with 1 and 2, but really, you don't have to spend iPhone level prices, just don't buy the cheapest phone you can get.

I wouldn't say LG and HTC are the cheapest phones you can get. The parent comment recommended Samsung S series or the Sony Xperia series, which are $700-$900 phones which is squarely in iPhone territory.

I'm using the Sony Xperia XZ1 compact, a truly excellent device which launched around $580 USD and which I bought new for $450 last year. It's a bit cheaper than the non-compact version that more people know about, but has all the same specs and internals, just a smaller size and smaller screen. After a full year of use and updates it doesn't seem any slower than when I bought it, and because it has a microSD slot I will never run out of space.

I still have to sync my music on my iphone using itunes on windows, and I beg to differ on the "it Just Works"...

Ditto . "Just works " doesn't seem to apply when itunes is in picture

That music thing is quite annoying. I can add books from Dropbox or other places into Books app but not add music from anywhere into the Music app? Long ago I heard this restriction was put in place to reduce music piracy, but over the years I’ve concluded that Apple wants people to buy music from it (or subscribe to Apple Music), and doesn’t give a damn about what users may want.

>In my experience of people with half a dozen Androids over the last 6 years, they are Just Shit.

As some of the other commenters alluded to, there really are a huge variety of different devices. I'd be curious as to whether the folks you knew were buying e.g. Google's Nexus or Pixel devices which IME have generally felt higher quality to use, or whether they were Samsung/HTC/Huwaei-branded devices.

I've used Motorola "Moto G" phones since I've had smartphones. My current phone is from 2015. They are low-cost, but seem well made. Never had any problems with the hardware. I've been happy with them. The downside is they don't get updates over the long term.

I could afford an iPhone, or a flagship Android phone, but the value proposition isn't there for me. Mobile just isn't a very important thing for me. I use it for basic communication with family and friends, navigating/maps and that's about it.

Are there any devices that have five years worth of OS upgrades?

If you spend $200 on a phone instead of $1000, you get five years of OS upgrades by getting a new phone every year. If you luck out and one of your phones does have upgrades, you can skip a year.

Because the Android ecosystem doesn't have a strong upgrade ability, app developers generally target a wide variety of OS versions, so when you do get cut off from app updates, it's really ancient versions, like gingerbread.

You don’t have to spend $1000 on an iPhone. You can get an iPhone 7 right now for $449 and if history is any guide, it will still be getting OS updates for at least 3 more years probably more.

Seeing that my iPhone 6s bought in 2015 for $750 is still faster than most modern Android phones, I don’t think OS upgrades are going to be a problem.

App developers being forced to support older OS’s is not a good thing for the platform. iOS Developers can target the latest OS and all of its features and still support 5 year old phones.

I love how this thread is acting like 5 years of software compatibility is a lot. It shows how low our expectations are in the world of handheld computing. I have computers from as far back as 2000 that I can still run Linux on and use productively. I wouldn’t even consider buying a technology product if I thought I’d be replacing it in a year. 5 years should be a minimum.

Yes I can run a Plex Server on a circa 2009 Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz laptop running Windows 10. Back in 2009, I wouldn’t have wanted to run anything on a computer from 2000. In 2000, I definitely wouldn’t have still been using my 68030-16Mhz Mac LCII from 1991.

My mom is running the latest version of Chrome on a Mac Mini from 2006 that I put Windows 7 on. How much luck would you have had running the latest web browser on a computer from 1994 in 2006? In 1994, I had a PowerMac 6100/60 (PPC 601-60Mhz) with 24Mb of RAM and a 250Mb hard drive with a 486 DX/2 daughtercard with 32Mb of RAM.

Today, I can use a 5 year iPhone 5s. Back in 2013, I would have been masochistic to run an iPhone 3G.

5 years followed by an unlocked bootloader.

Like most people are going to “unlock the bootloader” and find a build that works with their phone.

On the other hand, the day the new OS version or security patch is released for iOS, anyone in the world can go to the settings app and update their phone.

While I agree that this is nice, many people upgrade their phones every 2-3 years anyway, just because of the hardware/battery. For them, this is not a selling point.

I do think that people buy new phones when they break, or become unusable. And that does seem to be 2-3 years on Android, but iPhones last longer - and with battery replacement, which this year has made very popular, they last even longer. iPhone 4,5 and 6's are still the majority of iphones in my extended family and less techy friends - and they were bought new.

Anyhow - the main reason I even commented was that people in the antique iPhone camp /regularly/ say they'll never go to Android cause the phones don't last. I really think people would like to keep their phones for as long as their laptops. And iPhones are the way to do that and that it is a selling point.

Most of my upgrades except for the 5 were not hardware related - directly.

The first iPhone I bought was a 4 in 2010. I “upgraded” to a 4s because I got a much better deal through my employer to use Verizon and the 4 had separate GSM/CDMA versions. My son used the 4 from the time I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile until 2013 and upgraded up until iOS 7.

My next upgrade was to the 5 and again it was because of a change of carriers and Verizon wouldn’t unlock the GSM part of the phone for domestic use. The 5/5C were the last 32 bit iPhones.

I consider the first 64-bit iPhone to be like the first Core 2 Duos. At that point the phone was “good enough” and fast enough for most people.

My first 64 bit phone was the 6s in 2015. My son is still using it now with an Apple battery case. I would have kept it, but I needed a larger screen (iPhone 8 plus) to watch text heavy technical videos and the battery life is much better. I don’t see any reason unless I physically damage this phone that I won’t keep it for another 4 years.

I’ll probably replace my 9.7” iPad before I replace my phone and I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon.

If you buy a cheap Android phone you are going to get cheapness. In my experience the kind of experience you have with an android device is pretty much driven by the cost of the phone.

I personally own a Sony Xperia XZ ( which is now over 3 years old), but it had a price comparable to an iPhone when i bought it with better specs.

1. Better front camera ( 13 megapixels ) and the rear one has a 25 mp sensor which captures great photos.

2. 192khz/24bit audio. Being an audiophile I hate the fact that apple does not support hi res audio. This phone had a headphone jack and is really good at playing flac music or hi-fi audio from Tidal.

3. Well designed - The back is made out of alkaleido which sounds like a marketing gimmick term, but it really does change colour in a subtle but nice way. iPhones haven't changed much in design over the years and they don't really look as attractive as they did previously.

4. Google cardboard - Android has some good VR applications which run on google cardboard. Heck you can even use TrinusVR on Android and VR stream games wirelessly from your PC . Can an iPhone do that?

Apple hardware works well only with Apple hardware. Every day you pretend otherwise you will be reminded that your life is bad unless you bend over and accept the fact that you'll get annoyed by your own hardware constantly until you relent. People buy Android phones because the promise there is, at least, that you might get a device that belongs to you.

> On the other hand there are benefits to the ecosystem - find my iphone for example.

What does this have to do with an ecosystem? Lots of other devices on the market support similar or superior features.

