Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Thousands of Facebook internal documents and emails published online (businessinsider.com)
514 points by rahuldottech 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 242 comments

I'm learning a lot about the early company culture of Facebook. And to an extent, also about how big tech companies work in general.

Just the past 10 minutes, I've learned that development speed is key, because it is basically their KPI for execution. I don't fully agree with that, but I don't think it's a bad heuristic. Speed is a necessary condition to survive from the competition. I think Paul Graham greatly exemplified that in his essays, you need to be one of the fastest or at least not be outpaced a lot by the #1.

I think there's also a lot of interesting startup advice in these type of documents. The advice may or may not be ethical, but there may be info in there to understand why Facebook became so big. I wouldn't want to do something unethical, but it's handy to know what unethical things work and why because maybe one could distill successful principles from it that are ethical.

The classic is The AutoDesk Files. It has the advantage of being well organized, curated, and correlated with 35 years of operating history.



What Does Simulation Have To Do With It?

Alan Kay, delivering the keynote speech at the Second West Coast Computer Faire in 1978 said, ``we decided to focus on simulation in Smalltalk, because that's the only really interesting thing to do with a computer''. When I heard this, I was aghast: ``Simulation'', I thought, ``why in the world would people want to use personal computers to model throughput in a machine shop, or to calculate the number of toilets[Footnote] in a football stadium''. Certainly any rational person wanted a personal computer to do real computer science on it: to write operating systems and compilers so that others could use them to write programs, and...well, I hadn't thought that out completely.

``Simulation'' had come to mean (at least in the computer science lexicon), a specific kind of modeling of systems, usually done in an odd simulation language such as Simscript or Simula. What I only realised years later was that what Alan Kay was talking about something far more grandiose when he said ``simulation'': getting the whole wide world into that itty-bitty can: the computer. And yet, ``simulation'' in the limited computer science sense has already had a great and often little-appreciated impact on computer science as a whole. In his speech, Alan Kay exhorted people to look closely at Simula-67 for the direction of the future. Simula-67 included (in 1967!) classes, object orientation, multiple communicating processes, in fact close to a laundry list of what is currently considered the way to approach complex problems. So simulation in the small has already influenced the mainstream, and I believe that simulation writ large will have an impact many times greater.

We've done great at learning all the lessons from the LISPs, the PROLOGs and the ALGOLs. But we have not even begun to adopt the lessons from Simula and it's successor Smalltalk (ruby barely scratches the surface). When we do it will be a game changer.

I remember there was this blog post about making iphone apps with Smalltalk or something like that.

If I'd ever want to learn Smalltalk I'd want to start there. It's hard to prioritize though, there's so much I want to learn.

But since I already bought The Little Schemer to just have something lying around to seduce me to learn more, I wonder...

What's a good book for Simula or Smalltalk?

> What's a good book for Simula or Smalltalk?

For Smalltalk, just start with the Blue Book. It's so well written and complete -- and most of it still alive in current implementations -- that it's the best place to start.


In 1991 when "pen computing" was all the rage, a start-up company called "Momenta" came out with a "pentop" MS-DOS based pen computer with a pie-menu-like "command compass", whose user interface was done in Smalltalk.

Remember that this was in 1991, the same year Go Corporation finally released PenPoint, and a year before the 1992 founding of Palm Computing (which took over the Pen market for many years) and the release of Microsoft Windows 3.1 in 1992 (the first version of Windows that wasn't intolerably irritating), and the release of Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing in 1992 (which was a big flop). So there was a huge amount of excitement around pen computing.

At Momenta's big unveiling event, I first chatted up the founder and then the lead software developer, and told them all about pie menus, and asked them about their "command compass", and congratulated them both for using Smalltalk, which the founder had made a big point about during his presentation, and who had just bragged to me that he was the one who made the successful decision to use Smalltalk.

When I told the software developer that the founder had just taken credit for the decision to use Smalltalk, he got pissed off and exclaimed, "What??! That was MY idea, and he fought against it tooth and nail every step of the way! He said nobody would ever use Smalltalk because it was a "homosexual" programming languages! And I proved to him it was a great idea by developing the entire user interface with the command compass and pen support on schedule, and now he's taking credit for it! Damn him!"

I suggested, "I think he must have Smalltalk confused with Lisp," and we both had a good chuckle at his homophobic credit-usurping founder's expense.

But not even a heterosexual programming language like Smalltalk can save you when you're going up against the Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing hype machine, and they went broke soon after shipping.

As it turned out, Momenta should have bought another vowel and consonant when they were naming their company, and called it "Momentary".



>The Momenta was a system that was generating a lot of excitement. As with the Active Book, a lot of the UI was done in Smalltalk, and it may have been the first commercial system to use radial (or pie) menus. We got a development system at the University of Toronto, but the company went broke very soon after shipping, so we never got the final product. They are extremely rare, so it took me a long time to find this one. Could the company have survived? Impossible to say. What I find interesting was how different their industrial design was than anyone else's. Perhaps they tried too hard and got over extended. The resulting hardware was a bit to fiddly for my taste—but that is through today's eyes. The founder has written a fair bit about the experience, and I believe that the case studies are worth reading by would-be entrepreneurs.


>Info World, November 11, 1991, Page 76.

>Microsoft Corp. and Go Corp. aren't the only ones jockeying for a position in the emerging market of pen computing.

>Two-year-old Momenta Corp. recently coined the term "pentop" computer and announced a complete pen-based system, the size of a clipboard that includes a detachable keyboard, digitizer screen, and pen.

>But the most interesting, perhaps, is the approach Momenta has taken in software. Using MS-DOS 5.0, Momenta is offering two operating modes: standard DOS and an environment based on Digitalk's Smalltalk V. Bundled with the system are a suite of appllications developed in Smalltalk, including a word processor, a spreadsheet, and communications software. The system even comes with a built-in fax modem and software.

>The key for Momenta, according to company officials, is to deliver a complete system as early as possible; DOS-based applications allow them to do just this. "We knew that a complete system approach had to happen right away," says Kevin Mankin, Momenta director of product marketing.

>Just as the use of Smalltalk as Momenta's development environment represents a departure from the mainstream, so does the user interface, which features a circular menu structure called the Command Compass, rather than the linear menu structure that has become standard across GUIs.

>The system will also run Microsoft Window for Pen Computing when it becomes available early next year, mainly because of the environment's "insurance" value. But this is leading some observers to assume that the system will become primarily a Windows for Pen Computing machine. "By the middle of next year, the majority of things running on it will be Windows applications," says Bill Lempesis, editor of Pen Vision News, in Pleasanton, California.

>Mankin contends that even if Windows does become the operating environment of choice for users of the system, corporate and commercial developers will continue to develop software in Smalltalk, because of the elegance of the environment.

>"One of the appeals of our product is the variety of powerful tools provided," Mankin says. "Smalltalk is an incredibly productive environment. Some of the largest software developers and some of the largest IS departments develop under Smalltalk.

>Whether developers opt to develop Momenta applications using Smalltalk remains to be seen. So far, only two vendors have announced plans -- Rupp Technology, with a word processor and PenWare, with its PenCell spreadsheet.

>There are still other differences in Momenta's approach. While Go contends that the earliest adopters of pen computing technology will be industry- or company-specific applications, such a sales-force automation and inventory control, Momenta is targeting the horizontal market of white-collar professionals and office workers.

>Its phrase "pentop" refers to those systems in broad use, rather than to those used by the "mobile worker," who is the PenPoint buyer.

>Yet another contender in the pen software arena hoping for broad horizontal appeal is PenDOS, from Computer Intelligence Corp. (CIC) of Redwood Shores, California. Much like Windows for Pen Computing, PenDOS provides some pen functionality even to unmodified DOS applications, and hardware vendors have licensed it to include with their systems along with the other major alternatives.

>With this strategy, it will be up to the customer to decide which approach is the right one.

