I was young and naive, and I didn't think we were using it for malicious purposes. It ended up being worse than I imagined in the end. I left on bad terms and felt like a complete fool. These days I hear adtech companies pay well - I didn't even get that. Just a genuine waste of life and career time.
I discourage as many developers as I can from going into adtech. I met the worst types of people in that industry.
As much as people don't enjoy the morals of adtech, you got to experience scale, and apparently highly reliable code whilst early in your career. You can't blame yourself as a self described "young and naive" person for what others did later.
Imagine being part of the gaggle of fuckheads who decided to not implement simple preventative measures that made it harder for children to accidentally spend thousands of dollars in manipulative games.
Or their peers who who helped strategize more effective tricks for game developers to use so children would be more likely to need a multi-thousand dollar refund Facebook could refuse.
It's just ads. If we're talking about some ad for a coffee maker, whatever.
Now their whole selling data to unscrupulous folks, taking money from parents via their kids, selling fake news that makes people hate other people (now that gets into the ad space...) ....
That's where I'd want to nope out.
And yes, I know, some sites and ads do terrible things. The actively hurt viewership. BUT, isn't that the same with everything? Even my groceries are getting worse as companies seek ways to increase profits without pissing me off; they swap out quality ingredients with cheaper ingredients. They change the shape of the bottle to reduce volume and hope I don't notice that the price effectively went up. Etc.
My point is not in defense of these practices. Rather, I'm defending "no shit" in all of this; welcome to the real world. Everyone is going to try and take and make as much as they can before it starts to actively show a negative impact.
So who is to really blame? Us, of course. Consumers of these practices are largely okay with it as is.
So yea, I don't have a problem with ads. They sort themselves out because people will stop using the products. I do have a problem with selling out data though, as people are largely unaware of the consequences and severity of what is actually happening. Ads however though? Who cares.
edit: Sidenote, I imagine an argument could be made that all and any ads are terrible. I definitely could agree with that, but getting rid of all advertisements across all mediums online or offline seems a tall order, and out of scope for this discussion heh.
Unlike a lot of communication, advertising is paid, which is certainly relevant. I get it if you’re against commerce as a whole - if you believe that any interaction motivated by money is inherently exploitative, I’m sympathetic.
But if you aren’t willing to go there, advertising is a healthy part of a well-functioning economy. If you’ve invested to develop a good product, one that users would happily pay for, one that has positive value (ie. you can make it for $10, it provides $30 of utility to the user, so you can sell it to the user for $20 and you and the user both gained $10 in utility), what is wrong with paying to inform people about it? Organic word of mouth is slow - if that were the only way we could find out about changes in what is available in the market, much less investment could be profitably made in improved products. Positive investment ROI requires a reliable pathway to tell people that you have something they might want, and advertisement is perfectly suited to fill that role.
These modes are all very foreign to advertising.
However, many ads are not deceptive in any way, and instead simply offer something of value to people who may be interested, without any deceit, psychological trick, or ulterior motive.
Just because there are bad ads does not mean that all advertising is bad.
Sorry, but for a lot of products this approach is simply ridiculous. I want to know what I'm buying looks like before I buy it in many cases. E.g., clothes, sportswear, footwear, furniture, electric guitars - even food.
edit: removed example as it distracts from the point.
Isn't that everything in the world, always?
Why do I have to walk past the cereal to get to the milk on a supermarket, why I am being so deceived? After all, I didn't consent to being bombarded by all those car emblems on the highway on my way to work, and I definitely didn't agree to see the orange bar at the top of this page, that "Y" is hunting me I say! why is my attention being stolen away?
If you're saying advertising is a thing in the world, that's correct.
We have the ability to adjust this particular aspect of our landscape but your questions illustrate it pretty well. Most people don't seem to get very upset about advertising, and therefore it continues to surround us. I don't think there's anything that any one of us can do at this point, we're collectively shaping this world into the one with all the cereal and car emblems and have been for a while.
Advertisements done right should be a passive consumption model.
I want this -> bunch of leads for what you are looking for.
Advertisements nowadays are focused around an active attention-consuming model. You have companies fighting for any in they can to get themselves situated at the forefront of your attention.
There is really no excuse for it, and the dark paths attach has opened in terms of advancing surveillance technology, and harboring an insatiable appetite for as much information on potential buyer's as possible has frankly ruined any credibility or claim to benignity that I could be bothered to extend to the industry.
I could even tolerate blatant puffery if advertising would just cut out all the 1984-tier privacy destroying behavior.
I don't mind ads. I mind mental intrusiveness and privacy invasion 24/7/365.
I could make a similarly wrong blanket statement about news articles. "The news is fundamentally about misleading you into believing something against your interest". I could make a blanket statement about conversations between two people. "Listening to someone talk is letting them manipulate your brain into thinking something it wouldn't without this prodding". There are deceptive ads, news articles, and people, but you don't have a good moral argument against all ads, news articles, or people.
They can also be stupid.
Gordon Comstock - George Orwell's protagonist in Keep the Aspidistra Flying
So ads are often a place where dark patterns happen and such.
But take Apple for instance. Apple seems to respect user privacy to a fairly far extent compared to say, Facebook, Google.
If apple wasn't around ... we would probably say something about "you can't have these fancy smartphones without someone stealing all your data". But clearly Apple can do it (for a lot of reasons)... so we know it is possible.
I feel the same way about ads, it might be different, but it can be done.
I remember one of the Amazon Kindles sold 2 versions: one with ads that was cheaper, and one without ads that was more expensive. So people do pay at least to get rid of ads (I'm sure both versions collect your data), it just costs more, and most end up not being able to afford it.
For all the good in the iPhone, year after year android gains ground worldwide by virtue of being cheaper and more flexible.
They still sell both versions, presumably if only very very few people bought the ad free version then they would have stopped selling it.
The ads are almost entirely irrelevant but seem benign enough since they're always for other books (mostly self-published, I suspect) in the Kindle store. They're also limited to the lock screen so hardly intrusive.
It's only recently that I've occasionally considered paying the £10 (?) to get rid of them and the reason is pure vanity: I'm now (fortunate to be) in a fancy job with a fancy title and I don't want to look like a cheapskate.
You can build a phone if you want, install Android on it, and sell it without paying Google anything. There's a ton of Chinese companies doing just that; Amazon does it too.
But yes, in previous generations bad things were bad, too.
It's kind of disappointing that news website still have ads even after I decide to pay for access.
Ads themselves are .. not innocent, but not in-and-of-themselves evil. I rather like turn of the century advertising because it's mostly statements about products and their advantages. It wasn't until the Bernays/Freud era that ads switched from trying to persuade you as to the product's merits to trying to manipulate the consumer by essentially selling an identity. That practice is comparably dark.
Your groceries getting worse remind me that I used to enjoy Blue Diamond almonds. I'd get them at the local Walgreens. Then Walgreens decided to replace them with their own "Nice" brand. They were crap. Not even remotely the same quality, first bag was barely cheweble, and of course not the same flavors. They did the same with Q-Tips, replacing them for "Nice" cotton swabs. Again, complete crap, cotton falls off, not as thick, sticks break easily.
But even worse, almost no one except me cared. If people cared it wouldn't last because people would stop buying the crap brand and Walgreen would get the message but most people don't care
This came up with my roommate who basically always bought the cheapest spaghetti sauce. When I asked her if why that one she said effectively "any spaghetti sauce is the same as another so I just always get the cheapest" to which I was shocked. They aren't remotely similar to my taste buds and also now understanding why everything gets worse, because most people apparently are fine with anything or can't tell the difference or don't find the differences important.
It's the same for FB. Most of my friends are unlikely to ever leave. Whether it's because it doesn't bother them or because they don't think about it or because they just take it all for granted, it seems to be a combination of all of those which effectively means FB gets no signal to make things better.
Heck, as another example the complaints are loud here about the MacbookPro's keyboard/touchbar/weight etc but sales are higher than ever which means the complainers are not remotely a signal to change things.
One of the memories that really sticks out for me from working in a grocery store was the time the Breyer's ice cream increased in price that way.
They came in a 5 case of 500g containers. They sold regularly for around $5 or something like that. They went on sale for 2 for $5 for about 2 weeks. After the first week they started showing up in 4 packs of 430g containers. I remember having to rearrange the shelves to get them to fit properly, theit shape was slightly different. After the sale ended they went to $6 for a 430g container. It was the first time I noticed and really thought about price increases by lowering the volume of containers.
That was also around the time they stopped putting handles on the big ice cream pails. A lot of people complained about it, they were no good for berry picking any more. One day I asked the dairy delivery guy about it. He said someone figured out that the handles added 2¢ to the cost of each bucked and some accountant figured out that by removing them they saved, I can't remember the exact number, but in the millions of dollars each year.
If you stick to fresh produce and bulk dry goods, you're pretty much immune to those problems. Incidentally, those happen to be products that never get advertised for.
I'm otherwise as far away from the normal target audience of 'organic' foods as you can get; I'm decidedly pro-GMO, etc.
So it’s not just whether “ads” are good or bad. And it’s not enough just to block them. They are like a virulent symbiote. They seep into every aspect of the platform they live on, because the platform’s survival depends on them. And then the infected platforms poison their users, ad blockers or no.
My comment was mainly in the context of ads being discussed as some anti-consumer device. Where as I view them as a natural part of the payment ecosystem. Too many ads are akin to products being too expensive - and unsurprisingly shift consumers towards "piracy".
It's a natural battle.
It is not shocking that content providers want money, but perhaps it would be better if it would not be forced, and if developers would not actively try to make it more and more difficult for us to get rid of. You could just ask instead. Wikipedia seems to do fine.
And I'll be happy to make it.
Advertising in its most optimized form is terrible, and it's terrible in ways that most people aren't even conscious of. Even in the relatively plodding print and television markets, modern advertising relies on numerous principles of human psychology to subtly alter the way you think about a product, a company, or yourself  . Worse still, these tactics are being used on children, in a society which otherwise broadly accepts that mind-altering substances are especially harmful to youth .
Advertising is furthermore in a codependent relationship with the content it's injected into. For the advertising to be successful, it has to compete against the content for your attention. Likewise, the content needs to compete against its ads for your attention too. The natural result of this co-opetition between ads and content has been the clickbait headlines and junk content that are ubiquitous now, that everyone hates but can't seem to avoid , and this is having deep and powerful impacts on how we all view the world.
Recently, other organizations -- like nation-states -- have realized that they can use all of the psychological effects understood by the advertising industry against a population which willingly accepts advertising while believing that it's immune to its effects. These organizations are weaponizing advertising, making us hate each other over our politics  and further dividing us ideologically .
And these are just advertising's intentional effects, the stuff that works the way that the advertising industry wants it to work, or as well as they can figure out right now anyway. Sometimes they get it wrong, especially when it comes to trying to market products to people using the vast wealth of personal information that we unknowingly provide with every page view. When this data model makes mistakes, it ends up marketing an endless stream of baby-related products and services to parents whose child didn't survive birth .
The future of the web is not dependent on advertising. Some are arguing that the future of the web, and maybe even the health of our society, depends on weaning ourselves off of the advertising tit . Some of us grew up along with the web and remember what it was like before its unfortunate marriage to advertising, and we hope that it comes to its senses and gets a divorce while it still has a chance at a healthy relationship with society.
Advertising is inherently unhealthy for our psychology. It can't help it. Like everything else, it wants to be as successful as it can, and its success depends on how effectively it can manipulate us while fooling us into believing we're not being manipulated at all.
When I read HN comments about ads, I see people who are forgetting what ads have actually gotten us: more people able to create more things that are available to everyone for free.
HNers like to say "well, then adapt your business model," but look at the incredibly friction that exists for getting people to take their wallet out. On the frontpage of HN as we speak, there's an entire thread of people who justify why they won't even pay Spotify $10/mo. Where does that leave the rest of us who offer something much, much less than a ubiquitous, unlimited music-streaming platform?
Let's be more concrete and look at the forum that I run. I grew up on roleplaying MUD servers and forums, and it helped me develop the passion and habit for writing early on in my life. I started a forum as a teen to continue the interest, and eventually it was popular enough for ads to pay my rent through uni while running a community for young writers.
These days, my banner ad barely breaks even with server costs. It now makes less than 1/15th of what it did at the peak of its ad revenue with about the same traffic.
I'm left with a decision: can I afford to run the site as a charity?
How would the HN champion of "adapt or die" address my scenario? Ads are a middle ground between being a charity and paywalling your website, and the vast majority of websites don't fall at either extreme. Suggesting that this massive chunk on the internet doesn't deserve to exist, like my forum that gets teens into writing, seems incredibly extreme.
The writing is on the wall, though. Just seems like a damn shame.
* invasive, industrial grade stalking
* wasted screen real estate
* page load time
* bloated third-party garbage
* dark patterns
* bandwidth hogging
* CPU hogging
* drive-by-malware potential (compromised ad network is an incredibly powerful attack vector)
I know this is going to sound like heresy nowadays, but you could always just run your forum and pay for it out of pocket. Believe it or not, once upon a time, a huge portion of the web was made up of labors of love like that!
I run mine as a charity now. Its less than 200 dollars a year. The ads just aren't even worth keeping up. Before and during college, when I couldn't afford the 200, I solicited donations from former users who had used the site as a teen but since grew out of it. That worked really well.
We can still create a world of free products that enable what your forum has -- it just needs a simple business model like, Hey, do you enjoy writing here? Send me $5! Then subsidize your free users with paid ones. If you have a day job, you can consider it a success when the servers are paid for every month.
There is nothing inherent about the internet that says it must be run on ads. That's just what ad-powered platforms want you to think, to justify their own terrible existence. Get creative, put on the tiniest of marketing hats, and just ask people. There is no quick and easy lunch, but I think you'll be surprised by what you find.
If only all buyers were as rational as you. IMO the problem is bigger (by far) than just make a case and people pay.
What are some of the bigger problems you see?
I hate intrusive ads but totally see why some folks "need" that for their revenue, selling is hard, dropping bulshot ads on my site is trivial.
For my own blog/content I've generated more revenue selling consulting labour from prospects finding my blog than from ads.
The tl;dr is basically that one of the key aspects of advertising is signaling (i.e. we stand behind our product so much that we can waste this much money advertising it to you)... with targeted advertising, it becomes so cheap display an ad to only a few people that you lose that signal, and you have no way of knowing if a product is total crap or not.
The question they were given was, If they would work for Facebook given all kinds of scandals they were involved in. A lot of people said they wouldn't work for Facebook but later when some of them received offers nobody declined those offers and went on to work for Facebook.
I am wondering if the same experiment on people already working in industry will yield different results.
When reality hits that these debts need to be paid, principles go out the window.
I don’t blame anyone for this. In the end you have to look after number one. It’s just sad this is the reality.
Facebook pays REALLY well. That's a big deal fresh out of school too. Not all of us have the luxury of turning down a giant paycheck.
Not likely I'll ever have to consider that problem so I'll remain morally confidant... if only due to circumstance ;)
 Skipping over ads takes effort from your brain and it seems to be training us all to be worse readers. In the modern world of sponsored messages and content it pays to skim information for honesty before digesting it and it seems (IMO) to be hurting our general level of reading comprehension and attention.
Skimming is taught in school from a young age. It's an appropriate skill. It doesn't take much brain power to read something in a detailed way or in a quick way. The notion that we are so susceptible to our brains being influenced by things like this is ridiculous.
But still fuck Facebook.
I learned to read in kindergarten. Between private kindergarten, public grade school, and state university, I have _never_ been taught to skim things quickly; rather I was taught what was called _reading comprehension_ where we were told to read a small story of 1-2 paragraphs, occasionally being given a short amount of time to read it only once, and were then asked questions about it; later this turned into class discussions, where we occasionally debated wording that would likely have been missed entirely if one was skimming. I have _never_ had a teacher tell me that I should skim a text, and I was in fact instructed not to do so as it would cause me to miss things. As a rather fast reader in school, I was occasionally suspected of not reading an assignment thoroughly and told to read the whole thing.
Having said all that, there is a great deal to be said on how things you _don't_ think about affect you. You don't have to be actively paying attention to something to remember it, otherwise billboards wouldn't exist; neither would the ads on the back inner/outer cover of a magazine or the back cover of a newspaper. Nor would product placement be a thing.
The only difference between the first stage of the pipeline and the rest is a matter of degree.
What users want, naturally, is everything awesome free forever. It's naive, though, to things that everyone should always get what they want.
As other have said, I agree there are hard limits and Facebook has violated them, in terms of selling data and collecting it without user's permission. That's different.
I mean no... they don't have to my (or my employer's) site.
I love doing things users like, and I do my best to do that often, but straight up it's not their site. If someone wants ads on their site ... I don't see a problem with that on the most basic level.
Fake news, other content, we're talking about something else.
I remember working as a junior developer on a desktop app that had so many fatal bugs that it crashed very often. Instead of being given the time needed to fix the crashes, I was told to build this watchdog ‘launcher’ EXE that would simply re-run the application every time it crashed, restoring its state, in the hopes of fooling the user into believing it doesn’t crash so much.
Was it technically interesting for a freshly minted engineer? Yea! Was it soul crushing to be working on an obviously half-assed attempt to mollify angry users instead of making them happy? Yes.
I was also asked to write code that cheated benchmarks. Definitely had a “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life” moment.
I think plenty of people are happy to do illegitimate things with them too, and Facebook is as dirty as it gets, but that doesn't mean ads can't be fairly mutually exclusive from scams, fake news, and etc if someone wanted them to be.
"What are you doing at work these days, kid?"
"I'm inventing new ways to make people see advertising."
"Have you considered doing something positive with your life?"
“Proud of you!”
Substitute that job for one selling drugs with better, more consistent pay and... well... then it's culturally frowned upon by non-tech-savvy people.
Deliberately spreading "fake news" is the advertising equivalent.
What's with the neverending facebook bashing. So much of it is propagandistic and unreasonable. It's funny how the media says something and so many people just parrot it.
Do you really believe parents are disappointed that their child works for one of the most important companies in the world? Where the average salary is double what the average dentist makes?
Career tobacco lobbyists probably make ten times as much money as your average dentist and work for very important companies, but I don't know any parent who would be proud of their kid being a poison vendor rather than a doctor
Ads aren't root of all evil.
"If it paid well" externalizes the ills it inflicts on other people. And they matter, too.
Hurting others unnecessarily is the only sin in the world. Don't ever, ever be That Guy.
Nobody is 'hurting anyone' - not even slightly, by ensuring that their free product also has ads.
If ads are unscrupulous, or if the company is doing shady things otherwise, then yes - bad.
But there is no moral argument against making sure that decent ads work with a free product, or when ads are part of any product wherein the social contract is to that expectation.
Facebook has ads, just like CNN and Cosmopolitan, that's normal, ethical, and within the expectations for user's experience. Again, shady things notwithstanding.
In 2018, people can pay or see ads, or a combination of both, there is no pragmatic way around this, and too many decent products depend upon ads for their existence, that's where we are until someone comes up with something better.
You are correct in the idea that there are "decent ads"; they are not in any meaningful fraction, however, web-served ads. If you're familiar with the theory and the development of advertisement, you'll notice that what you won't see on the web in meaningful quantities are things like brand-anchoring advertisements ("brought to you by"), which I tend to think actually provide societal benefits in the way they are deployed; they provide some level of community participation on the part of the advertiser and they anchor the advertiser in the same firmament of society as the person receiving the advertisement.
What we instead have, and will continue to have and this is why advertising on the Web--as an aside, you can find oases of ethical advertising in places like podcasts, it'd be nice if the rest of the Web was like that!--is profoundly toxic and bad and should be killed, is an unending torrent of calls to action carefully designed and split-tested to claw maximal real estate inside the receiver's head. They amount to psychological assault. It's screaming at the receiver and for many people in the industrialized world the background radiation of this kind of advertisement starts when they wake up and continues until they go to sleep. And I think it's no stretch to assert that that's bad for the health of individuals exposed to them and it's pretty obviously, at Facebook scales and with Facebook morals, bad for society as a whole.
And yes, some people are fortunate enough to have the technical capability and the platform choice to escape some or even most of it. But choosing to shrug and blather about how you're happy to make this worse is a really bad look.
This isn't a convincing argument. As an extreme example, replace ads with something that's clearly detrimental for the user: "nobody is hurting anyone by ensuring that their free product also delivers a LD50 of cyanide" is clearly bogus. While ads don't kill people, the way that they are distributed currently has many negative externalities that the user must deal with.
I'm not down with your logic.
The vast, vast majority of ads are just fine and have no negative externalities.
Most 'food' is fine, but you can gorge yourself to death.
Cars are ok as well, even though they cause death.
More like "ads are bad" means that your free product with ads is also bad, just as "cyanide is bad" makes your free product laced with cyanide bad.
> The vast, vast majority of ads are just fine and have no negative externalities.
The problem is that bad ads show up basically everywhere. Sure, 99% of the ads on news websites can't infect me with malware, but there's that one that Google hasn't gotten around to banning yet that is running on every website…and even if this wasn't true, basically 100% of them track me or make my web browsing experience slower.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a uBlock user myself but come on.
They're not anymore. To the first, advertisements are designed, by the platform, to for maximal attractiveness (newspapers of prior eras spent much less effort blending content and advertisement and it wasn't until about the year 2000 where loudness-compression made television advertisements blow out your speakers). To the second, these advertisements tend strongly--not always, don't but-for me, but tend strongly--to be disassociated from the community. Having some startup or multinational demand your attention for this-or-that doesn't tie back into your community, there isn't even a local aspect to the business to fall back on. It's just...voices, yelling at you for your attention and your money. That's just not good for us.
I both pay for content (I was happy to sign up for YouTube Red, for example) and aggressively use ad-blocking and the difference on my mental well-being when I don't have access to my accounts, or when somebody insists on watching television and having it scream at me about how I must buy this thing, is noticeable.
This shit is bad for us. We as technologists should not perpetuate it.
That was the best cat-and-mouse game. We had a revolving door of proxies that we would use to hit their endpoints so they couldn't catch us. So much fun.
When I would work my way through their auth layer, I'd be sending them like 500 login requests every hour. They never contacted the account I used, so I have to assume they weren't checking for abnormalities like that.
The only time I really fucked up was when I tried to do that with a particular broker in Singapore. Singaporean companies have their shit _locked down_. I spent one hour debugging one of their endpoints, and it let off so many alarms that the CTO of their company was woken up in the middle of the night.
The discussion on the uBlockOrigin repo trying to detect this markdown mangling is super interesting: https://github.com/uBlockOrigin/uAssets/issues/3367#issuecom...
The amount of hate advertising gets is just silly. It'd be great if we could push personal responsibility with even 1/10th of the effort.
Same concept. Very similar implementation but company brand goes a hell of a long way.
It's not so much different than patching an hole in your payment system to make sure it can't be bypassed. I sure don't want to have to pay for plenty product, yet it's perfectly valid for them to expect to get paid. Same goes for ads, it's the cost to use that product, whether you like it or not.
It's a sad state to be where people works so hard to not have to pay. I agree that's an awful usage of a developer time, but the same apply to a payment system.
It's avoiding wanting to be a product.
If my attention has value, then I get to determine what that value is.
It's a sad state to be where corporations work so hard to steal people's time, attention and privacy and give them as little as possible in return.
That's exactly what you're doing by using the product. You could spend your time doing something else, or paying to skip ads instead.
Seeing ads isn't like paying, it's being subjected to a small amount of mental pain - that of not being able to do what you want because there's a commercial distracting you or blocking you from your goal.
It's actually a type of cruelty when you think about it.
I don't want to work for a company products of which I would rather not use, and help others to avoid using.
Turns out there is a LOT about ads at FB. Not everything, but a lot. Particularly in the Seattle office.
I was surprised I hadn't passed the interview (thought I did well), but in retrospect I'm glad. Whether that's sour grapes on my part, the fact the news has been full of reasons to be glad not to work at FB, or that I was very concerned that anything I did would end up pushing ads is something I can't be 100% certain of.
If that was true nobody would have any henchmen
That sounds like hell. I need to meet the team I'll be working with before accepting an offer. It's the only way to know if they're competent, can communicate, and are not assholes.
This is exactly how Facebook's onboarding process works (at least in engineering). You spend 3-4 weeks in "bootcamp" classes (React 101, IOS 101, etc.). After that, you spend another 3-4 weeks auditioning teams -- you sit with teams that have open headcount for a week, attend their meetings, and work with a mentor on a coding project. Once you decide which team is the best fit, you "graduate" bootcamp and join them.
It's not perfect -- if there's no open headcount on your dream team, you'll have to pick another, but it's the best onboarding process I've seen from an employee standpoint.
Is this a significant fraction of hires? Because I find it really odd to waste the time of a say an embedded software engineer trying to teach them React when they're pretty set on working on something else anyways…
Good question. It's definitely not just for new grads (I went through team selection as an IC5/senior engineer). There is a process where you can be hired directly onto a specific team, but I got the impression that it's the exception rather than the rule.
I would guess that someone joining at a super-high level like a principal engineer would be doing so to work on a specific team or technology.
Every time I want to contribute to them, I feel guilty because Facebook is behind them. I also have very mixed feelings for the devs working full time on these tools at Facebook, they're smart and doing interesting stuff, but they chose to work for Facebook... Earn big money? Destroy the world? Work on fun stuff with amazing work conditions and ignore what their company is doing? What are their motives?
If there's a pattern, I will find it, and I will exploit it. <3
Pretty easy to build a randomizing span algo that you can't hardcode.
After all, there’s always headless browsers and OCR
Even if you absolutely mangled the HTML/selectors/DOM/etc. I feel you could always have it process screenshots of the interfaces to rip text/figure out how to interact etc. If it's human readable, it's bot readable imo. (but in years of botting it's never came to this - I've always been able to figure out how to use the existing DOM/selectors to do my work even with anti-bot measures)
With all the easy to use tools available to programmers today, it would not be terribly hard to use OCR on a screenshot to find the text of interest and derive the scraping code by searching for the OCR'd text in the markup.
If none of your extant parsers can extract the info you want from the page, send it to OCR pipeline (or, hell, Mechanical Turk) and generate a new one.
What I meant is that I can hammer out some Node/Python that will grab an image w/text and put it through OCR for character extraction. "Programming" it would take me a handful of minutes.
The problem here of course is that circumventing the ad blocking is the most direct way Facebook can find value.
You can make a similar argument that the RIAA/MPAA going after piracy is a waste of time. Again, focus on delivering value to actual customers.
If Facebook spent more time on making a friendly ecosystem / community I would be more open to signing back up again. Instead, it seems they are hyper-focused on advertisements at the expense of everything else.
And advertisers are asking them to show what they are doing to combat adblocking. FB isn't doing this to target customers least likely to convert, they're doing it to check a box for their ad sales team.
Revenue is (simplistically) the product of impressions and value per impression. It’s not therefore immediately obvious that moves like this actually do increase revenue for them, especially over the long term since one potential side effect of doing this is giving more ammunition to the ‘delete Facebook’ crowd.
Facebook thinks otherwise. Between you and them, I suspect they are more likely to have some evidence or trials to support their position.
You can't make money off something without any value to people. People have to "want" the thing
If they turn all their posts into <canvas> then it'd kill any accessibility features and the ability to copy-paste text and such so I doubt they'd go that far.
Even then, a scraper could run OCR on the canvas image to get the text out of it.
Did you mean to say "rectify" as in "fix/adjust"? It sounds like you might have meant "reify" – as in, "create" – but I don't know whether you had the scrapper before that.
> Our tool recognized ads by searching for that word. Last year, Facebook added invisible letters to the HTML code of the site. So, to a computer, the word registered as “SpSonSsoSredS.”
That article also links to this tweet in that paragraph.
> The company added code that prevents clicks generated by computers — including browser extensions — on just that one button. Web browsers make a distinction between a click generated by the computer and one generated by your mouse. Clicks from your mouse are marked “isTrusted“ and those generated by computer code are not.
In a later project, we played with the idea of using an asm.js-compiled Webkit to render SVG (with embedded HTML) into a canvas due to mixed browser support.
Long story short, it's not inconceivable.
Jokes aside, even with rendering to canvas, ad can be blocked with image recognition. Long time ago I used Sikuli Script for UI testing automation, Sikuli recognized parts of screen and worked very fast; combine it with an app like CinemaDrape and voila.
 (loud noises warning) https://youtu.be/469zNXTCHdk?t=10
Made modern websites work in Netscape 2 :)
While many players, despite deeply nested html, still point directly to where the content is hosted (ex, a file on openload.co), an increasing number take your mentioned approach and load the content as a blob so folks won't bypass their ads.
Of course locking down the computer helps.
Then I realize it's even better than before because it demonstrates for a potential employer that you'll push whatever buttons you're asked to in exchange for money, regardless of whether it's good for the user, the internet, or society as a whole.
I wouldn't. Over the decades I've seen many people hire, and later regret hiring, people who demonstrated poor character.
In a more public sense, remember the Bush-Clinton election where the full version of the fabled "It's the economy, stupid" slogan was "Character doesn't matter; it's the economy, stupid." And we see what happened when someone of poor character got power and an intern.
That being said, it should be obvious even to you that the place where one invests one third of their day for years on end defines a large part of who that person is and how they behave during the other 2/3rds of the day.
I remember reading an article a few years ago where several senior ex-Facebook employees were horrified at what they did and were trying to protect their kids from the monster of online advertising. Funny how that becomes clearer once one's income doesn't depend on advertising any more.
As far as "cheerleading for the ad industry", I also built an adblocker, spent 6 figures to test alternative payments, am part of every initiative to make ads better, and have spoken with senators to push for regulation. But you wouldn't know that with the quick character judgement that you seemed to make, which is ironically the actual subject of this thread.
It's a surprise to read that you want to regulate advertising, given your continous criticism of the GDPR and support of data collection in several comments.
What exactly do you understand by better ads and what kind of regulation do you support? Are we talking about yet another one of those "industry successfully regulates itself" stories?
Or you could choose to not lie to yourself about said humans as money machines ideals with classic tropes like “there’s a lot of different teams” or “I haven’t seen that kind of thing at my local office”?
Throwing out a couple options here that don’t require intense mental gymnastics
Facebook provides value for billions of people as evidenced by their usage. They don't pay so ads are a trade-off. There's nothing inherently wrong with that unless you have a problem with how business works. And yes, a company that is one of the 10 most valuable in the world has a wide range of roles and there are infinite reasons why someone would work for them.
Perhaps you should have chosen not to work in finance then? Doesn't that industry quite literally "treat human beings like money machines"? Does this judgement not apply to you too?
Good for you for changing careers but that doesn't make you better than anyone else nor is it applicable to any other person's life. Anyway, I'm not sure what ego has to do with anything but I'll take that as a sign that there are no better arguments forthcoming.
However that comment wasn't an "ad hominem attack", but I suspect we disagree on the definition of that as well.
The list of possible extenuating circumstances extends to infinity when you think about it more deliberately. If you don’t, you’ve successfully bucketed someone based on quick, irrational judgment. That is poor behavior.
Well you don't know why the person left the company...maybe they were dissatisfied with its direction/practices.
If anything, a Liberal Arts educations ought to provide students a higher degree of skepticism towards all expressions of ideology, and seek to find the truth through critical research. Obviously, that's the ideal, note necessarily the reality in all cases, but it seems your notion of Liberal Arts is more akin to "hippy-dippy" nonsense, not critical study.
They are, that's the point of a liberal arts education:
>In our liberal arts program, students are broadly educated in the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities, as well as trained in a particular academic field of specialization called a concentration.
>By exploring issues, ideas and methods across the humanities and the arts, and the natural and social sciences
>It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society)
We don’t just need resources to live, we also need a reason.
I enjoyed my liberal arts electives far more than any engineering, math or other field-related course.