I think you are over simplifying the situation in assuming that if iMessage was open there would be a mass exodus from the iOS platform. The people looking for the cheapest phone solution have already switched to Android (or were always Android). iMessage may serve as some lock-in, but there are many other reasons that people prefer iOS and Apple devices.

As another datapoint, iMessage is probably the least useful thing to me in the whole ecosystem. Apple has nowhere enough market penetration around here (N Euro) for it to be useful as anything more than an SMS app.

I live in the US but have many friends from northern Europe and I've noticed the same thing. The only thing I use WhatsApp for is communicating with my European friends, and every single one of them prefers it over text or iMessage even though they all have iPhones.

Probably because it lets you communicate with everyone without being That Asshole who judges you over brand of electronics you bought.

I seriously don't think that that is true. Sure, you'd find some people who would. But not the majority. iMessage is great, but it's not the reason people buy iPhones. It is one of the reasons.

The irony there is I keep iMessage turned off since I want a platform agnostic, lowest common denominator (as in social availability) messaging system, and I can get that with SMS via a Google Voice number.

isn't whatsapp owned by facebook? and instagram (in parent comment) why do people differentiate them from facebook?

to me you are still using facebook just an 'app' under facebook.

I feel this is akin to saying I use gmail but not google.

am I wrong here?

The difference is in encryption. WhatsApp has end-to-end, while other FB products obviously do not. Also, the current lack of ads. It's an improvement even if not a perfect solution.

I think what I'm saying is specifically it is facebook whatsapp like it is google gmail or apple messaging.

it appears that people often refer to this as different companies and they are not.

it being e2e encrypted does not change who owns, makes decisions on where the future of it goes, and if it will continue to exist in 5 years. it is still facebook and not 'whatsapp' by itself above and in many areas people refer to whatsapp and instagram as different entities and they are not, I'm concerned with people acting like it is.

It seems to me that Apple could deploy iMessage and FaceTime versions for Android whenever they wanted to. The only reason they aren't is probably that they don't want to cannibalize sales of their own hardware.

That would surely have to imply they trusted the creators of the Android OS to be as security- and privacy-concerned as the iOS creators, no?

This is a company, and as such their core driving force is money. If you are framing them as having different driving forces that will make their behavior on occasion seem really weird.

>My previous thoughts (and still are) was that FB would become a media holding company, similar to Comcast or Fox/News Corp.

Facebook should become a compute platform like AWS/Azure that specalizes in compute services for social services, including but not limited to authentication, spam detection, censorship/moderation tools, social graph, storage, bandwidth, localization, learning, ranking.

They just need a leader with ethical qualities. They have always been lacking there, and birds of a feather...

iMessage on Android would be huge. Do that, then introduce a meetup feature and I swear half the people I know who "have to use Facebook" would delete their account. FB would shrivel up in five years.

I feel like this would go about as well as BBM's Android release a few years back. Non-iphone users would use it for a bit then switch back off as the novelty of "yet another ecosystem messaging app" wears off.

The proper way to do this is to convince people to switch to an app that integrates other messaging platforms as well: people switch to Signal and stay on it because they send all their normal SMSes run though the app as well. Then as their friends switch to Signal their conversations are painlessly migrated, everything looks the same, you just get a bonus "lock" icon.

The thing to keep in mind about facebook is that the average user isnt a tech person.

My parents use facebook nearly constantly. That wont change anytime soon. I don't know if they could list a single facebook, "scandal" that happened this year. It's not that they are dumb people they just don't care. Their friends use it so they use it.

To be honest I think the average person outside of tech isn't bothered enough by data misuse stories to lose access to their friends' list and shared photos.

I think Facebook's more likely to lose out because apart from messaging, its organization and events and business finding tools simply aren't that good or well-surfaced within the app because Facebook has prioritised the world of feed clickbait. Don't think it's security concerns that have my friends doing event invites via Whatsapp group threads as often as via Facebook's dedicated event invitation service. But the average person having a number of old friends whose only reliable contact information is their Facebook is a pretty big moat.

> To be honest I think the average person outside of tech isn't bothered enough by data misuse stories to lose access to their friends' list and shared photos.

If you were being dishonest, what would you think differently.

I think most people are vaguely aware their data on Facebook is being misappropriated, but they don't understand the implications of that, especially in the long term.

The challenge, and it seems most of the informed are stuck on how to resolve this, is explaining why this is a horrendously bad situation.

Just today at lunch with a phd mathematician (ie someone way smarter than me), I was struggling to get past his 'I've nothing to hide, why does it matter' attitude about fb and messenger android apps.

The standard response is: what if your friends do have something to hide and you end up questioned and detained because you had conversations with them. What if the sites you visit outs an embarrassing medical condition?

While I am no mathematician and not at all smart, I work in the tech industry. But I share the attitude of your mathematical friend. Let Facebook do what they please with my data; there's nothing important there.

It's not the data misuse that repulses me from Facebook, but the overall shallowness of conversations, its feed contents (I don't care about what my friends liked or responded to; I am content with just seeing their posts, thank you very much). So there's a lot to dislike about Facebook apart from how they treat our data.

There must be something important there because Facebook is making money off it. But it’s YOUR data and that money is yours too. Facebook is STEALING from you. Mark is the greatest con artist in history.

Facebook is making money off the fact I still visit their website enough to show me sponsored content (much like most of the rest of the internet does), and the data in theory means purchasers of its ads get better bang for their buck. I'm not convinced the fact that I'm a 30something single male currently located in a particular area is something anyone would pay me for, and granting Facebook right to use those facts plus data from ad-retargeting networks to show me ads and sponsored content (some of which I haven't even managed to block!) for free use of their web platform seems like a pretty fair trade to me.

tbh I'm not even convinced half the data is actually that good for the ad platforms: the fact that I invariably report obvious ICO scam ads as "it's a scam" seems to have triggered Facebook to show more of them to me.

> There must be something important there because Facebook is making money off it

I think there is a logical fallacy in arguments like this, which is extending conclusions made on large samples to special individual cases.

While there is no doubt that Facebook is making money (I would think, primarily from ads or from paid promotions of particular posts), and while it is true that, in order to better serve ads, Facebook is using their users' data, it in no way follows that Facebook is making money off me specifically, or that my data specifically is of any value to Facebook and not just garbage.

I don't think I am a valuable Facebook asset. I don't follow ads. And I am not a particularly social animal.

Someone with a phd in math have shown themselves to be a smart in a particular way.

That doesn't mean that they have good judgement, wisdom, empathy or all kinds of other traits which might be considered "smart".

Undeniably, and as per my observation.

The challenge for us is how to engage people who are clearly smart, but lack the same concerns that many of us have developed.

Whether it happens or not, if the disruptor doesn't have a business model not based on targeted advertisement, I don't see how it will be different once it becomes large enough.

My hope would be a decentralized service, where everyone hosting an instance determines their own business model, or a paid service. None of which will be as fast to iterate, and be able to crank out features as fast as Facebook can ...

Contrary data point: over the past month three of my friends have closed their Facebook accounts - and they are not technical people. So it's not only a matter of reputation.

