Amazon is predatory for everyone - merchants, warehouse employees, IT employees, job candidates.
Google screwed the recruitment irrevocably and what's worse every minor shop attempts to copy their processes.
Microsoft temporarily plays the nice guy.
Then we have this whole dating thing entirely owned by one media hegemon.
All together pay minuscle taxes.
...and here we are.
This scares the hell out of me that one mega conglomerate with it's algorithms has control over your procreation and deep knowledge of your sex life, all linked to your real identity.
Personally, I have no dog in this fight since I gave up on online dating and got good at IRL dating(pre-COVID) but I am aware of plenty of men willing to throw their cash and intimate data at these corporations for the hope of meeting someone.
Am I alone here to worry about this or am I just too paranoid?
If it were up to me, I would regulate the information dating apps collect to the same standards as patients' national healthcare information is handled(in the EU; I don't know about the US/UK but I heard it's not all rozy there).
In the case of Grindr they released user HIV status information which is literally medical data.
>Personally, I have no dog in this fight since I gave up on online dating and got good at IRL dating(pre-COVID) but I am aware of plenty of men willing to throw their cash and intimate data at these corporations for the hope of meeting someone.
Good for you, it's a giant scam( See FTC Sues Match). I also gave up on these apps and started meeting amazing people in real life. It's also much less stressful to disconnect from the social media matrix.
I put vastly less effort into meeting people now and I found myself actually getting approached last year. I've found greater peace. Social Media is a very bad thing for most people. You waste tons of time you could be spending on other things. Doesn't help people tend to be much meaner online. Again , why deal with that.
With Corona I've been trying to focus more on learning music , but I'm fairly optimistic next year things will be somewhat normal.
The ability for the individual to reveal specific information on their own terms is necessary for social cohesion.
Let's not pretend we have transparency on what our information is being used for, nor are we likely to ever get it. The devil's in the details.
But your broader point is sound. I'd just replace "church" with "nosy extended relative".
You could pick any situation where a process like divorce is started, proceedings or repair of the relationship has yet to begin and an automated service alerts people without immediate knowledge, who in turn pull the levers behind the scenes.
Also the King Henry the 8th parallels are interesting.
Beyond that, if the divorce is OK with the church, what's the secret? If it's not OK and it's still happening, doesn't that imply irreconcilable differences with the church as well as the spouse? I guess given that, you have a point about timing, but all relationships are two-way streets, including ones between families and churches. Seems like the problems unravel on their own and we're just complaining about a catalyst.
You could apply the same to being one day late on your taxes or truancy at school triggering automatic effects from phone location tracking, without reconcilliation.
If you want more serious examples there is the problem of what knowledge is deemed to be acceptable by those who record it and the potential for power, control and abusive influence.
Silent judgement and action is infinitely more available to the men and women behind the information gates. Without transperancy you'll never know why the things in your life are happening the way they are.
You might piss off the wrong IT guy at Facebook who then plasters your families' individual accounts with ads and content promoting the necessity of moving out and separating from a parent who has brown hair and other fake 'crimes' you committed. He could manufacture consesus in their social media with fake accounts. Your boss may be influenced to devalue the contributions of your kind of knowledge work because he buys into a work trend that was hyper-advertised to him. Your car may quietly auto-update with a bugged software patch that bricks it. You could have your credit score ruined by fake transactions and have your passport put into question.
There is a lot of power in knowledge these days and we fly by the seat of our pants because we want it to be on our side whatever the cost. I don't think any of this is particularly paranoid when mainstream hollywood movies have chronicled snowden/assange/security researcher leaks.
People are getting hacked every day, experian couldnt save their data from getting leaked, who's to say anyone is safe. Certainly not the head of the nsa or security reseachers who have been doing this for decades.
Healthy churches actually benefit from privacy and discretion for the same reasons therapy groups do. Often church activities are literally private therapy sessions.
I'm an average male, I think they don't care that much to have me in their users' pool or I could be prohibitively horny and boring. Who knows.
Is there any recourse?
Only if you give it to them?
Most people aren't informed about the dangers, and by the time they understand, they're addicted.
Moreover, it was explicitly and willfully designed to work that way.
I recognize that some people do get addicted to social media but for most people the only thing they're addicted to if anything is convenience. We're already at a point where many people feel more comfortable giving out their public insta than their phone number to new acquaintances because of how much more control they have if things go badly. Before social media parents were complaining that cell phones were turning their kids into shut-ins who just wanted to text all day instead of having real conversations. The whole dialogue is just another repeat of people feeling like something must be wrong because it's not how they think the world should be.
Facebook embraced Q Anon and turned it into a gold mine for engagement. Facebook is directly responsible for the growth of that conspiracy and made the United States much worse as a result.
Facebook did this by feeding a culture of fear, suspicion and bigotry in the guise of belonging, community and group 'fun' via memes and 'trendy garbage.'
Facebook is crack cocaine and the pipe has already blown up in our faces. The United States is on fire like Richard Pryor.
>I recognize that some people do get addicted
>the only thing they're addicted to if anything is convenience
Since you're a bit err.. "conflicted" on this subject, you might want to read some research.
There's a lot.
The section on Amazon begins on page 248, and is very readable.
Too many senators / congress people have Amazon warehouses with 1000's of jobs in their backyard, and would never support breaking them up on weak committee recommendations.
Right now one party wants to go after the big tech companies for what seem to be the wrong reasons, while the other party doesn't seem to have the will to go after them at all. But in the end, we got a report with good recommendations, so we'll see if bad motives can bring about some good results.
- IT - an average employer at best including salaries, extremely competitive workplace, offices in most expensive cities, I don't think they offer any equity
- warehouses - they were wrecked by German unions and opened 4 warehouses in Poland serving exclusively German market and burdening the brand new EU-funded highways, as if they were shunning from complying with the German labor code and German wages (the market is too lucrative to abandon it)
edit: okay, that was a bit glib. but isn't complaining about this sort of thing at odds with the idea of an integrated european economy?
On top of unions and a desperate neighbour, Germany has saturated retail market including world's 5th biggest Schwarz Gruppe who certainly are not happy with a new foreign competitor, but that's a topic for many dissertations.
Pretty much everything I order from Amazon these days comes from Nevada even though I am in Silicon Valley. I know Amazon has several warehouses in California, but I have never seen any order originate from California. The company probably uses them as local distribution points for its own shipping service.
from across the pond, it looks like the richer EU countries (eg, germany) essentially want to have it both ways. they want to have strong worker protections and prevent poorer EU countries from enabling labor arbitrage, all while having relatively unencumbered trade within the EU. at the same time, they don't want to provide the economic aid to the poorer countries that would reduce the incentive to do this sort of thing. seems like a "pick one" type of situation.
- French (and German) companies own most of supermarket chains in Poland: good.
- Polish long-distance truck delivery companies are among the most competitive in EU due to lower costs of workforce: bad, France has been lobbying hard against them for years.
The countries where labor is cheaper benefit by getting more work and ultimately they uplift themselves.
Now, if it comes out that such labor is abused or managed corruptly and so forth, that is a product I will not knowingly or willingly buy.
And that efficiency and effectiveness benefit an elite few. If people continue to "wake up" globally, becoming increasingly empowered by technology and democratizing philosophies, they will come to the logical conclusion that they can "vote" with their currency. Companies will definitely fucking pay attention if people stop buying their shit.
For example, I've taken the "buy local as possible" ethic to its logical extreme, realizing for example that I have to make compromises for things like consumer electronics. "The real world", as you say. But I think it's defeatist to just buy the cheapest junk you can afford in complete disregard of its means and origin of manufacture unless that's the only solution.
Just today, I was shopping around where to buy Sid Meier's Memoirs book since I just learned about it today on HN. I could elect the easy, lazy, one-world-ruled-by-Bezos path and click Amazon to save a few cents and get it delivered a day less, or I could go the slightly less convenient but more positive route of Indiebound.
I'm not saying we shouldn't try to make ethical choices and just wait to regulation. But it is rarely sufficient. Boycotting a company as an individual has very little effect on the company but does inconvenience the individual. Doing that can feel good but it's actually pretty irrational. Organized boycotts are much more effective. And regulation is the ultimate (threat to) boycott.
If technology turned people into enlightened, selfless beings things would be different. I don't see that happening, to the contrary.
Furthermore, people have limited time and energy. They can't investigate in detail every product they consume.
So from a consumer standpoint, perhaps it is good now, but we also don't know how much better it could be if there were competition. From a competitor standpoint, it sure doesn't sound fun. I have friends who sell things on Amazon and if they get too big, sometimes Amazon even squeezes them out of their business.
I wonder if antitrust law is to protect consumers or to protect other potential producers. Regardless, I imagine some of the idea behind it is that monopolies have relatively unchecked market power and while they can be good to consumers, they can also turn bad for consumers with little freedom for consumers to leave.
This has nothing to do with anti-trust but out of all the major tech corps Facebook really seems the most like a big tobacco company- sure they are adding value to the economy and ostensibly giving individual consumers something they want, but as a society we'd generally be better off if it just kind of went away.
>The Subcommittee’s investigation identified several instances in which a dominant platform was pricing goods or services below-cost in order to drive out rivals and capture the market. For example, documents produced during the investigation revealed that Amazon had been willing to lose $200 million in a single quarter in order to pressure Diapers.com, a firm it had recognized as its most significant rival in the category. Amazon cut prices and introduced steep promotions, prompting a pricing war that eventually weakened Diapers.com. Amazon then purchased the company, eliminating its competitor and subsequently cutting back the discounts and promotions it had introduced.
I'm curious... After reading that, do you still feel the same way about Amazon?
Price might not mater to many on HN but to millions of people it does.
There could have been several other sites all worth billions of dollars without the need for a single one stop shop.
Precisely quantified utilitarianism is the way? Quantified by who? Is our math, purposefully constrained for consistency, the right tool for that job?
What long term impact on those workers and society does creating so many low-effort monotonous jobs have?
Is there an upside besides expansion of low effort consumption and criticism of real effort?
A world where I optimizer for myself is very different, from one where I optimizer for society.
Who is we?
What common path are you referring to? What are its attributes in terms of maximizing individual time economy?
IMO that’s what the sharing through social effort is. Maximizing each individuals time economy.
Instead we seem to be maximizing time economy for people who can pay to externalize effort.
We’re really not optimizing for self by taking on more hours for less pay to keep Wall Street up.
Which to me ties right in with creating low effort jobs. Rather than decrease the amount of real work by expanding access to that work.
Let’s just hand out mops and brooms. Heard there’s coal to shovel out east!
Who knows, having more time may make things like cleaning a toilet and picking up packages seem less onerous.
We’re optimizing for a minority to be coddled by the effort of the majority. And being paid off with a fraction of the real output given the math I see.
Based upon hand me down stories from people with a very different intuition for quantification and science.
Would someone explain to me how kowtowing to such a social reality makes any sense scientifically?
Westerners all on about “science!” could stand to take a long look at their actual beliefs and application of agency.
A company that is predatory to literally everyone would not survive long. Obviously any predatory company must benefit one or more groups at the expense of others, or else how could they exist?
I mean, I think Facebook is terrible, but clearly many people find some benefit, or Facebook wouldn't have the billion-plus users they do. I don't deny that some people find benefit from Facebook, I just don't think that benefit outweighs the cost to society.
So Amazon is not predatory to parent commenter. In many ways, they're not predatory directly to me, either! I order goods from them at times, I use AWS, and overall I might argue that my life is better with Amazon than without. But my personal experiences aren't definitive. In order to benefit me, Amazon, by all reports, is preying on others. Competitors, suppliers, employees, and so on.
It's too easy to just pass of blame and say "Well, the machine is evil, no fixing that." Management should not get to hide behind the organization. We need to start sending a message that it's easy to fix what they are doing. Change out the people in charge, and change out the members of the board.
You can at least make some kind of defense of the products and services that Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple provide. Probably Google as well, though perhaps their case is weaker. But in my opinion, there isn't a defense to be made at this point regarding the virtue of Facebook or Twitter, neither as corporations, nor as platforms. The world is worse off because of their existence.
Social networks won’t work unless they are given away for free, and the only way to make a sustainable one you give away for free is to monetize via behavior modification products.
Sarcastically this make me want to reply that John the ripper was not evil. John the ripper's brain was evil.
Hmm it looks like it's still being maintained.
Yea but wasn't it basically a DoD spawn? Since LifeLog failed?
I mean, no need to get around messy privacy laws if you can convince people to voluntarily upload data on every aspect of their daily lives. It's brilliant. Evil, but brilliant.
Are they though? Windows 10 "telemetry" seems pretty evil to me.
In 2019 Amazon paid $2.4b in federal payroll taxes and customs duties and $1.6b in state and local taxes. So they actually handed to federal and state tax authorities over $4b of their $13.9b reported pre tax revenue, while also collecting $9b in sales taxes on their behalf.
Also, Amazon as a corporation is largely just comprised of its executives and employees and shareholders, and they all pay taxes on their income and realized capital gains (if any).
Also, you forgot Disney, Comcast, Apple, AT&T, and many more.
Who'd that be? Not familiar with dating apps' company histories. I tried them but I'm experiencing much more success with old-fashioned dating. Tech hasn't disrupted dating for the majority of people, I think. 
 Because I know quite a few people that don't get any success out of it either, while they do get some success with old-fashioned dating.
Can you elaborate on that?
Actually, Facebook Dating is a breath of fresh air which doesn't implement features designed to get to your wallet.
My current job was acquired by essentially my current employer buying me out of a contract with my former employer. I was doing contract work and they wanted me full-time. My former employer, the consultancy my current employer contracted with, acquired me when they knew I was unhappy with the place I was at, another place they contracted with, prior to them. The place I was with prior, I was hired via a standard "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" type of interview. No assessment of my skills was made. I made claims, they took them at face value.
So I've been through several processes for getting jobs.
> Google screwed the recruitment irrevocably and what's worse every minor shop attempts to copy their processes.
And this one is eh. Yes, their process is certainly rigorous and probably overkill. But the old style interview wasn't much better. The place where I work has gone through a couple of developers. Both were hired through more conventional means as we're not a software shop, we're a company that happens to need bespoke software.
Both were able to produce something in terms of software. None of it was excellent and the internals were just bad. I don't know another way to cut it. Neither were fired. Both quit for other jobs. We obviously need some sort of standard here.
We do need to assess whether or not someone can solve problems. We do need to assess whether or not someone can code sufficiently. Variable naming, indentation proclivities, clarity, etc. However, we cannot get caught up in testing whether they know the OTBS or the difference between systems and apps Hungarian or if they can solve trick questions.
I'm going to be responsible for essentially building a team for my department of the building. And I'll tell you now, I'm going to be making a process closer to Google's rather than the one I went through to get where I am. Not to lock the door behind me, but to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes. It's essentially 1 for 3 (maybe, I could be garbage as well to be honest).
What's wrong with a skills assessment with regards to hiring? Or what's wrong with the way Google performs skills assessment with regards to hiring?
Hopefully now you understand where the libertarians and ancaps are coming from. It's not that corporations are good. It's that governments are so much worse.
More to come are: Telegram, Discord, Houseparty, Clubhouse
Plus global competition from: Wechat, Weibo, Line
Social networks come and go. The space is a lot more whimsical than people think. Remember Friendster, MySpace, AIM. A new challenger will emerge every 3-5 years.
I honestly laugh whenever I hear people still bring up those early social media companies as evidence that social media heavyweights somehow come and go. None of those companies ever came near the global reach of FB. A quick Google search gives a peak user count of MySpace of between 75 and 100 million, for FB it's 2.7 billion.
Those companies basically all existed before the vast majority of people were even on any social network, and importantly none of them had real-name policies initially. And the modern challengers you give all have some specific, much smaller niche, e.g. image galleries for Pinterest. There is simply no other social network that has ever challenged Facebook in the "connect all my friends and let me give and see life's updates" space.
First, there are countries where Facebook is de facto synonym for the Internet. Thanks to its marketplaces, groups, and events, there are places where much of the online economy is heavily based on Facebook.
Second, I'd argue that nearly every mobile provider in the world that offers zero-rating does so by providing access to Facebook's services either free of charge or at a much lower price than the rest of the Web.
Absolutely no other company in history had these two advantages over not just their social media competition, but the rest of the Web as a whole.
By any reasonable measure, that was "at the same time"; it wasn't so much one replacing the other replacing the next as three early competitors fluctuating until one won out.
None of those browsers ever came near the global reach of IE. A quick Yahoo search gives a peak user count of Netscape of around 80 million, for IE it's around 800 million.
Not that I believe for one second Facebook has 2.7 billion active individual human users. I've never even used it but I've signed up to about 10 accounts over the years, and everybody I know also has multiple accounts for various reasons.
In fact based just on people I know, I wouldn't be surprised if already most people are just using "Facebook" for messenger.
Plus, I think society as a whole is beginning to see the toxic ills of social media in general and will push back in a "retro" "back to the basics" kind of movement, embracing old traditions like community, family and friends in meatspace.
Facebook is a horrible company which hasn't come up with and original idea in years. It now uses its "sign in with facebook" button to see which apps people are using before copying them completely and leveraging its social graph.
At this point its a parasite on the web that stalls innovation.
Feels really there is a lack of true creativity and innovation across the board and they're more being driven by feature FOMO than anything else at this point.
I hate FB, but I hate making such stuff patentable/copyrightable/unreusable/uncopiable even more.
Look at what instagram has become from photosharing app to an everything platform that has a horrible UX.
Nothing, in my opinion. The problem arises when a company is so large that simply implementing a good interface idea completely destroys the value of the original. The best example is Snapchat. Snapchat got big, fast, because its main conceit, while simple, was pretty unique. As soon as Instagram implemented it, Snapchat fell off a cliff, because why use Snapchat when you can just use Instagram?
What FB has been able to do is smooth out those up and down waves by acquiring challengers (Insta/Whatsapp). They tried to buy snap too but when that didn't work they just copied features and now also copying TikTok.
So I don't think they're subject to those equalising forces as has been the case previously (and which do still affect everyone else - RIP Vine).
But what makes this worse is the fact that Facebook hasn't been very vigilant about their privacy practises or political influencing on their platforms. And they haven't really suffered any repercussions from that. Which might embolden them and others to continue to do so unless something is done.
As a simple example, those 'new entrants' (can we really call any of those four new other than TikTok?) are all multi-billion dollar companies, but by quickly cloning the interesting features of those entrants Facebook probably siphoned off as much value from those entrants as they are now worth. In a world without Facebook copying them all four of those companies would have market caps that were at least 2x their current levels.
Great way to send shockwaves through the M&A space with governing incompetence: rather than pass reasonable legislation and/or empower an existing department, just have a political theater of a committee process which selectively picks those who haven't lobbied enough _not_ to get in front of that committee.
mmmmm, no looks like the legislative branch is reviewing what the executive branch does at all, thats whats supposed to happen.
The government botches numerous regulatory decisions. And Facebook is a monopoly that buys or copies (thus kills) their competitors.
And yet competitors e.g. Snapchat, TikTok, HouseParty, Telegram, Line continue to appear and flourish.
I think it's clear at this point that Facebook will continue to lose their social dominance, so long as they're prevented from acquiring any major competitors. Their old-line social network will likely remain as a foundation that everyone joins, because so many people are on it. New networks will keep popping up for the same reason TikTok did, young people hate being where old people are, where their parents and teachers are. That cycle will perpetually repeat (in 15 years TikTok 'dancing' videos will be viewed as laughably cringy by young people, like 1980s big hair and fashion trends were 15 years later). All that's necessary is to prevent Facebook from buying the new networks as they pop up.
Instagram might even manage to kill itself trying to be too many things as it clones competitors, turning itself into the F35 of social networks.
>young people hate being where old people are, where their parents and teachers are.
Yes, because let's make large business decisions and technology investments on what 10-12 year olds like.
And on the other hand, the only real competitor is Chinese so it needs to be banned.
I know my reasoning is not well thought out, but I just find it funny.
So domestic competition is not likely to happen anytime soon.
Facebook - Snap, Tiktok, Telegram, Discord, Houseparty (and we still have Twitter, Pinterest, Wechat)
Google - Duckduckgo (really?)
Amazon - Shopify (really?)
Apple - Android (really?)
(plus yes, a lot of those companies would go bankrupt without their VC funding)
Not surprising, but a very interesting quote nonetheless.
The only way they continue operating is to outsource R&D - buy companies that have proven a new business model or product, or replicate what they've done.
This has been the case since VisiCalc, Wordperfect, Netscape, IBM etc. - is there an alternative for large companies?
Instead i think they should strike their crucial market advantage: the assumption that user-generated content is free. It should not be, in fact users should be getting paid to have their content featured. A law that would prevent the use of user-generated content for ad purposes without compensating the user would help share the wealth.
Just saying FB...
The fact that this is downvoted and somehow controversial is proof of their campaign’s effectiveness...it’s how the media works, people.
One of the richest. As of Oct 2020, he is second.
not true for three years now
Why? Can't find the more recent value, but by 2017 he was down to ~1% stake and he was effectively transferring the amounts sold to the foundation. Why would he care significantly about the image of MS at this point?
The last significant article mentioning Gates and Microsoft I can find is him departing the board in March. And not a lot before that either. Can you point at his significant MS PR?
And of course he would be interested in making MS look better, it’s the source of his wealth and will forever be associated with him.
If you seriously think that one of the richest men in the world doesn't do the same thing for the sources of his wealth, I don’t know what to tell you.
How is Microsoft relevant to this discussion?
Just to give one trivial example of how this impacts people who don’t want to have anything to do with Facebook or its satellite entities, in my country many government agencies communicate through Instagram. As soon as I click on a graphic, or scroll their official feed, I’m forced to login to a Facebook company.
How does that happen with Microsoft? Even when someone sends me a Word or Excel document I’m freely able to open it with a third-party application, without ever needing to give Microsoft my real and personal details, including needing to verify my phone number or email.
Just wait. People love to be within top 10 richest on the planet and will do a lot to achieve it.
There's apparently "FANGAM" to account for that omission. According to Wikipedia:
And that's why nothing will happen to Facebook.
I'm sorry, what? Two private tech companies cannot merge if they can't prove it is in the public's best interest? Am I understanding this correctly?
What if the influence on public welfare is non existent or minimal, but both companies would benefit from the merger?
So this is more a move to preven them from bullying smaller tech companies? I can see it from that angle, but it still seems to me that they want the power to block acquisitions.
For instance, would the following acquisition/merger be allowed: a big tech company acquiring a small company, which the owner wants to sell, that does not influence public welfare?
Those same types of companies also tend to not sell-out to a mega-corp that simply wants to shut it down - if they really need the money they could presumably sell it to a competitor that would actually capitalize on their investment.
In a more general sense, I would like to see moves towards laws and regulations prohibiting more detrimental-to-the-public business activity - we already ban loss-leaders in many circumstances, so it's not a stretch to ban (or rather: to retroactively punish) buying out the competition simply to shut it down.
What's interesting to me is that our industry has plenty of examples of big corporations buying competing companies and products - and keeping them running despite internal competition and even cannibalizations, such as Autodesk and Discrete (3ds vs. Maya), Adobe and Macromedia (GoLive, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, FreeHand), even Microsoft too (Microsoft Works vs. Microsoft Office).
Apple's business model right there.
I meant that lately Apple has been buying companies that offer services to both Android and iOS and then shutting-down their Android businesses, even when they're very profitable and/or popular.
* Dark Sky
* Color Labs
* Emagic (Windows, not Android)
Granted, Apple does keep some Android services running, such as Shazam and Beats, but Apple's decision not just to suspend development of Android clients for services like Dark Sky and Texture, but to actively prohibit Android users while still allowing iOS access to the exact same backend web-service is just mean-spirited.
They don't want that power. They have it.