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I disagree. But I'm not on any, nor use any, of Facebook's services. "It's Time to Break Up with Facebook" is a better title.

> We already have the tools we need to check the domination of Facebook. We just seem to have forgotten about them.

That evokes different ideas with me and I'm sure it does for many users of this site. We have the tools and capability to employ them to make alternatives. We're so focused on the dominance that we ignore the possibility.

> Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can.

This is incredibly naive. I haven't gone down the logical path to play this scenario out but my gut tells me that the hand that the government will force will be short-sighted and attack the symptom. The results may be worse.

WhatsApp and IG _were_ alternatives, but our timid regulators were happy to let FB buy them up. Naivete is thinking the free market can regulate itself. Markets are not naturally free. They only function when zealous regulators keep the gears well-oiled.

>WhatsApp and IG _were_ alternatives

Are they though? They're nearly completely separate products with different activities and goals. If WhatsApp and Instagram were never acquired, I don't see them actually being very different at all from the consumer's pov, though I see them being less successful businesses without Fb's ad network and infrastructure.

I don't think these two are actually competition for facebook, facebook is fundamentally a communication tool built on top of your genuine friends and family social graph, it has no true competitors to speak of.

Facebook's acquisitions have provided them with two new business lines, one of which has been immensely profitable for them, but I don't think its actually affected the social media market. Social media companies built on different social graphs (ie. linkedin for your professional graph, twitter for a unidirectional follower graph) or a niche, fundamentally different interaction model (ie. pinterest) still can exist and thrive. I think facebook could or could not acquire any of these, and they're raison d'etre would essentially be the same.

Facebook's privacy concerns are real, and worth having a conversation over, but I think the claim that they have monopoly power over social media as a whole is false.

I don't think you'd do any good breaking whatsapp or instagram our from facebook. Instagram would have a rough couple years detaching their infra and getting a sales force, but it would remain the same. WhatsApp may die unless its given an enourmous lump of cash to fund it as it finds a path toward profitability, but without fb's ad network it will probably never be a great business.

Overall, breaking up Facebook in the way the article says wouldn't really do much harm, but it wouldn't do much good either. And I think its an abuse of antitrust power to simply not let a company be an industry conglomerate and have multiple successful business lines.

> Are they though? They're nearly completely separate products with different activities and goals.

Yes. By Facebook's own admission, photos are the center of the Facebook core platform, along with the social networking properties - comments, likes, status signaling, feedback - of the service that surround photos.

Instagram was a dramatic threat to the center of Facebook: personal, social networked photo sharing, with the previously mentioned social qualities. It's the only serious, direct threat Facebook has faced since the early days of the network.

It's also worth at least $100 billion today. If you stripped Instagram off of Facebook, with how their metrics would now look (stagnant, weak, at risk of decline), I'd be skeptical Facebook would be worth more than $150 to $200 billion. Buying Instagram not only removed the only serious threat to Facebook that they've faced, it provided a dramatic moat that they could utilize for defense or drowning enemies (which is what they put it to use for in trying to kill or otherwise slow down Snapchat).

I agree with your second point but not with your first.

To the consumer, Instagram remains nearly completely decoupled from facebook except for friend recommendations and SSO. Instagram has a fundamentally different photo "culture" and most people don't spend time on instagram OR facebook, they simply use both for different things. On facebook I'll see 900 pictures of my cousin's new baby or graduation photos, on instagram I'll see travel/lifestyle/modeling shots. Instagram gave facebook a kick in the ass to get on the mobile train before it was too late, but I don't think it was ever a threat to facebook's core social graph model.

Back to your second point, I agree, Instagram is an enormously valuable business line for facebook. But i think its also true that facebook's infrastructure and Ad platform lead to a 2 + 2 = 5 situation for the companies. An independent instagram would likely be doing well, but not be as valuable as they are within Facebook. Sure, facebook would be worth $100B less without the ads it serves on instagram, but there's no law or moral imperative against one company having multiple, highly lucrative business lines that share certain overhead.

I see the instagram acquisition as more akin to Tata group acquiring Jaguar. Jaguar had a good brand and an interested demographic, but were a terribly run business leading to poor sales and quality issued. Tata buying them gave new life to the brand and they're now successful and standing on their own again. Instagram was always going to be some level of successful, but with facebook they're a juggernaut.

I think a lot of people have the idea that facebook acquired instagram as a defensive play to remove a direct competitor, but I don't think that they are direct competitors. Facebook and MySpace were competitors, both shooting for the generalized social graph, and Facebook won that fight, from then on being a natural monopoly in that space.

In the end they all compete for attention which is the only valuable limited resource everybody has.

From my (naive) observation it seems that facebook "the page" popularity has dwindled and people migrated towards messaging (be it the Messenger or WhatsApp) and instagram.

You may not be on Facebook but you can bet your friends or family have shared your contact info with them. And even if that exposure is limited, you can bet they’ve got a shadow profile of you.

Facebook’s shadow profile of me does not even begin to hold a candle to Google’s shadow profile of me.

And Google has been monetizing that profile for a lot longer than Facebook has.

So while we're at it we should look at breaking up Google as well.

I only use google for youtube and cloud print. I'd like to break up with the latter but I haven't figured out how (history says google will force this in the near future). YouTube has a lot of great content (mixed in with even more worthless garbage) that isn't elsewhere, so I can't figure out how I'd break up with it.

On the other side, Google is tracking you on a lot of sites unless you use measures to counter it.

True. I wish there was a good way to stop that.

A good AdBlocker (like uBlock Origin) is usually enough. Also the tracking protection of Firefox is not bad.

A custom router can do this for all devices on your network. That is what I use.

Do you carry your router with you all the time to provide a bridge to mobile networks?

So what?

You can't break up with your stalker.

If Facebook is building a data portfolio of you, which is highly likely, then you can't avoid them, which means the problems that arise from the practice still impact you, whether or not you want them to.


Having information about someone is fine. It's not stalking nor harassment when you're privy to their location, where they live and work, everyone they interact with, their conversation, every newspaper and article they read, and every purchase they make. But it's creepy especially if this information is collected surreptitiously. Why collect this information in the first place?

It becomes harassment when this information is used to target someone. It is stalking if this information is used to follow you around. It is literally "cyberstalking" when it does. If someone is tracking you, they are stalking you.

Every website owner who puts code from Google or Facebook is complicit in this tracking/stalking.

When everywhere you go banners are being put in your face with messages tailored prod your fears based on what is known about you. When psychological tests are carried out en-masse [0], this is harassment.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/02/facebook-...

> Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can.

Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can break it. Which would fix it.

Which will not. Only way is to revoke its business licence and ban him and his relatives founding any business partnerships (Mark for life, his relatives until 1 year after he dies).

Let's get something straight : you don't get to use the word "naïve" to qualify anybody but yourself after you've essentially said : "Facebook doesn't impact my life because I'm not on it".

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