It's interesting why they chose Lisp as their scripting language. Autocad is arguably the most widespread Lisp implementation in existence.


That was probably true at some point but now there Emacs is a lot more widespread than AutoCAD.

I wondered about that. Are there more programmers or Autocad users? You're probably right; Emacs is free and that counts for a lot.

I think that in the US there are about three million programmers, of whom maybe 10% use Emacs, or about 300,000. There are about 110,000 NCARB-registered architects in the US, and presumably the number of architects is similar to the number of current AutoCAD users (of whom most of each group belong to the other.) But wait! The US Census Bureau estimates the number of US architects at 141,000.

So I thought at first that the answer was obvious but now I don't anymore.

A lot more professions use AutoCAD than just Architects. Mechanical Engineers, Structural Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Aerospace Engineers, etc.

I think mechanical engineers mostly use 3-D CAD systems by now — SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, or something, not AutoCAD. EEs don't use AutoCAD; they use EDA systems ranging from schematic capture and PCB layout (like KiCAD) to HDL synthesis systems, and they use SPICE, and they write a lot of C++. AutoCAD is useless for any of those things. I don't know what bridge builders and airframe designers use nowadays, but given the importance of 3D in those realms and your batting average on the things I do know about, I'm guessing they don't use AutoCAD either. I'm interested to hear what the truth is, though.

AutoCAD is a 3D program. Electrical and Mechanical Engineers that work in the AEC industry use AutoCAD. "Bridge Builders" aka structural engineers use AutoCAD.

> EEs don't use AutoCAD; they use EDA systems ranging from schematic capture and PCB layout (like KiCAD) to HDL synthesis systems, and they use SPICE, and they write a lot of C++.

If you're designing PCBs and chips, sure. For industrial automation design, AutoCAD Electrical is quite alive and well.

I didn't realize. Thank you!

In what way is AutoCAD not 3D?

If you're designing machine parts in AutoCAD 3D, do yourself a favor and upgrade to FreeCAD or SolidWorks or CATIA or at least Fusion 360. Heck, maybe even Blender or OpenSCAD.

The Stack Overflow survey shows only 4.1% emacs usage (even that sounds high to me).


Yeah, that's probably a bit biased toward Microsoft developers, though.

All or most emacs users code, although a minimal amount of autocad users would script autocad stuff

It helps to be free! ;)

He's got a lot of other interesting things over at that site (fourmilab.ch). Well worth poking around for 30 minutes or so.

Wow! What a nice throwback that layout is! It really feels like a cave of information that I'm going to spelunk through.

Don't miss 'The Digital Imprimatur'.

Haha, wow. I'm dumbfounded.

This is why I love HN.

I wonder when I'll ever have time to read it.

Speed is not just important because it's important, it's one of those traits that exist on a wide spectrum. The fastest are a lot faster than the median. Also, startups with their typical minimalism and lack of legacy/technical debt can be fast, so it's worth capitalising on that as a comparative advantahe.

Fast also comes with other good things, often. Flexible, cheap, creative...

Speed comes with the cost of creating enormous mountains of technical debt because you always cut corners to be fast.

You may be flexible/cheap/creative at the start, but sooner than later this bites you: you cannot be fast or flexible because you’ve cut too many corners. Because you never anticipated certain use cases. Because you never had the time to fix that one/ten/a thousand bugs and workarounds. Because you never built the tools for internal users. Because...

One of the reasons FAANG and others like Spotify require tens of thousands of engineers is not necessarily the complexity of the products. It’s the emergent complexity of the systems that were developed fast and cheap, and now need to be maintained and forced into new shapes and use cases.

That’s the idea. Get big enough and you can afford to hire a small country to maintain the tech debt (and in many cases rewrite certain parts).

I think the debt is expected to be paid after you have the initial success.

It is of course only wise in certain sitations. For Facebook speed probably was indeed a key to their success, so I am not surprised they formally enshrined it.

It is surely a shallow metric that doesn't warrant to be elevated to a universal truth though. Processes are very important to structured engineering work.

Facebook had competitors with larger feature sets with better privacy protections (ok, a feature hard to sell), but already had acquired a cricial mass of users. Over time they even increased their head start since social media has the tenedency to centralize.

Yeah, speed beyond just speedy coding should be close to the #1 value for the company because it not only comes with other good things but it simply enables you to execute well on other values. It's fine to bloviate on customer trust as the #1 value, but if speed isn't taken into account then you get into frequent issues where problems come up (e.g. an outage) and while a fix or good rollback point is identified relatively quickly, it takes hours or days to actually deploy it. Those hours are letting your customers down further (and likely costing you money or even their business come contract/subscription renewal). A focus on speed for those systems would do wonders to mitigating that and improving on customer trust.

> The advice may or may not be ethical, but there may be info in there to understand why Facebook became so big. I wouldn't want to do something unethical, but it's handy to know what unethical things work and why because maybe one could distill successful principles from it that are ethical.

What if you could make a company that you viewed as more ethical than the existing competition but to be competitive you would need to do some unethical things that the existing competition does, and without making those concessions your best projections show that your startup will go bankrupt before displacing the incumbent player? Do you let perfection become the enemy of improvement and stick with your ethical means-over-ends instincts, or get your hands dirty creating the sort of company you yourself complain about (albeit less than you complained about the incumbent player)?

If you can’t do it ethically, why on earth are you trying to replace the incumbent at all? Some personal power trip?

Let's say facebook sells customer data and eats babies, and you're opposed to both of those things. You come to the conclusion that you can outcompete facebook without eating babies, but only if you're willing to sell customer data in the same way facebook currently does. You're trying to replace the incumbent so that less babies are eaten (or certain speech isn't censored, or certain speech is censored, or <insert any ethical cause besides the one you're compromising on>). It's that when you hold more than one value, they are sometimes at odds. If you try to be the most ethical in every regard you'll most likely be outcompeted, in which case you won't even be making an improvement in the current state of unethical behavior. Even finding tradeoffs that improve average ethics while also being competitive is difficult, since others are playing the same game without your ethical objections to certain practices.

Some people choose to pull the lever in the trolley problem.

Possible, but it can also be that you don't have a better business idea and can't get work anywhere else.

Getting a job as a developer can be tough in 5% of the circumstances. I've read a quite recent account of one, and don't forget that the founder of WhatsApp had a similar situation.

All I know is that people don't respond well when they feel backed in a corner.

There are so many reasons that in a few cases are true, but anyways, this is one of them. And if you think they don't exist, I'm pretty sure they do.

This is almost exactly the premise of the McDonalds game [1].

[1] https://molleindustria.org/mcdonalds/

I think that people should value speed for a different reason. The real value of rushing things, imho, is for learning: you learn how to build it and also how people react via this focus on concretes. That is what generates the speed, not the literally fast development cycles in and of themselves

I think iterating quickly is important for startups. However, long term focus should be on staying ahead/keeping pace with the competition.

Now the Sith May have done some unethical things, but I think we should study what they did that worked and use it to help the rebels become the new empire.


If you want to be ethical, you are already fighting at a disadvantage. People who are effectively ethical, who are able to act on their principles without needing to compromise, are often the people who are ruthlessly pragmatic about what does and doesn't work.

If the Sith start fighting with double-sided lightsabers and killing 50% more of your troops, maybe the Rebels should either start building a few double-sided lightsabers themselves, or come up with some kind of tangible defense against that strategy.

Of course, when you get to Sith strategies like, "choking out rebellious admirals really helps", you can't use that one without being unethical. But knowing about the strategy still helps, because it allows you respond to it.

The reason a successful ethical business can afford not to compromise when things get tough is because they are better at everything else, and you get better at everything else by learning and studying.

What section(s) of the documents lead you to this conclusion? keyword searches aren't hitting for me..

>I've learned that development speed is key

Might be so at Facebook but I wouldn’t generalize this to all but tech companies.

Building stuff is relatively cheap compared to the on going maintenance and support costs. Over indexing on speed above all else would certainly not help your career in my org. Your manager would be having a chat with you and most of your work would get dinged in code reviews and design reviews.