I bet I’ve lost 5% of my friends list to people sick of Facebook’s constant bickering over politics and social posturing.

I still have a facebook account, I just use it less and less. And while I don't think many of my friends have dropped it either, it seems they are also using it less and less. Most of my feed now comes from a fairly small group of people.

Well, Facebook has full pockets and a working cash machine. And at least until now the managed to identify threats. For example WhatsApp and Instagram were acquired. When G+ came they copied G+'s circle feature close enough with their contact grouping feature, when Snap didn't want to be acquired they added stories everywhere (WhatsApp, messenger, Facebook)

Yesterday's news tells us that competing with Facebook in the messenger field isn't easy (Google cancelling Allo)

For a long-term strategy we have to see how there diversification (facebook@work, Oculus, ...) works out and how long they can keep printing money.

I think Facebook is benefiting from everyone having learned their lesson.

The saw their trust woefully violated by Facebook, and they'll never give another network the same access to their data again. And, thus, stay on Facebook.

I believe discord is replacing it. At least in my circles.

Discord definitely seems to be the preferred platform for the younger generation in my area. It just sucks that they have zero plans for text E2EE, at least the last I checked.

Anecdotically my experience in Italy is that everyone and their dog have WhatsApp, if you go into the over 50 many have WhatsApp and not an email (or at least never check it)

Good thing Facebook purchased it.

Same here in Brazil. WhatsApp is the main communication platform by far.

For sure Facebook main quality is being place where every one is.

But I believe you’re wrong about instagram. Living in Brazil, I feel that Facebook and Instagram are two sides of the same coin. It keeps people interested and “connected” when Facebook is going down.

From Orkut to Facebook, it was the same.

The difference is that Facebook bought its potential competitors before they were cool

> Instagram has suffered less, but instagram isn’t really useful for anything but wasting time.

Is Instagram useless, or just useless to you? I understand that HN isn't Facebook's target market, but it's disappointing to read comments that dismiss its services and anyone who does find utility in them.

It will get disrupted when people realize the cost of putting their personal life online. The Cambridge Analytica incident was a good start but we need many more cases like it to start making a trend.

There are a lot of startups trying. Hopefully one of them will reach critical mass. I would be happy to leave Facebook but being involved in politics makes it a prerequisite to reach my audience.

I remember back when Facebook was only available to college students. I wonder if any startup would create another 'exclusive' network to increase it's perceived social value

What startups? I've seen a lot of messaging solutions, but not too many full competitors. Maybe I've been a bit blind

Just look up distributed social networks. There are multiple ones with up to 10^7 users.

I don't think you can say that about google. Care to elaborate?

When I google things the top results are a mix of advertising, advertising pretending to be content, the Danish wiki article and maybe a link to some short no-content post on Quora, medium, reddit or similar.

None of which is interesting.

Google is still good at finding specific things. Like when you commit an act of google programming or want to buy a book. But it’s really terrible and finding interesting content.

You could say that the web is flooded with shit, and be right, but HN is evidence that not everything on the internet is terrible, google just isn’t your portal to it anymore.

So we visit HN, but that means google has become yahoo, aol search and all those other search engines it replaced by being a combination of relevant, interesting and exploratively fresh.

I mean, 2018 was the year I adopted DuckDuckGo as my standard search engine, and it wasn’t because of privacy. Sure privacy helps, but to be honest, it was because it gives more interesting results. I’ll still use !g when I’m searching for something I know google will find, but if I’m just exploring a topic I’ll almost never use google.

>When I google things the top results are a mix of advertising, advertising pretending to be content, the Danish wiki article and maybe a link to some short no-content post on Quora, medium, reddit or similar. None of which is interesting.

Can you be more specific and give examples of "things" you're searching for and what you mean by "uninteresting"?

For me, I have been issuing 50+ random searches on Google every single day for years. I've been using Google since 2000 and it almost always finds what I'm looking for. Yesterday, I searched for "replace Moen faucet cartridge" and it returned plenty of pages showing exactly how to do it. A week ago I searched for "install Windows 10 from USB drive" and again, it found plenty of helpful pages that answered that question. And recently, I ran across a cook I never heard of before named "Alice Waters". A Google search told me she owned a restaurant and what her specialty was.

In my experience, the topic has to be obscure or brand new for Google searches to be useless. For some trivia, I did find a weird effect of the search algorithm for a person named "Bettina Warburg". She's a young woman who's given several presentations on blockchains[1]. However, for some reason, the Google, Bing, and DDG search results have a side box citing someone else that was born in 1900 and died in 1990[2][3][4]. Something about her is tripping up the search engines. Bing in particular has the odd logic of placing the photos of the still-living BW above the text of the BW who died.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bettina+warburg

[2] http://google.com/search?q=bettina+warburg

[3] https://www.bing.com/search?q=bettina+warburg

[4] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=bettina+warburg

Yesterday there was the HN thread on DDG's filter bubble study of Google search. Quite interesting.


Too much advertising that mimic as search results. Sometimes even with the same title as the page you know you are looking for.

I think the problem is the business model, not specifically Facebook. Are any of their competitors following and succeeding at a different model at scale?

It'll be something you don't expect. Maybe an iMessage plugin.

A few years ago I would have made the semi-contrarian point that Facebook[1] was here to stay, for the long-foreseeable future.

I say "semi-contrarian" because remember, even 4 or 5 years ago Facebook seemed to be the latest corporate iteration in an ever-flipping lineage from AIM lists to Friendster to MySpace.[2] So the common gospel was: "Facebook" - such as it was understood - could be toppled any day now. Remember MySpace?

The counterargument was that the market capture was incomparable and the network effect was insurmountable. And that's still true, kind of.

But the way we use Facebook has changed. In short, it's gone from being a single service with a bunch of features to being an SSO gateway for a bunch of federated platforms. And that's not just a change in user perception, it's reflective of a completely different product strategy.

That strategy seems to have worked out pretty well for Facebook so far, and I'm not sure what they could have done differently. But I think it leaves them vulnerable to any one of those platforms, or all of them, being usurped by new kids on the block.

Part of the problem is that none of Facebook's platforms are all that great in their own right.[3] But that alone doesn't make them vulnerable. MySpace proved you can have a terrible product and coast off network effect alone, while Google+ proved that without a network, you have nothing.

But wait a minute. Does any one of these platforms on their own have the network effect that "Facebook" itself once had? I mean, yeah, they've absorbed a greater user share than the 2012 webapp ever had. But that's not what I'm talking about. Is connectivity to "Facebook," and hence its network, a killer feature at this point?

To give one example: I have zero confidence anyone on Groups is a "real person," it doesn't offer any unique features, it's painful to use for anything other than reading a general quasi-chronological survey of recent posts, and it means nothing to me that 17 or 18 "real friends" happen to be a member of the group (how does that help me find a sublet?).

