This sort of overreaction to a small calculated provocation just proves the point that FB is a company first, platform second. This was obvious already to many people, but now there's a clear illustration that'll make it harder for FB to simply say they are a neutral platform.
But I don't think this is an overreaction, specially because this isn't solely about Facebook: if Google removed or downgraded search results for Warren - a US senator and presidential candidate - that would be a worldwide scandal.
Antitrust issues have been risen when Amazon promoted some products over others.
The main questions, at least for me, are: what kind of action is acceptable for these companies? Have they grown beyond their own governance?
And this applies to other companies as well. If Twitter were to shut down the POTUS account for violating TOU, people would also wonder the state of limbo of some platforms: should everyone be treated in equal terms? Does it bear some responsibility as an intermediary for public officials? Should it be subject to some standard verification protocol other than the one put in place by its engineers?
It also raises questions for the user cases: should governments and public officials use social media indiscriminately? Traditional media has a certain democratic access to government: should governments give a specific social media platform preferential treatment? Should there be a call for bids when choosing a social media platform over others?
For those who didn’t catch the reference, this is referring to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
Attributing it to a specific individual seems a little weird to me. It'd be like calling lashing out in anger "the Depp effect."
Would it? A number of Republican candidates note that their email goes straight to spam in Gmail, while messages from Democratic candidates do not, even without any obvious difference in delivery efforts by the sender. Nobody cares.
The overreaction was on facebook's part.
For $100, they should've left it alone.
You or I couldn’t run those ads, this is special treatment for her.
It's pretty funny when people are manipulated so easily by facebook PR.
Care to give a single example?
What is surprising is a such dump FB reaction. Why such inteligent people make such dump moves? Are they really that arogant? Maybe that arrogance is caused by revenue increases after all these scandals. Maybe they treated politicians in the same way for many times, but in other countries.
We have seen every possible experiment, there is always an excuse. They even had excuses for Cambridge Analytics.The best thing to do is just delete your account and that's it.
Are there any examples of such "neutral platforms" outside of web company marketing?
Was this term coined by web companies?
Seems to me like a more concrete term to describe a web company such as Facebook is "MITM". This has a specific meaning and we can all understand how it applies. A MITM could be benevolent, malicious or perhaps "neutral". (The existence of the later might be obviated by peer-to-peer connections.)
If there could be such a thing as a "neutral platform", then maybe "the internet" is the best candidate. Not any particular MITM, whether benevolent, malicious or "neutral".
Really? The article says: "The ads were limited in size and reach, with each costing under $100, according to disclosure details listed online." Each ad was "under $100," and there are no details as to the exact extent of reach. The total spend could have easily been a few hundred grand.
You might be thinking of the pre-CDA rule suggested by the Stratton Oakmont case. But Congress specifically removed that rule!
Also for those wondering where they know the name from, that is indeed Jordan "Wolf of Wall Street" Belfort's company.
Why shouldn't Facebook take down the ad that's calling for a break up of their Company?
How is this any different from a person walking into a store and asking to place an ad inside the store calling for breakup or shutting down of said store? What store owner would ever allow such a thing?
Why would (or should) any business allow any sort of propaganda that strikes at the heart of it's operations?
Why would Facebook be expected to restore the ads (which I don't think they should've done).
That is, that they've become a monopoly. So they either need to be very careful not to abuse their monopoly, or be highly regulated, or be broken up.
Edit: Stole from ktjfi. [and spelling]
Facebook has no monopoly on internet advertisement. I'm not a big fan of Facebook but I don't see where it would be a monopolist.
They do on local political ads. Google searches are no longer effective for targeting those not already political involved. The local papers have been run out of business. Direct mail is expensive and unreliable. Pretty much all roads in this arena lead to Facebook, which makes its willingness to censor opinions unfavourable to it disturbing.
There are strong reasons to break up Facebook into, at the very least, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
If I can reach my audience through Facebook or Instagram, that’s more competition than Facebook properties alone.
> They all hook into the same ad backend anyways
Hence the call to break them up.
I mean, if anything, competition will lower the price per contact with potential voter? What problem it will solve?
But regulation as a public utility might work.
Like it or not, the world has changed.
Influential online company? Absolutely. Monopoly? No.