The documents are from the early days of Facebook. I'd guess that your company probably optimized for speed too when it was just getting started.

2013 and 2014 are NOT the "early days of Facebook". Hell, The Social Network movie had come out four years prior...

This stuff is easy to generalize and misunderstand.

From Zuck (Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:28AM) Subject: Re:Competitive Mobile App Install Ads

"I think we should block WeChat, Kakao and Line ads.Those companies are trying to build social networks and replace us.The revenue is immaterial to us compared to any risk.

And I agree we should use ads to promote our own products, but I'd still block companies that compete with our core from gaining any advantage from us. I'd also keep blockingGoogle but otherwise wouldn't extend the block to anyone else."

These actions may look anti-competitive, but these companies are all foreign (China, South Korea, Japan). China does anti-competitive stuff to US companies all the time. I doubt there's any legal case for FB abusing monopoly powers based on this email. If anything, this is just very competent business decision making.

> These actions may look anti-competitive, but these companies are all foreign. China does anti-competitive stuff to US companies . . .

I don't think there's any exception in the antitrust laws like "but you can be anti-competitive if the other guy did it first." And anti-competitive behavior in a Chinese company can hardly justify anti-competitiveness against a Japanese company or a Korean company. They may all be in Asia but they are nonetheless different countries. Google is also not a Chinese company, as you are probably aware.

Also a note: you don't have to be a monopoly to be charged with anti-competitive behavior. Being a monopoly can raise the standard of behavior and increase the penalties, but anti-competitive behavior can be illegal on its own, aside from whether you have an actual monopoly. For more you can start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_antitrust_law

I would guess foreign companies aren't protected by US antitrust law the way domestic ones are.

You seem to suggest that US companies can break the law because some other country is corrupt?

I hold "our" companies to a higher standard. I hope judges do as well.

> legal case for FB abusing monopoly powers

I think its referring to legality not standards. what law is FB breaking?

Sherman Antitrust Act

But Google isn't foreign and he explicitly says to keep blocking it?

> These actions may look anti-competitive, but these companies are all foreign (China, South Korea, Japan). China does anti-competitive stuff to US companies all the time.

I can’t believe this needs saying, but neither Japan or South Korea is China.

> I doubt there's any legal case for FB abusing monopoly powers based on this email. If anything, this is just very competent business decision making.

Facebook does business in Japan and South Korea. I’m sure they have to follow the laws of both countries.

>these companies are all foreign

Is there some reason you think they would not do this to a US company?

They explicitly mention doing it to Google.

Google has a bigger ad network than Facebook so how is that a monopoly?

Let's track the argument from the top of the thread.

> "...And I agree we should use ads to promote our own products, but I'd still block companies that compete with our core from gaining any advantage from us. I'd also keep blockingGoogle but otherwise wouldn't extend the block to anyone else."

> "These actions may look anti-competitive, but these companies are all foreign (China, South Korea, Japan)."

> Explicitly mentions Google.

> Google has a bigger ad network than Facebook so how is that a monopoly?

Do you find this statement anti-competitive: "I'd still block companies that compete with our core"?

In 2013 FB was far from a monopoly.

I don't really see this as morally objectionable (don't know about the law, am not a lawyer). It's interesting to see the perspective, though. Not sure what point you're making.

If you agree that Facebook has a monopoly on a certain kind of social networking, then this documents the abuse of that monopoly position.

Would McDonald's (afaik by far the largest of its kind) have to advertise for its competitors on request? It seems weird to me.

Secondly, they don't really have a monopoly from my perspective. I don't know many people that use Facebook-the-product for its intended purpose, that is, social networking instead of selling household items or organising ride sharing. And I don't know anyone who uses Instagram (except for one girl on the bus who looks down only enough to make sure she's tapping the post and not some other button on her screen, but otherwise only likes every post without even glancing at it). I guess that might be different in other countries.

McDonald's isn't running an ad agency alongside its main business. Ads are not a product that they sell to the public. Facebook sells ads to the public, but not to their competitors. This is almost certainly illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890

Hmm, I guess I see what you mean. To me the ads feel like an integral part of it, like the cash/card registers in a McDonald's, but when you point it out I see it can be a separate component. I suppose it would be like McDonald's manufacturing their own registers and refusing to sell them to competitors. There are a lot of register manufacturers, and a lot of other ad platforms, but indeed on other ad platforms you don't reach the Facebook users that you want to reach, so perhaps there isn't really any other option than to run Facebook ads.

I guess I also saw it differently because it feels like a free speech argument: why does FB have to give competitors a voice? But it's not about having to give someone a voice because they claim it should be a free (as in freedom) platform, it's for maintaining competition.

I think I've changed my mind. As you see I'm still thinking this through (out loud) but I suppose it should indeed be different entities, even if the to-be-separated ad business is selling "real estate" on Facebook.

McDonalds does actually do sponsored ad deals on its meals, with tie ins to major brands. If I remember right it is legal for e.g. CBS to not run ads for ABC programs.

It's been a long time since I've watched network TV, but I can't recall EVER seeing ads for a TV show on a competitor's network.

Hrmmm - well, I remember seeing HBO ads on all the networks. But your basic point is valid.

Did people forget the most recent case of this? "Disney bans Netflix ads from all of its TV channels except ESPN". [0]

Disney banned Netflix ads on its streaming service. How is that not the same thing? The monopoly argument crumbles when you realise how big Disney is compared to Netflix.

[0] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/04/disney-to-ban-netflix-ads-fr...

I would say the majority of users of FB and IG are for social media. That’s why small business use them for ‘selling household items or organizing ride sharing’. I personally cannot think of another social media app as dominant as FB(including IG). If you happen to know one pls let me know.

> That’s why small business use them for ‘selling household items or organizing ride sharing’

Not organised by small businesses, it has nothing to do with any company. Just some dude(s) (or gal(s)) that run(s) a group called "ride shares between Cologne and Koblenz" where people post when they'll be driving, or "fleamarket Cologne" where people post their stuff (not sure how this isn't just a bad/limited replacement for ebay, but that's what I see Facebook being used for).

As for replacements for the other parts of Facebook/Instagram, I don't know because I didn't switch away from using Facebook or Instagram: I've never used it. If you mention what you use it for, I can tell you how I achieve those goals instead. If it's keeping up with people, it's by meeting and chatting. Or if they don't have chat, then email and meeting. Or if you mean how to share pictures, I guess that would again be email or chat.

It's much better than ebay because no one has to pay the 10% fee. The transaction is direct between the buyer and the seller.

was there a big case that FB was a monopoly in 2013? Even in 2019 it's very murky

Personally I would say Google is a much bigger problem. Where I manage to stay away from Facebook (yes, WhatsApp and Instagram and whatever else they may have as well), Google is something I absolutely cannot get around: AOSP, YouTube's monopoly on online videos, Search is very good for many types of queries, google-hosted email (I can hardly choose not to email companies that use it), and of course Google's terms of service on every website that uses Analytics or Ads or embedded YT or an embedded Google map (most of the time: all of the above). I will even admit to using Google Maps because owners can't be bothered to put their businesses on the collaborative OpenStreetMap. By comparison, Facebook has a Like® button (not hard to block), bundles some stuff with other features in the Android SDK (not sure how big a deal that is), and other people sharing their contact list (so Facebook knows with whom I talk, just not how frequently or what about).

Of course, I'm fine with doing something about Facebook (I don't mean to turn this into a whataboutism), but to me this is not the biggest abuser of power at the moment. Google knows practically every aspect of practically everyone's life over here, which is way scarier than Facebook knowing with whom I talk.

Emails like these should be enough for demanding the breakup of Facebook.

Isn't that sort of thing pretty normal? ABC won't let Netflix run ads. Companies usually don't run advertising for their direct competitors.

> ABC won't let Netflix run ads

I suspect Netflix can run its ads on other TV channels (and if they can't/aren't allowed that's a problem in itself).

As far as I can tell Facebook is the only place in town when it comes to social networks in the Western world, and it's a pretty big town, so to speak. As such, FB not letting a company like Google to advertise its services on this "only place in town" proves that either the town needs expanding (quite a difficult thing to do, as pretty much the whole current "town" population is pretty saturated with these FB-only products) or the "place" needs breaking up, i.e. Facebook needs to be split into different social networks.

CBS All Access is running ads for Apple TV+

As is Hulu, owned by Disney. I actually saw the other day a Disney+ ad directly follow an Apple TV+ ad.

That’s because Apple TV+ is a joke right now and literally a threat to no one.

Why not take the money and seem like a good sport while you’re at it?

A free market should regulate itself.

A company like Facebook can regulate the market.

That's when it becomes a problem.

> A free market should regulate itself.

... but it won't. Never has, never will. 'Regulation' serves a larger context, and the market does not value externalities.

> A free market should regulate itself. ... but it won't. Never has, never will.

The concept that capitalism works best if it's free from any/all regulation could work with a very strong shared societal moral fabric.

Sadly, Western culture accepts and even promotes greed and selfishness over the common good.

I don't think Facebook has a monopoly on eye-ball shares in particular. They might have monopoly on social networking as such but given they're not the only thing a person will see in a day by a long-shot, I can't see how they're being more anti-competitive than a TV network (which also has a large but limited share of views).

> They might have monopoly on social networking as such but given they're not the only thing a person will see in a day by a long-shot, I can't see how they're being more anti-competitive than a TV network

Almost no-one bellow the age of 40 cares about TV anymore (apart from sports events), you're pretty off on this one.

Uh, even if you're right, the US is full of the 40+ people and their eye balls are high monetizable.

Even more, TV networks are just an example and it is fricken obvious that Facebook doesn't have an advertising monopoly in the US or world-wide.

> A free market should regulate itself.

Hoo boy. I agree it totally should. Been waiting for a while on that one though...

That´s an incorrect theory from 18th century economics.

It´s equivalent to saying, the Internet should regulate itself, and there is no need for any kind of security to protect against exploits.

Facebook can not regulate the market when it only controls 19% of it.

The behavior is the same, but the situations are different. ABC is a second-tier television network struggling for survival while Facebook is the dominant social network company and is abusing its position to stifle competition.

ABC is a second-tier television network owned by The Walt Disney Company, one of the largest media and entertainment companies in the world, operating a vast international industry of television networks, film studios, and theme parks.

And is about to launch a direct competitor to Netflix.

ABC, the network that is literally available for free via an HDMI antennae, does not care about Netflix. Disney, arguably the single biggest company in entertainment or media and ABC's parent, is about to launch a direct competitor to Netflix. Which party is more likely to be driving the decision not to air Netflix ads.

It was the case when there were only three major national networks as well.

That said, google is in a different business. Their ranking should be fair (aside for their paid rankings). In this case they should not be favoring themselves over others, that’s to say they should not artificially bury competitors in the fair ranking.

I don't think that changes anything. There's plenty of other illegal, monopolistic behavior to pick at here without demanding that ad companies run ads for their direct competitors.

To do what precisely? Separate the advertisment unit from the socialnetwork aspects of the bussiness? How would that work, the advertisement portion is what generates revenue for the social media product.

Usually companies get split up so they cant use their dominance in one area to forcibly move into another area. But advertisements in facebook social network isnt a separate product-its what the social network is selling

> To do what precisely? Separate the advertisment unit from the socialnetwork aspects of the bussiness?

We can start by separating FB into at least two (preferably three) different social networks. I'd be pleased to see IG becoming an independent, separate company, and at some point after that maybe the same thing could happen for Whatsapp. If there is the political will this thing is doable, but this is a pretty big "if", I agree.

Separate the advertisment unit from the socialnetwork aspects of the bussiness? How would that work

The same way it works for millions of other companies that aren't Facebook?

The Facebook breakup is vindictive. What monopoly do they hold?

The monopoly on social networks in the Western world, don't you think that's a pretty (I'd say huge) market?

Small warning for those on metered connection, that is seemingly a 627 MB .pdf.

Ahaha makes sense - I tried to open it on my iPhone 6S with no luck.

ipfs QmQ985xMEH5XYetw8nKYrr3MJV8ut6Fp8F8nQpEjhBpXsW


If you don't want to install ipfs locally, you can use a gateway like https://cloudflare-ipfs.com/ipfs/QmQ985xMEH5XYetw8nKYrr3MJV8...

Thank you! That was a really fast download.

Ah, nice! Thanks for the info.

Any mirror? This server seems to be choking.

It'll be a pretty long while before I manage to read through all of this, but I plan to. Got a small start today, and I'm going to keep going through at least a few dozen pages every day, and dedicate a couple of weekends to doing more significant reading.

I'm seeing some people around the Internet arguing that this is pretty typical and not surprising. The stuff I'm reading so far is surprising to me.

My prediction: similar to the Snowden leaks, there are going to be a bunch of people who say that none of this is unexpected, and we already knew most of the main points. With Snowden, those people are downplaying the environment that existed prior to the leak, and retroactively rewriting the arguments that people used to make. The same thing will be true with Facebook.

So I have personally had people argue to me on HN (recently) that the reason Facebook's APIs are so closed-off is because of privacy concerns, particularly around the 2016 election. If we want an Open Internet, that's fundamentally at conflict with a private Internet, so really we're to blame for Facebook's policies. These documents, to me, make that claim objectively false -- Facebook was talking about closing off access as early as 2012, and the reason they were doing so was to reduce competition.

There are people on this very thread arguing that really this is just a story about privacy, and everyone is being mean to Facebook -- and I don't know how to square that with the memos and emails I just finished reading that argue the opposite.

> "When we started Facebook Platform, we were small and wanted to make sure we were an essential part of the fabric of the Internet. We've done that - we're now the biggest service on Earth. When we were small, apps helped drive our ubiquity. Now that we are big, (many) apps are looking to siphon off our users to competitive services. We need to be more thoughtful about what integrations we allow and we need to make sure that we have sustainable, long-term value exchanges."

Regardless of whether or not anything here is actually illegal, based on what I've read so far, I feel like (for me) the debate over whether federation is compatible with privacy is over, barring some kind of crazy revelation half-way through this document. We should assume that platforms like Twitter are having the same conversations, and we should assume that when Facebook/Twitter executives say that closing down APIs is necessary for privacy, that they're gaslighting.

The Solid project is building out the W3C ACLs standard to tackle the idea of fine-grained sharing over federated systems.

Any updates on that? I haven’t seen any news about it since it was announced

On Solid, or specifically the ACLs proposal? There's a lot of ongoing work on Solid in the Gitter rooms, forums, and the working groups for the differest standards. There's also a growing set of (MVP) apps for Solid right now.

> Facebook has fought vigorously against the release of the documents. It continues to argue that the documents do not paint a balanced picture of its activities. In an emailed statement, a company spokesperson told Business Insider: "These old documents have been taken out of context by someone with an agenda against Facebook..."

I sympathize with some (it probably doesn't paint a 'balanced' picture, this person probably does have an agenda against FB) of what they're saying here but...4000 pages and the context still can't be established?

How many emails, memos, etc. does a large organization create everyday? I’m sympathetic to your point, but surely 4000 documents could be cherrypicked to present a consistent view of the company (for good or bad).

That's ad hominem. The documents should be looked at in their own merit. This isn't some phrase that can be taken out of context, it's a bunch of formal documents that can be looked at to establish a line of facts related to FB's conduct.

Its not an ad hominem.

Its only an ad hominem if someone makes an unrelated personal attack against the source of an argument. The original argument was that these documents are suggestive of facebook corporate culture/evilness. A counter argument that the documents are cherry-picked by someone with a grudge (which may or may not be true) directly responds to the original claim that you can gleam a fair picture of facebook based on these documents. Thus it is not an ad hominem (that's not to say that it is necessarily a good argument)

I think the previous posters point is to consider what is contained in all the other documents created by facebook that weren't leaked. Potentially impossible in practice, but worth considering what could be in those documents that would change your position.

A few years after your CEO proposes crazy ideas via email:

  24 Q. So where you say "which is kind of crazy,"
  25 why was that kind of crazy?

  < missing pages ... >

  1 A. Again, I don't recall.
  2 Q. Mr. Olivan?
  3 A. Again, I don't recall.
  4 Q. Mr. Cox?
  5 A. Again, I don't recall.
  6 Q. Ms. Sandberg?
  7 A. Again, I don't recall.
  8 MR. GODKIN: All right.

I think we should be skeptical when it comes to Facebook coverage in the media, as quite a few stories have been pushing these false and speculative narratives, often including hearsay and personal subjective opinions to support claims rather than facts.

I mean, if you really believe Facebook is so bad, then do your job as a journalist and dig though the material yourself. Find the facts, and show us the exact facts that support your idea. Do not just speculate and make assumptions. However, you should really understand to leave out irrelevant off-hand comments made in "the heat" of a discussion. What is important is what a company is saying publicly, and that it matches up to what they are doing to a reasonable degree.

I am generally in favor of transparency, but it is not good to blindly and uncritically leak internal documents and discussions, just look at the whole pizzagate falseness. But, this is especially true when you know about the current media sentiment and same said material has just conspicuously been held by a company in conflict with Facebook.

Personally, I think the bikini app was deprived of decency, and it is amazing this app is not getting more criticism for what it did in the media. I think we can all agree the decision to remove access was necessary and a victory for users, as it is a step towards more privacy focused social media. The fact that the media will even touch the bikini story is ridiculous.

Those of us who grew up on the internet should be more objective.

Facebook is doing a much better job than their competitors (YouTube, Twitter. Etc.). The privacy controls are actually really good already, and I am sure we will only see them improve. We should give credit where credit is due!

I think, ultimately, this is about privacy and the information companies collect. People are in their right to be worried, but the media should still be more objective. For example, I wonder why no one cares about anonymization and increased transparency as solutions, something that rarely seems mentioned by the media. Companies do not invest in this for fun and giggles. More info here: https://policies.google.com/technologies/anonymization?hl=en

Making more technology open source, including anonymization technology, would probably help to increase trust.

> just look at the whole pizzagate falseness

Pizzagate is largely responsible for Epstein's crimes entering the public zeitgeist. Some of the allegations were bizarre and unfounded, but I credit Pizzagate for taking down one of the most rampant child sexual abusers in our nation's history (that we know of). Bill Clinton's rides on the "lolita express" were brought to light by Pizzagate, which then kept investigating Epsteins connections to Trump, Acosta, and Epstein's numerous associates.

To put my tinfoil hat on, I suspect that once the internet started releasing some seeds of truth, the pedo cabal engaged in topic sliding superlative accusations to muddy the waters about which revelations had a basis in fact.

Does Hillary Clinton really drink the blood of children? Of course not. But, Epstein was certainly a creep and I'm glad he was taken down. I'd hope the FBI has done an impartial investigation of the allegations against Podesta and Alefantis: public found some creepy-but-ambiguous skelletons in their closets as well.

Pizzagate's main propagandist was a Trump supporter who is in court with Jeffery Epstein's ex-lawyer Alan Dershowitz siding against Epstein's victims.

That supporter, Mike Cernovich, rallied gullible MAGA fanatics around this conspiracy leading to a gunman storming a pizza place looking for a non-existent child sex dungeon.

For whatever reason you are hear trying to give it credit when really it was a deflection campaign. Cernovich didn't detail his work with Alan Dershowitz in court as much as he promoted outright conspiracy theories to followers known to be violent.

These people want you to believe Epstein's accusers but not when it comes to their claims about Trump or Dershowitz. If the accusers are to be believed then their claims exonerate Clinton while rope Dershowitz and Trump in being involved with the child sex trafficking centered around Mar-a-Lago.

Pizzagate was an online popular movement that raised suspicion against numerous political figures on both sides of the aisle.

I think you're giving Cernovich way too much credit here. Many right-wing personalities latched onto pizzagate because Bill Clinton flew on the "Lolita Express" many times, sometimes without secret service, and this made HRC look bad. Cernovich is a publicity troll: he latched on because it was self serving. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a 'topic sliding' agent being used intentionally.

A lack of accusers pointing the finger at Clinton does not exonerate him.

But I agree, from what I've read, it seems that Dershowitz and Trump both had involvement - at minimum they had prior knowledge of Epstein's crimes.

>Pizzagate was an online popular movement that raised suspicion against numerous political figures on both sides of the aisle.

Don't forget shooting firearms in pizza parlors based on the efforts of people explicitly biased towards Trump. Why bother trying to make the conspiracy theory look balanced when it was all about shrieking at Clintons and deep state democrats.

>Cernovich is a publicity troll

He is in court with Dershowitz, his involvement and apparent pro-rape statements along with biases towards Trump has resulted in the victim expressing fear over his propagandist tendencies and his involvement in the court case in general.

That is more than publicity trolling.

>A lack of accusers pointing the finger at Clinton does not exonerate him.

No it just leaves people relentlessly accusing him despite lack of actual victim testimony look like hopeless lost biased assholes that would rather talk about Clintons 24/7 than address named culprits.

Like lets hear about her emails for four more years instead of the current actions of sitting representatives or efforts of people like Alan Dershowitz, running public defense of Trump's inner circle. Including his involvement in writing the foreword for Muller's report published on Amazon well before the actual report was put out.

Skippy's email is worth reading. As is the never mentioned instagram account.


This isn't a situation for partisan tribalism. Everyone with connections to Epstein should be investigated by the FBI.


>Don't forget shooting firearms in pizza parlors

You mean the guy who fired a single shot to open a locked closet door because he thought children were trapped behind it . That was idiotic, but not an act of terrorism or motivated violence.

If firing a gun at anything, especially a chunk of metal, in a Pizza Parlor with people in it isn't motivated violence then what is? Does the word 'ricochet' mean anything to you?

I think intentionally firing a gun at someone with the intent to kill or injure is definitely morally distinct from irresponsible tool usage.

Using a gun to open a lock is dumb and irresponsible, but it is not violent.

Are you seriously trying to argue that he brought the gun because he couldn't bring a pass-key instead? I'm of the opinion that it didn't get worse because there wasn't anything behind that door but god forbid if there had been people there and he could have easily maimed or killed someone just by firing it in the first place.

Gullible violent idiots should not have access to guns.

I'm not saying the shooter was right or justified: what he did was dangerous, irresponsible, and reprehensible.

However, I just think that it is misleading to say "shooting firearms in a pizza parlor" because that makes it sound like he was spraying a crowd of people with bullets with reckless disregard for life when he fired only a single shot at an inanimate object.

It does not appear the shooter attempted to hurt anyone, the whole thing was the misguided attempt of a likely-mentally-ill person to 'protect the children'

Firing a gun is something that you should not do lightly, especially not in public places. These vigilante morons who are whipped up by their media savvy puppetmasters are dangerous. Firing a gun should be enough evidence for that, regardless of what it was fired at. What John Wayne does in the movies could have ended up very badly IRL. So yes, that was with reckless disregards for life, you have no way of knowing where that bullet you fired will end up. Signed, Yours Truly, Deadeye Dick.

Oh, and that's besides the fact that mentally ill people - and most of the general public - should not have access to guns in the first place.

> irresponsible tool usage

Your continued attempts to frame Pizzagate as some bipartisan magnanimous effort by non-violent gunmen is just bizarre.

A firearm is not a tool for unlocking doors, you are attempting to claim he brought it there to unlock doors which is an invention of narrative.

>but it is not violent

Oh yea those classic peaceful gunmen, driven by conspiracy theories propagated by someone directly involved in an Epstein court case. Siding against the accuser, working in conjunction with Epstein's ex-lawyer. Shooting expressly violent weapons in public venues they stormed.

Everyone loves a mob of armed delusional fanatics seeking Hillary Clinton's child sex dungeons in places named by Trump's defenders.

Totally not a deflection away from the testimony of the accusers, one groomed from Trump's Mar-a-Lago.

edit: If you'd like I could transcribe the court documents where the gunman stated his intentions with the firearms. Or the description of how firearms work in the court documents detailing their explosive nature of normal function. But then I'd insist on asking why pursue this particular angle of attack on this topic?

Kind of amazing that you created an account just to misconstrue my replies and try to cast my words as partisan when I've said nothing to that effect.

Yea good luck trying to use my account as a means to deflect away from your characterization of Pizzagate, or your fabrication of the intent of the gunman. Sorry, I mean non-violent locksmith.

After reading some of this, I'm a bit blown away by how sophisticated and on top of their game FB is as a company. Pretty sure my company would not have these discussions at the same level, or think about things in this way with such a tight engineering/product/business alignment and thought.

edit: and I work at a "tech company".

Could this leak be a response to Zuckerberg's statements regarding Facebook's political advertising policy?

> response to Zuckerberg's statements regarding Facebook's political advertising policy? reply

Its up to Advertiser to make certain they are Not lying, Not the publication. Is FB now supposed to verify Every Single Ingredient in a Can of Spam before they let them advertise a Spam Taco... imho, it's absurd.

Nah it's actually up for society to decide what they want to allow.

Nearly everyone agrees that political ads that lie are problematic. We the people think Facebook should do something about that. If they're unwilling to regulate themselves then we'll regulate it for them.

This can range from putting guidelines all the way to breaking Facebook apart.

It's Facebook's decision what they want their future to be.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly asked Congress for clear guidelines, stating that FB doesn't want to be in the position of arbitrating this issue. Because it's an incredibly difficult task, politicians have punted.

It can easily be argued the Zuck is the one punting to Congress. It's a hot potato subject: whoever holds the potato when the music stops is gonna be badly burnt.

It seems pretty clear he doesn't want FB to be the decision maker. Guessing his reasoning is probably more projection than anything else.

But back the "punting" metaphor -- he only has the ball because the US government never picked it up. Doesn't it seem pretty clear that these standards (re: hate speech, election ads, etc.) should be made at a national level, rather than a FB level?

> Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Therefore - at least in the US - no, based on the 1stA and the reasoning leading to it in the first place.

One argument I heard that cuts to the heart of why I think this is a cynical partisan move: the same publications and media outlets pushing for and celebrating the removing of political ads from social media are the same ones who are running those ads in their own outlets. This means that the issue isn't over ads themselves, but over who has control over the ads.

Who is this we? The last thing I want is some kind of Ministry of Truth, be it within Facebook or the US Government, deciding what is and isn’t allowable political speech.

The Ministry of Truth won't be deciding what is and isn't allowable political speech. They will tell you what is true. And you already have that.

If your opposition agrees with everything you stated and how you stated it in your politics ad, it was probably a terrible horrible ad.

I don’t know where you get “nearly everyone” agrees that political ads that lie are problematic.

Today there was a funny Snopes fact check of a meme saying Democrats have tried to impeach every Republican President since Eisenhower. [1]

Turns out Democrats have introduced articles of impeachment on every elected Republican President since Eisenhower (Ford was not elected, he was appointed after Nixon’s VP resigned). Snopes rated the meme “Mostly False”.

You can deconstruct the “Biden Corruption” ad that Trump ran against Biden which CNN refused to run and find it contains only factual statements presented in an arguably misleading way.

The only fact I know is that the best political ads will present an opponent in the worse possible light using their own words to do it. As Joe Biden says in the Trump ad, “well, son of a bitch!”

Facebook is absolutely the last entity on Earth I would want to be censoring political ads in a critically important channel.

The idea that the Federal government should be in the business of threatening Facebook with obliteration because of political ads they don’t refuse to run — luckily there’s an Amendment to the Bill of Rights people should double-check.

[1] - https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/dems-impeach-gop-president...

We the people? No. Pass a law first before you claim "we the people" want anything.

And "we the people" wanted internment camps for the Japanese, and believed in the racist philosophy of Manifest Destiny, so maybe "we the people" shouldn't be in charge...

I'm supposedly part of your "we" and I completely disagree with you

I think "we the people", as a society can and do decide what should and shouldnt be allowed as long as we can make a case, and the result can be a myriad of things.

Sure, and as part of the people, I think we should allow lies in political ads except in particular concrete cases (e.g. lying about polling dates).

> I think we should allow lies in political ads except in particular concrete cases

So you don't think we should allow certain lies? We'd still be creating a list of lies that people can't tell, just a smaller one.

You're still advocating for banning lies in political advertising, but only if you agree with what is banned.

In this case, it's specifically what I'd call 'metagaming lies' - lies that explicitly break the rules or the frame of the political system. Misleading people as to the actual rules of the system are out of bounds, as it causes the system itself to collapse.

I love how my replies don't understand how representation works.

The whole point is a discourse, congress isn't a separate entity from the population.

Agreeing with you.

Section 315 of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 states:

"If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provision of this section."

It also specifically says licensees can’t censor "material broadcast by any such candidate."

so at least in the past the government decided tv stations can not censor.

I know FB is not a TV station but it's probably the closest applicable law ATM.

Attorney here! (This is not legal advice.)

Section 315 of the Federal Communications Act is not an applicable law because Facebook is not an FCC licensee, nor does it need a license to operate.

Also, it’s been challenged as a violation of the First Amendment and the courts have removed almost all of its teeth. Section 315 is practically dead law.

Welcome to the Publisher vs Platform debate.

The issue is in some cases “they” (FANNG, Reddit, Twitter, etc) want to be platforms like Facebook saying ads aren’t their responsibility, and in some cases are acting as publishers by censoring otherwise legal content they do not like or agree with. There are memes that will get you instantly suspended from Facebook, while you and Facebook argue no one could possibly monitor content!

It shouldn’t be that the giants get to be both. Legally they are provided protections against content on their system - but historically this only applies to platforms where the content is entirely unfiltered. Think if your telco cut the call when you said the words “Jeffery Epstein didn’t kill himself” as a fictitious example, they shouldn’t get liability protection for things people say if they’re going to curate the content like that.

Right, there is definitely a double standard. Facebook wants its cake and wants to eat it too. Look how hard they are trying to get into China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_Facebook#China

They don't care about free speech or cooperating with one of the biggest enemy of Free Speech in the world (China) when there is potential revenue to be made.

Wait, what? The link you shared didn’t sound like Facebook is even trying to get into China. And the one reference to them building something with the Chinese govt is a link to a login paywall.

These links are all from 2016 and reference the same leak from FB. Said leaks stressed that these ideas may never be implemented

here we are, 3 years later. It sounds to me like FB discusses the idea and never implemented it. I’m not sure we can fault a company for exploring contingency plans with China...

So what if they are from 3 years ago, and how would you know if these ideas were or aren't being implemented as we speak? My whole point was that FB on one hand claims that it doesn't want to remove provably false content because it is a publisher, but on the other hand is willing to cater to the Chinese government's request for censorship. Seems like FB is merely trying to maximize revenue no matter what the cost.

Section 230 wasn't intended to apply to spaces where content was completely unfiltered. It was meant to give services like AOL, Prodigy or CompuServe the ability to to moderate content without inherently becoming liable for everything that was posted to their services. Ron Wyden is still in congress and has talked about this purpose, as a response to Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy.

Forcing sites to have a completely laissez-faire approach to user generated content seems to avoid liability for that user content seems like something that would destroy the internet. Like why would YC take on that risk to help us maintain a space free of spam or threats of violence?

>seems like something that would destroy the internet.