Right now I'm one of millions of people who "just use Facebook for Events and Messenger." Except I don't _just_ message people through Messenger, and I don't _just_ learn about events through Events, and the fact that "my friends" are "on" these platforms seems to mean less and less every day. But I'm still on them... for now... with gradually diminishing frequency... basically out of ambivalence.

Is this product direction sustainable?

[1] Any references I make to Facebook in this post refer to the core service - the website, the app, whatever you want to call it. Not the company, which I'm aware owns WhatsApp, Instagram, etc, and could potentially continue to coast off acquisitions alone.

[2] This is a myopically North American view: in Brazil it would have started with Orkut, in Southeast Aria Friendster held steady market share for quite a while, etc. The point is that we used to consider portal-like predecessors as a litmus of comparison for Facebook’s health, and now that doesn’t seem as salient.

[3] I mean, Groups _barely_ serves its job of being the sort of Craigslist-with-authentication into which it's evolved, in part _because_ it evolved into that role over time. The Events interface is totally cluttered and incoherent, and despite its ubiquity, it seems to get the lowest social engagement of any of Facebook's core products. Messenger is... fine I guess, but I have no strong preference for it over WhatsApp or iMessage, and having hypothetical connection to hundreds of "friends" I haven't spoken to in years isn't exactly a value-add.

"The documents also reveal that, in 2015, a permissions update for Android devices, which users were required to accept, included a feature that continuously uploaded text messages and call logs to Facebook."

Wow, that's some sleazy wording. While users were required to accept the permissions update for the simple reason that Android at the time didn't offer any way to pick and choose what permissions to grant, the very email they're basing this claim on says that actually accessing and uploading call logs was opt-in. Ironically, the coverage of this has demonstrated exactly why this was (as the released email put it) a high PR risk.

So they just uploaded everything, "just in case"? Your description doesn't sound any better than the article's.

No, I think the parent comment is making the distinction that the Android permissions model at the time wasn't very granular, so Facebook's app had to request more permissions than it intended to use, and that FB offered a separate opt-in within their own app.

I don't use the FB app, and I have no idea how this was presented to users and whether it was a legitimate choice or a "dark pattern" to trick users into handing over everything.

Pretty much, though the problem isn't that the permissions weren't granular - reading the call log has been its own permission since Android 4.1, and apps targetting that version have to request it separately even if they support older versions - but that there simply wasn't any way for users to grant only some permissions. So Facebook had to request all the permissions they might want to use from every single user, regardless of whether those users ever opted into the features that required them.

The first official version of Android that allowed users to turn individual permissions off was Marshmallow, released in October 2015 with the first beta in May 2015 - the email in question is dated the start of February 2015 and says they planned to ship it by the end of the month.

And FB's platform permission stuff itself was not very granular for a long time - still might not be.

Years ago, building basic 'login with facebook' things for apps, the minimum my app could do was to have access to your email, name, and your friends list. Whether the friends list was used or wanted or not, it was always part of basic permission requests.

Actually, the email only indicates that they intended it to be opt-in at some point. I don't remember whether they actually did implement that prompt for call records - and it certainly seemed like a surprise to everyone when it was discovered that they were doing that. Do you think that would be the case if people had knowingly gave permission for facebook to upload all that data?

This is ridiculous. They uploaded my private messages because "Android didn't offer any way to pick and choose what permission to grant". Why didn't their app simply asked this in a pop up? Are we seriously gonna pretend this was a valid reason for people's text messages to be stolen by Facebook?

Every now and then I rise above the temporal miasma of popular web culture and think: why is this surprising?

BBS, AOL, Netscape, MySpace, Tumblr, FB, Insta, Snap...

Why are we surprised by this progression? All "good" things go bad. The same lessons, rinsed and repeated. Power, money corrupts. We burn effigies and mark their passing. We move on.

Tempted to say a little more history and psychology instead of fiscal fixation would make a difference. Tempted, but no. It's not how humans work.

>Tempted to say a little more history and psychology instead of fiscal fixation would make a difference. Tempted, but no. It's not how humans work. //

I don't think profit motive is innate, we're not Ferengi!

However, things can't go on growing forever, and the rich need growth to get richer, and need churn to maintain fashion as the societal norm that feeds growth, and feeds purchases of stuff in order to fit in ...

Things that work well enough and stably and are liked are prime for exploitation for [more] profit. It's really only very few people driving that exploitation -- though perhaps many more would if given the chance.

not profit, but simple rational local optimization. if you were not selfish enough, you would be dead. (or your ancestors would have died before proceating.)


Do they "go" bad or are they surpassed/replaced by better things? I'd argue Tumblr is inherently a better product than AOL or BBS. With FB, while it certainly slid over time, it also acquired the next/better platforms to protect itself against their disruption, and so it may actually be somewhat protected or given longer shelf life.

Facebook stopped being cool a decade ago when adults, parents, companies started using it. Like most social media, it started with the young and was cool. Then it got quickly adopted by the adults. If anything, instagram, twitch, tiktok, etc is cool. Facebook is practically a utility now.

I doubt facebook is going to get disrupted any time soon. No more than Elon Musk was going to jail or his businesses ( tesla, spacex ) taken from him. Facebook is more than facebook. It's an ecosystem. It's the preferred login mechanism of a lot of the web. Also, facebook owns Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Nearly 1.5 billion people use Messenger alone.

The media is in attack mode against facebook. Everything from the media about them will be exaggerated and negative. So I'd take anything the news about facebook with a grain of salt.

Even the new yorker doesn't believe facebook is going anywhere.


> The media is in attack mode against facebook. Everything from the media about them will be exaggerated and negative. So I'd take anything the news about facebook with a grain of salt.

It's shocking how heavy-handed it is. Literally every day I see some news article about how Facebook is O-V-E-R.

Meanwhile, my friends list hasn't changed one bit, and I haven't met a single person who's dumped Facebook for more than a few months. Some leave, but they always come back.

Everything about this seems like an organized attack on FB by the mainstream media.

5 years off FB, 4 years off InstagramFB + dating apps

While living in LA and NYC, and single

Has both negatively and positively impacted my life

We don’t always go back, the assertion is biased and/or anecdotal and shouldn’t be publicly made

This is definitely a PR offensive mixed with journalist arousal and legislator outrage. Impossible to know all the actors

Read “10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier, especially if you’re on HN but don’t know who that is

It wasn't that the "adults" adopted it, it's that the younger generation inevitably grew up and turned into the adults.

It was both. Plenty of parents and grandparents of that first college-aged Facebook generation are on Facebook now.

Holy shit, this. The whole "my parents joined so I left because it wasn't cool" isn't it. The people who adopted in the early naughts are now those very adults we speak of. No Jane --although cute-- I don't care about your baby. And is it really a good idea to put your baby on social media without their explicit consent? Who owns a child's social media presence before they do?

I don't think so. I joined facebook back when it was 'cool', but it's not just my generation that are now adults that are on there. My parents, my friends parents, adults in their 50/60s+ have all joined facebook and are very active despite not being on there when it was only used by college students. Part of the reason why many younger people are no longer as active on Facebook is because anyone from their boss to their aunt to their grandma is now likely to see their posts.