Nothing they receive in their mailbox holds their attention long, the attention market is dominated by digital media.
>Again, they drive cars, use public transit, walk on streets, etc
With headphones in or bluetooth paired. Who the hell reads a billboard? Who pairs their cellphone with their car, or owns headphones? Damn near everybody. Just try to buy a new car without Bluetooth.
Old propaganda distribution channels are dead men walking, and everybody knows it. Unless you're advertising a chicken wings and cleavage bar at the next exit, you're a damn fool for paying for a billboard.
My brain has been effectively trained to pattern recognize advertising and filter it out, as it is so ubiquitous and so very rarely actually useful.
Old propaganda distribution channels might be dead men walking, but the new ones are just as much (anecdotally).
That's the problem here, yes, there are still mail based catalogue companies, but if you're not online, you're at a massive disadvantage.
Monopoly on what exactly?
At the very least it would also give pause to all of the media companies whose content has made them so much money, since you’d have to ask which other areas would be meddled with. That doesn’t need to be a legal process to have an impact on their business.
Is this supposed to be an example of something unreasonable?
Of course a publican can ask anyone to leave their bar for any reason or not reason at all, as long as it's not because of a protected characteristic. I think that's extremely reasonable.
And literally the whole point of this conversation is that Facebook has a monopoly on locally targeted online marketing, they're not stopping you from advertising on Myspace, what's stopping you from advertising on Myspace is that it's pointless.
Sure, technically Facebook doesn't have a 100% perfect, totally clean monopoly with literally no competitors, but that doesn't mean that them owning a significant majority of the targeted local advertising market isn't a monopoly problem and shouldn't therefor be legislated against.
Yes, these ads are not in FB's best interest, and they do not have an obligation to do business with any/all potential customers. The problem, of course, arises on two fronts: first, when FB twice approves an ad they themselves claim violates their policies; second, when FB claims to be a promoter of robust debate in reaction to critical press.
For the same reason that TV stations should have to run ads for candidates that advocate for greater taxes on TV stations.
Facebook operates in a stable environment created by the US' democratic governmental structure. In their role as communication channel, they have an obligation to preserve the process that created the environment in which they arose.
I work in tech and while I might quibble with the wording, there's not one point that I feel is wrong on substance. They have bulldozed competition. They have profited from private information. They have tilted the playing field in their favor.
Ironically, I would have thought this last point was the most arguable. Then Facebook took down her ad. ... Sigh. FB so predictably short sighted sometimes.
Once a business is large enough to substantially affect which messages can get attention, if they restrict certain messages, they're restricting speech - speech is no good if you can't get anyone to hear you. Facebook isn't big enough to entirely stifle a message, but they can substantially reduce its reach. That's the problem with corporate control of ads and communication - they act as a filter on which ideas they'll let through.
That answers question 2 - if it's a small store, the person can place the ad in plenty of other places, and it'll still get enough attention. But if the store happens to own 80% of all ad space in the town...
Edit: I should clarify - this is all about ethical should/should not, and (as remarked by the child comment) not meant to imply there currently exists a legal basis to force Facebook to run the ads. It's important not to confuse what the law is, with that we'd like it to be.
I believe, but am not certain, that there is no legal basis at this time to force Facebook to run such ads but their actions indicate that perhaps there should be. If for no other reason than to avoid the Streisand effect they should not have banned the ads. It’s a bad public image at a time when should be cultivating public goodwill. But perhaps they’ve calculated that this isn’t necessary.
IF you believe representative democracy, though perhaps fatally flawed, is the best system of government we as humans can muster THEN demonstrating the forum for debate is flawed is more essential than roads and water.
Should <insert name of television or radio station> news be required to run ads that are critical of itself?
I doubt that Facebook wants to lose those protections though.
There are a lot of things that it is perfectly legal to do, which you probably don't want to. Especially if you are a public company.
Because allowing fb to do so would tend to allow people with power to get more power.
This is bad because concentrations of power will act in their own interest, not the public interest.
This is surely not the first time someone posted an ad hating facebook, but they do take down all ads that use facebook's name and logos. This makes sense and it's totally normal (and probably automated), though her campaign team probably planned to use the takedown for political gain. By allowing this one, Facebook is doubling down on her game, i would say it is smart move on their part.
From a strict business perspective, of course you're right: an independent business that offers a subscription product should be allowed to terminate ongoing uses of that product that it doesn't like.
But from a social and political perspective, FB censoring ads like this makes them look very, very bad, and basically proves the point that they have way too much control over what news and information reaches a troublingly-large number of people.
It's not illegal, but does prove its partiality.
In Europe, public service broadcasters (like the BBC) have no problem giving time to politicians or others who call for the dismantling of public service. If they didn't that would look really bad.
They're a nigh monopoly and what happened reinforced that point. Thus, they can't claim they shouldn't be treated and regulated as a monopoly with a straight face.
I think this is a valid point, but it depends on the community the store is in and what it's selling.
What if it's in a town that just had a school shooting and is selling fully automatic rifles? The store owner doesn't have to allow it, you're right, but I can understand why the store would come under fire (see what I did there?)
But my point is you need to ask your self an important question: should the gun shop owner's right to run a store and earn a living outweigh the demands (a safer community, perhaps?) of the people living in that community, especially if it's a large majority of that community? The answer for me is very clear.
Facebook haven't been going around shooting people, but they have clearly shown themselves to be a very nasty piece of work and I'm personally unsure what value they add to society as a closed, proprietary monolith.
Now think about what Facebook has been doing wrong, and what more wrongs could be planned behind its closed doors, and ask your self the above question: is this for the betterment of society or only the small group of hyper-rich stakeholders?
No, Facebook should not be forced to keep the adverts up. It's their network after all, but the adverts should prompt them to ask themselves the same above question about their own actions and existence, and work with society, not against it, to resolve the problems being presented.
These adverts should open a dialogue, not simply be silenced.
(And on a side note: it's actually quite unsettling to see only a few big ad networks in existence and they can control who gets to advertise what... not good.)
One is a store that sells things to customers, another is a company that has productized at-least 1/7 of the Earth's population...
It doesn't matter what the store is: people should always be questioning themselves and their actions and deciding if they're for the good of all.
That's all I'm trying to say.
Is fb actively stifling competition? Is there a market failure?
They bought two of their competitors and copied the features of a third. None of that may meet the definition of "stifling competition," but it's a strategy that did neutralize potential competitors.
With 29% of the world's population logging in to FB at least once a month (2.23 bn "monthly active users" / 7.7 bn), and receiving algorithmically target messages from Facebook and its advertisers, there is tremendous potential for abuse.
If they're suppressing the debate, then yes, they are. When it comes to political speech, the democratic governance process is definitely a competitor.
> Is there a market failure?
As long as Facebook is the go-to platform for political advertising and they use their position as the market to influence market positions, then yes, there is a failure. Imagine if the NYSE chairman picked the stock winners every day, not because he's a prophet, but because he literally decided, in advance, who's going to get to move shares today.
Yes, basically. Or at least, they have a partial monopoly on social media.
> Is fb actively stifling competition?
They've been buying competitors. That's classic monopolistic behavior to stifle competition.
Pretty damn close. Even Google couldn't moose its way in.
It would be interesting to see Google release some sort of decentralized open source social networking software connected to Google Play. Something like Android, but for social networks. I could see FB being bothered by that.
Facebook has a monopoly on Facebook.
I'm going to sound a bit paternalistic and anti-capitalist here, because I am. Facebook is no longer just a company, it's an institution that should definitely be regulated. It enables the rapid dissemination of societally-impactful information that may or may not be true. There was plenty of fake information on facebook around the 2016 election that influenced uneducated/uncritical/unintelligent voters' opinions of the candidates. Having content curation guidelines that are informed by non-facebook entities almost certainly is needed, imo.
This is the exact reason why Russia blocked (or at least tried to) block Telegram, and why Facebook is banned in China.
When I say dissemination, I'm not just talking about elites. If the average Joe wanted to reach out asany people as they know and tell them something, tell me how they should do it?
These traditional forms of media are scrambling for likes/comments just as much as the next influencer.
Now compare that with Google -- most businesses need to be listed on Google or they will lose significant amount of business. Facebook is nothing by comparison.
Being popular doesn't make something a monopoly.
No and you don’t need to be a monopoly to violate antitrust laws and engage in anti competitive behavior.
I dont believe you. You know exactly what is Facebooks monopoly.
No offense but why are you on this forum? Do you seriously expect others to conform to your opinions?
So either you are trolling, or you'll be so kind as to actually post the arguments for why Facebook is a monopoly so we can ensure we're discussing under a shared context.
So it seems to me that Warren’s team when fishing for ads about breaking up Facebook which would flag in the automated system, and then ran to report about it.
It smells like a setup.
Small businesses are just as likely to block you negatively advertising about them on their platform as large ones, so Warren showing she’s blocked doesn’t tell us anything about Facebook’s size or practices compared to businesses in general, and thus doesn’t tell us if they’re a problematic monopoly. How many businesses let you use their service to argue against them?
Not even the news, collectively much less individually, accurately reports content on the news — and they’re the ones held forward as examples of a self-policing industry serving society.
The only way to conclude that Facebook abused their position here is if you already believe that; otherwise, it really doesn’t seem like anything unusual happened.
This seems like acting really aggressively, then whining when you get expected and normal pushback: a common bullying tactic from children.
> FB spox: "We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo. In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”
But yes, I would say that most of her voters want different priorities in online censorship, not less of it. It will be interesting how she navigates that - "social media marketplace that isn't dominated by a single censor" is vague enough that Voat could put it on their front page as an endorsement (and they just might, if only for the sake of trolling).
Indeed, it's incredible how cheap it was.
Most people that use Facebook probably like it, pretty much, and don't suffer any visible consequences of their ostensible loss of privacy.
Similar for Google.
I think a smarter approach would be some regulation that hit home, particularly on privacy etc..
In fact, every time I see a discussion on Facebook and privacy in non-techie FB communities, it's surprising how negative people feel, and how many say that they would stop using it altogether, if they didn't have some connections there they cared about. It's basically lock-in via social graph, and don't think people are stupid enough that they don't notice.
HN readers mostly live in bubbles, and 'breaking up Facebook' is definitely one of the things Republicans just hope the Dems will run on, because it's not going to fly.
Consider for a moment how separating Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook is going to fundamentally change privacy anyhow?
This is a political calculation by Warren: she needs to stake out her claim, make some noise, throw some red meat to the Dem primary voters, and take away the noise in the press about her registering as an Aboriginal while living in Texas.
It'll do well for her now, but it's not a winning formula for the general election.
The country has real problems. “I don’t like Facebook” isn’t even remotely one of them. I won’t be voting for her, that’s for sure.
Don't think this is a real issue? How about looking at some of the other "real" problems she's addressed in her platform before outright dismissal? The kind of impulsive, single-issue voting you're implicitly advocating for here is exactly what the country does not need.
To contrast this with healthcare. I can understand diabetics not being able to afford medication for example, or people without the means to afford life sustaining treatments.
Facebook buying Instagram? I don't understand what's wrong with that.
She gives the example of Amazon.com forcing diapers.com to sell diapers at a lower price as a reason for why we need to prevent acquisitions. But getting products for cheaper prices benefits consumers... The small business founders got rich and consumers got cheaper diapers. I'm not seeing any problem with that.
She claims Amazon is anti-competitive because they promote their own products on their own website. Websites aren't railroads. Consumers can choose any website by typing in the address in their web browser. Consumers can switch search engines and shopping websites. That was not the case with railroads or phone networks - because for reasons that should be very obvious you can't have a million different railroad lines and telephone wires. Unlike the web, they were physically mutually exclusive.
If a company provided superior service and prices to Amazon consumers can easily choose to use them.
And competition doesn't just show up out of thin air - you need a healthy free market for companies to get to the point where they can challenge the market leader. If you allow the monopolist to dominate the market, they will never get there, and there won't be anything for consumers to easily choose from.
In general, concentration of power is dangerous. Few people dispute this with governments - it's not like we wait for them to become authoritarian, we write constitutions that have arrangements that deliberately cripple their ability to do so (separation of powers etc). Why should it be any different for large corporations, when we know from history that monopoly abuse is the most likely outcome?
Why would Amazon not selling something prevent someone else from selling it?
1. Put up a tiny anti-FB campaign that's not gonna reach anyone on FB
2. FB bans it because their reviewers have to adhere to the rules set by upper mgmt
3. Now you're the victim -> Backlash for FB
4. FB restores the ad
5. Now you're the victim AND the winner
6. The story spreads amongst anti-FB circles, where it was originally meant to hit, with a massive impact (for little money)
The side of me that thinks it's smart, thinks that by asking for a lot (break up of tech giants) she may be able to notch a win that isn't so aggressive (data privacy regulations) It also "breaks the ice" for the argument for when she brings it up on the campaign, it won't be so shocking.
The side of me that thinks it's dumb, thinks that she's misreading her audience, in that most people could give two shits about privacy, and in fact really like these platforms. She may be overplaying the "progressive" hand, and as a result may be perceived as "too radical" to be elected by purple states.
Regardless, I think her presidential aspirations are doomed. She's a woman, smart, successful, outspoken, Harvard educated, progressive and from "the most liberal" state in the country. All these things are toxic to Republicans.
Content (and other incentives) from users that are opted in would be treated identically to those that opted out. The opt out option is mainly for sites like YouTube where somebody might rely on the site for income and want to voluntarily allow YouTube to publish their video under a restrictive license.
The idea is simple - get rid of the network effect. When content is provided under copyleft licenses, anybody could effectively create a social media system where users could see messages from e.g. Facebook and also post messages that would be cloned to Facebook, yet not on Facebook.
The possibilities here are endless and it would pose a relatively small regulatory burden on companies. And most important of all - it would actually probably work. The network effect works like gravity. Even if you break something apart, it will sooner or later come together again even if under a different form.
The biggest problem I see is a problem that any idea that could work, will never be considered. Big tech is driving big bucks to politicians. As recently as 2012 the FTC's bureau of competition submitted to the commissioners a lengthy analysis that recommended suing Google for conduct that had, and would continue to, cause "real harm to consumers and to innovation." The commissioners, majority Democratic appointees (not a partisan jab, but rather emphasizing that this is an institutional/establishment issue - not a partisan one), chose not to pursue the case. 
 - https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/reich/article/Break-up-F...
I find it hard to believe they're incapable of that, yet capable of what you propose :)
How are you even going to break it up?
And how do we know it won't just be a matter of time before another single, central social network takes hold?
Social Networks have this property where they are only useful when other people are also on the same one as you. To me, this property will just guarantee that we would end up back in the same situation.
So it would seem smarter to me to just regulate it, so we can limit the bad, and enjoy the good.
1. What do they have a monopoly on?
2. How would Warren’s plan (forcing FB to divest WhatsApp and Instagram) eliminate that monopoly?
But ad blocking is enough of a money problem for Facebook that it keeps attempting to beat them through many tricks (spelling words with invisible characters, putting words split into characters and each one in a <span>, etc., to beat pattern matching).
The rare times when I use Facebook, I always login through a browser with an ad blocker (and tracker blockers) on.
1 - quit Facebook
2 - use /etc/hosts to resolve any Facebook-related sites (and other advertising/spam/tracking/malware sites) to 255.255.255.255
3 - proxy my web requests through privoxy
4 - use the uMatrix and uBlock Origin addons in Firefox that block anything that gets through the rest
Needless to say, I almost never see ads.
One could argue that the point of advertising is not to reach a meaningful chunk of the public, instead a meaningful chunk of a specific demographic.
More importantly, is it going to make for a better web, or is it just going to wind up strengthening the online tracking and advertising industries in the long run?
My own proposal would be to ban tracking and unsolicited advertising altogether -- no matter who does it.
Yes. When was the last time you had a call dropped because you were saying unflattering things about your carrier?
Usage policies and how these companies handle what's said about them by their users seem completely orthogonal to whether they're one company or many.
I think you could make the argument that Facebook finally allows for more niche politicians to reach meaningful chunks of niche audiences compared to TV ads. Whether you like them, hate them, or hate one of them, Trump and AOC would not be where they are without Facebook or Twitter. We can only pontificate, but this might also apply to Obama too. Fake news, filtering, and smear campaigns are a phenomenon that existed way before Facebook was created: