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Facebook shares shoot up after strong Q4 earnings despite data breach (techcrunch.com)
293 points by deanmoriarty on Jan 30, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

Facebook is a weird mass-market product because the average American tech industry pundit has very little visibility into how it’s actually used around the world.

Take Facebook Watch. Ask a journalist or HN commenter, and they’ll tell you that it’s a content wasteland, a flop, a waste of investment. Here’s what Zuckerberg said about Watch on the earnings call:

"There are now 400 million people who use it every month, and people spend on average over 20 minutes on Watch daily."

That’s a lot more monthly active users than Snapchat has — for a part of the app which everyone automatically assumes to be a flop. That’s what global 2.3 billion users looks like: your local anecdata doesn’t tell anything.

In reality, it appears that there is a media scapegoating crisis, not an actual crisis, at or with Facebook: https://jakeseliger.com/2018/11/14/is-there-an-actual-facebo...

Wow, that’s the best take on this entire thing I’ve read. I’ve been saying much of this for months and I’m also not an active Facebook user.

The market’s had a hard time deciding what to make of all the “scandals” but the past few headlines have had less and less of an effect on the stock. The TC article that came out yesterday had absolutely zero effect which surprised me a little and the news that they might receive a record fine a week or two ago knocked the stock down for literally twelve minutes before it sprang back up (I was following it that day). I think the market is finally ready to move past all of this and focus on what moves Facebook is going to make going forward because it’s quite obvious users and advertisers don’t care about any of this.

I think there are two camps out to get Facebook for reasons that go beyond privacy- media outlets threatened by its existence and Twitter users who have amassed a large following and view it as an “us versus them” dynamic because they’ve come to rely on Twitter as a communication mechanism. To view Twitter as any better is completely illogical but media outlets are happy to choose favorites if it suits them.

yeah, twitter users are notorious for how much they love jack and twitter

I’ve been saying it forever. The media hates new forms of advertising because that was their missed opportunity. The media had gotten out of control regardless. They are about as factual and unbiased as a state run news organization at this point.

Hopefully it will be possible to have reasonable discourse on HN again instead of the constant flaming.

There's proof of the media conglomerates not liking Facebook and doing everything in their power to stop them and similar companies, one just needs to look at the whole situation surrounding the EU copyright directive, Art. 11 and 13. The main reason it almost passed and threatened to screw with the state of the internet as we know it is because major German media conglomerates lobbied for it heavily to use it as a weapon against companies like Facebook and Google. The whole directive being inspired by a similar legal solution that's been tried in the past by Spain, under similar consequences by similar actors towards the same targets -- it failed spectacularly. Regardless, media conglomerates were willing to use money to force a legal win against online entities they fear are in control of some of their revenue and future.

I have to admit some confusion here.

Is it that the media companies are going broke because of FB and so they hate them, or is it media companies have vast amounts of capital at their disposal to try and bring them to ruin.

My understanding of media’s situation is quite different, and the downswing started occurring a longer time before FB came around.

First hand I can tell you that they don’t expect to take FB down and return to former glory.

Some are even looking at buyouts to return to more of a startup/reboot phase. Not a conspiracy to stick it to anyone else.

you're being downvoted but i think it's crazy that people ignore the obvious economic incentives that a publicly traded company like the new york times has to wage war against a company that has siphoned their main source of revenue

So, the linked article is simply flaming the media, as far as I can see.

The media has always put dominant companies under substantial scrutiny, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Equifax have all had their fair share of tough stories over the years.

I see nothing particularly unfair in the way that Facebook's travails have been reported. Rather than talking in generalities, perhaps you could give some specific examples of stories that have treated Facebook unfairly.

That’s an interesting perspective.

It occurs to me that the mainstream American media suddenly turned very negative towards Facebook ever since they've got the idea that Facebook was probably one important reason that Trump got elected. While I agree Facebook has some real problems and they need to do better, but the recent reports appears almost nitpicking to me

I was super impressed on the recommendations from FB watch where I just kept it auto-playing the next and the next video. Their tech isn't as good, their videos are choppier than youtube and netflix, but their recommendations were insanely good.

I've never used FB Watch, but based off this comment I decided to go and see what it played for me.

Video 1: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajita Crunchwrap (recipe video). My comment: I basically never cook and I would never watch a cooking video.

Video 2: "THE NUN PRANK" (some young idiots doing a prank in an underground parking lot). My comment: I find this totally moronic.

Video 3: Banana Bread on a stick (another recipe video). My comment: Zero interest in this.

Video 4: Brave Boy Kills Giant Tiger (looks like a trailer for a cheesy Bollywood kind of movie) My comment: I don't watch this kind of thing at all and have zero interest.

Video 5: "Lilwin" (looks like an amateur video set in Africa with two people speaking an unknown language) My comment: I have no fucking clue why this was recommended to me.

Conclusion: FB watch is total shit.

> I've never used FB Watch

> Conclusion: FB watch is total shit.

Did you expect it to just magically know your preferences?

Are you kidding? Are you somehow suggesting Facebook shouldn't be able to know anything about me given the amount of data they've sucked up over the last decade?

Given I first opened my Facebook account 10 years ago and I've been posting status update and liking various bands and TV shows, I would expect it to be able to have a fair guess of things I might like.

It's recommending videos that aren't even in ENGLISH! I mean, I have "liked" TV shows on Facebook, artists/bands, I've posted about books I've enjoyed, movies I've liked. It knows my age, gender, location, friends, job, etc. You'd think if they were as good at recommending as some people make out they could do a decent job.

There isn't a single piece of content in my top 20 videos I'd want to watch.

It's a joke. If this is the state of their AI recommending tech they need to fire their data scientists.

I like how Sabrience got downvoted on first comment then made a super comeback with shockingly good insights.

It seems smart people expect others to read between the lines but when average people can't read between lines, same average people resort to downvoted then finally once smart person explains himself, they take his side

Wait, are we complaining that Facebook has too much information, or not enough? Seems like they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

That doesn't sound like the argument at all. I read it as, given the vast amount of data they have, the initial suggestions should have been closer to what they might enjoy watching.

Both. They shouldn't have so much info, but since they do, then how come it's not used to make user-facing features work well?

IMHO they are. :^)

I wonder how much of that has to do with how much FB knows about you and your interests, and your friends and their interests? With YouTube, I honestly don't get any sense that it uses what Google surely knows of me via Search and GMail, e.g. anything related to Chicago, or germane to my political inclinations or personality. Instead, it seems wholly based on my viewing history. Which has some benefits, of course (I get what I click on), except when it makes inferences on outlier activity. e.g. if I click-through to a flat earth conspiracy video for a few curious laughs, it naively thinks I must have an appetite for more.

> e.g. if I click-through to a flat earth conspiracy video for a few curious laughs, it naively thinks I must have an appetite for more.

Every time I'm about to click on a youtube link / watch an embedded video I ask myself if it's worth influencing my future recommendations - which are not great, but not too far off either. If the content is outside my core interests or music tastes I opt to watch in incognito mode.

I once made the mistake to play Peppa the Pig for my daughter while signed in, and my recommendations became a mess for weeks.

I tried last.fm years ago and had to give up. I was on my phone and read about a Swedish prog rock band, thought about how I could get to hear them and signed up for last.fm there and then. The service used that seed to give me a really fun scandanavian hippy rock experience exploring related bands from Finland, Norway and Denmark. It was great for a while, but then I was trapped. No matter what I did to push the service towards a more balanced assessment of my musical tastes, it kept casting me back into nordic psychdedelia hell.

> Every time I'm about to click on a youtube link / watch an embedded video I ask myself if it's worth influencing my future recommendations

I do this all the time. Often, I click on "smart" videos, which I have no intention of watching just in the hope I get better quality content in my "feed". But it's hard to find high quality content, yet it's easy to find mindless dribble.

> it's hard to find high quality content, yet it's easy to find mindless dribble.

+1 to this. I watched a few Super Smash Bros Ultimate compilations at around the time it was released, and got some recommendations. I don't own a Switch so I don't know the game, plus its a novelty, so they caught my curiosity.

I went down a such rabbit-hole of mindless dribble --endless videos of videogame characters punching each other-- I actually tired myself and am no longer considering buying the game/console. It's such mindless consumption.

> Often, I click on "smart" videos, which I have no intention of watching just in the hope I get better quality content in my "feed".

I need to try this.

I once watched a video on how to replace a specific part on my car.

Now Youtube thinks my biggest interest is how to replace and repair every other thing on that same model of car, other models by the same make, etc.

It's crazy to me how Google almost telepathically guesses what I will search for in all of the web, but it doesn't know what videos I will watch.

YouTube's recommendation algorithm is one of the worst I use. I have to actively manage my subscriptions and many people I know mass click "not interested" on videos to try to improve it. Spotify, Amazon, Netflix, and pretty much every other recommendation works like magic by now.

There's something really wrong with it.

Google Search, Amazon, Netflix-- my guess is there's just have more structured data for these recommendation systems. Amazon and Netflix get high-quality descriptions and information tables about their videos/products, Google Search has to do a bit more digging, but it has the whole text corpus link structure, etc of a site.

Spotify probably has it a bit tougher, but my guess is playlists play a big role as they are curated clustering of similar music (as opposed to just a "folder" to put all videos in a series, like they are on YouTube). Music itself is also probably much easier to analyze than video: extract the BPM and frequencies and you can tell a lot about the composition of type of song it's from. Video on the other hand-- you can do very computationally intensive CV, but that won't tell you much about the mood, meaning, genre, etc. of video something is.

YouTube many times will have to go off a title, a very vague description and a ton of irrelevant comments.

Edit: Actually, they have captions. I'd assume dialogue could give them a lot of relevant information, who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I had a hilarious incident of this with Google Search being on the money and YouTube being so far off the mark it appeared broken. Try searching for "GPL3" and I assume you'll see something similar.

On the other hand, searching for "GPL v3" actually gets relevant YouTube results, so they are out there and YouTube knows how to find them if you ask the right way.

I've been using FB for more than 10 years and the Facebook Watch recommended videos are absolutely terrible and of no interest to me. So they're not doing a particularly great job as far as I'm concerned.

Ooh that's interesting. I'm not surprised by how great their recommendations are; Facebook's AI research team is pretty top notch. I wonder what they're doing for recommendations.

Then why is basically every recommended post on the news feed completely uninteresting garbage. I figured they just used a random function.

Yeah the recommendations are absolutely horrible for me. They must know so much about me, yet two of the top ten videos were in foreign languages (which I do not speak). There wasn't one video in the top 20 that I would want to watch.

What kind of video content is there?

-Facebook is a closed system

-Anyone who feels strongly against Facebook will have stopped using it

If both of these are true, the typical person commenting about its evils will have a poor idea of how it's actually used. So someone telling me it's damaging my mental health because of social gratification - I haven't posted anything real-life in years - falls about as flat as someone saying Reddit is a website for sharing weight loss pictures.

There are important points to be made about Facebook but they're lost in the noise.

> -Anyone who feels strongly against Facebook will have stopped using it

That's a pretty big assumption. People's feelings can and do change based on new information.

I don't think it's an assumption, I think it's a tautology. It's not nicotine; if you're using it you don't feel strongly against it.

> It's not nicotine

Neither is alcohol, nor is gambling.

To be less facetious, I don't see why the claim that facebook can't possibly be addictive, is so self-evident that it's a tautology. I can understand people having different stances in the debate on whether it's addictive, but denying that there's a debate to be had seems completely misguided.

(Also, there can be reasons other than addiction for people using facebook despite feeling strongly against it — e.g. peer pressure.)

I assumed you meant it as an assumption because you said "If both of these are true".

So, more precisely, your point was actually "anyone who had been feeling strongly about it at some arbitrary point in time will have stopped using it by that arbitrary point in time". Yes, that's a bit easier to justify but still quite uncertain (IMO) and also a much weaker statement.

Also, just because the stimulus isn't a molecule it does not follow that it's not biochemical in nature. Physics and biochemistry play a role all the way down. The very notion of "stimulus" depends on where we draw the murky, fuzzy and ultimately arbitrary border between "us" and "the world".

> -Anyone who feels strongly against Facebook will have stopped using it

Please define "strongly".

I know many people who really dislike Facebook, but still use it for business reasons or since their parents, best friend, local community, ... use it to share information or scheduling events.

Seems like a problem that can be seen quite generally as well.

e.g. Movie X is a flop, because it's opening weekend in US is disappointing. Goes on do excellently Worldwide, especially outside opening weekend. Search engine X is a flop, because it's market share in US is negligible. Goes on to have solid user number in China and Germany.

It's probably not helped by the strong desire to link future performance predictions to easily available metrics, and never re-evaluating these. Just because the US has driven growth and profits in the past for X, doesn't mean it always will... but's it good enough for knee jerk reactions that generate views.

Except that Facebook initially had a huge user- and mindshare in the US before crossing over to other countries, so it's expected that Facebook fatigue sets in first in the US before it starts affecting other countries.

In Europe it's the same story for Facebook. I remember Facebook predecessors that had the same "well my parents are on it now and the same idiots keep posting bullshit over and over so I just lurk now and then" moment and none of them is really important anymore. I mean. MySpace is doing better than all of the others, which is about as good as Yahoo!.

> "There are now 400 million people who use it every month, and people spend on average over 20 minutes on Watch daily."

Duh. Facebook starts running the videos as soon as you open the Facebook page. If you open a video and watch it, it'll start a new one in 3-4 seconds. Unless they remove these practices, it is not clear how much of that 20 minutes is due to their aggressive behavior.

I believe Watch is their separate page for video, and not the autoplay videos that show up as you scroll down your feed. It'd seem pretty surprising that consumers would repeatedly click on that page and get tricked into watching a significant amount of content.

If you try to click (because by default it should be "pause") the video the pause it, it'll upsize it and open Facebook watch. Just another trick to annoy you.

Have the 2.3 billion MAU been independently verified and checked for duplicates/triplicates etc? Considering the number of people in the world, the number of people older than 13 and younger than 75, the number of active internet users and the penetration in richer countries, I seriously doubt these numbers. Turns out, others are doubting it as well: https://mashable.com/article/report-claims-half-facebook-mau...

So why is everyone uncritically peddling these numbers?

How would you verify and check 2.3bn entries for duplicates? I don't think there's a reliable way to get to the real number of users. Names can be similar, IP addresses used by many accounts, etc. Not sure how you'd identify duplicates without a lot of false positives.

Because many of us profit by turning a blind eye. Most all companies fudge sub numbers for investors. It is fraud and should be treated that way.

You're right that pundits, and that not that those of the US, are bad at following trends and successes in other countries.

However the Economist had an interesting take on Facebooks success outside the US: Their sales outside the US is equivalent to that of a medium size biscuit maker.

So is Watch successful because 400 million people use it, or does it also generate substantial profit for Facebook?

> Take Facebook Watch. Ask a journalist or HN commenter, and they’ll tell you that it’s a content wasteland, a flop

Maybe. For me personally I’m just not interested.

To me it seems like yet another “me too” feature which Facebook has copied from instagram or Snapchat or whoever did it first. Not to mention I don’t care about this feature on the other platforms either.

The feature itself just looks like a desperate attempt at trying to show that they are still “innovating” their fairly stagnant platforms, just for the sake of innovating.

And here Facebook looks even more desperate in plainly “me too” copying this non-feature.

That's nice, but the discussion was on business value. And for a business value individual opinions from tech-savy people are not that relevant.

Not that I would trust Facebook's numbers considering the amount of lying and shady practices they employ.

I wonder, will this large part of Facebook users that still uses the platform (and Watch) eventually migrate to Instagram as well (as most of North America and Europe appear to have done?). Or does the standard Facebook actually better cater to a large part of the world's population than Instagram?

Pre: - still 30% off highs


- 4Q EPS $2.38, Est. $2.18

- 4Q Rev. $16.91B, Est. $16.39B

- 4Q Mobile Ad Rev. as % Ad Rev. 93%

- Mobile represents 93% of ad revenue. Mark doesn't get enough credit for his big switch to mobile,

- Cost of revenue up 74 percent year over year

- Operating costs went up by 60%, Note this is more than their growth rate, really the only concerning thing from a good quarter

- Annual capex is $13.9 billion, pretty close to what Microsoft spends

- CFO is talking about phasing out Facebook only numbers and just disclosing total numbers(Insta, WhatsApp, and FB rolled into one)



- 4Q MAU 2.32B, Est. 2.32B

- 4Q DAU 1.52B, Est. 1.51B

- DAU up in Europe for first time in 2-3 quarters, Flat in North America

- instagram stories has 500M DAU


- Headcount was 35,587 at year end. Increase of 42% for the year!!

- shares back up to Oct levels,

- turns out the markets like companies who can mint money and both users and advertisers just don't care at all about facebooks scandals

- https://investor.fb.com/files/doc_financials/2018/Q4/Q4-2018...

- more after hours trading than alot of stocks get during the entire day

- Zuckerberg saying that messaging growing faster than any other area. It will become more central to the social experience on Facebook's apps.

Always mind boggling to see those margins on that sort of volume. It’s no question FB is one of the greatest money-printing machines ever built.

Where does the growth come next though? Do they need to diversify their revenue streams away from advertising? Do they just start paying out dividends or can they really reinvest earnings at a sufficient return to satisfy shareholders?

Facebook's forward growth is going to come from persistently leveraging the userbase with a continued, gradual slowdown in growth. They don't need to diversify their revenue stream, they're growing sales at 30% and are larger than Oracle. Their social monopoly is going to make it very difficult for them to do meaningful acquisitions freely (unless they're well outside social). They couldn't easily buy the next YouTube, WhatsApp or Instagram at this point due to anti-trust concerns.

They did selectively start buying back shares recently as a form of capital return. I'd expect that to continue to the extent the stock remains modestly priced versus the business growth rate.

If all they do is keep on the same path, they easily get from here to $100+ billion in sales by doing nothing special beyond what they're already doing. Plus ~$35 billion in profit to go with it.

A mere 6% average sales growth per year for the next ten years gets them to $100b in sales. More likely, they get there in fiscal 2022 without much trouble.

That's assuming that anyone considers "social media" a monopoly category. Are they a social media company, or an online ad company? Which would give them several legitimate competitors. Or maybe they are just an advertising company, which makes them a medium sized fish in an ocean of advertising companies.

>Where does the growth come next though

I'm amazed they haven't taken a crack at Google with a search engine in their app. Imagine how valuable combining Facebook's data with the user intent of search? A lot of users would never leave the facebook app on their phone if they could get a search engine that's halfway decent. It seems like they are leaving a ton of money on the table as it stands

If its too much to develop their own maybe they could team up with Bing or something?

At that rate, they'd be better off going all in with a Chromebook-like product with Facebook OS and a fully encompassed ecosystem.

They tried that with mobile already, and with 93% of ad revenue from mobile I'm guessing laptops are pretty irrelevant to them even if they can make one sell with their own OS.

Operating costs going up makes sense if FB is hiring in order to attempt to address many of the issues that were highlighted throughout the year. I'd venture to say they will continue to grow this year, I think I just heard them mention that during the call.

Do you think that this chart of historical DAU (Daily Active Users) is correct? https://www.statista.com/statistics/346167/facebook-global-d...

Looks too stable to me (especially taking into account the scandals).

What's the definition of DAU anyway? E.g. if I used it on 2 days in a row, e.g. yesterday and today, and then do nothing, am I counted as a DAU or not for that quarter? Or maybe I have to be active for at least 50% of the total days of the quarter? Etc... .


Yes, I assume its correct, though to be clear, I have absolutely no way to validate it.

This quote from an analyst is one reason why I believe the user numbers.

> "It's hard to get people to stop using something they love. People love using these products, and there's these massive attacks that news outlets continue to heap on them, but consumers like these platforms and advertisers follow eyeballs. Most of Facebook's advertisers have no other place to go with a return on investment this good. This is clear proof."

Following eyeballs and good ROI do not always go hand-in-hand.

In my dream world I'd love to see a more granular ARPU breakdown and how much of that came from growth in ad impressions/user vs. increased CPMs for advertisers as well as some sort of count of advertisers and their spend by tier of advertiser size. If I recall correctly, one of the fairly recent moves was cutting bad on FB feed ad frequency which resulted in increasing CPMs and in theory concentrating the advertiser base further to those big brands that can afford the higher CPMs.

Many advertisers are experiencing higher CPMs on FB properties as one might expect as they consolidate their hold on the market. As that continues, at a certain point ROI may not be that good, and they may see diminishing returns and look elsewhere. That's the normal cycle of saturation of ad sources. The question is how long FB can stretch that out and innovate.


In the meanwhile I found this (2015) about MAU: https://www.adweek.com/digital/monthly-active-users-definiti...

>>We define a monthly active user as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through our website or a mobile device, or used our Messenger app (and is also a registered Facebook user), in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.

I suppose that DAU is the same, but of course daily.

Still, the chart looks too nice to me => personally, I always automatically mistrust any chart that looks that nice/regular.

Does that DAU include pages, business etc? So a single user could be double or triple counted?

Do we know what percentage of this could be from bots or other third party software?

I’d love to see independent polling via street surveys in a few countries to test their numbers.

Things tend to smooth out at high volumes.

Well, even if the volume is very high, the scandals had planetary coverage, therefore I would still expect to see some kind of impact? Or would it still be too little to show a variance in the trend?

Dumping here links of DAU/MAU charts of other apps (no specific selection - it's all what I was able to find):


- WeChat: https://www.statista.com/statistics/255778/number-of-active-...

- Twitter: https://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly...

- Instagram: https://www.statista.com/statistics/253577/number-of-monthly...


-Snapchat: https://www.statista.com/statistics/545967/snapchat-app-dau/

The most stable one seems to be the one of WeChat? I personally understood that without it, when living in China, your life can get very hard as you're not even able to pay for some services or get loans etc... (therefore there is a lot a direct pressure to use it).

> the scandals had planetary coverage, therefore I would still expect to see some kind of impact

You mean you'd expect a meaningful drop. Why? I expected very little consequence. People know Facebook doesn't cost them a monthly fee to use, they realize it's a huge entity that runs advertising to pay the bills. Everyone using the Internet these days is familiar with advertising online. The bulk of the users are precisely the ones that aren't shocked by the privacy scandal. They get to use Facebook and don't have to pay cash for it, they know the deal even if only broadly. Despite the endless attempts by the media to portray all FB users as ignorant.

Target had a huge scandal of stolen customer information. They didn't lose a big part of their sales. Equifax isn't going out of business. Few consumers stopped using Windows over Microsoft's business tactics in the 1990s or after. Walmart used to particularly pay their employees terribly and were pretty vicious cutthroats with suppliers and competitors (still are), outside of a tiny group none of it stopped people from shopping there. Amazon is guilty of a lot of that same behavior over the last two decades.

There's a required threshold for how bad Facebook's behavior would have to be, to turn the average user off of their 'free' service. They haven't got near that level yet. For most people it's a useful social utility that connects them to everyone they know and they don't have to pay money for it. Users will put up with a lot accordingly.

> the scandals had planetary coverage, therefore I would still expect to see some kind of impact

That would assume that news is accurately reporting reality. News is a business as well, you create issues, pile on, and gather ad impressions. There's definitely built-in pressure to exaggerate as a result.

Some of the most egregious is attributing short-term market trends with specific political issues (as opposed to noise or changes market fundamentals).

The darker side is when how news companies can shape public perception. In this case, the business models of the news are under attack by content aggregators like facebook and google.

and there's these massive attacks that news outlets continue to heap on them


That analyst seems behind the times at best.

I can’t remember when I last heard a person say “I love facebook.” Plenty saying “I hate it” though.

Maybe he was alluding to “are addicted to” or “are manipulated into using?”

People don’t use Facebook because they love it. They resent it and but use it, mostly. Which makes me think it’s headed for a steep decline.

I think a lot of people do love it. Not the company, of course, but many find the service it provides invaluable. Same goes to WeChat for example, I know quite some people who can't give it enough praise and it is arguably a worse offender than Facebook in all conceivable aspects.

What kind of things do they love about Facebook? I’d be interested to hear.

First thing that comes to mind is Facebook Events, people around me use it all the time to organise birthday parties, moving, weddings and whatnot. Multiple people said to me that they "no longer use facebook but still use Facebook Events because it is great". Another example would be Messenger, at least here it is the only place where really almost everybody is, Whatsapp had that place before but that is Facebook too. And really, since they removed the weird snapchat-like stories thing from Messenger it there is nothing wrong with it, had Facebook not been what it is, I'd probably like it too.

The events is an interesting one, there aren't many alternatives if you're setting up a private event and IIRC the facebook event experience was good.

I also think "there's nothing wrong with messenger", I don't finds its experience loathsome like Facebook. That said, I also don't "love" it any more than Signal, Whatsapp, iMessage etc. It'll be really interesting to see how the unification of messaging works out - they could "Facebookify " it, I wonder how people will respond if there's a stronger focus on ads.

Again, not the company, but the service it provides. Like, I hate flying United but if they offer a cheaper price I'll do it.

I would assume people who love WeChat are much more culturally accepting of surveillance given that most of its users are Chinese. Therefore I'm not sure whether a direct comparison makes sense.

> I would assume people who love WeChat are much more culturally accepting of surveillance

Or maybe they have no choice. If car companies only make black cars, it doesn't necessarily mean that black is everyone's favorite color.

Concerning networks they do actually, there were several mass migrations from service to service in China, QQ, RenRen, Weibo, now WeChat. If anything it seems that trendiness trumps the network effect. Now that they have added payments the hurdle might be larger though.

But, in the end all of them are monitored so there is no choice there. The main argument/excuse for acceptance seems to be that it is better to be spied on by your own government than somebody else's.

Few people outside of SV bubble are paying much attention to these scandals.

> What's the definition of DAU anyway?

AFAIK, you count the number unique users each day, and then compute the average over a period like a quarter. Media reports often make it sound like a DAU is someone who uses a service each and every day, but this is obviously wrong.

On page 9 of the PDF it shows expenses, and it lists marketing and sales as taking as much money as Research and Development, which sounds crazy to me. Facebook seems to spend an outrageous amount of money on programmers, I assume all of which goes to R&D. Do they also have this massive sales org I wasn't aware of? Where is this cost coming from?

thanks for this and other breakdowns. what was the primary driver for operating costs rising so much?

I'm guessing most of increase are the "moderators/censors" the media and political groups pressured them to hire. The same thing happened with google a couple of years ago when they were forced to hire thousands of people to moderate/censor content.

They probably need higher compensation to attract engineers at this point and their existing engineers are probably leaving the company at higher rate. They also need to hire a lot more people to tackle whatever issues they are trying to solve

building lots of datacenters

probably headcount

How many of the lost users were part of the Facebook account purge?

It’s hard not to look at this performance and take away from it that most people really don’t care about privacy. As upsetting as the thought may be to some, Mark’s hypothesis that privacy is no longer a social norm we value seems to be proven more and more right. Despite all the scandals and hearings, their DAU are more than the population of the largest countries on Earth. Short of serious legislation, what slows them down? Negative press seems to be nothing but pebbles thrown at steamroller...

Since there's no real life downside to FB using your data to show you more relevant ads, people are making the rational trade-off. Privacy issues with FB are ideology based in nature.

There is research being done on targeted advertisement, and apart from the obvious effect of altering your behaviour and your attention, there has been research shown that it can go as far as changing self-perception.[1]

So to claim that there is no downside to targeted marketing is simply false. We have very little understanding what sort of effects it has on consumers, and as far as we know they're not all good.

There is no reason to believe any deliberation on part of consumers here is rational. The relationship between self harm and social media usage in adolescents are well documented as well.

So it is quite ironic to assert that being concerned about facebook's behaviour is 'ideological', when in fact advocates seem to willfully ignore evidence that suggests that we're playing dice with people's psychology here.


Fair enough, but it's up to each individual to learn about these details and then make a decision if they still want to use Facebook. The media is doing their job reporting on this, and everyone else can learn from this and decide that hey, maybe using Facebook products are not worth the harm. Or maybe they are fine with it and like the relevant ads and continue to use Facebook.

If social media makes you unhappy just stop using it.

>If social media makes you unhappy just stop using it.

This answer is far too simplistic for the reality of the situation.

For example, what of the people who never used it (or did stop using it) and their correlated shadow profiles?[0] What is the supposed answer, then: Don't give your contact information to your friends? Don't use the internet, at all, because of Facebook Pixel?[1]

...but the bulk-share of the problem, for me specifically, is that treasure-troves of information on people are the ripest targets for either exploit or out-right theft. See the OPM hack[2] for a principle example of such theft and then look at the Snowden leaks, where he shows that <insert three-lettered agency here> was in major tech companies' bases, killing their do0dz.[3]

The potential problems (and their requisite solutions) aren't as simple as you're trying to paint them to be.

To summarise this long diatribe: I don't pretend to have an answer, to be sure, but to say that stopping Facebook usage is sufficient is disingenuous to the realities of what the company does; especially, since data about you is still being collected anyway.

[0] - https://www.cnet.com/news/shadow-profiles-facebook-has-infor...

[1] - https://www.oberlo.com/blog/facebook-pixel

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Personnel_Management...

[3] - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-...

Just like how it's up to each individual to decide whether they want to be a heroin a addict.

If you attribute so little agency to people that becoming a heroin addict becomes someone else's responsibility (barring physical addiction in the womb or being shot up at gunpoint repeatedly) then there's little in this world that we can control anyways.

Your conclusion is entirely consistent with the facts. There is little in this world that we can control. It's really important to stop the bad actors from taking the little away from us.

Curiously, what is that little we can control? One could come up with an argument about how we control exactly zero in life. However even if it's true in a way, it might not be so useful to believe that since having that belief will lead to worse decisions (and a lot of psychology research shows that a belief that you don't have control is highly correlated with depression).

What are you claiming the downside to targeted advertising is? A change in self perception from a single (dubious) study doesn't suggest negative effects.

Why do I say the study was dubious? They showed a small number of undergraduates a luxury watch ad and told them it was being shown to them based on their behavior. Those participants then rated themselves more sophisticated. Of course if someone frames it like that they would say they were sophisticated. What is the negative there?

Most people using FB aren't thinking that though, they're just silently ignoring the ads on the side of the content they actually want.

>Those participants then rated themselves more sophisticated. Of course if someone frames it like that they would say they were sophisticated. What is the negative there?

An altered self image as the result of merely staring at a luxury watch advertisement is more than a little conncering. If psychological self assessment changes even in the context of a small study, what do hours of this stuff per day do to the human brain?

the precautionary principle implies that we don't run an unsupervised experiment on the psyche of two billion people on the planet which primarily serves the purpose of distributing money to facebook.

So basically you're saying advertising is bad for us.

What now?

I'm not sure you actually understand how advertising works.

No obvious downside for now. Discussions about Facebook are usually too shortsighted and look at timescales that are too short.

Large detrimental downstream effects and people's perceptions and trends all happen on timescales on the order of magnitude of a decade. Give it a few years.

I think you’re mostly right, except there is a downside—it’s just too long term to be an effective feedback loop.

This isn't about ideology, it is about pragmatics. The accumulation and analysis of vast bodies of behavioural data by bad actors will inevitably lead them to develop and deploy increasingly indirect and long-term methods of subverting individual agency, to their own benefit.

How about subtle data-directed lobbying to cause subtle data-directed changes to the educational system to create subtle data-directed vulnerabilities to manipulation in adulthood?

There are plenty of examples in the real world, throughout history. It is going to get a whole lot worse, and it has the potential to never get better.

Facebook is creepy. They engage in deep cloaked surveillance, capturing as much as technologically possible of people's behavior in the world and mining it for profit. They don't want the people to know how and to what extent they're mining their personal lives, because they know people would be disgusted by it.

IMO the core reason people keep using this shady service is that they've just never been exposed to the truth.

Its not that they dont care about privacy a number of people do as others have said their bedroom windows likely have curtains. They likely close their bathroom / bedroom doors for privacy.

The issue is they either dont truly understand the technical implications or they have already been so invested into Facebook personally and with no alternative to migrate to in sight (they bought Intagram which could of been one) they have no recourse currently. I hear it all the time here about events being vital or just connecting with family.

Starting from a point of view that people are dumb never lead to great results!

But it’s of course a easy way to defend ones point of view :)

Well, you're the one pulling the word out of the hat. "Not truly understanding the technical implications" does not equal dumb.

As an anecdote, my father is a non-dumb person who at some point started using Facebook out of a combination of curiosity and a feeling of missing out. He can use a computer proficiently for the things he needs and is quite adept at learning to use it for new use cases on his own. Yet he is far from a technological expert with as good as overview of the whole picture. Once I explained it to him over a course of several conversations, he was concerned and stopped using it.

have you talked to an average person on the street? high schoolers aside (who don’t use fb?) yeah people are dumb

I share your fears, but I do have some doubts about their metrics (see the link to a chart in another thread).

But maybe (just dumping some thoughts), after the scandals, DAU and MAU might not be anymore as relevant as in the past for Facebook's data collection if users, who are now (supposed to be) more aware of their data being shared and used actively for not only good stuff, just keep using it for only e.g. trivial posts (e.g. "I bought a bike today" instead of "I support/hate the president blahblah") or maybe make it more challenging for AI/aggregation using "irony" (algorithm would understand it as it's written, but the human interpretation would actually be the opposite), etc... . But maybe I'm just a desperate deluded optimist :)

Alternatively, people do care about privacy, but they care more about the value that FB provides to them. And part of that value can be due to customer lock-in (customers want social networks where the people they interact with are).

Well, though privacy is kind of imprtant to most people, what alternatives do people have (other than stop using all social media?) I don't think the problem of Facebook is unique to them at all - data leak, fake news, whatever - they are instrinsically hard problem to solve, and frankly I don't think there would be lot of companies doing much better.

I don't think that's true. People clearly care about privacy otherwise we wouldn't have curtains and account access controls etc.

They just aren't worried enough about Facebook violating their privacy enough to stop using it. Frankly for most people that is the right decision. Facebook has done much less immoral stuff than the media would have you believe. Even the Cambridge Analytica type stuff (i.e. the obvious potential for abuse of the Friends API) was totally public at the time but nobody cared.

In the beginning, FB was college students only, then high school... Then everyone.

There was a FB group with a million users protesting the opening up of FB to their moms and grandmas.

Some friends and I created an alternative social network at our university to capitalize. In my opinion it looked better and had more features (before they opened up their API). We were college students only, and had SSL (can you imagine back then sites without SSL?!).

We were at the first techcrunch 50. We were located in "the pit".

We didn't gain much coversge we didn't get traction at our university and well, we flopped.

Pricacy doesn't matter to the average user.

>There was a FB group with a million users protesting the opening up of FB to their moms and grandmas.

Eternal September[0] exists everywhere. =]

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

I talked to someone this morning who knew that people were vaguely worried about Facebook but was utterly horrified when I took the time to explain facebook/google and android/ios from a “privacy viewpoints” perspective. This is something the press doesn’t much do. It’s effective. Too bad :(

Who is "we"? You and I? Or "most people", the "average person", some abstract thing that doesn't even exist, determined by numbers? To shorten it extremely: Nobody has the right to piss away the future of humanity. If they do, they simply cease to be relevant to me, by definition. I will gladly fight them, but not ever ask for their permission or advice. Resistance to systematic mass surveillance and what hangs off that is not just a mere "social norm" like whether short or long skirts are acceptable. This is way more complex and important than all of the light-weights that don't consider it combined. Just being alive and wanting to be left alone with whatever apathy one ended up with isn't anything in the intellectual or moral arena.

I don't think the conclusion that "most people really don't care about privacy" is proved by people still using Facebook.

Just because my friend buys a pack of cigarettes a day doesn't mean he doesn't care about cancer.

My view: Loss of privacy is a negative externality of using Facebook. And we know companies can use shiny stuff (compelling-engaging products, PR, advertising, etc.) to overcome these kinds of negative externalities and keep customers coming back.

I do think that your point about serious legislation is correct. Cigarette smoking in countries with serious legislation IS down, the question is if the political will is there and if Facebook's power can or can't outweigh that political will.

Facebooks earnings are because advertisers spend more

Every court case, summons and data breach are instructions manuals and tools for advertisers. These are public and much more useful than an outdated Udemy course selling shovels.

Advertisers will continue spending more after each scandal, and they will be better targeted ads, making Facebook have more utility to users at the same time. Any proposed legislation ought to make advertisers spend more before the gravy train is over.

Facebooks share price increase cant be seen as validation from its profile creators which are the product. These numbers didnt jump they offset and stay the same.

Same conclusion could be made that people don’t care about cancer because tobacco companies print money.

It is good that people don't care about privacy. It means they are no longer afraid of being seen, that they have nothing to hide from the world, and in a way they are moving toward a more liberating existence.

Keeping so many aspects of your life private comes with a price. There is inconvenience, there is overhead, and there is always fear that one day your private assets will be compromised and laid bare.

The less private you are, the more you have to share, and the more you have to share, the richer and more meaningful your experiences will be: with other people, and even with other businesses.

But if you are very private, you have little to share. You miss out on the social conversation of humanity, and businesses will treat you as another generic faceless entity, throwing whatever crap they can at you hoping it sticks. Why would anyone want that?

I would put a slightly different spin on this thought. Most people's problem is that no one is paying attention to them. We struggle to get people to notice us and listen to us. Even if it's only an algorithm, I think most people would think being looked at and considered is a feature not a bug.

> But if you are very private, you have little to share. You miss out on the social conversation of humanity, and businesses will treat you as another generic faceless entity, throwing whatever crap they can at you hoping it sticks.

And mass surveillance and data collection combined with blackbox machine learning techniques are somehow producing a different outcome?

I think it is very misguided to conclude that people don't need privacy from all of this. Most of what people use Facebook and friends for is private, they just haven't been seriously and obviously burned enough from the fact that a large number of corporate entities are siphoning it up.

Maybe they'll never get burned enough. Maybe it all turns out well. But concluding that no people do not need privacy as a basic psychological need is wrong. I know I do and I don't have a bad social life because of it.

Its not that they don't care about privacy, its that they don't care for tracking the pages and showing ads. And if you do want to stop it you go into private mode.

Facebook is the only way a lot of people have to contact one another. I feel like only celebrities deleted FB accounts during the whole #DeleteFacebook thing. Furthermore, I think a lot of that campaign (and be honest, it was not organic. It was a purposeful campaign by news and media giants in an attempt to show they still dominated the minds of people in the world) was a battle of the old rich vs the nouveau riche as Gatsby would say.

I wrote more about this last year, specifically focusing on Zuckerberg's rumors of eyeing the presidency:


> I feel like only celebrities deleted FB accounts during the whole #DeleteFacebook thing.

and after they deleted facebook, they went on their Instagrams.

There was a "#DeleteFacebook thing" this year? I'm assuming the hashtag is from Twitter which is insanely funny to me, since I see no difference between all of these social networks. BTW outside of USA and a few west european countries people barely know what Twitter is.

In any case I feel that all this focus on Facebook makes people forget that Instagram is far more important now then any other social network, and also the fastest growing one.

Deleting Facebook isnt enough to get traction on the privacy front. They now will turn instagram and WhatsApp into those invasive ad machines.

I hope this will pierce the HN anti-FB bubble somewhat. It's dangerous to believe one's own BS. FB is here to stay, although I do believe it will wither in the long term (5+ years).

I think you can be anti-FB while still recognizing that it's a powerful force in the industry and the world. Hell, I'd say that many are anti-FB because it's too powerful a force in the industry and the world.

Anti-FB is not quite the right term. What I meant is folks seem to believe that just because they don't use FB nobody else uses it, and the scandals are about to undo what remains of it. Whereas in the real world, outside the bubble, FB has 2 billion users and it's still growing both in terms of userbase, time spent on FB products, and revenues/profits.

That's fair, and probably the interpretation I should have gone with.

Well - are they anti Google or anti Amazon?

Yes, I would say that those who are concerned about Facebook for those reasons are also usually concerned about Amazon and Google for the same reasons.

It's really not a HN bubble. Facebook the site/app has peaked for the most part, both people I know who are currently in high school do not use it and have never made a "Facebook" page. Now Instagram is a completely different story of course.

I happen to have a son who is currently is high school. While it is true that he (and likely his peers) is not a heavy user of FB, he does use it to coordinate events, and he does use Instagram and WhatsApp a lot. "FB" is not just "FB the site". If you listen to their earnings calls, a lot of time is devoted to Instagram in particular at the moment.

This honestly has been true for the past 5 years! But it doesn't say anything about the same high schoolers start using FB when they come to college. These numbers which FB is showing wouldn't have been possible if people are not coming into FB at a large rate.

The way it works is that although high schoolers using FB has leveled off, they tend to start making FB accounts after high school, when many of their friends are no longer reachable by simply meeting up with them in class.

Thank you for calling this out.

The best way to think about Facebook is that it is a time filler. I don't know where I read it but an average FB session lasts around 75-90 seconds. People use it when they are in a line or when they are in an elevator. It is a great way to stay in touch with what your friends are doing or communicate with them. I find it very difficult to understand what is to hate about that. Sure there is data usage with which some people are upset but you can just go ahead and disable that in settings (assuming you are comfortable with less relevant ads).

Also, it is time to #undeleteFacebook. You know you are missing it!

I'm sorry to say, but you sound like a product ad. You raise the data usage problem, but then just dismiss it and give a non-solution, knowing perfectly well the extensive Facebook tracking cannot be completely disabled since they even track people without accounts.

> Also, it is time to #undeleteFacebook. You know you are missing it!

No, it isn't and no, I'm really not. I don't need a "time filler". The mind needs some time off. It pays off to give it that time and perhaps be a bit more mindful instead of populating every moment with crap.

Do you know others tracks you as well? It is not only FB. Google does exactly the same tracking as FB regardless of whether you have an account. So are you applying the same principles of privacy there? Hell, even Twitter tracks you wherever it can regardless of your account.

It is all good to come here and spread hatred about FB. But if you have principled stand against privacy, you won't use any of the major services that are supported by ads. Stop using Google Search, Maps, GMail, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter & YouTube.

Yes, I do. I avoid anything made by Google as much as I can and I don't regularly use any of the mentioned services. I host my own mail server, use uMatrix and uBlock to block tracking, strongly prefer Firefox over Chromium and so on.

However, even if I wasn't doing all of that, it would make sense to reject any one of those, even if I wasn't rejecting them all. You have to start somewhere and Facebook is as good a place to start as any. The existence of many bad actors doesn't mean we should be paralyzed because we cannot achieve a perfect solution all at once.

In that case, you are not using Facebook because you don't like their service. Not because you don't like their stand on privacy. Since, if it is the latter, then all of them are equally bad. Also, don't specifically call out Facebook in that they are tracking without your account since everyone does the same as well.

I strongly feel like I am not getting some part of your argument, because what you are saying feels like a non sequitur.

I do in fact refuse to use Facebook primarily because of their stance (and actions) related to privacy. I don't especially like their service either, but the service itself has its merits.

Not all internet actors are equally bad. The largest corporate actors with the currently largest internet presence are bad. This is an argument against using the services offered by those actors. Is there any point in trying to quantify which one is the worst? The seven services you named are all owned by three entities, with Facebook owning two on that list (WhatsApp and Instagram). That firmly ranks it as one of the worst.

I will certainly call out Facebook specifically in a thread specifically about Facebook. And again, even cutting out one of those is better than cutting out none since you have to start somewhere.

There are negative aspects to it, to be sure. Some people get addicted. Some believe everything they read online. Some post embarrassing stuff that undoes their lives, etc. There's also a lot of tracking and data mining by FB done outside FB (I have no problem if they track everything in their own products).

But my point is orthogonal to that. My point is FB is alive and well, and the recent scandals, as damaging as they seemed PR-wise, have done basically nothing to it.

The way people are so regularly sucked into tapping away on their phones is one of the reasons I don’t like it.

Haven’t used it in over 3 years, and I don’t miss it. It got to the point of why I was wondering why I’d sit there flicking through the news feed only to read about what someone’s aunt Joan was going on a racist rant about.

Instagram hasn’t been any better with the rise and incouragement of influencer culture.

They’re increasingly subversive in their tactics which is something I’ve always disliked in any company.

They get to a certain size and have to keep pushing for growth as they need to further maintain their growth rates to prove they’re still worth investment money.

Where does that end?

In a heavily diluted form they would both be fine, but the dark patterns in their designs are prevalent, in spite of what good they might have offered the world.

I don’t give Coca Cola a pass because their drink tastes good and can make people happy at times. They’ve cordoned off entire towns water supplies through shady dealings. Know what I mean?

Until this metric materially changes for the negative, nothing else with Facebook will change.

While a good quarter for FB despite all the scandals, reporters have pointed out that there's potentially a lot of lag between Ad spend and user growth: https://twitter.com/MikeIsaac/status/1090726978271903744

But then later in the thread:



Past success no guarantee of future returns of course.

Just continues to show, privacy issues don't matter to companies because it doesn't affect profitability and the stock price. Even with barrage of constant #deletefb and "I deleted my facebook" posts, it didn't actually matter. Essentially no change to daily active users and advertising revenue.

Yes, that is why you need regulation to drive change.

People haven't traditionally cared about privacy when it comes time to US elections either, it's definitely not a single-issue voter issue like abortion, gun ownership, welfare, etc.

So I propose a dictatorship of HN commenters ;)

The change is already happening: People don't care about privacy that much anymore.

Any regulation introduced, would be to stop this change. But it will never work, you can't make people care about privacy through regulations.

So your point is that people must care about it, and if they don't it doesn't matter because we'll take away Facebook anyway?

If we went by majority and popular opinion all the time there would still be slavery, segregation would still be a thing, same-sex marriages would be illegal, there would be no abortion rights and so and so forth.

I'm not sure about this. At least for the same-sex marriage, seems that majority in US approves it in recent years. I don't think a regulation can or should make that kind of change while like 80% people don't agree with it.

> Facebook’s daily to monthly user ratio, or stickiness, held firm at 66 percent where it’s stayed for years, showing those still on Facebook aren’t using it much less.

What are the precise definitions of daily and monthly active users? To be a daily user, do you literally have to use Facebook every day for a month?

Daily active users is the number of unique people who showed up in a single 24 hour period. Monthly active users is the number of unique people who showed up at least once that month.

To get the ratio of DAU to MAU, you can either take the average DAU for each day of the month, and then compare that to the MAU, or you can take the DAU to MAU ratio for each day and then average that. They'll both come out about the same (doing it the second way smoothes it out just a bit more because of the loss of precision which makes the month to month comparisons or quarter to quarter a little smoother).

No, it's just the number of users who used it that day, no matter what each of them did on previous or subsequent days.

I am curious what 'used' means. e.g. Does logging into a third party service via facebook login count as 'used' since you technically hit their servers?

No, if it were that tangential, investors wouldn't be reporting it and using it to make buying / selling decisions.

I think you overestimate how deep investors dig. I did find this from a few years ago which contains a bunch of rather fuzzy language: https://www.adweek.com/digital/monthly-active-users-definiti...

My interpretation of that would be that if, prior to that change, you logged to spotify with facebook and didn't uncheck the 'share' button you would have been counted, but after you would not have been.

I do find it rather curious that they simply count any user that logs in and 'visited' facebook. i.e. that no 'actions' need to take place or there isn't any metric for time on site required. Seems rather easy to game that number by just not going after bot accounts.

True, numbers can be gamed.

But at the end of the day there's one number that matters: people click ads and buy products -> companies buy ads and pay fees. And it's been going up steadily for the past decade.

If you strongly believe that you've found an inefficiency in the market please feel free to short FB.

The number shared though is usually a weekly or monthly average.

Otherwise it be easy to game

Is there something that tracks the number of minutes a daily active user spends on the site? I still login to facebook but I barely post on it anymore and spend way less time than I used to a couple of years ago.

They certainly track it, so it may be telling that they are not reporting the trend in this measure.

Facebook is taking the opportunity to air some of their dirty laundry. They realize that it takes quite a bit for users to abandon the platform and are probably strategically, leaking some of this stuff.

What stuff are you refering to? They have to report earnings figures, they're a public company. And since they answer to investors they're going to share these stats that put them in a good light.

Facebook is kind of like smoking; we all know the company makes you ill but there is plenty of cash to be made doing that.

I am happy that Facebook endure this organized media smearing attacks. It is very obvious to me someone wants to shape a narrative against Facebook, and it is distasteful to dress such intention under an altruistic disguise, like destroying Facebook could save the mankind. Utter nonsense.

The media bias against Facebook has become outrageous and it worsened after the establishment in DC extended their witch hunt and made Facebook the scapegoat for the 2016 election.

I’m growing more and more convinced that the only real way for employees to enact real change at their company is for them to become a significant, united group of shareholders and force changes from the top. Unions sure as hell aren’t being encouraged. Unfortunately this would not work in Facebook since Zuck still has a controlling interest but it might work for others. Does that make sense?

I'm afraid that this is just how capitalism works. People have to vote with their dollars, and right now they are voting for Facebook.

They aren't even voting for Facebook with their dollars. FB/Insta is something they use for free and they are "way too smart" to be affected by advertising because they "see ads all the time and don't want to run out and buy the product"

The only thing that bothers me about Facebook anymore is the realization that I live on a planet with, literally, billions of people that do not care about their privacy.

What data breach? Is this talking about CA? That was like two-three earnings ago? That’s pretty click-baity title.

In this era, the deeper you are able to see past the b.s that you are bombarded with, the more you will understand. Facebook has been bombarded with negative publicity for almost a year now, if you look past these articles, you will see that Facebook has not taken any sort of hit at all. Go see what the average person is like and you will understand why this is the case (This is also true for Donald Trump winning the election). We tech people live in a bubble.

So the question might be; is Facebook too big to fail?

Couple of points people are missing:

- The biggest problem with Facebook in terms of immediate impact is not loss of privacy, though that’s real. It’s behavioural manipulation, which has lots of very negative outcomes for you as a user as well as society. Don’t think you’re not been manipulated, you are, and you are susceptible to it. Your behaviour and emotions are negatively impacted by the fact you use facebook.

- This is not “capitalism” or “consumer voting with their money”. Firstly, due to network effects Facebook has a monopoly on their kind of product. The choice is Facebook vs no facebook. Second, the currency is time and attention to sell ads. Finally, most people are addicted to social media by design and it’s arguable whether they have a truly free choice. Is a gambling addict voting with their feet? The gambling addict knows they won’t win and usually knows they’re addicted; social media addicts people very subtly and manipulates you over time. Few people would admit to being addicted, but if you really think you’re not - fine, if it’s no big deal then just take a month off from social media and see what happens.

Good summary is Jaron Lanier’s interview https://youtu.be/kc_Jq42Og7Q

Or... Zuckerberg is lying.

You certainly can’t treat anything he says as ground truth - you need independent figures.

Please don't take HN threads on flamewar tangents. There's plenty of opportunity to make substantive critiques on HN. This is not that.

Ack sorry, my bad. It wasn't meant to be, but I see I have misintentionally done just that.

What I meant to communnicate was "we shouldn't take these stats at face value and therefore assume the scandals have had no impact" but I made the mistake of phrasing it as if it were an assertion (not an interpretation I'm used to), being too pithy, and also using Zuckerberg's name rather than "social media"/"facebook".

I didn't mean it to be a tangent, just a genuine point that such statistics should be treated with healthy scepticism and therefore caution against concluding too much from them. Hopefully the last bit in the post at least indicates I was sincere. But totally my bad. Need to take more care.

I'm certainly often a contrarian, but never intentionally a troll.

Thanks. Moderating HN has taught me that most of what looks like trolling is unintentional.

Most of us consider our comments to be individual statements; we don't think of them as roots of the next possible subthread. But that's actually what matters for discussion quality.

That's a really good point I'd never considered.

It's very cool that on HN people sensibly and helpfully debated what I'd intended to say. Means I learn.

You have every right to be less than impressed with the company and its business model(s), but dont make baseless claims.

Companies restate earnings all the time, years after traders already made a profit :)

It isnt a baseless claim to point out the infallability of a CEO or the broken incentive model to tout bad information or consciously lie

I didn’t claim he was lying. I said it was an alternative conclusion.

Perhaps to be more generous I should say “exaggerating” or “being selective.”

Clearly his interests are aligned with higher stats. Therefore, it makes sense to corroborate those stats with independent data.

Your alternative "poisoned the well"

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_the_well

> "Or... Zuckerberg is lying."

> "I didn’t claim he was lying."

Sure seems like you did...


"..or B"

"You claimed B!"

It seemed to me that he 'claimed' (if you want to use that term) that "A or B". I'm not sure what "A" was exactly, but he pretty clearly didnt just assert "B". Although sure, he did cast aspersions (or something), but he's hardly alone in doing that about his target. It would be novel to hear someone claim Zuckerberg is truthful, or say anything nice about the guy. The word "claim" was the problem here, I think. He may have suggested the possibility that Zuckerberg was lying, but claim that he was?! By what definition? "It's day..or night" "You claimed it's night!"

In my opinion, it depends on GP's level of English language proficiency. If it is at least average, then he did make the claim.

AFAIK "... or B" is a common idiomatic expression used to convey, in a sarcastic tone, the fact that the speaker disagrees with A, and considers B to be true.

Sure, but saying (or sarcastically hinting) that you believe B (that you 'consider B to be true') is still a different thing from saying ('claiming') that actually B.

Oh OK I see what you mean, yes I agree with you then.

Thanks Mastazi, for pointing that out. I did make the mistake of intending what I wrote to be literal rather than implying something. My bad. But I see what you mean.

Your first sentence was “Or... Zuckerberg is lying.” That is a claim.

Wasn't intended as one, but I see from discussion above that's a common way to imply that the alternative is true. My mistake.

The claim was that there's another explanation, not that there's only that other explanation. Why did everyone get their feathers in a bunch over Facebook's integrity?

Actively lying about numbers in the prepared remarks of an earnings call...? Probably not (unless you think Facebook is actually a scam ten times bigger than Enron waiting to be exposed.)

You honestly think that Facebook is lying to investors about key metrics?

Do you know how much of a field day of litigation the SEC would have if that were true?

It's not that it didn't happen in the past...

After everything that FB has already lied about, the repeated examples of dark patterns, shady practices, the "dumb fucks" quote, is it really far-fetched to think that Zuckerberg would lie about this too, if he thought he could get away with it?

Who's going to prove him wrong? Does anyone else have access to FB internal metrics? And what's the downside to lying? Worst case a slap on the wrist fine and a drop in stock price?

Zuck has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be the type of person who will absolutely take advantage of any situation without any kind of ethical qualms.

I'm not saying he's lying about this too, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least, SEC or no.

If only there were research apps to get those independent figures...oh wait.

The whole market is up due to today's announcement of interest rates remaining the same, not any unique announcement to Facebook.

You could potentially explain the normal trading hours bump because of that, but the after hours is definitely on the earnings news.

Look at the after hours volume and price movement. It's definitely an earnings related move.


I'm not sure why this is modded down. There is a general trend up in the market over the past few days, and given that the FB price has recently been displaying a higher volatility than its peers, you would expect the kind of movement you are seeing with respect to the rest of its peers.

.. Are you serious?

Do you not look at facts backed by data? The whole market is up as of today. Heck, read the news: https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stocks-waver-ahead-of-th...

The stock increase is not unique to Facebook today. ALL major tech stocks are up today.

The NYSE composite index is up by 1%. DOW by 2%. NASDAQ by 2%.

Facebook is up 4% in-hours, and 12% in after-hours trading.

Do you look at facts backed by data? FB is beating the market with a whip.

> Heck, read the news

Will do!


Honest question: Why are you so extremely passionate about this?

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