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[dupe] I'm resigning from my job at Facebook (facebook.com)
534 points by dredmorbius 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 464 comments

Hrm, yes, though flagged.

(I'd searched the FB link, didn't see the LinkedIn post.)

Why was it flagged?

Flags are generally from user votes- so probably too inflammatory/political to some here.

Per the guidelines: "Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic."

Flagging is automatic based on user-submitted flags, presumably based on HN app thresholds.


seems like there is more discussion here though :/

I don't understand why doesn't Facebook just: -Allow all posts -Allow users to customize what they want to see (e.g. "dont show me posts that glorify violence" or "only allow covid posts that match WHO guidelines" or "allow exceptions from political figures or of historical significance") and allow users to ban hide posts that are found untruthful by third parties (snopes, etc).

To me effectively everyone wins. Facebook users who want to curate their experience can do so. Facebook gets out of the censorship business so governments can lay off. Governments will have a hard time objecting because it is the users controlling their information, not the company. "Sources of truth" have to compete to get the customer's business.

Its hard but not that hard, and its Facebook's core business.

Defaults are important because, fundamentally, misinformation and superstition spread faster, farther and stronger than the truth, with much more staying power.

There's also the practical problem with social networks - within a degree or two of connections, you'll at least have some people who are part of communities covered by your own blocks. But it is in Facebook's interests to show you those communities and extend those linkages; likewise, people would simultaneously object to 1) Facebook not showing them content from friends even if it violates their own content settings 2) Facebook violations their content settings.

It would be a lose/lose situation. It is now, too.

They could then no more wash their hands of it than they can now: if people are using your platform to do bad things, or things society rejects, then you'll take the blame nomatter what level (or lack thereof) of interference you take.

> Defaults are important because, fundamentally, misinformation and superstition spread faster, farther and stronger than the truth, with much more staying power.

The amount of effort involved in telling a lie is pretty low. Going out to do good research to tell the truth is often much more expensive in terms of effort.

Or, said another way:

"The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."


Yes defaults matter, and people will campaign heavily for the default settings, but perfect can't be the enemy of good and I can't see how this is worse.

I think its not only possible but relatively easy to have user settings that allow people to toggle on/off "1) Facebook not showing them content from friends even if it violates their own content settings".

Ah, that word "just." Whenever I see "just" in some kind of kind of technical demand in the first line, I immediately know that there's a lot of stuff to unpack.

Here, you have requested something fairly close to a general AI which understands both written language, images, and even more fun, images of language. Cartoon violence right on down to "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" And will quoting Henry II of England set off your detector?

Let's unpack your COVID post thing -- note that WHO guidelines have changed a few times. Recall that era wherein they said that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Also, don't buy masks. So you'd have to factor in a time domain as the guidelines change, in addition to your generalized AI as above.

In IT, I have frequently heard requests for "why can't we just get the things we know we will like?" and such. It all boils down to that mind-reading, future-predicting generalized AI.

Why don't we just turn it on?

Okay, but companies like Google, FB, and Twitter are already putting great efforts towards implementing that type of thing in production.

Whats so difficult about letting a user toggle those existing filters on and off? Or allowing users more control over their news feed, such as allowing it to be chronological? Or hiding items based on keywords?

Its our job as technologists to not only tell people if/when their request is technologically impractical/impossible, but more importantly, to make informed recommendations of what is technically feasible and most closely matches their intended goals (which they might not yet even fully understand themselves).

Eh, I haven't seen it in production.

I hate seeing politics of any stripe in my news feed, for example. I get enough of it elsewhere. But how can Facebook take an image, recognize that it is a cartoon, and that the cartoon is based on something political? We're not there yet. We're not anywhere near there yet.

You and I, as humans in this time period, will likely recognize a drawing of a man with kind of mocha-y skin, ears that stick straight out, large-ish front teeth, and kind of a squint as a standard issue caricature of a particular former President of the USA. We can immediately go "aha, politics!"

So I suppose we could try to train some AIs on a historical set of caricatures of politically-relevant figures. Of course, caricaturists and cartoonists of all stripes are called upon to produce new stylized exaggerations of people as they step into the limelight (or are dragged into it), so our training set must be updated on a daily basis. Hrm, some more work there ...

But then it gets into "politics you would like to hear" versus "politics you would NOT like to hear," and that is just going to be something that will require a mental model of what you do and do not like.

Right now, Amazon and Netflix cannot get my recommendations even CLOSE and their data is much better curated than what someone might type into a Facebook text box.

Chronological? Reasonable! Probably doable. Keywords? Who is putting those in? Who is curating that set of keywords?

banads says>"Whats so difficult about letting a user toggle those existing filters on and off? Or allowing users more control over their news feed, such as allowing it to be chronological? Or hiding items based on keywords?"<

This! And...

allow 3rd-party individuals/companies to create user-filters that users could load up at their preference. Allow a proliferation of filters to compete.

So, say, if you don't want profanity you could view FaceBook with the, say, "FaceBook-no-profanity" filter active. Or if you don't want antisemitic remarks you can load up FaceBook with, say, the no-antisemitic filter. Filters could be loaded, unloaded, switched on and off at the users desire.

So everyone could see the Internet they want or, at any time, view everything or part of it. And if you want to see what a friend is talking about, you could load the filter(s) (s)he is using. Sets of filters could be grouped, e.g., TomT's filters, Mary's filters, Mom's filters, etc., so you can, so to speak, "see the (Internet) world through their eyes".

I see where this is going...in the long run the Internet will turn into a vast wasteland with gardens of little consequence and minimal membership. It will become defunct and all else will be simple P2P over TCP/IP.

They already have processes in place to flag and remove covid information and violent content, so you obviously don't need general AI.

Yes thank you. My examples were explicitly things that they already do in production. They were not random examples.

Ah that word 'ah'. Whenever I see 'ah' at the start of a post, I expect condescension to follow.

In IT I infrequently hear anyone say IT.

Couldn't agree more. Also the implication that users will manage or update settings to their preferences is incredible in its own right.

So, let's just do it.

Facebook doesn't have anything more that the dream of a promise that some day they'll have AI smart enough to curate content as well as humans can. They don't even have a hope of doing so in a way that all humans can agree is fair.

They are criminally negligent in allowing themselves to be what they are: a publishing platform designed to divide humanity into smaller and smaller subgroups in order to ease marketing, without regard to public safety or any conception of common good. Social media does not care about the blood it spills.

Want the good old web back? Enforce responsibility for content published on the publisher. Let's see facebook moderate every post. Let hateful shitheads find a place to host them, and let them start their own blogs, with their identifiable information publicly available. Failing that, maybe we can do something like this idea I posted this morning. (https://www.reddit.com/r/socialmedia/comments/gwhiie/trust_a...)

My bet is most people would not realize this was available and would continue to see whatever the default options were. And so you get back to square one, what should the defaults be?

That is not square one, its a far better place than where we are now.

Of course. That is exactly what FB should be doing and its likely where Twitter is going as well. Nothing else is sustainable. What exactly gives a bunch of 20 to 30 year old privileged nerds the moral authority or wisdom to decide what information the country gets access to? Pardon my French, but fuck that.

Silicon Valley people live in a bubble where everyone they know is smart and liberal. After a while they forget that there exist smart people who are not liberal and implicitly think that if someone disagrees with them, they are uneducated and just wrong. Consequently they take it upon themselves to demand that people not be allowed to say incorrect and uneducated opinions (really just anything the Silicon Valley hivemind disagrees with).

When nearly everyone in your bubble has the same beliefs on politics and culture you will react violently towards threatening ideas.

It's not about users being outraged about what they can read.

"Those other people are idiots and will kill us all without some rules" is a basic human conceit. These people calling for censorship on Facebook don't want to see that stuff, sure, but way more importantly they want FB to censor so that other people CAN'T read that stuff.

They think that if they shout loud enough, they will get to decide what other, more gullible/radicalized/violent/whatever people are allowed to read.

It's really condescending nonsense to claim that you know better than another adult what they should be allowed to read.

Lots of really famous/successful people are thinking along these lines lately. It's quite popular amongst the "thought leadership" set to think that Facebook has some moral obligation to play publishing cop and shut down private groups where people say things they don't like, because people other than the ones calling for censorship are so gullible and malleable and childlike that they'll turn into a terrorist if they read enough about 5G or vaccines or antifa or whatever in private FB groups or something.

A handy example is John Gruber's recent post on the matter:


The correct answer to people being wrong is education, never censorship.

I defer, as always, to Heinlein:

> “Thing that got me was not her list of things she hated, since she was obviously crazy as a Cyborg, but fact that always somebody agreed with her prohibitions. Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good" — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.”

> they want FB to censor so that other people CAN'T read that stuff

I'm having a hard time believing that they want to stop with Facebook, either. I suspect this will move on to hosting providers next.

There was an effort by Anonymous people to negatively affect Cloudflare in some capacity called #OpISIS due to the fact that Cloudflare generally tries to be a content-neutral pipe, and was continuing to host websites used by the Islamic State.


I wish there were more companies like Cloudflare.

> Cloudflare generally tries to be a content-neutral pipe

They did a complete 180 over the past couple of years, for particularly distasteful content (in their opinion). For better or worse.

>The correct answer to people being wrong is education, never censorship.

What do you do when people reject education itself as a matter of course or principle?

Or can only view such attempts defensively, see them as patronizing at best, and so radicalize further as a result?

Heck, even "this post is misleading" approaches, which leave the original content intact, are seen by some as a form of censorship (and definitely as propaganda to be discarded) and I don't think that's an unreasonable response based on their existing point of view.

Fundamentally, if misinformation is more appealing and attractive than truths, how far can educational approaches go? If it's information junk food, then I see education helping no more than it helps for the obesity crisis - perhaps less so because that unhealthiness actually feels bad and prompts action. There's no equivalent with disinfo.

> What do you do when people reject education itself as a matter of course or principle?

Shrug. Sometimes the wrong choices of others can't be helped.

> Fundamentally, if misinformation is more appealing and attractive than truths, how far can educational approaches go?

Well, based on approximately the last 1000 years of history, considering that we have an orbiting science lab 400km above the Earth and outdated superstitions seem to be waning worldwide, I would venture a preliminary guess that in the long run, truth will win out.

All of the other times we tried mass censorship, it ended very poorly, with millions upon millions of deaths.

Trust in your fellow human beings. You can't have a society without trust. Most people are not malicious, nor are they exceedingly dumb. Let people read.

If you're worried about people not knowing the things they need to know, or being mislead by wrong or bad information, I encourage you to write a book, or make a website. Hell, I'll even help you set it up, for free, if you need assistance doing so.

Thanks for the follow up.

I agree that people want to adjust what other people can read, but this is where Facebook can really sidestep this by making things user preferences. Because it sounds strange to campaign to force Facebook to "override a person's explicit preferences about what to show/hide".

> don't show me posts that glorify violence

Does this include "We killed Osama Bin Laden" [perhaps with some details and photos of the operation]?

One thing I have to hand it to Twitter for is that they wrote an explicit carve out for their "no glorifying violence" rules to militaries and governments.

This seems to be somewhat implicit in our society ("violence is bad, unless it's our heroes doing it to people another color far away, then woohoo bombs away!") but usually unsaid and unexamined. It's a good moral move by Twitter to point out the contradiction.

A better move would have been for them to simply ban everyone calling for violence, militaries included (if and only if they are going to be banning people selectively based on content, which they are, which I think is bad).


> Its hard but not that hard

That depends on how you define "it." Media is not neutral. At least, we haven't yet had a neutral mass media. In 2020 that means defaults, recomendation engines & such. These are core to FB's product, business model. They're not neutral.

You need to take the scale FB's influence into account. Elections, revolutions, mass protests, primary political narratives... all determined on FB. What happens on Facebook can determine presidencies and prime ministerships. The have more power than Rupert Murdoch. At this scale you can't just "get out of the censorship business."

Youtube, for comparison, appears to be trying to get out of the harder problems by exiting the space entirely. On hard news issues, they're defaulting to (more than defaulting to) television news sources. I don't think they want politics on their platform anymore. It's too dangerous.

FB can't do that as easily, but I expect they'll try something similar.

Basically... social media will try to hand the problem back to traditional media somehow.

I agree. But this would reduce engagement and therefore profits. Do you see FB opting in to reducing profits?

I'm not so convinced it would reduce engagement. I would think that me giving Facebook feedback on what I want would potentially increase engagement. But it feels more sustainable to me, and less prone to unwanted regulation.

In fact, if I were Facebook and wanting to reduce competition, I would try to pass legislation that requires these kinds of controls, making it harder for upstarts.

> I don't understand why doesn't Facebook just: -Allow all posts [...] To me effectively everyone wins.

"Everyone", including racists, terrorists, drug cartels, human smugglers, child pornographers, scammers, phishers, hackers, gun nuts, anarchists...

I know you say you'd be fine with all that stuff, but if I write long enough I'll find something you're not OK with. And everyone else has a different something. Finding common ground on which we can all agree isn't a mistaken goal or an unnatural side effect of having a public forum. It is the purpose of having a public forum.

This is just another variant of the "forums should be unmoderated" argument. No one wants that. And the proof? You're making the point on a heavily moderated forum.

>No one wants that. And the proof? You're making the point on a heavily moderated forum.

That's terrible argument. HN already works pretty close to what mchusma proposes. See "showdead" option in profile setting.

People in the "everyone" categories you mention can be heard if they want to, the world and Internet are big enough for everyone. And I have the impression that you think you are the owner of the truth by putting categories that should NOT have free speech because you KNOW they are bad. You are wrong multiple times, first because your categories are extremely subjective (I know gun nuts that are very nice people with a passion for the Olympic sport called precision shooting), second because in a country where SCOTUS said something like "there is no exception for hate speech in the 1st A, so hate speech is protected speech" you want private organizations to be restrict what the government is not allowed to. For you free speech is a bad idea, but you think you can post on forums about that and benefit from the fact that the forums do not restrict your posts like you want to restrict others. Maybe your posts are more nocive than child porn, some food for thought.

> People in the "everyone" categories you mention can be heard if they want to, the world and Internet are big enough for everyone.

Which was exactly my point. "Facebook" is not "the world and Internet", is it? The question is about whether moderated forums have value to people (they do, you're reading one right now). Demanding that your moderated forum not be moderated affects whether or not people see it as valuable. Facebook wouldn't be Facebook without moderation to make it so. HN wouldn't be HN, Reddit wouldn't be Reddit, etc...

> you think you are the owner of the truth [...] For you free speech is a bad idea

Go. Away. This junk doesn't belong on HN. And I'm gonna bet you get flagged for that by the very moderation we're discussing.

A public forum can also be common ground to disagree on.

Very simply, the biggest threat to Facebook and other tech companies is the legacy media they're replacing. Censorship is a complex issue. So any solution will get them eaten alive for not suiting literally everyone. Then you'll be pilloried for failing to appease the one nano-segment of society that thinks you went too far or not far enough.

For your solution, the NY Times will run stories about Facebook censoring us on Monday then stories about Facebook letting Nazis eat babies on Tuesday.

That's the issue Facebook faces here: not minimising social damage or maximising freedom, it's protecting share price and avoiding legislation due to economically motivated attacks.

Fyi, I actually really like your answer.

> -Allow users to customize what they want to see

This means that Facebook has to provide a process to categorize posts into the categories. Facebook argues they don't want to do that categorization.

No it doesn't. The customization could be done based on the source (Always/never show government officials posts, for example) or the votes of a trusted entity (the WHO, The White House, CNN, your cool friend who knows what is going on, etc). Plenty of empty gas bags have been identified by their reaction to Pandemic but also plenty of people who were right, early (and widely mocked at the time). There is signal there that users should be able to leverage.

I shortened my quote, for context the GP post had these examples:

> e.g. "dont show me posts that glorify violence" or "only allow covid posts that match WHO guidelines" or "allow exceptions from political figures or of historical significance")

Glorifying violence isn't objective measurable.

How do you identify matches to WHO guidance (incl. satire, valuable critique, ...)

How exactly do you identify "political figures or of historical significance" sure, you can identify elected officials, but what about opposition leaders which often are not formally designated or cases where elections are disputed?

And to be clear: I think the stance of "we are neutral" is wrong. And I don't think this can be offloaded to the user, while Facebook stays "neutral".

Hi, thanks for following up. So you say all these things are hard and not objectively measurable, and I agree. But Facebook is already making these decisions, so in some ways it can be described as lettings users opt out of Facebook's curation in different ways.

I think perfect is the enemy of good in this case. Giving users more control is good.

I guess to be clear on my stance, I think Facebook should be trying to be as neutral as possible, and keep making progress on that front, knowing it is impossible to be perfectly neutral in every way.

I agree that "hide things I won't like" isn't going to work but I think that for people in good faith the proxies I mentioned would be good enough. That however would not afford FB or anyone else control over other's speech, which I guess is what you think should be possible? Can you elaborate as to why you think that would be a net good?

Hmm. I think you may be onto something. Tagging may not be that hard ( though false positives may be an issue ) and only showing stated preferences. But do we want to move into slippery slope of 'show me car accidents with at least one fatality'.

That is where it gets hard, but I think its doable. And just to play with the thought experiment you would probably weigh things. Like would you want to see any car accidents on your street within 50 feet of your house? Maybe yes. 2 miles away? Probably not, but may be if they have a fatality sure. Car accident of a friend in another country? Maybe. A train wreck with 100 deaths in your state?

Basically you can adjust the likelihood of something showing on your feed by severity weighted by location and friend graph (showing less severe things closer to you and more severe things further away). This matches how I think humans actually process information.

What you're essentially advocating for is Facebook, exactly as it is today. Unless you default to censoring information, which is incredibly unlikely, you default to amplifying all hateful information.

> "only allow covid posts that match WHO guidelines"

That's cool, except for all of those people that have been that the WHO is secretly out to get them some how. The issue goes deeper...

This wouldn't satisfy the people angry at Zuckerberg. To them it's not about what they see, it's about what other people are allowed to see.

Doesn't Facebook work like this already? I imagine most of the people really angry about things Trump is posting don't follow him anyways. I'll occasionally unfollow (not unfriend) people who post nonsense repeatedly and my feed is remarkably clean.

Facebook usage scales with controversy. Rage is a more reliable predictor if virality than other emotions, so they want the controversy.

Because that would just be the Internet.

What do you do about illegal content?

Because when you operate at a scale measured in billions of souls, impacts and consequences are neither inconsequential nor personal. Neither are remediations and mitigations.

You find lone actors committing mass killings:

"New Zealand mosque shooter broadcast slaughter on Facebook"


You find genocides:

"A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military"


You find radicalisation:

"Prosecutors say Dylann Roof ‘self-radicalized’ online, wrote another manifesto in jail"


You find disinformation with global consequences:

"How fear of the unknown sows disinformation during a pandemic"


Yes, the examples listed include more than Facebook, but Facebook, and its "they trust me, dumb fucks" unitary executive (https://www.vox.com/technology/2018/11/19/18099011/mark-zuck...) is very much at the. heart of the problem.

Or, as some may better recognise the notion, "with great power comes great responsibility". Facebook and Zuckerberg consistently shirk theirs, and externalise the concommitant costs.

Anticipating the usual rebuttal that Facebook could not operate if it were required to act responsibly: if an organisation cannot exist or operate at scale without actively harming society, then it shouldn't exist.

The "individual responsibility" argument, going back to 1970s anti-littering campaigns and the crying (fake) Indian (fake) TV advert (and before), are corporate gambits to shirk their own obligations:

Annie Leonard, "Moving from Individual Change to Societal Change" (2013) [pdf]


Don't buy it.

When you turn on the WHO guidelines filter are you just filtering or are you curating? Ultimately you have to form an opinion about whether the piece fits into that classification. With that particular class it may be clear, but with others it may be more grey. Right or wrong, thats what facebook is trying to avoid, attaching an opinion to the content, because then they subject to the same scrutiny twitter is facing with 230.

See you have a healthy respect for the idea of free expression, as do I

Unfortunately we are in the minority, the majority wants SOMEONE ELSE to choose what they can see, what is the "good speech" and what is the "bad speech"

They want someone else to tell them what the "good things" are they should be supporting, and what the "bad things" are that they need to oppose

In short, people no longer want to think critically for themselves, they want the magic box to do that for them

We simultaneously hate and fear Mark Zuckerberg and we want him to be the ultimate censor on everything we see and read. Somehow, we've decided that we want to demand that he take even more power.

I don’t use his surveillance platforms and I don’t fear him

I honestly don’t understand how this ignorant of a comment still gets on HN. What y’all are talking about is “The Internet” where all the trash and racist are free to make whatever content they want. What everyone else is talking about is private companies that publish trash based on recommendation engines, timeline visibility algorithms, sharing functions, and whole other bunch of programmed ways to “increase engagement.” If Facebook just wants to be the internet where you publish trash then I have to go find it on my own accord then manually share it to a list of other people, or where I can make a page with no special boosting to parrot that trash, then go right ahead. But that’s not what FB is doing, so don’t pretend that is.

I am well aware, see you are upset that facebook is not filtering "the correct way", and facebook is promoting "the bad things" from your POV, and not promoting the "good things" from your POV.

My statement is Facebook should not be doing any promotation at all, and people aurging over the level and type of filtering / promotion is the problem

Facebook painted themselves into this corner by choosing what people will see and not see instead of letting user choose this for themselves. That is what the GrandParent was saying.

See you desire them to censor and filter, you want that you just disagree with their choices

I do not want them picking anything at all for anyone.

not sure how that makes me "ignorant" on this topic, or how my comment is some how wrong or misunderstanding what it happening. It seems more likely you are misunderstanding my comment

Of source this is all really pointless because I have never, and will never have either a Facebook or Twitter account so...

You’re sidestepping the discussion though. It is “when you avail yourself to FB, do we want FB to use its algorithms to push certain content.” I see two options: stop any ranking/recommendations and make FB a dumb pipe with no restrictions, or put guard rails on the ranking/recommendations so we don’t end up with extremists.

>> I honestly don’t understand how this ignorant of a comment still gets on HN. What y’all are talking about is “The Internet” where all the trash and racist are free to make whatever content they want.

Oh, the irony.

Racism is protected speech. Hate is protected speech. You seem not to understand free speech so you want it suppressed - it sounds a lot like the Inquisition in good ol' times.

Where am I calling for suppression? I’m saying I don’t want it promoted via FB’s algorithms. The internet is open, just like the ol’ public square. As much as I hate 4chan, those idiots can still post. But FB is not the internet and never has been. It has been letting hate run amok and then promoting it. Imagine if every time I went online Comcast kept track of all the sites I went to then would recommend sites it thinks I would like. You get how that Comcast is different than the Comcast today? (Ignoring the fact that Comcast does keep track of what I visit).

That IS what it is doing. The content you see on FB is posted by other humans, not by some 'algo' on FB.

That’s not true at all. The content is filtered out according to their algorithms. They ditched the “see everything your friends are doing” feed a long time ago. Even the group and friend suggestions are tailored.


Reranking content does not mean FB is the one producing it out of nothing.

Secondly what ranking you see is largely influenced by what you and your friends engage with.

Which is based on FB’s weighing of those factors...so either stop doing any ranking/recommendations and make FB a dumb pipe with no restrictions, or put guard rails on the ranking/recommendations so we don’t end up with extremists.

We are discussing Facebook censoring the POTUS.

He’s standing up for what he believes. You can disagree with his convictions, but you should admire anyone who risks personal and financial consequences for sticking to their guns. That’s what actual morality is—not just a “belief” that is talked about but acted upon even when the results will be costly.

It's the right thing to do.

Facebook won't change by inside. Zuck will change his behavior when he feels the pain in his pocket. Every decent person must quit now. Quit. Now.

Everyone who thinks noteworthy public statements shouldn't be removed is a bad person according to you?

This is just one more specific problem. FB is nocive for the world. If you stay there, you are an accomplice.

I find the complaints overblown myself. It seems like just a site people can see posts from other people on, which relies on standard adtech for funding, which I also don't consider evil. The big thing was CA which can't even be proven FB was complicit in.

A gun is just a cylinder where a projectile comes from.

While it's always a good time to take the action, I'd expect anyone motivated primarily by morals and not compensation to quit long time ago already, or not join Facebook in the first place.

Agreed. Putting money behind your statement gives it much more weight.

Especially in today's economic climate.

anyone who risks personal and financial consequences for sticking to their guns.

The financial consequences seem to be overblown. At the end of the day, people in Timothy's situation will certainly be able to make ends meet. At the end of the day, I'm sure he'll still be better off than well over half the country. This should be clear to most people reading this.

I'm not saying this to downplay Timothy's actions; I'm saying this to remind others that are on the fence - if you think you can't afford, morally, to keep working at Facebook, you can afford, financially, to quit.

I mean, it's even simpler than all this. Talking about the money is what complicates it. "I don't like what this company does, so I don't want to be part of it." Pretty simple.

Either "...I don't want to be part of it, despite how much they pay me" or "...I don't want to be part of it, but I know I'll be okay" are both complicating the issue.

Be a Zen master. Strive for directness, simplicity. Don't fight yourself.

I would say morality is knowing right from wrong. Having conviction and holding to your principles would be integrity. It is admirable.

It’s a highly privileged position to be in to make a personal stand and leave your $250,000 job for another $250,000 job.

Not judging this way or that, just saying.

It's not that simple or easy. Many of these guys are giving up tends of thousands of dollars in benefits (stock options/ bonuses). Also, the assumption that everyone with a good paying job at Facebook is going to be able to quickly pick up a comparable job in a short amount of time is a huge stretch.

Ultimately developers leaving and people refusing to work for Facebook, drive up Facebook's costs and speaks to their management in the only language Facebook management seems to understand: Profitability.

It's not really a huge stretch, his post on LinkedIn [0] has 200K+ reactions, and it's an understatement to say he'll have no trouble _at all_ getting a job within a few weeks.

[0]: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/timothy-j-aveni_blacklivesmat...

I woudn't be so sure, not at FANG anyway. Those public stunts are no go for most big compagnies.

One more data point that no one with self-respect could work at a FAANG company?

That’s great. In that case, I encourage more Facebook employees to vote with their feet (before voting with their ballot paper in November of course).

Google and Amazon won't touch him with a barge pole, considering how many problems they already have with internal dissent. I'm sure he'll find something, but it might well be less cushy than the big-co job. It is a sacrifice. Not everyone can be like St. Francis, but a sacrifice is a sacrifice.

I think he's doing the right thing and I wish more people could feel like they are in a position of walking the walk, every day.

You're making the assumption that he knew what the reaction would be. The post could have easily gone ignored, especially in the current turmoil.

I agree that software developers have it pretty good. But let's not, on that basis, discount acts of moral integrity.

Not really, given the left bias of technology companies there is zero chance that his act will be ignored by companies. If anything, standing behind free speech is brave nowadays

If nothing works he can probably open a gofundme campaign.

This might be overly cynical, but it might be possible that he was already thinking about leaving his job, and now found an excuse to do it in a way that potentially gets him more LinkedIn profile views and thus a better next job (he does end his message with advertising himself)

This is overly cynical and also quite far fetched.

Is it though? Let's do the math:

Number of Facebook employees: about 45k. Let's say half of them work in the US (20k). Let's assume people tand to stay at a job for 5 years on average and think about leaving for 6 months before they leave. That means there are 2000 Facebook employees thinking about leaving right now.

Now, what is the probablity that if someone is already thinking about leaving they would take advantage of this situation? Let's give Facebook employees the benefit of the doubt and say that only 1% of them would do such a thing. That means we should expect to hear from about 20 Facebook emloyees making socal media and LinkedIn posts about them leaving Facebook citing policy as a reason while just taking advantage of the situation. Is it really far fetched to say that this guy could be one of them? If anything I would expect 19 more posts like this!

This is obviously too complex for a quick calculation of that sort. This is not really something that math can enlighten. You’re conjecturing out of a bias towards the negative. We simply have no access to his mind, and the information that we have barely justify exploring the possibility of bad faith. In other words: you’re being cynical.

> Also, the assumption that everyone with a good paying job at Facebook is going to be able to quickly pick up a comparable job in a short amount of time is a huge stretch.

Especially since at some companies such a public statement can put you on a no-hire list. Some companies avoid potential "trouble makers" or avoid hiring, which might be interpreted as making a point.

Still risk of high total loss is quite low for individuals from FAANG companies.

Of course it is. Arguably the people with that privilege should have more obligation to exercise it in the service of what’s right.

Listening to that argument is a clear “catch 22”. If he quits his job, it’s not much of a stance but obviously staying is not a stance either. What was he supposed to do? I think that in a capitalist country we choose who we buy from and who we work for. These are two powerful choices that can shape society. He’s doing the right thing.

> He’s doing the right thing.

He worked at Facebook, let's not get carried away.

Working at Facebook and then leaving because of the non-intervention wrt to the President is a bit like manufacturing landmines quite happily, but having a change of heart because you saw a dog stepping on one. You've still been manufacturing landmines all that time, making money and not giving a damn.

Beating people up for not having your morals is not a great way to get them on your side.

Facebook has been on my list of companies not to work at for a long time, but I have friends who work there. Accepting that other people value different things and being willing to interact with them on a basic, human level is a lot more likely to build bridges and lead to constructive conversation about important matters down the road than casting people aside because they don't conform to your worldview today.

I'll grant you that Facebook, among others, enables exactly the sort of thing I'm advocating against. I'll grant you that it seems to promote people yelling at each other over the internet instead of building the relationships that enable difficult conversations in time. And I'll grant you that they do it to sell ads for shit we mostly don't need.

But that doesn't make everybody who works there bad, and it doesn't mean that people who decide that continuing to work there is no longer consistent with their values should be equated with merchants of death when they publicly leave.

You're castigating somebody for voting with their feet, but presumably mostly because they didn't do it as soon as you did.

> You're castigating somebody for voting with their feet, but presumably mostly because they didn't do it as soon as you did.

No. I'm saying they did always vote with their feet. And "get money, fuck society" was the vote they cast.

Facebook isn't the army, there is no draft, they had and have plenty of other options. It's greed and a general feeling of superiority that sees the general population the same way the owners of factory farms see pigs.

That analogy does not work though. Landmine's sole purpose is to kill/injure whoever steps on it. I don't use Facebook much, but plenty of people have benefited from it.

Instead of personal cost to him, I'd rather view it through the lenses of the impact of his action. It's inviting a lot of constructive conversation and making people re-evaluate Mark's decisions, which I think overall is a net positive.

> I don't use Facebook much, but plenty of people have benefited from it.

Namely those who hold stock options or who used it to hyper target unsuspecting fools and scam them.

> Instead of personal cost to him, I'd rather view it through the lenses of the impact of his action.

Let's. The "constructive conversation" has been going on already. This doesn't move the needle on that conversation, it's not one with a lot of grey area where the world is on the fence. This is great - for him. But not much else.

> Namely those who hold stock options

Oh sure those too. But small businesses benefit from it immensely, e.g using fb live and fb groups to connect with their customers for example.

> Let's. The "constructive conversation" has been going on already. This doesn't move the needle on that conversation, it's not one with a lot of grey area where the world is on the fence. This is great - for him. But not much else.

If that's the case, what do you think he should have done, or we should have done?

> obviously staying is not a stance either

This is not obvious to me.

I think the suggestion here is: if you are in a position to leave your job, and you do not, then than is implicit support for your employer.

I might even say explicit support. After all, how better to support a company than directly working for them? In some business models you're probably generating more value for the company working for them than you would as a customer.

Ah sorry, I think I parsed this wrong. I thought it meant "no stance" instead of "not much of a stance".

Whilst his stance is to be applauded, it lessens the value of the stance given that he’s not sacrificing much and won’t suffer for his cause.

Doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do, just that it would carry more weight if he was leaving to go work at Burger King. Then you’d say “man that guy stands tall”.

Edit: Ok reasonable criticism, I’ll withdraw.

He would stand even taller if while he was quitting Facebook, he was running in to a burning building to save a child. Of course, while saving a child is to be applauded, it lessens the value of his stance that he's not also saving 10,000 from starvation. Of course, that would be nothing next to achieving world peace while eliminating corruption in every government in the world. I'm not saying he shouldn't quit Facebook over his convictions, it's just that it would be awfully nice if he solved every global problem and then was crucified on an actual cross for doing it on the way out.

While there's no proof of life on other planets, there's equally no proof there's not, and it might be suffering terribly and frankly I don't see this guy doing anything about that either.

Until he does it's just virtue signalling.

(yeah, I don't get some people either)

Public resignations are an honorable form of protest. There is probably some consequence for doing so publicly, but suffering isn’t a requirement.

Resigning isn’t about sacrifice to the volcano god, and if that is what you’re looking for, you are not the audience.

Wouldn't you say that a society that only places high value on taking a stance if that comes at great personal cost will probably not find too many people willing to take a stance?

Currently he's leaving his ~250k job with no other job lined up. I don't think it lessens the value of his stance at all.

Yeah, he might have to move away from the west coast and live like a king on whatever scraps he saved.

I think you have to measure these things (if at all) by the person's own context, not by external comparisons.

It reminds me of the old joke about the skinflint who accidentally put a pound in the collection plate instead of a shilling. "Oh well", he says, "I'll get credit for the pound." The priest hears him and replies, "No, you'll get credit for the shilling."

I think that the idea that one must suffer to be valid is a way to ensure that no radical transformations of society take place, because in such a culture the most radical people can only be validated by dying.

So it would be more valuable if a janitor quit their job at Facebook than if a developer quit?

Only if the janitor was clearing 250k at Facebook. OP’s idea is sacrificing a high paying job that isn’t easy for you to replace.

Facebook loses much more money with this employee's departure (if their salary is indeed 250k like you're claiming) -- the cost of recruiting, training, and keeping employees is incredibly high, especially in tech.

Now imagine that OP inspires 100 employees quit -- now Facebook has a problem that it must address, because it's threatening their bottom line.

>it lessens the value of the stance given that he’s not sacrificing much and won’t suffer for his cause.

You are literally the only person who thinks this.

> Not judging this way or that, just saying.

Simply adding this to your post doesn't make it true. Clearly you've judged it to not be as valuable of an act as it could have been.

Not saying you're being dismisve, just saying.

I respect the privileged for speaking out. They are the ones that often can affect change and have their voices heard. A packaging employee at an Amazon warehouse quitting over principles isn't a blip on the radar. When the VP does it and explicitly makes the argument on why he's leaving, Bezos hears and takes notice. He might not change anything, but he hears.

I look at it a little differently. The point is not to make some noble sacrifice, but to actually try and create actual substantive change. I would imagine that Facebook, like all tech companies, cares A LOT about their ability to recruit and retain talent. So if their employees start resigning and talented engineers are averse to work at Facebook then that will absolutely be something that FB tries to solve.

To be fair, it doesn't sound like he has another job lined up. There's no guarantee his next job will pay that well.

With the amount of fame he is getting with this post, I would be surprised if he did not receive 30+ offers that pays well yet.

Edit: Of course, the big 5 (FAANG) will not touch him even with a 10 meter pole, but there are other places also pays well.

If one of the five wanted to kick FB butt in the future, they happily will.

Why would a they need an outspoken Dev with 1 year of total work experience to kick butt?

Exactly, this guy is getting enough traction on linkedin and facebook as well. His inbox would be flooding with invites for interviews right now.

Reading this most charitably, the implication seems to be that his action _isn't enough_.

That he should also devote his efforts full time to combating the problems he speaks about for less compensation, or donate the excess compensation to related causes, otherwise the action is unworthy.

These are restatements of classic utilitarian dilemmas, as stated by, among many others, Peter Singer[0].

"In a society in which the narrow pursuit of material self-interest is the norm, the shift to an ethical stance is more radical than many people realize."

[0] https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704--.htm

It's a highly-privileged position to be in to make vapid comments HN, but here we are.

he's a "Software Engineer" at facebook. He's not even a "Senior Software Engineer" He is NOT making 250k and he likely lives _near_ facebook which means _most_ of his money is going directly into housing. There are a LOT of people working what is normally considered a high income job in the bay area and living out of their vans because that's the only way they can actually have any money left over at the end of the month.

Yes, he's a privileged white male and will likely get a job offer soon, but that doesn't mean he's rolling in cash. Also, take a look at average salaries. Devs don't make $250,000 in the US unless they've got some really high profile public backstory.

You are extremely out of touch with actual bay area compensation for big companies. I made more than 250K total comp as a senior eng at Google in 2015.

The average facebook dev in the Bay area with 0 years of experience starts over 180. The average FAANG dev hits 250K around 3-4 years of total industry experience.

180K total comp or yearly before-taxes salary or ...?

Total comp. You don't get to 180K salary (at least at Google) till you're L5 (Senior).

> Devs don't make $250,000 in the US unless they've got some really high profile public backstory.

In my experience, this is VERY far from accurate in high-paying markets like Seattle and the Bay Area

Levels.fyi disagrees with you

Maybe not 250K salary, but with bonuses and equity, absolutely you can get there.

Imagine the damage to the business for not having someone creating more than $250k of value annually.

Of course at Facebook's scale it's a small number, but given the damage to their reputation, they will have to take note once this crosses critical mass.

Unless he was in a very unusual position of leading some kind of research project related to Facebook's core business, there will be close to no damage. It's a huge corporation, not a bootstrapped startup, everyone is highly replaceable.

Luckily, he made a very public post about it which is currently being discussed in one of the most influential tech news aggregators on the internet. If others are inspired and also leave the company, it will make an impact.

Unless you know some specifics that is not public, he would be leaving significant money on the table. That is, financially sacrificing. If a portion of salary is paid as RSU, that portion would have unvested portions carried over from prior years. My best guess would be that he is losing at least $50k until he closes the gap in about 2 to 3 years at the new job. of course the new job could pay him lot more, I am not ruling that out.

Give him credit for what he did. He is losing a lot more than us armchair pundits.

Don't forget we are in the middle of a pandemic, it's not the easiest time to find a job.

Also I don't think it ads much to the conversation to try to minimize someones sacrifice, you don't know their personal situation, and even if its not that hard on them personally who cares, it's still a principled stand of where to invest ones time and energy.


I don’t think that’s their fault, I’m happy they=’re leaving, but the people commenting and upvoting these threads should question how much attention this one person deserves. There are people working jobs in far worse conditions with far worse bosses we never hear about.

Not sure I agree with the premise that this has to be only or primarily about how much this guy deserves the attention.

Maybe the goal of praising him isn't to make his life better but is instead to encourage other people to also stand up for what they believe in.

Or maybe it's to contrast him with other people who are in a similar position of privilege (and feel the same about Zuckerberg's lack of action) but chose not to sacrifice anything at all for their principles.

I think it's still a respectable sacrifice. a) There's often an emotional toll to looking for a new position, b) even if the job search only takes a month, that's 250/12 = $20k of a financial hit, which is not a trivial loss.

> Not judging this way or that

I can’t help but think this actually is a judgement.

“Just saying” is judging. The anxiety created by his move is real. At the same time we can accept that other people are in a worse financial situation.

Certainly sounds like making a judgement. That taking a moral stance has a different values based on one's socioeconomic position.

Leaving your job in the middle of an recession/depression is scary for anyone.

People with this level of income could also manage to support 3 or 4 others with UBI. Not saying one person making a moral stand is bad, but economically hundreds of thousands of FAANGers could make a humongous impact.

it's much more than most people have done and having the skills to be payed $250,000 is not a privilege. you don't wake up one day knowing how to code it'a a lot of work.

>having the skills to be payed $250,000 is not a privilege

It is privilege having a stable life to get there, but we're calling out this dude's privilege like he's Jeff Bezos throwing a million dollar coin to a witcher.

It's definitely a sacrifice to quit a nice job during a pandemic and nationwide riots.

It's a privilege when it is relatively accessible to some and not to others. Given that it's much easier for a kid in the Western hemisphere to learn coding than for a poor kid in a remote village in Bangladesh, it is a privilege for the former that the latter doesn't have.

I come from a poor country, I was selling shoes since the age of 13 to be able to pay for my school books, now I have a 100k job ... I didn't get here because I was privileged, I worked my ass off. was I lucky? yes but not privileged.

The other people back in your country of origin who didn’t make it because of physical or mental illness, lack of opportunities you may have had, bad turns of fate, etc —- would you not think of them as even less privileged than yourself?

TIL everyone is privileged now

- Have two eyes? what about the blind - Can you speak english? What about those that never had the opportunity to learn - Are you alive ? What about those that passed away

The judgement never ends

The "logic" behind this concept of privilege as often applied within HN does not add up.

For who has the privilege of judging others privilege and where does it end?

There are a lot of things that are even more work but don't pay nearly as much. It's a privilege. I consider myself lucky to be born in a time where what I like to do (programming) aligns with what pays well. This will not last forever.

True. Most likely he was well educated and taught skills that enhanced his ability to work hard in a stable enviroment.

Likely, yes. But we know nothing about his background so it's also quite unfair to assume anything.

Maybe you are working in the job of your life at FB and leaving to a less stimulant job.

Imagine if all the people that are in a privileged position just say "fuck it, let's do something about it" how life would be better for all.

No one is going to hire him.

No large company will touch this kid with a 10 ft pole, all that messaging that they want disrupters is media hogwash. He is burnt, pure and simple

"“If you keep in mind that he is what I refer to as a corrupt idealist, then you can be assured that he will move mountains for you.” The green-eyed man laughed. “Okay, that’s a new Americanism on me. What the hell do you mean by a corrupt idealist?” Claude folded his hands. “That’s a person who will do everything he can to make something happen when he is convinced that he is working for the good of the many, while managing to ignore the fact that he is being paid handsomely for his work while his countrymen suffer in poverty.” “In other words, your typical non-governmental organization type,” Park Dong Woo said. Claude winced. “I suppose so. I expect that Ritesh would fit right in working for one of those NGOs, except they don’t pay enough.” “Fortunately, we can, if he is up to the task.”"

Excerpt From: J. Lee Porter. “Crypto Citizens.”

Don't have any commentary on the substance of this quote, but man that is some terrible writing.

Absolutely. It's practically unreadable.

I'm calling total BS. He should stay to change the system from within. Total waste of hard work to give up now. This is a knee jerk reaction and the poor lamb is going to live to regret it.

I'm surprised they didn't have him out on his ass the same day and gave him a whole extra week to potentially sabotage the systems.


OK fine. I agree it's totally an uphill struggle and in all fairness it's one we're all fighting. It's one man versus a sea of apathy where all the incentives are geared towards productivity at all costs and bitter disempowerment and ostracism for anyone that steps out of line.

I were him I'd go hardcore until they actually fired me i.e. make it hard for them rather than take a gallant bow -- how's that for starters?

Whatever happened to fighting for what you believe in? How can you leave all your hard work in the hands of people you no longer trust?

I've actually gone all the way up and been fired by a roomful of directors and a vice president for calling out bullshit agile theatre.

Part of it rests on everyone's shoulders because I know for sure a lot of people reading this thread right now would jump at the chance to take his place, struggle be damned.

Look at what happens to anyone that expresses a dissenting opinion I'd like to see more downvotes just to make sure I'm on the right side of this issue.

How many times have people at these companies tried to "manage up" from within and it didn't work? I honestly lost count by now. This will continue as long as there are enablers on the other side who keep offering to foot the bill in exchange for the lion's share of management's attention. I see this quite often. As a rank-and-file employee, there comes a point where a lot of people have to cut their losses and realize that, within whatever their current trajectory is, the chances of becoming a VP or C-level and making a real difference within a reasonable timeframe are slim. I wish it wasn't so, because as you can see, the only option in that situation is to quit.

Totally agree but there are many people there now who could use his help to fight for what they believe in. He's not just one guy trying to get some hair brained initiative passed.

Our problem is we seek acceptance and agreement too much and don't fight for what others believe in on principle.

We're all to blame but now we have one less person who can do anything about it. Look at the world from the outside in for once and quit suffering your blasted anecdoche.

How many times have they tried to manage up only to be hamstringed by their own peers?

The peers are all jockeying for the same limited number of promotions. I don't know what the solution is, but protesting won't resolve what is fundamentally a conflict of interest.

Or perhaps a misalignment of incentives

Clearly it's not working though? At some point you need to wake up and realize that efforts to "change the system from within" are futile.

Yea so he's moving to another company for more of the same hoping the issue will never come up again.

Can you advise us on how to change such systems from within?

Actually agile is supposed to be a disruptive process that enables upward change but we keep doing it all wrong squeezing features out our asses when we should be making organizational changes.

We should all know we're trying to change them and help each other, how else?

Tell me you've never tried and failed due to "politics" but have you ever stuck your neck out even a little?

Your last question seems like a personal attack which is against HN guidelines.

I was responding to your claim that it was illegitimate to quit in protest, and that people should stay and change organizations from within.

Given this belief, I assumed you might have some insight you have about how to do this effectively. Maybe even examples of when it has been done?

Oh c'mon when someone rage quits in protest these corporations have safeguards in place to prevent rogue actions. I'm surprised they didn't trigger a visit from the thought police given the high profile and instead let a potential bad actor remain on the premises a whole extra week?

And yes all our energies should be towards changing the organizations, as systems professionals, rather than competing on "look what I can do" while the world outside our gated communities crumbles.

Can you actually point to a success story in changing an organization from the inside?

It's already happening within Facebook this gallant lad falling on his own sword was an important motivator I'm sure


Yes, it almost certainly is helping.

Being willing to walk away is fundamental bargaining tool.

If some people quit over an issue, it strengthens the bargaining position of those who stay behind.

Both tactics are required.

Can you quantify that?

I admire Zuck more in this situation. This kid is voicing a very popular “unpopular opinion” in the Bay Area and will have a new job within the week, if he doesn’t already.

Zuck, on the other hand, faces an open mutiny and a damaging of the Facebook brand. Perhaps he’s just stuck between a rock and a hard place, though, because Facebook censoring POTUS can only invite more government scrutiny.

Is it really more admirable for Zuck to do something that seems more in-line with business motives than anything else?

I don't think we know whether the threat of government regulation is worse for business than the threat of his employees quitting en masse combined with a mass exodus from his company's platforms

Thanks, but I won't admire anyone's moral stance who thought (until now) that working for Facebook is a fine idea.

He's trading practically 0 money (actually might be paid more in his next job if he selects one with a bit less growth potential) for a lot of virtue signaling value. I mean nothing evil, but not that admirable and altruistic.

Real good deeds aren't announced.

I strongly disagree. Quitting your job is just about the most disruptive thing you can do in terms of the effect it has on your own life. Some folks might have an easier time finding another job than others, but that doesn't change the fact that he's actively choosing to stop creating value for an organization that his morals don't align with.

And additionally, quitting your job on moral grounds is _absolutely_ something you should post about. He made a personal post on Facebook, as a current Facebook employee, noting that he's leaving. This will be seen by his coworkers, and as the very presence on HN demonstrates, the public at large. Virtue signaling is Old Navy changing their profile picture to a rainbow flag during Pride month, or an NFL team posting a black rectangle on Instagram to support BLM. Virtue signaling is _not_ quitting your job to protest your employer's ethical failings, or writing content that would violate a non-disparagement agreement.

That seems precisely wrong to me. It's not about the individual scoring some sort of "virtue points", it's about spurring change. He could certainly just quit and not tell anyone but that would sort of defeat the purpose. It's not like Facebook is really going to miss any one engineer. But if their employees start to leave en masse then they will absolutely notice and try to deal with it.

Literally every single thing anyone does publicly is "virtue signalling". The hope is that by publishing this he may inspire other employees to do the same.

> Real good deeds aren't announced.

Public announcements of resignation have two impacts: on fellow employees, and on the employer. Fellow employees may be waiting for validation of a sinking feeling that they're in the wrong place, before they quit themselves. When the employer sees numerous conscience quits in response to a bad action, they have an opportunity to reflect and change.

He's taking on job uncertainty during a pandemic where SWEs are getting laid off left and right. In the long run will he get paid the same or more? Possibly. But I'd guess he's not the only person who thinks this way within FB and a lot of employees aren't going to do this. There is a legit cost here.

Didn't his white privilege land him the job/education/connections in the first place. How is him finding another job using his privilege make any sense.

These guys lack any sort of self awareness.

I just don't agree that severing professional ties over political disputes is admirable. For society to function, people need to be willing to work with others whose politics they find distasteful.

There are things like mortgage rates and spending priorities that are healthy political democratic differences that should have no impact on your professional life.

There are also things that are not political. They are war. They are 'over my or your dead body' type of things like slavery, holocasts and treason. We don't vote on those and accept whatever the outcome is. We go to war. That's why that sort of stuff is in a constitution. Because it's not negotiable. Not up for popular vote.

Now. I do admit that I don't think that applies to Facebook. I don't think they are intentionally trying to end the US democracy and break the US society.

But never say never. There is definitely a point. One does not sell hamburgers to the KKK for example. Or help build their website.

That's also why you see so many apolitical brands speaking out and picking a side here. They do understand this is different. This is a war for human rights. Nobody deserves the privilege to stay neutral on this.

> type of things like slavery, holocasts and treason

The problem with convenient trap doors like this is now we’re back to being unable to debate the merits of Snowden because he committed treason.

He did no such thing. He blew the whistle on treason.

It pretty literally fits the definition of treason. Even he knows that and it’s why he’s not hanging out in the US.

> I just don't agree that severing professional ties over political disputes is admirable.

Never? If you worked for an employer that seated black people in the back in the 1960s, it wouldn't be admirable to quit?

>For society to function, people need to be willing to work with others whose politics they find distasteful.


I am not on some high horse here, I am not sure what I would be willing to put up with if I had no other options but I certainly prefer working with companies that have values that are aligned with my own.

Because otherwise it becomes impossible to truly engage in politics. If everyone sorts themselves into liberal companies that only allow liberal values and conservative companies that only allow conservative values, how are we supposed to have an honest debate on anything?

How about sorting by companies that support honest debate versus those that don't? From the post, "Facebook will keep moving the goalposts..."

I don't need to engage in politics in my workplace. I can work with people with differing political opinions in terms of activism and advocacy, though.

"Liberal" and "conservative" aren't the only political flavors, either. Lots of leftist activists don't work with liberals and lots of right-wing activists don't work with conservatives, for example. It's also difficult to work with someone whose beliefs conflict too much with your own or whose views are dehumanizing (like, I wouldn't want to work with someone who regards themselves as superior because of their race).

If everyone were to sort themselves into companies that were anti-genocide and pro-genocide, how could we ever have an honest debate on anything?

Because unless you are a bootlicker (or the company is yours), the company cannot possibly have all of the same values as you.

There are too many actions that are political when they come down to it (pricing products, marketing products, choosing partners, choosing tools, choosing customers, choosing features, choosing charities, etc). There is no possible way that all of them are going to align with your views.

The reason that works is that you’re just able to not care that they don’t.

Politics affect your profession and your life. You cannot separate politics from your life.

It wasn't over a political dispute though. It was over the CEO effectively lying with regard to a red line that was crossed.

The straw that broke the camels back.

> For society to function, people need to be willing to work with others whose politics they find distasteful.

And how are we supposed to work with people that outright lie? Who are dishonest. Who crosses a red line with that lie? Are we supposed to shrug and accept it? Would you accept people lying in a professional environment?

Why? Nobody should hold the nose and bend over, especially people who have an easy choice.

Is Facebook needed for society to function, though?

Social media is fast food. If you eat it all the time it makes you feel awful and will destroy your mental and physical health. But its cheap, easy to get and tastes really good...

So stupid people love it.

Remove "stupid", and this is otherwise accurate.

When I slip down the rabbit hole every now and then and end up deep in a multi hour social media/internet binge when I could be doing something else entertaining as well as constructive, I am definitely being a stupid person.

"stupid people" = stupidity endemic to the people

"people acting stupidly" = people in temporary states of stupidity

Yeah, that one word put a distastefully elitist spin on an otherwise excellent comment

So true. I realized recently that social media makes me think that I hate people that I actually like! You get a quick hit of superiority, but it's the problem the most effective tool I've ever seen to divide us.

Did you get a quick hit of superiority when you agreed that "those" people are stupid, or did you consider that divisive?

This comment chain is mildly toxic and (ironically) proves that HN is similar to social media. Any political post seems to have the same divisiveness that traditional social media has.

That being said, HN does have logical and helpful technical discussion that does not resemble the kind of social media that people are talking about when they say "social media". The incidence of toxicity is much lower. That is why I believe HN is social media yet much healthier than, for example, facebook.

From this thread it would appear that one is either a hypocrite for complaining about something they participate in or arrogant for complaining about something they don't. Here, both.

It seems like a needless exercise to classify which type each person is. We can just take both cases with a grain of salt, address their points skeptically, and move on from doing psych evals on a couple sentences about something else.

My comment was probably too snarky, but do we not have a duty to at least gently push back against our in-group labeling the out-group as stupid?

That's a good point, and I agree. But I do think it would be more pragmatic to justify why the outgroup isn't stupid than it is to go after the people who are saying so. The anger response you'll get for saying someone is arrogant probably won't get the open-mindedness you'll need to persuade someone to act differently.

Even just pointing out that the word being said is 'stupid', but the actual in-group/out-group divide is technical literacy or systems-awareness. And really just in the frame of social media. Perhaps there should be a word to describe the local ignorance that everyone engages in when they are turned off and relaxing.

You're on social media

While true, I feel like HN is a different variety of Social Media than Facebook. You're not going to see vacation photos, screenshots of tweets, and memes everywhere. It's a forum yes, but it's very different from places like Facebook and Reddit.

In this analogy the parent poster would not be seeking to improve society, they'd be seeking to end it.

I don't think that's true.

You can eat fast food once in a while and still be very healthy. They're not necessarily advocating for (metaphorically) shutting down all fast food restaurants, just making a point about over-consumption side effects.

At least that's how I read it.

That's how you read it because that's what they said. Not sure why the original reply felt the need to add "stupid" as "So people love it" makes the same point. Mister Gotcha is probably replying implicitly to the addition of 'stupid' to make a point. Except now that they've stuck their stakes in the ground and are getting defensive, let the pedantic internet slap-fight commence

A forum isnt social media unless you define social media as any medium that allows people.... But to play along, I dont eat fast food often, maybe once a year. But I still eat it and afterwards I always say to myself, "how and why do people eat this all the time"....

I think image based social media is a beast of its own.

The emotional swings I get from images far exceeds what I get from text.


Then it seems the poster does find some value in social media. I'm saying that HN is social media - descended from Reddit, in fact - to point out that the popular stance of Facebook being inherently evil seems to forgive this website for doing the same thing.

This kind of scare has happened with all media: games, TV, film, fiction books. If there's a difference between the fast-food social media and this website, I'd like to hear what it is.

You're implying the commenter is hypocritical for being on a social media site while criticizing social media. I don't think that's necessarily true, since all they said was that _too much_ social media was bad for your health, not that any amount was.

Even if they spent all their time on social media, their warning against it wouldn't necessarily be hypocritical. If an alcoholic tells you that alcohol is addictive, you should believe them.

I don't think what you have said here is wrong. I do think that judgements about social media are made from the point of view of people who hear about the evils of big (fast food) websites mostly second-hand while wrongly believing they don't participate in it.

My understanding is that this website was created was to make YC more famous among the kind of people who would post here. Posts are indexed by search engines and, after some period, undeletable. Like all social media - including all the way back to usenet, before the phrase existed - flaming, high-tensions, and consequences are non-negligible. I've seen someone write a post as an insider that got a reply from their CEO asking them not to do it. The sum of this is that YC's advertising is creating a platform for people to harm their careers.

Yet, despite knowing this, I continue to browse because I find value in the content that exceeds the dangers. I imagine others feel the same and hope that, by viewing HN under the same umbrella as Facebook etc., they might not view the negatives as fatal. At least not to the point of demanding other people leave their jobs.

Fair point, and well stated.

Well to start forums are a self selecting group of like minded individuals. To be an active member usually requires thought and care, intelligence and skills such as reading comprehension and critical thinking... Oh, and the whole system isnt built to game your senses in order to mine minute data points about you that is then sold to companies who then masquerade their content as ads all while pretending that they're doing good work for the world...

But honestly, if you cant tell the difference between Social Media and a forum, maybe you should step away from the net all together. Read some books, learn a hobby. Go outside. Make some real life friends... For it seems as if you too close to the forest to know that its made up of trees.

Its just like fast food. If its all you eat, you have no idea what real food tastes and feels like...

Beyond ads, everything I interact with on social media is through choice.

I'm aware of how targeted advertising works: it reminds me of seeing toy adverts between children's TV shows.

Thank you for the life coaching.

Oh, sorry. I didnt realize you are super-duper smart. Maybe because your posts are anything but... Or maybe you're just being sarcastic and just not a very good writer... Either way, thanks for contributing. It really makes a difference.

HN is a forum, but very different from places like Facebook and Reddit.

The only difference between HN and reddit is tighter moderation.

If that is a notable categorisation then what is the difference that makes forums better?

I feel the trigger of social media is getting dopamine-like reward signal when people like/share your posts. Its underlying acceptance of "you" aspect of it, rather than the idea itself that you share. In a forum, being an anonymous user, it doesn't affect you as much on a personal level which allows for a more rational discussion by detaching the "personal" side of you from it. Of course, that is only true in theory as we are all prone to taking everything personally (myself included) but I try consciously to change that.

This website has rapid interaction from other users and visible upvotes that add up over time to create a personal score that nets you extra benefits. If I worked for Facebook, I'd like stronger evidence than amateur psychology for me to feel morally compelled to give up my livelihood.

Edit: furthermore many users post with real or pseudo-real names that reward them with real life social clout.

For example, is there any revenue generated from people visiting users' profiles on HN? But there is revenue from ads on Facebook and Instagram profiles that millions subscribe to. There is no "subscription" like cult on this forum (afaik). I do not see content based on whether user has high points or not. Unlike social media, where people with more followers get more visibility. So I think the scoring vs followers is not really comparable.

I use adblocker so I do not see ads on HN. Correct me if this is different from your experience.

I can imagine, as you point out, the impact on "social life" for users with real/pseudo real names. Back in the day forums were used for anonymous discussions when you would not trust strangers on the internet. I guess now the opposite is trending.

I've expanded on this in another comment but I do think that YC gain a real but indirect financial benefit from operating this website.

>Back in the day forums were used for anonymous discussions when you would not trust strangers on the internet. I guess now the opposite is trending.

While writing this I was thinking of the famous 'LINUX is obsolete' thread.

This website literally has upvotes and comments - two ways millions of people get dopamine.

So Social Media is any digital tool that allows people to interact? I really dont understand your definition as every human interaction across all mediums could be defined as social media. And yet the term and the tools did not exist prior to 2003ish... So was Usenet social media? Was Aol and Prodigy?

Yes. Sometimes new terms come in later? Not really surprising.

I was getting dopamine hits on 4chan and GameFAQs in 2005 when I was 12. I'd call it social media.

I respect his decision. But I for one do not want our president, no matter who she or he is to be censored. I want to know exactly what they are saying and when. That includes any government official for that matter because it directly affects my voting decisions and actions.

Corporations using their power to silence an elected government official is pretty much the corporate-fascist dystopia I thought we were all against.

This is why I liked Twitter's action (weird to say). They didn't hide the tweets, they just added context to say "hey, this is wrong according to actual studies" and to warn users of violent rhetoric. I know some will make the slippery slope argument, but I'm glad Twitter did something to take a stand against one of the most high-profile members of our society spreading misinformation, hate, and vitriol.

You're robbing the situation of all of its nuance. You could say corporations helping spread a proto-fascist leader’s call to violence against protesters who are exercising their right to free speech and assembly after a government agent murdered a citizen in the middle of street is a dystopia we should all be against. But that wouldn’t capture the whole issue either.

it's a tough problem to solve or reason about. i personally don't have any answers around this, but do you allow hate to spread and then be reactive about it and deal with the consequences? or do you nip it at the bud proactively allowing for potentially something that you wrote? some sort of censorship. how do you deal with it?

How about don't remove anyone or anyone's post unless it's illegal?

Certainly don't target certain politicians while leaving others alone.

When you can't win your argument on merit, you censor.

It's up to the politicians and constituents to call out lies, why should some Ministry of Truth decide what's a lie?

i don't necessarily disagree, but what happens when other politicians/constituents aren't doing their jobs?

That's a hypothetical I disagree with.

Politicians will always address their counterparts and should always try to inform their constituents. It's up to the constituents to stay educated.

Censoring politicians because people might be too stupid is a really bad reason.

sure, but realistically this is exactly what has been happening if you just look at the last few years. many people are extremely misinformed and there are tons of propaganda campaigns. finding the real truth is borderline impossible. what is the solution? continue as is until someone more and more radical comes along bending truth to their will? there's gotta be some middle ground between a ministry of truth and just completely lawlessness.

> if you just look at the last few years

No, you've been told that because people aren't happy with the current status quo.

There has always been propaganda and the truth is always possible to find.

Unless you have something specific I feel like you're using hyperboles (think of the children!!!) to win your way.

It's not lawlessness, people aren't extremely misinformed (if they are that's on them), the truth isn't borderline impossible.

This truth hunt will die out when the people seeking it are back in charge.

Yes remove threats, but don't remove lies. Having lies on your platform is not lawlessness, it's the internet.

If you don't want lies then take 230 away from them and make them take down libel/slander/lies that EVERYONE says, not just the people they choose to target.

Is it wrong to think that people elected to lead should be treated differently during their tenure in office? Regardless of better/worse, harder/softer, etc, I don't necessarily think that's immediately an indictment of Twitter to have POTUS say something outlandish and have nothing done, and have a bot account say the same thing and get banned. For all we know at noon on Jan. 20th Twitter will ban Trump's entire family.

You’re right to want to be able to look into what elected officials have said, but social media additionally allows posts to be shared, commented on, and spread widely.

There are thousands of elected officials, so it’s not simply a theoretical question to ask what should be done when one of them posts dangerous misinformation. Shouldn’t Facebook prevent it from spreading widely?

How is this any different from a President giving a speech that people don't agree with on TV? Or making statements that are covered in newspapers?

Spreading widely is the only reason we should censor speech? If what a person says is absolutely ridiculous, it should be seen and exposed by sunlight and more discussion.

I don't know if it qualifies as censorship. Facebook or other social media platforms aren't public spaces, they are private.

You can remove whatever you want from your own private platform. If president trump want to say something that is removed from these platform I'm sure he can host his own blog.

If you're going to use a social media platform, you have to obey by the rules of that platform. It's not censorship. He's still free to say whatever he wants, just not on that platform.

cencorship =/= illegal censorship =/= first ammendment voiolation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship

It absolutely is censorship, AND they are within their legal rights to do it. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion on facebooks policy.

So if you're against censoring any government official, was Facebook wrong to remove posts from Myanmar's military leaders inciting a genocide?


Ordinarily I'd agree, but Trump is perhaps a special case here. Almost every single thing he says on social media is designed to cause division and sow the seeds of racism, xenophobia, or indeed anything that panders to would-be voters. Pretty much everything else is verifiably false, or completely ludicrous to the point where you really have to question his intelligence, let alone his capability to lead a country.

I genuinely wonder if we should be giving this vile person a platform through which he can so effectively reach so many people so frequently.

I disagree. I keep trying to figure out ways in which I can show people why I disagree.

What would have happened if Facebook had been around in the 1920s and Hitler had said, I want to round up all of the people of Jewish decent and murder them... in a really bad way?

Now what would have happened if that message was only shared locally not globally. Or it was determined by the majority what message could be shared. Many people love comparing Trump to Hitler, but what they forget is Hitler was LOVED. He was eloquent. He was a great at harnessing everyone's rage and controlling it. He was an EVIL controlling dictator, but he understood how to control the majority well. Trump does not. If he wins again it will not be majority votes it will be electoral college.

Now Obama, in his first election knew how to influence people. Shit, sorry I miss that guy, I digress.

The problem is when a politician says something that can be backed up by force it's a fact, not an opinion. If I Said, Trump should, "do XYZ". It's an opinion and if it's egregious enough it should be discarded. If I say, "I want to do XYZ to This person." It needs to be kept if only as proof of intent (even if it's no longer shared via algorithm). Now if I were to say, I want to start a war, and I had the legal right, power, and capability to do so. It should be kept, spread AND commented on. Because one thing that comments do well is breed divisiveness and I don't want unity on posts which are hateful.

The thoughts of a leader need to be spread. Even if you abhor Trump, I don't want to stop his message unless he loses power over me. Because no matter what you want he has POWER over all of us. We have power too as has been seen recently. But information is power, to remove information is to dis-empower the people. He's not a redneck with a gun. He's a redneck with nukes.

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