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> All those moderation problems wouldn't be there if the newsfeed stayed simple chronological summary of updates by their friends and families instead of an algorithmically generated mess.

Yes, because Facebook would not be a usable service. This is not a joke: raw feed is really bad. Unusable. Spam-folder on steroids bad. If you care about the Facebook employees mindset: “My News Feed should be chronological” is about three times worse than “I’m just looking for a technical co-founder, I’m an ideas guy” to the HN crowd.

> Reddit AFAIK doesn't have problems as huge as Facebook's, and the reason for that is that communities tend to moderate themselves pretty well,

Reddit has significant efforts into massaging their own feeds. It’s less visible, but quite significant, mainly around abuses from large coordinated groups. They’ve talked about it extensively. They have fewer issues because a subreddit community has clear values (_News_ value immediacy; _Politics_ controversy; _WritingPrompt_ values long comments more than total Upvotes) which allows them to tailor their algorithm per context rather than per person. Well, they do that too, but it’s significantly messier. This part is hidden because there’s a lot more than you can see on Reddit, so you see a lot of good things, no matter the order. There is less good content from your friends simply because you don’t have a million of them, so your Facebook News Feed is a lot more sensitive to clues. Reddit also has a lot more input information with upvotes; people really don’t understand their feed would become massively better if they click on Like — including professionals who build recommendation engines for a living and complain about not having good data.

Finally, if you think that Reddit is a welcoming community without issues, I can easily guess your gender. That’s a big part of what Facebook empowers.

> interpersonal connections between real-life friends and families (what Facebook sold to its audience and the way it keeps the users on the platform) barely need any moderation at all

This is not true: anti-vaxxers (and before them, MLM) are a massive hindrance to their family; usually, they get ignored now, but being able to hide them (and dynamically detect problematic posts from important, non-MLM updates) is a key feature of the News Feed. The most common, and occasionally biggest pain-points that we’ve measured have been where friends and family merged, from your lame dad barging in a Let’s-go-to-the-club thread to gay people still in the closet liking posts about flamboyant things.

What you might be trying to say is that there is a real problem in merging all your aspects of life into one context. That’s definitely true. Without going into drama-prone topics, I speak several languages and that was not taken into account at all when I joined; my cousin routinely complained that she didn’t understand why I wrote in English “all the time”. There was some progress (thanks in very small part to my impulse) there.

Raising consciousness around those issues was part of what I did more generally. One effective and clear solution for that was Groups, that finally, for the last two years, got their place in the sun with a dedicated, empathic team in _Engagement_, rather than be a subsidiary of Pages that where a subsidiary of Ads. I don’t have internal knowledge but from public communications from Facebook management, I’m guessing they are growing much faster than Reddit, with a similar product.

> generating massive revenues.

Not really. The family stuff is great because if gets people to post more: they feel like they can share if they see similar things in their feed. That’s empowering people which Facebook believes in as a core value, but it’s not making much money. If Facebook wanted to print dollars, they’d go full Video.

The money comes from basic stuff: age, gender, location, family status (age of children) and interests; language, too: you’d be shocked to see how many ads are shown to people who just can’t read them. The money comes for “Custom audience” which is essentially Upload the emails of your users, and we’ll find them on Facebook, and “Similar audience” which is an augmentation of that, and let you advertise to those groups separately. That you love sharing lame puns with your uncle, or photos playing with your nephews isn’t going to attract anyone’s crazy CPA. If you click on ads about nappies, that‘s a really good signal though.

Honestly, Facebook is eating other people’s lunch in ads because they get very basic things right: separate your customers from non-customers. They don’t advertise for diamond rings next to an article about the war in Congo, like the NYTimes does, or for stilettos to burly football players. They remember which ads work for you, and show more of that. In my case, I’m in the market for a nice leather bag: Facebook knows that and shows me a lot of that. They are certainly making more than the average $50 by helping me general a list of a dozen nice options for my birthday.

Marketing (outside, possibly of political advertising) hasn’t really moved to crazy Orwellian stuff at scale. If, one day, posting landscape in black-and-white is correlated to you liking yogurt, maybe… but for now, it’s probably easier to ask your local supermarket.




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