> And is it really a good idea to put your baby on social media without their explicit consent? Who owns a child's social media presence before they do?

Oh my! Thank you, thank you, thank you. It annoys me what parents think they can do with/to[0] a child just because they're the parents.

[0] I'm firmly against ear piercing a child, for example. Parents, those are not your ears to poke holes in.

A social network stops being cool when that coworker you dislike tries to connect with you.

LinkedIn in a nutshell.

It seems like Facebook got caught in a monetization trap. They started on a model of "get the audience, figure out revenue streams later". But then when it came to crunch time on figuring out monetization strategies, they realized there was no easy answer. Charge for access? Sell your users & their data to 3rd parties in various ways? (I do wonder if a freemium model would have worked.)

Either way it's like they had a panic and got it all wrong, began considering & trying all kinds of shady things. Then to hide that fact they made it even worse, first by hiding it and looking duplicitous, then by doing even more shady things.

There is an intensive negative media campaign against Facebook lately, rightful or not.

It isn't a media campaign, it's that the company did countless shitty things, and they're coming to light over time. It's important, not a campaign.

Facebook has become a scapegoat: https://jakeseliger.com/2018/11/14/is-there-an-actual-facebo... for a media system that is unable to cope with its role in the 2016 election.

Once a company (or individual) becomes a media target, the media generates its own news about the company.

At the same time, most media companies cannot admit this dynamic even if they understand it (they don't).

Its the editor's and producer's job to make sure garbage like this doesn't happen. I lean on my (very little) experience with NPR.

Things driven by advertising seem to become caricatures of themselves... My wife an I watched this happen to Food Network in the early 2010's.

People like Paula Dean, who acted normally, began to have deeper accents, brighter eyes, more ridiculous 'Southern' turns of phrase. And it wasn't just her. It happened to other personalities as well.

In fact, I think that people have pointed out this phenomena on YouTube, as well (people conforming to some 'norm' that gets them the most cash).

The NYT story likely took months to fully investigate. The current UK hearings are a result of last March's investigations into Cambridge Analytica. You believe that the UK hearings should just be ignored?

How is reporting on British MP's actions regarding Facebook an "intensive negative media campaign"? Is this not actually happening or something?

It's about time. FB has been shady as shit for an awfully long time, but we're finally in a place where you can publish FB-negative articles and actually get views / no backlash.

I don't think much has changed from FB's behaviour, nor is there a coordinated media campaign against them. Rather, the general public is warming up to the idea that FB might not be all that great, which opens a window for the media to publish stories about FB in a negative light.

Even if there wasn't. The news would still report on this (and their other mistakes) and it would still be mostly negative.

Facebook has perpetrated a series of negative actions successively for a long time. A large number of people are negatively affected by the ramifications of these bad actions. The reporting of these actions therefore seems like responsible journalism just calling it like they see it, reporting on the serial perpetrator of meaningful bad actions.

Given this, it seems disingenuous and even harmful to attribute the negativity side of it to the “media” or suggest that the coordination and timing of the stories is a media “campaign.”

Nobody denies that the media can coordinate like this and probably has in the past and will again. However, there is no need to reach for conspiracy theories when it comes to negative reporting on Facebook.

Facebook is negative. Facebook has perpetrated a serial campaign of negative behaviors. The media in this case are merely just reporting that. Any negativity is down to Facebook itself for acting negatively, not down to the media.

The media doesn't "need" to coordinate on Facebook. They just need to do their job.

Reporters when doing an interest story will as part of their job research further into the subject. Facebook just happens to have a really long trail of SV mentality of move fast and deal with the consequences later. It's Facebook's fault for making themselves really interesting before cleaning themselves.

Can you really blame reporters doing their job, researching an interesting subject, and one that has so much dirt that it's easy to do your job.

Is every collection of negative or positive stories about X, in close proximity to each other, is always a "media campaign" governed by some hidden interests?

This is the same kind of logic as thinking that everything some CEO does is a "marketing ploy", or that every terrorist attack is a false flag operation.

I don't have fb app or messenger installed, but i definitely take a lot things that are said about fb in media with a grain of salt. Keep in a lot of these media houses are losing their clicks to fb. I know of people who actually get their news through fb newsfeed...

The negative campaign started when the media learned of Facebook selling data to Trump's presidential campaign via Cambridge Analytica.

It was more or less the same [edit: data / service] Facebook provided to Obama's both campaigns, except selling to Obama was seen as "supporting progressive cause" and "modern way of reaching out to the young voters", while selling to Trump was deemed a "terrible betrayal" and "hacking the democracy"; the press' opinion on Facebook turned from "that dependably progressive company we can get mutual support from" to "that unpredictable hired gun that's willing to work with anybody bad".

Think of it; nothing else has changed. The press, and people in general, were well aware for years that Facebook is collecting, processing, and selling reams upon reams of user data. It was all glossed over as long as it was supporting the good cause. Now it's bemoaned to no end.

It doesn't help that the press has natural adversarial relationship with Facebook just as much as with Google and other similar, due to the platforms being both major news channel (direct competitor), while at the same time the major source of web traffic to the news' websites, thus ad revenue.

> except selling to Obama was seen as "supporting progressive cause"

I'm pretty sure Obama didn't use a Russian troll farm during his campaigns.

We are discussing the press' behavior in this thread. Whataboutism ("but the other guy did something bad?") doesn't help us with understanding why journalists switched from tacitly ignoring Facebook's various transgressions to intensely grilling them from several angles at the same time.

In the post above I posit that's due to journalists at first assuming they are on the same team, bound by shared worldview, only to learn that Facebook is loyal to the profit first and foremost, and over any ideology.

Choice examples:

- the OP article; used to be "Facebook helps populist freedom movements a'la Arab Spring"; now is "Facebook helps populist violence a'la Gilets Jaunes"

- all the problems with privacy

- being faux-feminist (https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/facebook-s-sheryl-sandber...)

- catering to far-right (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/17/facebook-...)

- hosting "fake news" (https://www.fastcompany.com/90203347/facebook-can-never-stop...)

> We are discussing the press' behavior in this thread.

I wasn't aware we were discussing just that.

It took people a while to figure out the potential downsides of social media, press included.

Are you going to tell me that if Facebook is dragged before parliament and congress that the press is supposed to not cover that so as to appear 'fair' to facebook?

Those events are newsworthy and they are being covered.

As far as privacy concerns, they seem legitimate to me, and also newsworthy to the layman, who may not have considered the side effects of using a voluntary surveillance platform such as facebook.

(Also I never really understood the urge to defend the powerful. Powerful organizations like facebook don't need our moral or material support.)

This thread started with >There is an intensive negative media campaign against Facebook lately, rightful or not., to which I replied.

We are in agreement that the press should hold Facebook and other powerful players to account.

My point of interest is why (in my memory) the press was at first covering up for Facebook only to rather abruptly turn into harsh, pervasive criticism against it. It seems to be a repeating pattern in the industry, in which an upstart ran by a dashing founder is for a long while the darling of the media only to suddenly find itself at the receiving end of relentless criticism.

Sure Facebook deserves a lot of criticism for their various underhanded and harmful actions; perhaps even the negatives outweight the positives overall. I am asking, where was the criticism early on? Why was Facebook a darling of the media for so long, before it all changed?

> I am asking, where was the criticism early on? Why was Facebook a darling of the media for so long, before it all changed?

I don't think there is a big grand plan behind the arc in the coverage.

In the early days of these companies, the iconoclast story was simply easier to write.

Also, you have to know how journalists work. Outside of opinion pieces and editorials, a journalist needs preferably two sources to make a claim in a news piece.

In the early days, there simply were fewer critics of facebook or Uber, and certainly the critics were less organized, so they didn't get much coverage.

But, I bet if you look back to the first days of facebook, that you will find some negative coverage, but at that time it would have appeared speculative, and would have been a minority voice.

Also, it's right there in the word: "news". Somebody getting rich off a new idea is news. Just like cavemen would have considered it news that you can eat the orange berries if you cook them first.

Novel risks are also a staple of news. So perhaps the arc went from 'Man gets rich with crazy new idea', to 'People using new thing face a novel risk' (surveillance, loss of privacy).

> I'm pretty sure Obama didn't use a Russian troll farm during his campaigns.

Why do you guys keep saying that, if it's all but speculation? You're stating that as a fact.

Not sure if you’re just trolling but to say that press is attacking FB for it being used in a presidential campaign is a straw man. The issue is very specific to targeting unknowing users with fake news in order to influence the outcome of a election and how much FB was aware of this. Obama did not do this. Did nothing like this. It’s completely false equivalency to compare social media usage as intended with this shady business

Seems I was unclear when presenting my thesis.

My impression is the journalists used to give Facebook a pass on many, many well-known bad behaviors. Atrocious behaviors, even. And then it changed, and they would go to great lengths to point out all the faults of Facebook.

I experienced the change as a rather abrupt flip, right around the times of the Cambridge Analytica kerfuffle.

I gauge it as journalists at first considering Facebook a friend that stumbles and is worth covering, but then feeling betrayed and instead perceiving Facebook as a dangerous enemy that needs to be taken down.

Just like user gerbilly in the other post you use whataboutism of assigning blame to presidential candidates. . While interesting point, that detracts us from considering when and why the journalists changed their perception of Facebook.

edit: Just to wrap up the very specific "targeting unknowing users with fake news in order to influence the outcome of a election", that's one of the points Facebook raised themselves around that time, were very adamant they are working on fixing it and will fix it. They deployed various mechanisms, including flagging certain news and linking to factcheckers (IIRC). Long story short, that was one of the very few things where Facebook and the journalists (and to large extent the political class) are in agreement, and working together to sort out.

>The negative campaign started when the media learned of Facebook selling data to Trump's presidential campaign via Cambridge Analytica.

You're forgetting about the part where Cambridge Analytica obtained data erroneously through a Facebook API.

Glad that I'm not the only one noticing it. Last time it was Uber. Now they moved on to Facebook.

Uber didn't change much, and so won't Facebook, because the media will eventually pick another target (I wonder which, I'm guessing Google) which makes people click their links. They don't really care about reporting or about making things right, they just need a dead horse to beat.

I am happy the power of the media dwindles year after year, they should have no right to do something like this against certain people or companies they don't like. They are bullies, that's all they are.

Facebook has had a long period of time where they were boring to the media. Letting them make many mistakes, mostly SV style move fast deal with the consequences later style.

Then they got caught doing (or not) interesting things. Meaning any competent reporter will find LOTS if SV style mistakes when researching the original story.

This is just what happens to anyone/thing that leaves a trail of interesting-ness after they appear in the media the first time. Do you really expect reporters to not report on things they find, or maybe you're asking reporters to be worse at research.

Uber did change substantially. Kalanick was forced out. Adults run the company now hence fewer scandals to report on.

Self driving car division is dead in the water. They will end up licensing tech and competing with Waymo.

Uber has seen huge changes - they lost their CEO and shut down their self driving truck division - also the head of the lidar technology from the otto acquisition was fired. there are probably many more things i cant think of

Google seemed to have some trouble recently when they didnt show up to congress... but then it just disappeared. Facebook seems to have tried to own up to it, and its backfiring... Google must have just paid off everyone with their lobbying powerhouse to make it go quiet.

Yeah. Just like “the media” has a long-standing campaign against hurricanes and earthquakes. It’s really getting tiresome and boring by now. I suspect it’s George Soros and his investment in better-future-futures driving this relentless onslaught on perfectly normal natural catastrophes and corporate wrongdoing.

I stopped using Facebook in 2009 when my parents and grandparents hopped on, I was 19 and felt like it wasn't cool anymore. Now I am telling them all to leave it due to privacy concerns, but hardly any of my family cares about privacy concerns and are just worried about keeping in touch. Which I understand but it is sad to see so little being understood about privacy. However, I don't see people like my parents ever leaving Facebook, and if they do, they will be the ones rejoining in a couple of days.

It’s not a bad month unless they lose 10% of their users, until then they are strong and will be around for many years. Yahoo and aol are still around

HN Mods why are you allowing click bait headlines on here? You're throwing another rock into the net we're carrying every time you allow this. Some day the master fisherman are going to get sick of carrying rocks. ie, I come here to learn from the fishermen, not the rock throwers.

I can "feel" this headline yanking my brain for attention. "How could it get worse?!" "What did they do now?!" "How was this month very bad?!" "I for sure enjoy perceived petty revenge against large evil corp".

Edit: We're allowed to have a different title than the actual article.

I agree the headline is seemingly a little clickbaity. But the article itself is 1,700 words from the New Yorker. Because it enumerates a variety of controversies, "Very Bad Month" ends up being the most succinct way to describe the content of the article.

I don't understand "fishermen" metaphor. Whose "we" in "You're throwing another rock into the net we're carrying..."?

I think that the title reflects the content of the article. The rules say that the title must be not editorialized.

This comment doesn't really add to the discussion in a positive way.

We don't come close to seeing all the posts here, so if you want us to take a look at a baity headline or some other concern on HN, you need to email us at hn@ycombinator.com. This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Someone pinged me about your comment and I've changed the title now, but of course it's too late to make much difference.


The speculation that Zuckerberg would be entering politics and probably pursue the presidency date to long before the 45th presidential election.

If memory serves, it goes back to when he began visibly embracing a particular religion, in contrast to a previously atheistic stance. It was pointed out in the media that this transition often occurs in the preparation phases of entering politics to attract votes.

2017 > 2016


Nixon didn't break down with a panic attack the first time someone asked him a hard question in public.

Is this what the level of discourse has sunk to? Disparaging comments on a person's looks?

I don't think he was disparaging his looks, but rather his social skills. It's undeniable that Zuckerberg is not really an extroverted social butterfly with good public speaking skills, which is kind of a requirement if you want to get into politics.

Looks decide the first impression and the attitude people associate with you.

In the public, no one associates leadership and composure with Zuckerberg.

In politics looks matter like it or not.

Have you seen the current U.S. President?

Didn't you see the slip from "public image" to "look".

During Bush's funeral I saw 4 respected, graceful presidents, and an orangutan. I won't comment on Trumps image or qualities as a president, however he clearly doesn't have hollywood looks, or even good looks.

No, the slip in this thread from discussing public image and perception to physical appearance.

Compared to his rival he was still the better looking one.

the company had hired a right-wing opposition research group, Definers Public Affairs, to dig up dirt on George Soros, after Soros gave a blistering speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos decrying the power of social media, especially Facebook and Google, for their “far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”

What is this about? Because it's weird friendly fire. Both Soros and Facebook/Google want largely the same outcome from elections: liberal politicians who keep the markets humming while allowing for easy international trade and migration.

George Soros is very open publicly about what he wants to achieve. If you read "The Open Society and its Enemies" by Karl Popper, that's the intellectual foundation of what Soros is shooting for. THat's why his foundation is called something like the "Open Society Foundation". So: Democracy, scientific reasoning, strong institutions etc.

He has been extremely critical of the large tech monopolies (eg his Davos speech covered here and elsewhere https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/25/george-soro... ) so it's no surprise that Facebook would do "opposition" research on him. Facebook has a very large pavilion and visible presence at Davos so the criticism must have been particularly embarrassing in that context.

I think Facebook would like to be perceived as a liberal tech startup but keep in mind they knowingly sold the user info to Cambridge analytics for the republicans. The truth is their in it for the money like every other company. Apart of that means maintaining public perception.

I think it would be reasonable to assume they sold user info to anyone who could afford it.

Afaik the Democrats had done the same thing in 2012 with their micro-targeting "strategy" and they were praised for doing that (even here on this website). From here[1]:

> They used classic micro-targeting online advertising to reach those groups. Obama's team's use of Facebook this time was also very clever, tapping into Facebook's individual profile data. A million users downloaded the Obama 2012 app on Facebook. The app was able to identify their Facebook friends that fit favorable profiles located in key swing states, encouraging them to contact these friends to remind them to vote. Sources say one in five of those contacted this way were influenced positively by this contact.

If it matters I'm not a US citizen and I've never set foot in the States so I had almost no direct stake in the 2012 and the 2016 US elections.

[1] https://www.mediavillage.com/article/how-data-and-micro-targ...

I think there is also a distinction in the granularity of the data harvested and what it was used for.

Knowing someone's location, age, etc and using that to classify whether or not someone should reach out to them to remind them to vote is one thing.

Harvesting everything they've liked on facebook to classify them by big five personality type to predict how to use disinformation to manipulate someone (often by scaring them into thinking they needed a gun to defend themselves, or that they needed to deport immigrants because they were gangerous, or into thinking islamic extremism was a real threat to their lives, as people high in neuroticism are more heavily motivated by arbitrary negative emotional impulses) into skewing their political preferences is an entirely separate game.

Overtly. With opt-in. Big difference.

> A million users downloaded the Obama 2012 app on Facebook.

I'm pretty sure that the friends of those 1 million people that had opted-in were not consulted about anything, though, but I may be wrong of that. And I'm pretty sure that those friends were the real target of said campaign.

People shouldn't encourage their friends to vote?

Yeah, if he calls me directly on the phone or via text messaging (SMS, chat), there's nothing wrong with that. A definite no about my name and other info being in the database of a political party without my consent, based only on my friend's approval.

Just so I understand:

You oppose 3rd party voter databases, like these:

You support foreign intelligence agencies covertly, anonymously meddling with our elections. Especially through our social media platforms, like Facebook. Because Obama's campaign had an app.

no-one in this comment chain has supported intelligence agencies meddling in elections. Please don't be disingenuous. If anything, the parent was arguing against both.

Yeah, I most certainly oppose 3rd party voter databases like the ones you linked to, I only see them as tools to win elections by using "sales marketing"-like strategies.

I think that winning elections in such a manner is very bad for the future of democracy as you cannot fool the electorate indefinitely, because at some point the electorate will resort to other political "products", meaning the general populace will start looking at democracy and the electoral process as a "fake product" (as it usually happens to products that are pushed down consumers' throats based on marketing alone) and will choose other, "truer" products (like the rule of a sole individual that will not rely on the electoral process etc).

I don't generally support intelligence agencies but I most certainly do not support them meddling in any country's elections. I was just saying that the Obama campaign had used tactics similar to the ones used by the Trump campaign in 2016, that is all.

I think what you identified is merely a shared instrumental goal, not an objective goal for either of them.

I think, from how they talk, that Facebook wants to have everybody watching it all the time. From how they talk, more even than making money.

I think Soros wants intellectual freedom. Not so sure about that, but it looks that way from the philanthropy.

Both just happen to be using free markets to work towards their goals.

Soros' foundation, Open Society, has supported censorship here in the US and Europe. Whether you agree or disagree with their objectives and methods, intellectual freedom certainly isn't one of their goals.

I do think the hyperbole over Zuckerburg and Soros by the media ( left and right ) is way overdone. The conservative media loves to portray Soros as pure evil while the liberal media paints him as a saint. And everyone ( left and right ) seems to hate Zuckerburg which I feel is ridiculous. Neither are all powerful demons nor saints who control the world. They are human beings just like you and me. Sure they have a lot of money, but lots of people in the US have money. They are influential, but not all powerful.

Maybe if we stopped painting people and sides as pure evil and pure good, we'd be better off and we could discuss the gray because most of life is in the gray.

Could you give sources to that claim that he supported censorship in the US and in Europe?

I've never understood why Soros is such a bogeyman to so many people. As far as I can see (from my position as a believer in so-called "western values" like freedom of speech, rule of law and fair elections), his goals seem entirely noble.

I get why despots like Viktor Orban hate Soros, but what about all the others? Do they hate him because he's rich and spends his money on politics? Because he comes off like a meddler, butting into other countries' affairs? Because he's (apparently?) Jewish? What is it?

While I'm not well informed enough to have a strong opinion on the matter, the bad things I've heard are mostly related to his profits from currency speculation and similar, which many people feel were immoral actions taken by Mr. Soros and untimately harmful to the nations who's currency he profited off by shorting. That's plenty of information regarding his past financial dealings if you are interested.

Those were essentially the UK's fault, and it's not like Soros was the only one taking advantage; if you're a market economy it's hard to blame a market for acting like a market. Today, it'd have been automated trading systems, probably.

Edit: I do think, by the way, that it’s telling that Soros is about the only example people ever give in cases of market forces harming a country. When Britain sold gold just before the gold bubble really inflated, no one blamed the gold traders; they blamed Brown, say.

That might well be true, but I have to assume there are plenty of wealthy financiers out in the world making money from currency speculation, and you and I have never heard of them. It's hard for me to believe 'shady currency speculation' is really the root of the antipathy toward Soros.

It's like those climate change deniers who have a ready list of negative stories about Al Gore: I'm sure Gore has done some obnoxious things in his life, but you get the impression they went digging for dirt to justify their pre-existing distaste for the man.

He brought down Bretton-Woods in the 70s. That system was simply ripe for the taking, had almost collapsed in 68 (because the German Mark being fixed to the Franc and Dollar just doesn’t work when growth diverges), and would have collapsed eventually, possibly with more damaging results.

The criticism of Soros in Eastern Europe is simply the fear of the local wannabe strongmen of opposition. Soros funds mostly journalism and other civil society institutions (debate clubs at universities etc).

That criticism is channeled through anti-semitism, which still has currency in Hungary. Do a google image search if you don’t believe me.

In the US, he’s just a welcome foil for the alt-right to counter the Koch narrative, even though Soros historically did not actually support candidates, only causes. The anti-semitism is more subdued there, because it’s not (yet) acceptable in polite company. But polite company is almost as bankrupt as a Trump casino now, so we’ll see.

>I've never understood why Soros is such a bogeyman to so many people.


Simple solutions for ...

There are several answers with a variety of cynicism.

At the lowest level of cynicism, both parties love to have a boogeyman, and often the level of attention and criticism these targets get goes way too far.

Next level of cynicism: he’s a Jewish liberal, and a large majority of antisemities vote right, not left. By now non-racist republicans are very good at ignoring or rationalizing the bigots around them, so really loud dog whistles have no negative consequences.

Final level of cynicism: republicans and right wing parties across Europe are no longer interested in democracy, and are now trending rapidly towards open fascism. Soros’ love of free speech and fair elections are a problem to them, not a shared value between otherwise political opponents.


There aren't any far left countries in Europe, and haven't been for nearly 30 years now.


Funny you say that as the party currently holding power in France is center-right relatively to the political landscape in the country. Maybe your ideas of what's right, left, and far-right/left might not be as accurate as you think they are.

Also far-left and left are obviously different no matter the baseline, so conflating the two is pretty simplistic (and wrong).


I’m giving up, this guy is just trolling.

30 years ago the bit of Berlin that I currently live in was literally — not metaphorically, not boogeyman scaremongering, not playground insults — Communist.

Funny you should mention it!

There are currently wide-spread riots in France protesting a rise in fuel taxes as unaffordable for the lower class.

And, quite obviously, it’s trivial to find “far left policies” that aren’t implemented. None of these countries is communist. Abolishing private property would seem to be a far-left thing to do, no?

To be fair, a riot in France is a sign that the French are still French.


If you keep engaging in tedious political flamewars we'll ban the account. Hacker News is not a tedious political flamewar site.


Can you please explain more clearly what constitutes a political flamewar? The only definitions of flamewar I can find suggest it means insulting people. I have not done anything of the sort. And I can not find anything in the guidelines that I have not followed. Do you mean just don't ever post anything that may be controversial? You don't ban the people who actually bring up the controversial issues with a left wing bias, often openly insulting to anyone who disagrees. You only ban the people who respond (politely and without insults) with the wrong opinion. If the actual rules include "far-left opinions only" then put that in the written rules so I know and will leave. But if you are going to maintain the pretense that this site is politically neutral and is for "hackers" rather than "hackers whose opinions I agree with", then I will continue to post within the written rules just as I always have.

> He funds organizations specifically to interfere in fair elections and attempt to maintain a far left hegemony across Europe.

Maintain a "far left hegemony"? Have you ever been in Europe? Does your knowledge of Europe come entirely from 4chan?

Hint; there are no far-left ruling parties/coalitions anywhere in Europe.


Far left has a reasonably accepted meaning. You could argue around the edges, but ultimately you're not going to plausibly extend it to cover the center-left and center-right parties who actually rule most of Europe.

Seems like a classic case of “anyone to my left is the far left”.


You have subtly moved the goal post from "far left" to "left-wing". Nice!

Your definition also happens to fit Donald Trump professing his love of farmers and minors. If Donald Trump is far-left, have you considered that you may be a fascist?

Political flamewar will get you banned here, regardless of what other users are up to. Please don't post like this to HN.



I'm flagging this for accusing George Soros of genocide. Accusing people of (the worst of) crimes without even an attempt to show any evidence can only serve to poison any rational debate.

In addition, "genocide" as it's commonly understood, i. e. the physical homicide of a people, is so obviously wrong not even a fascist troll account would go there. The user therefore seems to be referring to some perceived harm to Hungary they equate to "genocide".

I believe they are referring to the European migrant crisis. To equate immigration with genocide reveals a thoroughly racist worldview.

Orban is shutting down press and educational institutions that question him. That's despotic behavior in my book.

Just this week: https://slate.com/technology/2018/12/central-european-univer...

You might be mistaken about what Facebook "wants".

Facebook is nautorious for silently banning anything right of center.

Hardly - they let the entire leave.eu campaign alone, and there are plenty of far-right organisations on there. I believe that eventually, after much public pressure, they banned Infowars? That's about it.

Who says leaving the EU is a right-wing thing? The current leader of the Labour Party is far more anti-EU than the current leader of the Tories! Some things just don’t fit the classic left/right model.

It's an extreme/desperate-wing thing (left or right, doesn't matter).

Because that's the only way they know they can grab power: by making their people miserable, blaming the centrists or moderates, and triggering a revolt.

That's the playbook for Brexit and so far, it worked. That's the playbook running in France right now as well - although they're trying to piggyback the still popular, uncoordinated movement.

They're not even shy about it.

Lots of people are already miserable. Not the "experts" who have sold their intellects to maintain the status quo for the billionaires, of course. Lots of inequality, lots of bureaucracy, lots of rules, lots of violence, gives them lots of levers to pull. Unless you're such an expert, you shouldn't fear change.

I'm not an expert - and I'm well aware of people having miserable living conditions already.

And I'm well aware that in Europe, misery is more a matter of relative appreciation and of dynamics (which the media and the social networks nurture and feed on) than of absolute. Europe is rather well endowed, compared to the rest of the globe. Still...

What I fear is disorder, irrational, unwarranted violence, managed by unaware & unapologetic kids who make money on it today and will write history tomorrow.

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram & co are heavily contributing to set the world on fire by blowing on people's weaknesses and susceptibilities.

The question to me is not if/when their demise will happen. The question is how to make it happen faster: either they lose, either balanced democracies lose.

A very close friend of mine is a self-described “revolutionary” (Communist? Marxist? Something like that). She is convinced Facebook is biased against the left and secretly censoring all their content.

They've worked with others (CA) to hand the UK over to the right wing.

Do you have specific examples?

I mean, it says it right in the article. Soros (like many people) is worried about social media pseudo-monopolies. That's obviously going to be threatening to said pseudo-monopolies.

Pot calling the kettle black.

>Both Soros and Facebook/Google want largely the same outcome from elections

I think we are consuming wildly differing news sources.

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