I too remember "the destroyed" internet of yesteryear. We're in a much better place now that 5 companies control your opinion and your access to counter opinions.

>Like why would YC take on that risk to help us maintain a space free of spam or threats of violence?

No. We're talking about legal things that the PUBLISHER just doesn't like. Illegal things are always on the table for moderation. Don't try and make the argument about spam. You know very well that the issue here is a room of "content curators" artificially removing "trending" things because of political ideology, or government requested censorship, or just whoever bought the most ads that month.

> Its up to Advertiser to make certain they are Not lying,

The trolls placing the ads already know they're lying, so I'm not sure how that helps. Facebook also knows they're lying.

The question is whether Facebook's right to make money from lies weighs more than the right of its users to not be manipulated by propagandists.

It's not a super easy question in the abstract because of the weight we give in the US to freedom of speech. But we also give a lot of weight to fair elections, and people have seen the real damage the current policy has caused. For that reason the discussion is more nuanced than it used to be.

Facebook is the slow motion, global scale, online equivalent of the Fyre Festival for our whole society.

If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, I don't think it would make a difference. The same incentives and behavior patterns still continue to exist, so something else would fill its place.

Probably many things would take its place. Facebook is the internet provider for certain parts of the world. It’s a very large company with horizontal integrations that a start up isn’t likely to be able to enact altogether.

beatitiful! please tweet that so I can retweet it

I would be much more interested in email leaks about the "friendly fraud" case [1], because I think Facebook actually broke the law on that one.

[1] https://www.revealnews.org/article/facebook-knowingly-duped-...

The phrase "friendly fraud" is long-established credit card industry jargon, and it does not mean what that article seems to think it means.

According to several passages in the article, that term was used by Facebook. Whether they use it in the same way as the credit card industry, I don't know. But if FB means something different, the error does not seem to be with the article.

You must realize game developers have the majority of the responsibility, since they are the ones making these notorious business models. When I was a kid, you used to buy a game once, and then play it for as long as you would. I still love some of the games released for DOS.

Interestingly enough, even old DOS games are much better than the crap released and mass produced through the Internet. People are stupid for buying into it. I used to be one of them, but I never paid for in-game stuff, and eventually I simply lost interest because it actually ruined the gameplay completely.

The article is clearly blowing things out of proportion, framing it as if Facebook was responsible, when in fact there is much more to the story. It's really unfurtunate, because the credibility of journalism is under attack already, and releasing biased junk like this will not help. Start-ups are never perfect, and if you dig hard enough, especially in big companies, you will find some dirt.

Then again, some things also just happen by accident, not necessarily because it was a conscious decision to do bad things, which is also clearly not the case here, unlike what the article falsely claim.

"The British Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee published hundreds of pages in a report in December; they were seized from Six4Three's founder, Ted Kramer, when he visited the UK."

Can anyone explain how/why the documents were seized?


A parliamentary committee was investigating "Disinformation and 'fake news'" which also touched on Cambridge Analytica. Once they found out Kramer had documents from Facebook obtained in lawsuit discovery, they sent him an Order to Produce Documents. He didn't initially comply but then went to Parliament without lawyers where he may have then believed he would be imprisoned or detained in the country for not complying so he turned them over from a Dropbox account ( Had he asked a lawyer, he would know that UK Parliament hasn't fined or imprisoned anybody for a long time https://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/jan/30/contempt-parliam... )

Thank you!

I am only on page 9 and the pattern appears to be somewhat obvious. I can kinda understand now the constant anti-FB crusade in media now. FB pissed off a lot of powerful people getting to where it is.

For the record, I dislike FB myself.

“Competitor” is a fun term to search for in this document.

Someone from Google, please do the same.

Facebook is the dumpster fire nobody wants to walk away from because it's here everyone hangs out. Everyone tolerates the smell because if they want to show their mom or their grandmother pictures, it's where you do it. You just have to ignore the flaming garbage all around you while you flip out your photos.

There is no alternative to Facebook. Even if Twitter were tons better, if you want to move, you have to drag all your friends along with you.

After deleting Facebook, I didn't feel any impact on my relationships... I think it's more related to addiction than not having a platform to hang out with.

Yes, it's absolutely an addiction. I constantly hear people talk about how they can't leave facebook because they'll lose connections with friends and/or family, won't be able to find out about events, or will somehow otherwise be missing out on life. I deleted my account 7 or so years ago and the impact on my life has only been positive

The emotionally charged downvotes from the people that are addicted to facebook will do nothing to change the fact that it IS addicting. It is literally designed to get you addicted, and it's clearly working

Didn't downvote, but I do disagree. There is some kind of compulsive behavior, but I wouldn't describe it as addiction. I've used FB quite regularly and have never felt compelled to return when away from it, or even missed it remotely when I don't have time to check it or don't have signal. A couple weeks ago I uninstalled it and again there is no compulsion, no absence felt. I don't even check in on my iPad when I get home.

When I had it convenient to check, I would pop on during downtime, now it's just gone. I do check HN more often so maybe it's just a general social media itch.

I appreciate that you respond and explain why you disagree rather than simply downvoting and moving on. However, Facebook, and other similar sites, are literally designed to be addictive. Many of the founders of some of the largest social media, and other SV tech, companies took classes that focus on making an app/service/product addictive. You may personally not feel addicted, but that doesn't change the fact that these companies specifically abuse psychological processes and reactions to make their products addictive to the average user. There are a ton of articles on the subject. It may be easier for some to leave than others, but that doesn't mean these companies don't purposely make it psychologically challenging to leave for many. Here are a few articles on the topic





Why does this matter? Pornhub is addictive, probably on a much deeper level than Facebook. No one criticizes Pornhub. Reddit is addictive, no one criticizes Reddit. Videogames are addictive. No one says we should ban videogames or take legal action against them. Even if people do criticize these things, they don't criticize them the same way they criticize Facebook.

I think FB has added more to the world (wealth, high tech jobs, open source technology, places for people to organize, ways for people to connect) than it has taken away in the form of FB addiction and manipulative ads.

The masses have always had their bread and circuses. I don't see why a new digital variation is any worse than existing forms of mindless entertainment.

Your 3rd sentence seems unrelated to the 2nd.

As far as I can tell, Twitter is hugely dysfunctional and has literally contributed to at least one friend's mental decline. (Twitter seems much closer to single experience since you automatically get everyone's comments).

Facebook seems much more "what you make it", meaning it can be as bad as Twitter if you choose the wrong friends, wrong groups and wrong approach or it can be a place where you meet people with similar interests and filter out the noise.

Especially, you have this effect "everyone hates Facebook" but that everyone is distributed between people wanting Facebook to censor more (and as they'd prefer), people wanting Facebook to censor less (and especially not bother their bullshit), and people using Facebook as a stand-in for social networking or being on the Internet, or just talking with people you don't know very well.

I use Signal or Telegram, or regular email to send pictures to family and close friends. When they get the pictures they know I thought specifically of them, rather than a post that they may or may not actually see. In that regard, sending a message with a picture seems way more personal than a post to a socialnetworking site.

I don't really disagree with your broader point but...

>if they want to show their mom or their grandmother pictures

Email? Personally that's how I show pictures to my dad. (Well, that and in person.)

My parents have flipped to Google photos. They're tired of Facebook too and don't know what instagram is.

Email sucks. It's the dumpster fire where every single web-site I've ever interacted with thinks they can monopolize my attention. Facebook got big when email was the dominant way of sharing with family & friends and there are a lot of good reasons why.

Email (once abused) sucks because it was born when trust was implicit between both parties in a communication, plus the creators wouldn't even imagine that wonderful tool one day would be used for mass spamming, "419" scams and the like. Those days are long gone sadly, but the protocol is there in the open to be hardened and made more modern (just like NNTP could become a social networking killer if properly extended). Add basic security by default, write clients so conversation mode becomes the norm and you get a mail client that would be much much easier to push to other users. Example: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Geary

100 times easier than reinventing the wheel, and we get the huge benefit of using well known open protocols and decentralized servers that can talk to each other, and are already there.

And Facebook isn't? Gmail tabs work pretty well for me. Yes, a lot of email comes in but my Primary tab is relatively clean. Email is still my primary communications method for home and work with texting in 2nd place for more immediate needs.

Added: What email was/is bad for is the family member/friend who just had to share jokes, what we call memes these days, etc. with 100 of their closest friends on a daily if not hourly basis. Facebook etc. have largely replaced that sort of thing and that's for the best. But sharing baby pictures with the grandparents? Email's is fine, even best, for that.

> And Facebook isn't?

I posted as much above. Both are dumpster fires, for different reasons.

You can add filters to your email to ensure that you see messages from your friends and family. Facebook hides a good portion of these messages no matter what you do.

I'm on board on the Facebook hate train, but I still have one.

Why? Because the martial arts gyms I visit only communicate there. And because the card gaming communities (I used to play Netrunner) always used Facebook to coordinate. All seminars, tournaments and other events require Facebook.

I don't really care about talking to friends, and I haven't even added friends on Facebook. But Facebook being the gatekeeper to my hobbies, which I really don't want to miss, means I will continue having an account there. You're right that there's no alternative for me.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. There are a ton of people or groups where the only communications channel we have in common is FB. Quite a few only support FB.

Thus we have a dumpster file everyone hates but still uses.

Or they're a service that is what you make of it but that it's hip to hate, like a wide variety of other things in human society.


Oh please get off your pretentious moral high horse. People can actually enjoy products and things you don’t like or agree with. Even more astonishing is their point of view could be just as valid as yours.

Any story about Facebook, google or amazon is entirely too predictable on HN....

This society is full of awful things. It seems strange to me that people single-out Facebook in comparison to whatever other forces exist out there.

I think the single worst thing Facebook was documented as being involved was genocide in Myanmar, which was indeed certainly terrible. And while FB's poor policies are no doubt partly to blame here (obviously, blood on their hands), the people who actually did it, the state that aided etc, are likely more to blame. And similar horrors have been committed in other regions through mass hysteria instead spread through email or text messages (pogroms against strangers in India, etc).

Which is to say that Facebook has many terrible qualities and I'd love people to come together in the kind of social network I want instead, but still, I can't see much or any unique evil in Facebook compared to many systems and processes that it just happens to a part (choose from media, capitalist, elites, whatever).

> This society is full of awful things. It seems strange to me that people single-out Facebook in comparison to whatever other forces exist out there.

So... you live in a cave?

The piles of lies and bullshit which comes from Facebook management is mountainous, about the only companies which I feel have bent the bullshit meter as far are oil companies and perhaps Comcast and they are despised as well.

I throw events in Toronto. Same kinda deal.

I think you framed it negativly. The reason why I am not leaving, is because it's actually far better than other social networks, including YouTube and Twitter.

Google made a bad decision by closing Plus, but I guess they smelled the stench in the media, and decided it would be bad for their public image. This is just my speculation, however.

Regardless, fact remains. Facebook is providing a great service to users for free.

Facebook—the product is possibly better than the other social networks at doing the basics.

Facebook—the company, is morally bankrupt. Arguably the worst of the bunch. The overly invasive data-collection, sharing of data in questionable ways, repeated lying about.. just about everything... etc.

For me, the product is not appealing enough to compensate for the failings of the companies. If it weren't for the fact that so many friends/ businesses/ family rely on it for communications I would quit it entirely.

"free" isn't really the word we should be using at this point to describe facebook. You're mostly paying with the private intimate details of your personal life and by consenting to be manipulated but you're still paying.

That is part of the false narrative promoted by the anti-ads crowd. If you understand the history of the internet, then you can only disagree strongly with that kind of thinking. It is basically just sawing off the branch we are all sitting on.

The user does not become a product because Facebook run ads, and they are also not entitled to part of the profit. It would be minuscule anyway.

No, actually, there is no real product, except the reach and engagement Facebook is able to create through the ads.

> The user does not become a product because Facebook run ads

they become a product because Facebook collects their personal information and uses it to manipulate them for profit. Facebook could show ads without mining user data, without buying information from data brokers, and without creating shadow profiles for people who choose not to interact with their service. They do all of those things though because the user is 100% the product as far as Facebook is concerned.

We just need a better place to show our parents pictures of their grandkids. Is that such a hard ask?

Our family uses shared albums in Google Photos


One keeps reading things like this on the Internet or in the media, and yet the data keep pointing in the opposite direction: https://jakeseliger.com/2018/11/14/is-there-an-actual-facebo...

Article has nothing to do with my comment. There is a big difference between saying "people hate Facebook" and "Facebook is doomed". This is easy to illustrate if you replace the Facebook with Comcast. Monopolies are free to screw over the customers as much as they like.

Really? I've been sharing Google Photos / iCloud Photo Library albums with my friends family for years, and even my technically-inept relatives have had no trouble liking or commenting on them, all without the need for Facebook.

> Everyone tolerates the smell because if they want to show their mom or their grandmother pictures, it's where you do it.

I guess people were sharing pictures with their mom before Facebook.

The alternative is to email / direct message / snail mail your family members. It works just fine.

And to have them all agree to do it with you. Which they won't.

Wait… we still have Fedex next day air right?

Just stop posting anything about your personal life on it, block all forms of geolocation (other than by IP, which they can still do), and use it for only shitposting.

I'm honestly creeped out by people who post photos of the interior of their homes, the children, etc on Facebook now.

There was a time when people moving to a new place would voluntarily list their names, phone number, and residential address in a public directory.

We have lost a lot of privacy in recent decades but some expectations have actually changed towards more privacy.

Well, there was also a time when the SS7/PSTN phone network was the only way to get in contact with people quickly. And by "quickly", I mean that almost nobody carried a cellphone, so leave a message on their cassette tape based answering machine if they're not home.

What's interesting to me now is how blithely people give up a lot of their personal privacy to random social media companies.

I don't use it, but i hear it's the root of all evil. I wonder what will people do without FB. This evil is a kind of solution.

Nobody hangs out on facebook anymore except middle-aged/old people that nobody wants to interact with.

Today I learned that 2,400,000,000 = nobody. Must be HN math.

Also, ageist much?

Instagram is still Facebook.

It's FACEBOOK now.

The documents are not "explosive." The title should be updated to remove linkbait.

Ok, we've defused the title above.

occupational hazards intensify !

It's business insider, what did you expect?

We don't expect better from them, but we expect better from HackerNews.

I'm fine with users not editorializing the headline, instead opting to use the original title. This is so that no one can accuse the poster from editorializing it themself and allow dang or one of the HN mods be the one to change it.

I can see the reasoning there, but that approach works best when people refrain from posting articles with garbage clickbait titles, in the first place.

The current solution isn't terrible; we don't need to trust the average submitter to come up with a title that's better than the original, and the bad cases tend to get fixed by the mods eventually. Unfortunately it does mean we see clickbait titles in the stream for some time, and the clickbait gets rewarded.

We're also assuming that the article is worth reading despite the clickbait title. If an article has a seriously misleading title, that tells us something about the kind of journalism we can expect in the article itself. Ideally, I'd rather such sites never make it to HN.

I haven't seen a single internal document on child labor or corporate plans to assassinate the president... This all seems rather tame considering the amount of flack FB has been taking in recent years.

The down-votes? Does HN have a strict no humor allowed policy that I wasn't aware of, geesh.

Apparently on-topic humor isn't allowed any more. Hooray control freaks with downvoting capabilities!

>humor isn't allowed any more

Humor has IME always had a high likelihood of ending up gray (in text color) on this site.

Business Insider: we haven't read these documents and are "combing through them" right now, but they're explosive!

Still better than the breaking news of someone "about to drop documents maybe next week". "The entire world is watching that suitcase full of nasty nasty documents, when will it open?".

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact