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Facebook chooses profits over people (peoplesworld.org)
224 points by xojoc 87 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments



These headlines naïvely miss the point. The problem isn’t Facebook, a private company, seeking profits. The problem is its deeply-entrenched psychopathy and pathological record of lying [1].

And it really appears to be a Facebook problem. Instagram for Kids wasn’t the fever dream of a deranged Instagrammer. It was pushed by a Facebook implant [2].

I don’t know if being in proximity to Facebook’s leadership corrupts people. Or if they select broken folks to start with. But it’s a top down effect, and the main reason I lobby for breaking up the company.

[1] They lied to the FTC [a]. They lied to WhatsApp and the EU [B]. They created an Oversight Board and then, wait for it, lied to it [c].

—[a] https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/cases/182_3109_fa...

—[b] https://euobserver.com/digital/137953

—[c] https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-oversight-board-says-...

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Mosseri


I would even say it's simpler, and the problem is Mark Zuckerberg specifically. He's deeply immoral, and continues to do what Facebook does for power and money. I understand, on some level, the excitement - he's a computer nerd who came to control an organization that is more powerful than the majority of the world's countries. Zuckerberg controls the platform that is the primary means of communication for hundreds of millions of people, and in terms of power he's almost on the level of G7 leaders, just not accountable to anyone.

Ethically, however, Zuckerberg seems to be on the level of murderous dictators, or human traffickers, or others that are among the very worst. I think he's willingly inflicted huge damage on modern Western society, and has certainly been the most harmful user of Internet technology.

Facebook as a whole is just a reflection of Zuckerberg's values and policies, which is not surprising for a company that's ruled by one person (as in CEO and sole majority voter). It's also not surprising that a company does unethical stuff to increase profits (and we have enough examples from Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Google, just about anyone), but I've firmly come to believe that Facebook is in a category of its own.


> He's deeply immoral, and continues to do what Facebook does for power and money.

I don't seem him wielding power. Its not like he's managed to convince half the population of a country that they should really abstain from something for shits a giggles. I'd go further and say that facebook it's self has surprisingly little power to shape the opinions of its users. There are powerful actors that use facebook as a medium for broadcast, but not facebook it's self.

> Ethically, however, Zuckerberg seems to be on the level of murderous dictators, or human traffickers

I think this is hyperbole. I don't like the man, and I think he is morally naive. But to compare him to a dictator fundamentally undermines just how bad dictators are.

Take for example a human trafficker. They procure girls by lying to them. They know they are lying to the girls. They then deliver them to people who they know are going to force them to be raped. The trafficker does not take any steps to mitigate the outcome.

Yes, facebook facilitated a massacre in burma. That is, to say the least, bad.

But did facebook actively collude with the perpetrators? was facebook run by members of the militia that carried out these terrible acts (I'm asking you to compare and contrast to Rwanda)

have they tried, all be it not very effectively to mitigate that risk? yes.

In short, I dislike facebook. I think there are practical steps that would make things better for people. However I think people ascribe far to much agency to them. After all, how the fuck do you effectively police 2.4 billion people? Facebook is a mirror to society. The sooner we recognize that, the better.


> I don't seem him wielding power. Its not like he's managed to convince half the population of a country that they should really abstain from something for shits a giggles. I'd go further and say that facebook it's self has surprisingly little power to shape the opinions of its users. There are powerful actors that use facebook as a medium for broadcast, but not facebook it's self.

Zuckerberg is meeting top political leaders of his own country, and sometimes others, and negotiating with them, FB is basically treated like a country-sized negotiating entity. That's certainly has to feel like a power trip, very few people have the type of access Zuckerberg has. And as for his power internally, as CEO and majority voter, anything major FB does is ultimately a decision by Zuckerberg, so that's his power. That includes things like how Facebook's algorithms are shaped, if they're prioritizing exposure, clicks and addicting users with dopamine hits, that's ultimately his responsibility.

> I think this is hyperbole. I don't like the man, and I think he is morally naive. But to compare him to a dictator fundamentally undermines just how bad dictators are.

> Take for example a human trafficker. They procure girls by lying to them. They know they are lying to the girls. They then deliver them to people who they know are going to force them to be raped. The trafficker does not take any steps to mitigate the outcome.

I'm really not making the comparison lightly, but I think Zuckerberg is on the same level. He's procuring user data (and attention), and he does that by tricking users into maximizing their engagement with the platform, which includes feeding some of them an endless stream of harmful misinformation, or carefully designing an addiction loop for teenage girls on Instagram, or some of the other things that platform does. Then FB delivers the product (data) in full knowledge that the process of acquiring this product has seriously hurt people.

I cannot know what Zuckerberg is thinking, of course, but don't believe him naive. He might have been at first, but I'm sure he has long understood exactly what is happening, and what FB does, he just doesn't care about the people. There are certain sadistic dictators or warlords who specifically enjoy hurting people on an individual level, but for most of them it's just utter disregard for human well-being. They may not wake up in the morning excited to jail and torture a hundred random people, but they see nothing wrong with that happening as part of their effort to preserve and increase their own power and wealth. This is where I believe Zuckerberg to be the same. Does he actually enjoy genocide in Burma, or convincing millions that vaccines are evil, or driving some teen to suicide over body issues? I'm certain he doesn't. But do those things bother him? I don't think so, I imagine it's an absolute non-issue for him.

So my stance is that Facebook is beyond the typical corporate greed level of evil, and cannot be reformed or improved because it's all an extension of a one particularly immoral person seeking to maximize wealth and power at any cost, without any consideration for improving the world or minimizing harm, except what's necessary for PR.


> Zuckerberg is meeting top political leaders of his own country, and sometimes others, and negotiating with them, FB is basically treated like a country-sized negotiating entity.

Every large company does this. Zuckerberg was oddly transparent about it. Look how much apple, google, IBM, rayethon, boeing, amazon lobby and manipulate. Amazon managed to get states to out bid each other to effectively subsidise opening offices in their state.

> I'm really not making the comparison lightly, but I think Zuckerberg is on the same level.

You are comparing Zuckerberg to Franco, Gagdafi, Lukashenko, al-assad et al. They literally have locked people up, tortured them and had them killed, systematically. They killed thier opponents to omake sure they would no longer be a problem. All of this in the pursuit of total power. The comparison is farcical, bordering on the "everyone I don't like is Hitler" argument.

As I've pointed out, for someone who is supposedly amassing huge power, he sure is really shit at using it.

For him to be a dictator, in the digital world, he would need to be removing the competition. Firing anyone that opposes him, removing dissent. I don't see that in FB. I also don't see that on the platform. I can freely criticise zuckerberg and the company. High profile sports player have done this in the UK, and they are still on the platform.

> But do those things bother him? I don't think so, I imagine it's an absolute non-issue for him.

If they are a non issue, why the fuck are they spending literally billions trying to unfuck it? I mean they aren't doing it very well, but they are spending megabuck trying. If he was indifferent then he wouldn't bother.

For example CSAM, facebook and google outperform apple reporting that kind of offence at a rate of ~2000:1 Does apple not care about CSAM? is Cook a secret CSAM peddler? no ofcourse not.

tldr: your argument undermines how bad dictators are, and suggests you don't understand what its like to live in a country that actively represses its populace.


> an organization that is more powerful than the majority of the world's countries. Zuckerberg controls the platform that is the primary means of communication for hundreds of millions of people, and in terms of power he's almost on the level of G7 leaders, just not accountable to anyone.

Let's add a header to Facebook's homepage insulting some country's leader, and see how fast they get beaten into removing it by a court.

The guy heads a communication company. This is nothing close to the power of a national government. A lone US senator might have less influence, but the president of any country has more authority than MZ, except maybe over Facebook, depending on how protective that country's law is.


Legal authority != power.

I'm from a small European country with no notable natural resources nor other economic influence. Legally, the government has quite a lot of authority, but its power, measured by how it can specifically influence events, pales in comparison to the power of certain larger countries that can actually affect more.

Facebook is the primary source of news for many, many people and can greatly influence their view by choosing to bury, or prominently display, stories promoting a particular stance. It's likely that Facebook could flip the outcome of a close election in a heavily FB-using country if it wanted to. Facebook controls several of the most popular services people use to directly message one another, and it could choose not to deliver messages containing certain words or links. Facebook can (through the FB Pixel) build a highly accurate history of web browsing for most online users, something major governments can also do through NSA, GCHQ or Spetssvyaz, but smaller governments don't have that capability.

Facebook can't launch nukes or assassinate anyone anywhere with a drone strike, but if you look past the several national leaders who truly stand out in terms of power, I'd say you would find Facebook in the next rank.


> the president of any country has more authority than MZ, except maybe over Facebook

Well, it depends how you measure.

Joe Biden has the power to start wars, to pardon people for US crimes, to have anyone disappeared and tortured indefinitely - but he doesn't have the power to create a database listing all American citizens, let alone the citizens of foreign countries.


> he doesn't have the power to create a database listing all American citizens, let alone the citizens of foreign countries

It's my understanding that the NSA did just that under Bush and Obama though. I might have only one side of the story, but in all countries where some part of the state surveillance apparatus was exposed, the law seems to be carefully crafted to look like it forbids mass surveillance while actually allowing the executive to implement it.


I‘d assume he doesn’t need to create those DBs, Facebook shares them with all agencies.


Does he not have that power, or does he not have the ability? Imo I think he has both.


It’s soft power vs. hard power. Everyone has an amount of measurable soft power and a measurable amount of hard power in different spheres. Soft power is how much everyone wants to agree with you, while hard power is how much everyone has to agree to you. Think of it as respect vs. on paper.

To lead effectively, you need both. It’s rare that leaders have both. Biden does not have the soft power to do such a thing.

Soft power vs hard power also is a part of every relationship, even with your grandma or friend.


That's a bit far fetched. Comparing Zuckerberg to dictators and slave traders? He could be on HN.


And? Are you worried he might be sad?


Not that I (fully) agree with the comparison, but I truly hope he's on HN, reads this and feels bad.


The combination of amorality, intelligence and power are enough to let anyone turn into that. I don't think there's anything particularly novel about Zuckerberg, other than the stars all aligned on a few mundane conditions.


He is accountable to people. Those people just happen to be shareholders. And if the stock price continues to increase then what's the incentive for shareholders to ask for more accountability. All the bad news and publicity without the de-investing means that it is ultimately good news (from a shareholder perspective), thus no financial action.


Zuckerberg is a minority shareholder in Facebook with majority control due to dual-class Founder's shares he possesses. The only person he's accountable to is himself.


I suspect something more complicated. Zuckerberg doesn't want to loose users so they give users what they want. Any social networks has to compite against other social networks so they go for users engagement and profit first.


45,000 fb employees choose every day to work for him. The responsibility for what fb is is just as much theirs.

If they didn’t agree with fb’s actions they’d leave.


>deeply immoral, and continues to do what Facebook does for power and money

I have to say in interviews he doesn't really come over that way


> And it really appears to be a Facebook problem. Instagram for Kids wasn’t the fever dream of a deranged Instagrammer

Two things to unpack here.

its not a facebook problem. its a problem that exists in many large companies. Apple for example doesn't give a shit about individuals. (you can see that if you slip off any of the predefined support pathways)

_everyone_ to google is just a thing to evaluated and advertised to. They are literally storing your every move and using to sell adverts, services and the like (how do you think they manage the "x is busy now, try later"?)

TikTok has literally hoovered up most of the 9-18 year olds, they even say as much when they try and pitch to advertisers. its the wild west on there, with all sorts of nasties flying around

Snapchat's USP is nudes & bullying, regardless of age.

Amazon: knowingly hawks fakes, dangerous and poor quality products, shamelessly copies and undercuts producers. But they have "free deliveries" and free returns, so its all ok.

There is nothing unusual about facebook, its just nobody likes them, and its fashionable to not like them.

Now to the point: instagram for kids. A fucking stupid idea. There was no possible way it could end good, even if it was perfect.

I imagine the thought process was: the kids are flocking to tiktok, we need them on facebook's platform. We are able to protect them better than snap/tiktok/other because we (facebook) have better controls than the rest. We also have some of them on instagram already, its better to make something for them, rather than having them there illicitly.

that isn't evil, its just hopelessly naive.


Agreed. Companies are all "evil" in that they exploit people for profit. What about cigarette makers? Or Monsanto? Does anyone think those companies care about people?

Oil companies conspired for decades to hide the fact that their product directly destroys, not just their customers, not just some specific category of people, but the whole planet.

Maybe because tech companies were founded and run by young guys, there was some hope that they would be different. Well, they aren't.

It's true that Facebook is in a class of its own, but that's because of its size and power; not because of its unique "evilness".


"There is nothing unusual about facebook, its just nobody likes them, and its fashionable to not like them."

You forgot to include 'completely understandable to not like them'.


>(how do you think they manage the "x is busy now, try later"?)

what is this?


when you search for a company, and google plots the company/thing on a map, it often has a histogram showing how busy the place is over time.


> Apple for example doesn't give a shit about individuals.

I don't think that's true. Jobs cared deeply about giving his users the best possible experience.


> Jobs cared deeply about giving his users the best possible experience.

that may be, but apple the company is secretive, excessively arrogant, and very willing to cut people off, should they cause a problem.

jobs himself was an effective leader, but he was fundamentally a top class bellend of a person. Zuckerberg is dull and predictable by comparison


Being a media company corrupts people. These companies - Facebook and others like it - are part of people's community forming process and have to confront the very real and practical problem that promoting objective truth - insofar as we have one - is unprofitable.

There isn't going to be a large social media company that reliably runs according to high-minded community principles. Not least of which because high-minded types would figure out that one company having that much power is unworkable and doomed to corruption. Sooner or later they'll optimise towards saying whatever needs to be said. And they have to satisfy too many different - opposed - communities to maintain a respect for the truth.


> I don’t know if being in proximity to Facebook’s leadership corrupts people.

I guess you need to be a bad person from the get-go to be able to keep a smiling face in that place. I mean, it is not even that Facebook employees are forced be necessity to work there. They have plenty of options. It is just that honest work, like say a weapon manufacturer, pays so much less than ratting out your friends and family to Zuckerberg.


> I guess you need to be a bad person from the get-go to be able to keep a smiling face in that place.

I have a close friend who works there. He's a moral person and disagrees with the social changes that Facebook has caused.

But if you ask him why he works there, he has a few standard responses:

- Most of the employees at Facebook are good and push back against Zuckerberg's harmful decisions.

- If all the good people leave, who will be left to push back?

- If I don't do this work, someone else will.

- These decisions have nothing to do with me.

All of these things are true and (I'd argue) bullshit. But history's greatest crimes and genocides were perpetrated by organizations of people who made many of these same excuses.

The core problem is that any large organization is guaranteed to be psychopathic. It's large and therefore powerful, which means small ethical compromises can cause a lot of harm. And also because it's large, every constituent can say, "Well, I didn't decide to do this." It's like a massive ouji board or a firing squad, where everyone is contributing to a concerted action, but no one feels responsible.


Not certain if I support your friend, but he is right in one regard. If people who push back against Zuckerberg were not part of Facebook, we would not have all these leaks.

When they announced that they would be cracking down on leakers, that announcement leaked immediately. Imo it shows that they don't have popular support within Facebook at all.

Of course this doesn't excuse implementing features that you know are unethical, but it does help, and hopefully government will step up and attach consequences to Facebook's deceitful and malignant practices.


> Imo it shows that they don't have popular support within Facebook at all.

This is correct. There's a huge amount of internal dissent. There are internal protests and letters to the CEO.

But the dissent means nothing (except, as you say, in the rare instance of a leak) because Zuckerberg has 100% control of the company. There are even reports that Sandberg has been sidelined over time as Zuckerberg has consolidated decision-making for himself.


> The core problem is that any large organization is guaranteed to be psychopathic.

Well any large organization is, to a certain point, very successful and you can't get to that position with morals. Doing the ethical thing is very often not the thing you need to do to succeed or profit.


It's hard to disagree in general, but there are varying degrees of evil.

REI has 2x revenue and 6x employees compared to Palantir, but it would be impossible to argue that REI is more evil.


I have found when it comes to career, or money, 95% plus shelve their morality. (I'm suprised Paul Graham hasen't wrote one of his infamous essays on the subject. He must have seen a lot in his times.)

Be it a Psychiatrist, Chiropractor, Attorney, Priest, entrepreneur, or tech worker, they are all the same with morality.

If it affects Their Financial Security, or Financial Future--They Become Sheep. (sorry about the caps.)

When I was younger I walked out of a Chiropractic school. I knew the crux of the profession, the Subluxation, was very rare, and if people got better through manipulation of bones---it was all placebo. I was alwready in debt for 10 grand, and had a A- average.

I used to think how can all these people sit through this, and not question the profession.

I'm no hero though.

I dropped out because I developd a huge anxiety disorder, and had some kind of breakdown.

If my mind was stronger, I probally would have graduated, and hung up a shingle and go into denial over my worthiness. (I would have never done a Rotary on even my worst enemy.)

My point is many people like to belive they have morals. I sometimes think the only people left with true morality might be the Amish.

Sure people like to believe they have string convictions, and ethics; but when it comes to financial security they are followers. They might disagree internally, but really taking a stand is very rare.

You would think a wealthy man who could afford to be moral, and ethical, would take advantage of their privileged situation?

No----they are the worst offenders.


> 95% plus shelve their morality.

There are plenty of jobs available that don't involve moral compromises (beyond those inherent to existing) if you don't go out trying to create them.

If my employer buys wood and converts them into staircases, we make a good quality product at a fair price, our working practices are safe, and our suppliers, workers and customers are all working with us by choice - whence comes the moral compromise?

If I'm a surgeon fixing broken arms in a country with single-payer healthcare, I'm doing my job competently, and I'm not getting anyone addicted to pain meds - isn't everyone better off for me having done my job?

If I'm a gardener and I make people's houses look nice, as long as nobody's hiring me to bury human bodies, once again, what's the problem?

For readers who want a job that doesn't require you to shelve your morality, there are options out there :)


The scale and the fuzzy boundaries between products and services that software allows seem to create those problems in unexpected places. In the pre-software days, if you sell cash registers to people and one of your customers happens to be evil no one would blame you. If you build an online shopping platform (selling virtual cash registers), get big enough that people notice you, and one of your customers is problematic in the eye of the public opinion, you suddenly have a moral problem on your hands.


> The problem isn’t Facebook, a private company, seeking profits.

Very often in modern world this is exactly the problem. Stuff you'd be ostracized for if you did it as individual is perfectly natural for a company and in fact expected. It was designed this way, too - the limited liability is there for a reason.

So no wonder the entities that let you get away with almost anything are ruled by psychopaths. Firing one guy won't change it. The system must be changed.

You can hire an honest person that balances morality, law and profits.

Or you can hire a person that optimizes profits over anything else, and if (s)he gets caught - you just hire someone else.

It's a no-brainer, really.

It was a mistake to let people legally limit responsibility for their behavior in this way. And if companies are legal entities they should go to prison or be executed when they fuck up.


No, the problem is lack of strong consumer protection.

Trusting profit-seeking private companies to do "the right thing" is naive at best.


> No, the problem is lack of strong consumer protection

Not sure why this is a "no" versus "and," but whatever. The problem with "strong consumer protection" is it's vague. It means anything to anybody, which is useless from a policy perspective. It's language designed to gum up the legislative process, which is why Facebook's lobbyists use it. (Note: not insinuating shilling. Their lobbyists coöpted the term.)

Replace "strong consumer protection" with specific asks. Mine is breaking up Facebook. You may have others.


Breaking up Facebook sounds fine to me. I've got an even better one, though: make their business model practically illegal. I'd love the US to implement something broadly similar to the GDPR and actually enforce it (and while at it, I'd like the EU countries to step up the enforcement game).

The tech monopoly giants of today are mostly Adtech companies, and as far as I'm concerned their very business model is anathema to free society. Trustbusting is good and needed, but customers should have been protected even before these firms turned into monopolists.


What alternatives to ads do you suggest? I don't see donations or paid services as a viable alternative (especially for people in emerging markets -- will companies still have any incentives to chase these markets?).


The problem is not ads, the problem is with Ad Tech. The tracking, user data collection and exploitation in secondary markets. There are ethical ways to have a business that uses ads a source of income and does not require "ad tech".

This is one of the reasons that I like the Brave/BAT model so much. It shows that you can have an "ad-based" economy without having to have Surveillance Capitalism. People could take part of the rewards they receive from the ad network and use to pay for their social media service. That was one of my ideas behind communick. [0]

And anyway, even if we wanted to get rid of "ads" altogether: WhatsApp was a profitable, sustainable business just by charging $1/year from part of its userbase. Facebook bought them because they knew it could become a threat to their business model.

[0] https://communick.com


Thanks!

It's questionable, but I think the idea is that ad tech makes ads more valuable? Ie a user gets something relevant to them.

Maybe the future will be this personalization happens offline on the user's device.

Your example on WhatsApp buttresses my point I guess. With payment, businesses have to rely on part of their userbase. And we all know that segment largely comes from particular geographies. This knowledge largely affects a company's strategy.

Ads are not totally different -- CPC/CPM varies across markets. But maybe can be compensated by volume.


> I think the idea is that ad tech makes ads more valuable?

This is what they want us to believe. I am pretty sure that in some years we will look at this claims from ad tech in the way that we see today the mid-century claims from Big Tobacco about the benefits of smoking.

> Maybe the future will be this personalization happens offline on the user's device.

It's already part of the present. This is exactly how Brave does the ad-matching. To make it perfect the only thing that I think is missing is for the user to have a way to train their own matching model, or at least to provide some kind of feedback about the types of ads that are relevant to them.

> And we all know that segment largely comes from particular geographies.

I believe that most companies already operate on the assumption that they will provide the service globally and lower-income markets are subsidized by richer regions. That is certainly true for any product that depends on network effects.

And for the products that do not depend on network effects, then the segmentation is likely to be a good thing. A more diverse set of companies, trying to solve the specific problems of different markets - instead of pushing for one-size-fits-all plans from big Corporations - is good thing in my book.


Yes. If, in the old days, e.g. 1980s, a telephone company would spy on its users to serve ads, this would be unthinkable. But somehow, here we are.

Time for consumers to get their rights back!


I trust that my "profit-seeking" dentist does the right thing, just like I trust that the "profit-seeking" engineer that built the home I live in and the "profit-seeking" restaurant owner from the place I had lunch today.

Please stop demonizing "profit-seeking". The problem is the lack of ethics of Facebook and Big Tech in general. Putting it on "private, profit-seeking" companies is a tired, sophomoric take.


Is your dentist a corporation that is lead by a board of directors and has a series of shareholders that help define how it operates?

If not then the comparison is not really valid.

> The problem is the lack of ethics of Facebook and Big Tech in general.

And big oil. And big pharma. And big anything.

Large corporations are built to maximize profit. And it is this focus on profit that is the problem.

So 'profit seeking'...


Unless you work and sell your labor "at-cost", you are also "profit-seeking". It does not mean that you are also "unethical".

Profit-seeking should not imply unethical, no need to twist language when there is already the vocabulary to convey the proper meaning.


> Profit-seeking should not imply unethical

Nobody said that profit-seeking implies unethical. It was said that profit-seeking companies should not deserve our unconditional trust.


Nobody is saying that they deserve unconditional trust neither.


> Unless you work and sell your labor "at-cost", you are also "profit-seeking".

Well the last time I checked I didn't turn a blind eye to my work helping to start a promote a genocide in Burma so I really don't see your point.

I don't think that profit-seeking ever results in behaviour that is ethical. If I make a decision based on my desire for more money then it is almost always going to be a choice not based on ethical or moral values.

The difference is the scale. If I cut a few corners as a independent contractor then at worst my client gets slightly less value from their money.

If I cut corners as the owner of a chain restaurant then my profit-seeking has an impact on the employees I have and my customers.

If I am a major corporation that has billions of users then my profit-seeking has incredible impact.


You are using profit-seeking to convey the (immoral) idea of "favoring profits over ethics", while I am using the more (ammoral) neutral definition of "doing something for financial gains". Can we agree to that?

If so, you'd have to argue why you want to change a neutrally-charged concept into something that carries negative connotations.


There are plenty of ways in which profit-seeking can hurt consumers. Just look up "dark patterns" for starters.


Again, this has nothing to do with "profit-seeking" and a lot to do with business ethics. Two completely separate issues.


Whether they are separate issues or not depends on the company. There is certainly an incentive for companies to make their ethics secondary to profit. Therefore, right now, from a consumer's perspective, it is a matter of trust. And strong consumer protection can help increase certainty for the consumer.


> Whether they are separate issues or not depends on the company.

I don't understand this. At the end of the day they are separate things, probably you are saying a profit-seeking company is more likely to be unethical?

The fact that two things are usually correlated doesn't make them the same, right?


I said: we should not trust profit-seeking companies to be ethical.

Somehow, this was translated into: profit-seeking companies are unethical. Which is not what I said.


The issue is with your qualifier. Your implication is that what makes them unethical is the "profit-seeking", when is at best redundant (all companies are profit-seeking) and at worst misguided (boo-hoo, profit is bad)


Read again the conversation and please understand that my main issue with your comment is in using "private, profit-seeking companies" as a shortcut for "unethical".

> There is certainly an incentive for companies to make their ethics secondary to profit.

Replace "companies" for "dentists", "engineers", "plumbers" and "cooks", and this statement is still valid. The temptation to cheat and cut corners to favor short-term gains will always exist.

Yes, larger corporations give the ability for individuals to distance themselves from the consequences of their actions, and therefore it is more likely to see unethical behavior from large, faceless corporations. Still, this is not about "profit-seeking" or "profit-maximizing".

Your issue (and mine) is with Corporatism, not Capitalism. It is an important distinction to make.


In any dictatorship, the behavior of the organization will grow to reflect that of the dictator. And Mark has the majority of voting shares.


There’s an old saying that captures this idea: the fish rots from the head.


This is overly reductionist. “Those people are just intrinsically evil and do bad things for the pure joy they get from being evil” is pretty much never the case. Yes, it makes you feel good and righteous to proclaim that, but real people and real life are more complex.


> Those people are just intrinsically evil and do bad things for the pure joy they get from being evil

Nobody said that. The assertion is that Facebook's culture either attracts or breeds people unbound by conventional morality.

They lie. They break laws. They do things nobody else would find conscionable that makes them a single-stop shop for pen testing the limits of the world's regulatory and legal systems. (The latter not being generally bad, though it is in the specific cases involving Facebook, e.g. Instagram for Kids.)


Calling people psychopaths and pathological liars implies that there is no reasoning behind their actions. You’re saying they’re mentally ill. Pathological liars lie compulsively, about things for which there is no reason to lie. Is that what you’re claiming is happening with the entire executive staff of Facebook? They are all physiologically incapable of being honest? That they know and believe their actions are destructive and are committed to doing them anyway because they have a mental disorder that makes them unable to stop?


> Pathological liars lie compulsively, about things for which there is no reason to lie. Is that what you’re claiming is happening with the entire executive staff of Facebook? They are all physiologically incapable of being honest? That they know and believe their actions are destructive and are committed to doing them anyway because they have a mental disorder that makes them unable to stop?

Nobody can make a diagnosis from a distance. I am saying their actions are substantially and increasingly indistinguishable from those of someone so afflicted.

Lying about X-Check to their Oversight Board is one such instance. It's stupid. It's so stupid. If those who lied--and there were several, at least five to my count--who thought through whether they should lie, or if there were other, better options, they would have come to the rational conclusion. But they didn't. There was instinct built over years of cultural conditioning, and they did what they do. They lied.

I have good friends at Instagram, WhatsApp, formerly Facebook (going back to the early days)--the whole shebang. It wasn't always like this. But within the last decade, senior leadership started acting like it was them against the world. That attitude created the situation they scorned.


> The problem isn’t Facebook, a private company, seeking profits.

Because of the last few decades of weak law enforcement, lying and breaking the law is seeking profits.

Most large companies make very calculated decisions to break the law while weighing the risk of getting caught. In many cases, the fines are tolerable when considering much larger profit.


Decades?

Anyone remember the Robber Barons? It is an inherent problem with the system.


Robber barons were mostly not breaking the law. The laws were written to stop them.


i kinda saw the whole dilemma of instagram for kids as a competitors way of thwarting their competition indirectly. for one, youtube for kids exist, how is instagram for kids any different?


> The problem is its deeply-entrenched psychopathy and pathological record of lying [1].

I think it is sociopathy. They know what they are doing is wrong but do it anyways.

Which is worse really


That's any for profit company no matter what anyone believes. Any company its only purpose is profit.

It's the same with company HR it's there to protect the company. It's not personnel anymore it's called human resources for a reason you're just company inventory.

And "corporate culture" there is none they are not your family there is no culture they'll fire you in a heartbeat.


> And "corporate culture" there is none they are not your family there is no culture they'll fire you in a heartbeat

This isn’t what corporate culture means. It’s a set of shared behaviours and norms. The language used, approaches taken, behaviours tolerated and condoned and discouraged. Some companies have coherency in this. Others don’t.

Facebook does, it’s consistent, and it’s horrifying.


i read the OP to mean that most companies include in their "culture" that you are part of the "family". but that does not reflect what we came to understand families to be. i.e. your uncle does not get ostracized for underperforming.

although, i have to say, dysfunctional families do exist...


Could you please give some examples of this?


> That's any for profit company no matter what anyone believes. Any company its only purpose is profit.

That's a myth. See for example

1. this aptly titled article: Corporations Don’t Have to Maximize Profits

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/04/16/what-are-co...

2. Tim Cook at Apple:

> The shareholder asked Cook about the company’s renewable energy efforts and told him that Apple should only undertake such efforts if they were profitable. In a rare display of anger, Cook replied that there were many things Apple did because they were right and just. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he added, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” Then he added, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-maximize-profits-trap-in-decisio...


> Tim Cook at Apple.

Please, don't. Pushing CSAM, and removing apps for oppressive governments.

We as collective consciousness must stop idolizing corporations. Corporations are for profit. The lack of regulations and effective legislation is the problem. The biggest problem is that a lot of legislative mechanics are affected by shares ownership and lobbing.

And we find this "a normal behaviour".


Tim Cook is not a saint. Apple makes some poor ethical choices. That said, I’d still prefer that Cook rather than Zuckerberg ran Facebook.


There is no saints or sinners. This is naive view of the problem.

As I stated it before, the problem is legislative and law enforcement related. Facebook or any other company will use every lawful opportunity to gain ROI. The system in place is the reason corporations to avoid responsibility and this is not Facebook or tech company related. You cannot have expectations of morality or any form of ethics. You can project in your mind or imagination, but this will not make a difference at all. As we can see historically with tobacco companies in the past.


The first link is discussing whether directors have a legal duty to maximize profit, which, as the article describes, they do not (their duties are open to much broader interpretation, which the article also describes). But, of course, there are numerous nonlegal forces that incentivize profit maximization, some of which are noted in the aforementioned article, and these forces are so strong and ubiquitous that their result - profit maximization - should be taken to be the default, which is what GP was saying.

Second, a random statement from Tim Cook, which itself is the subject of numerous forces and incentives, is hardly a strong case against the argument that, almost universally, corporations act to maximize profits (which, we as Americans, also often pretend is a universally pro-social motivator).

I'll also note that both of your sources focus on short-term profiteering (e.g. ignoring long-term benefits of renewable energy in favor of short-term profits), but are actually supportive of long-term investments, which are, of course, made with the purpose of increasing future profits (e.g. " it is [...] not corporate law [...] that [drives] so many of today’s public companies to myopically focus on short-term earnings; cut back on investment and innovation [...]" and "thinking in terms of long-term profit and returns is an important way of putting society’s resources to their best uses"). Focusing on long-term investments, in both cases, is obviously also motivated by profit (with the second arguing that long-term profits are actually a social good, which is the case only when compared with short-term profits).


You're right (and I don't dispute) that almost all firms aspire to long-term shareholder value creation, and that there are both practical reasons (market forces, competition) and theoretical reasons (Econ 101 arguments such as the two welfare theorems, principal-agent theory, etc. [1]) why that is and should be so.

However, that is just a broad and fast rule, and it is neither empirically true, nor desirable, nor legally required that every firm at every opportunity "maximises profit". It is this over-simplification that I argue against [0].

If Facebook is shown to pursue profit at the expense of teenager health, or at the expense of democratic institutions, or Shell is shown to pursue profit at the expense of the environment, the appropriate response is not to shrug and say "doh, that's what companies do (and must do)!".

Instead, one ought to discuss whether A) the legal/regulatory framework within which the firm operates should be tightened (eg with rules that just prohibit certain things, or internalisation of externalities), or B) whether a firm should refrain from doing certain things even though they're (still) legal and increase profits.

[0] GP didn't state, as you sensibly do, that "profit maximization should be taken to be the default", but rather (my highlights) "That's any for profit company no matter what anyone believes. Any company its only purpose is profit.", which is just the facile statement I argue against.

[1] Note that these Econ 101 arguments for the primacy of profit maximisation rest on many assumptions that don't hold, see for example James Kwak's book Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality.


It is of course not a defensible position to say that all corporations only do things for profit (especially as it has not only to do with intent, but intent of an organization); even if it were true in all but a single case. Since that's what you've staked out your argument against, there's not much to discuss here.

That profit maximization is not legally obligated (or even "desirable") is not a particularly compelling counterpoint, many things are done that are both legally forbidden and undesirable (of course "desirable" for who is another discussion). Additionally, your Tim Cook quote, which I assume was your attempt at disproof by counterexample, is not particularly compelling either, primarily because it's simply a quote (especially considering there is abundant anecdotal evidence that corporations have the ability to do things for superficial intent other than profit, and many examples where that superficial intent is more defensible).

Also, what you read as "doh, that's what companies do (and must do)," I read as "it's naive to assume a for-profit company would prioritize anything over profit by choice." The second (but also the first) implies the necessity of a discussion about "the legal/regulatory framework within which the firm operates." They also both imply that expecting firms to simply "refrain" is naive, even if it superficially occurs.


>In a rare display of anger, Cook replied that there were many things Apple did because they were right and just. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he added, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” Then he added, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

That anti-profit dollar, that's a good dollar.


Tim Cook was pushing some clever PR there. The reality is that if a company deviated significantly from it's primary goal of attaining profits for shareholders, the shareholders could easily sue to take control away from the CEO - and this indeed happens.

The example of a small feature here or there is a deflection since, like any do-good public effort, it's just good PR to do them when they're relatively low cost.


Nah, successful shareholder lawsuits are exceptionally rare, except in tiny family companies. Almost any waste of money can be justified as an attempt to support some intangible, immeasurable goal.

I mean, CEOs are allowed to do spend money in ways that improve the company's image. They're allowed to perform experiments that may not bear fruit, and gambles that may not pay off. They're allowed to do things that improve employee morale and retention.

CEOs can spend shareholders' money on buying other companies the CEO owns ("I thought it would be a good investment"), outfit themselves with a super-luxury office ("We need it for meetings"), even have the shareholders buy them a private jet ("I'm paid so much, the time savings are worth it") - with the right fig leaf, it's all legal.


Apple, and Cook in particular, is a member of groups that are actively working to stop the proposed environmental laws in the US. So yes indeed, deflection

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/01/apple-amazon...


This is a completely bogus claim, and you really should not be taking content from the guardian seriously - this is a great example why.

Apple, in this case, is one of many companies that generally supports various lobby groups for various causes. In this article, they note that some (unspecified) groups that Apple supports oppose the current budget bill.

Nowhere in this article can you conclude that APPLE specifically opposes this bill BECAUSE of the climate change clauses in it. Nowhere. That's garbage reporting.

The Bill is massive with literally thousands of provisions - most having NOTHING to do with climate.

The title is so misleading, it's comical. Pure clickbait - and frankly, you should be more careful about posting misleading garbage like this on HN.


Bogus how? Sources?

> Nowhere in this article can you conclude that APPLE specifically opposes this bill BECAUSE of the climate change clauses in it.

That is a lot of caps.

Apple gives money to group A. Group A opposes a bill that contains environmental provisions. Apple will not refute the actions of group A.

Who cares if group A says their objection is for other reasons. They are still trying to sink a bill with environmental provisions while saying they are in favour of said bills. Apple can't have it both ways.


I dislike broccoli. Broccoli is a vegetable. Therefor I dislike squash.

This is the idiotic argument the article is making.

You are better than this.


> Any company its only purpose is profit.

This isn't true for any company, not even investment banks. When people start companies, money is seldom a major reason, and as they grow they get a life of their own. Even large companies are run by people, people with feelings, insecurities, ambitions.

An incredibly wealthy leader of a large corporation is not really motivated by money, he wants more status, he want to look cool, he wants to indulge his fantasies.

Saying companies only exist to make money is just silly.


Of course they do. That leader would get the boot ASAP if he chooses any goal other than making money as he is behest to investors who expect a maximized return to their investment.

Companies where your scenario can play out are the exception and not the rule. Not that the motivations you wrote are much better for society.

I am speaking here about large companies that can have impact on a societal level, not your small mom and pop business.


It's hard for investors to get Management in line of the needs of the investors, they mostly work for their own needs, take a look at the big bonuses and raises they constantly give themselves. Often even after a terrible year.

In big corporations there are so many investors that they are hardly organized. And even if they are it's a difficult problem to incentivize a manager correctly. It's a topic with a lot economical scientific research. In theoretical terms it's called the principle-agent problem.


> That leader would get the boot ASAP if he chooses any goal other than making money as he is behest to investors who expect a maximized return to their investment.

No. See my sister comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28956259


I beg to differ. The purpose of the company is what those in power of the company decide it to be. While in the absolute majority of cases it is profit, there _are_ exceptions. Most notable exception would be SpaceX, which has its sights set on Mars transportation, with profits mainly serving as the stepping stones.


In Canada, the duty of care, or fiduciary responsibility of the directors is to the corporation. This can be shareholders, environment, employees, and anything else that makes up the corp. This is a fairly recent ruling and is vague but I think begins to recognize the complexity of the balancing act a director must take into consideration when making a decision.

I think it’s easy to throw headlines around “Facebook does not care about you…” and maybe this is true, but I would argue that they do care, and they care a lot, as you are there primary source of income and if they loose you, they will cease to be an operating company. They definitely push the boundaries, and I hope society and FB course correct soon as sometimes it’s hard to put their experiments in the search of new revenue back in the their box.

SpaceX is a private venture, with the vast majority of shares being held by one person, who is also the CEO. I would argue SpaceX mission is what ever Elon says it is, as he is the primary shareholder. All that to say, IMO Elon thinks on a different timescale than most, and also with varying priorities over that time horizon, and I would not bet he would do all of this without the eventual long term payoff being part of his plan, even if it is decades away from when he started. Elons formula , build profitable company, take profit from company, repeat


Seems they have a fantastic PR department


That works because the purpose — at least currently — doesn't actually cannibalise on the profits.


Yes and no. By definition, the company does what those in power make it do, even if it is against the profits. No company can operate independently with zero margin however.


Perhaps after the for-profit company scales and goes ipo it is much less likely to value anything but money, however such absolutist view doesn't apply to many small businesses that are often an extension of interests. Not everybody dreams about making a successful startup and selling it ;-).


Not just for profit companies, most people too. Facebook is just very visiy


My reaction to this headline is, if you want someone to care about you, call your mother.

Most of the world doesn't care about you, and it's not a scandal, it's just how reality works.

The whole problem with Facebook is that we somehow ever trusted that it was not motivated by profit, and shared the most intimate details of our lives with it. Stupid fucks, us.


I’m not sure if your language was intentional but this was literally Mark’s attitude from day one. [1]

1. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.indiatoday.in/amp/technolog...


Agreed. If there is a gap between how we expect an industry treats customers, and how customers are treated in (like social media), then the answer is government regulation - not some moral shouting in the media.

A healthy capitalist society is one with efficient regulations. I feel like these pieces often try to discredit all of capitalism just because a regulation is needed somewhere.

I don't want to live in a theocracy dictated by whoever screeches the loudest in the media or on social media.


In other news, the sky appears to be blue.


People in this thread say variations of your comment, that it's obvious, that everyone knows it.

But then at the same time people still make excuses for companies like Facebook. They urge others not to assume any bad (or purely profit oriented) intent, to believe that the people working at Facebook are honest about what their PR campaigns and Zuckerberg claim and the list goes on...

Also it is absolutely common that people really want to give companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to morals vs. profit.

So it's clearly not that obvious to most, it's just that people agree if you phrase it the way this headline does.

Also still everyone does the dance of company marketing and "mission statements". Quotes like "we here at <generic megacorp> want to make the world a better place" are still often taken at face value or repeated outside the work environment.

It's not clear, or if it is, most still play along.


I find it very interesting the number of people in these comments making the simple claim that companies are often (at least often enough to be relevant) primarily motivated by things other than profit.

That's not even what neoliberals argue. The more compelling, but still not that compelling, argument is that certain types of profit maximization (usually long-term, "pro-innovation" profit maximization) inherently result in outcomes (maybe net outcomes) that align with pro-social (i.e. good for society) motivations.


Something, something, Wizard’s First Rule.

People will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true.


I'm surprised that there are people out there that do not realise this


I live in the UK, certainly takes some convincing.


Lots of people love to complain about the U.K. weather and it is true that we have particularly rainy parts (eg the north west) but people also feel the cultural need to make such complaints in parts of the south east where it is generally warm or temperate and infrequently wet or windy and bitingly cold. I’ve personally become a bit of a weather contrarian, especially when talking to Americans who have heard about British people always complaining about the weather.


I complain about the weather primarily because the weather is shit.


In other words, even people from the UK behave like humans?


Looks like those bullshit PR feelgood ads really do work on some people.

I don't know how naive you would have to be to believe that $CORP really cares about you.


Since we are talking about the UK, as Adam Smith said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.“


I don't know if Adam Smith meant it in the sense that present day libertarians and other naive people take it, but I am sure nobody would want to shop from a psychopathic butcher that only cares about profits.


But what would that look like in Adam Smith's time?

Suppose there was a butcher known to be a psychopath who people would really rather not buy from. Given the relatively low barrier to entry of being an 18th-century butcher (relative to many of our large industries today), someone could enter the market and just not be a psychopath and take all that guy's business because people would prefer shopping there.

Knowing this, then from a purely game-theoretical perspective, the psychopathic butcher would realize that if he wanted to be competitive in his village, he should probably dial the psychopathy back. An alternative would be to outright attack competition, but before the industrial revolution he probably wouldn't have enough of a leg up on challengers to afford that.

Arguably that has changed since, where incumbents benefiting from economies of scale have much greater advantage over new competitors and therefore have less to fear from bad behavior (see basically the history of labor post-industrial revolution). Incumbents do still get disrupted, but for some reason virtually never on ethical differentiation.


If they knew he was a psychopath, they wouldn't shop from him, regardless of behaviour. And that's my point. Self-interest is obviously not enough to sustain a successful society, it's only really enough when combined with all the unwritten rules of common decency in society, and I'm sure that's how Adam Smith meant it too.


Pretty sure that gp made a joke about the weather in UK


Pretty sure on average the sky isn't blue on the UK, specially during winter months.

Source: live in Yorkshire.


Well $CORP is here to serve its various stakeholders and its customers is arguably one of the most important.

The issue with $ADS_CORP is that the people it serves ads to are not the customer. But they are still a stakeholder, simply a less important one.



This is myopic nonsense at best and most likely a cynical hit job driven by some dark agenda. Facebook is the natural result of a regulatory and cultural environment that has not yet caught on to the fact that as a species, culturally and biologically, we are not built to be interacting directly with millions of people in real time. We, as in the human race, need to take this challenge very seriously, and work to understand and modulate the astronomical imbalance between our individual data processing capability and the amount of information and disinformation that is now easily accessible.


I'm not a fan of Facebook and starting to see linkedin heading the same way, I just don't get the look at my one it's bigger then yours I don't understand this so don't join in the game. I personally feel like Facebook and lots of social media is more a fashion statement or cheap thrill. I kind of am liking it here as it's more meaningful and feels like more of an education then a show off session. Facebook's ideas seam more on how do we make more money, then how can we leave the world in a better place. We should protect privacy not profit off and take advantage of the legal flaws around this area. I also feel that Facebook manipulate others when I did use it everyone was always happy always a nice story but reality is never this way life is ups and downs and sometimes it's nice to keep those ups and downs private and not share them for humanity to expose and profit off.


You made me think, is it even possible to create a social media network geared towards education (sharing skills and ideas) for the masses?

I suppose YouTube is somewhat there. But it's blended with so much crap.


Yet YouTubers constantly make clickbait titles like "Tour of my 10 MILLLION DOLLAR house" or "I gave away $50,000"


Well yes, but 3Blue1Brown exists on the same site for example.


And they also have a page on facebook.


Have you met one of “the masses”? That’s simply what they want - not educational math videos.


Social network, no. Social networks are for talking about yourself, and that's generally not very productive for educational purposes.

However, in the slightly earlier life of the internet BBSes and forums were all the rage, and those were actually useful, because the focus was on discussing common interests instead of everyone just showing themselves off (and forums are still around! Discourse is a modern open source implementation).

Which is probably also why people like HN, because it still follows the forum pattern rather than the social network pattern.

Some subreddits are also useful for this, when you get into somewhat less controversial corners like learning math or music theory.

Stack Overflow and its various spinoffs is probably another good real-world example.


Concerning social networks, it's even more than just talking about yourself. It's about creators' wants of acknowledgement/views and the greed and addiction associated with it.

Of course users in a hypothetical social education network would want views from their material too, but it would require the removal of sinking to the lowest common denominator from the equation. As you pointed out, that seems to already exist in specific forums/sites/etc.

Really, I guess it comes down to the users. People who want to learn will seek out education and discourse wherever they can. And those who don't seek it out, either don't want to or are unaware that they can. Is it possible to make education and sharing of ideas more attractive via a social network to that second group?


Anyway I saw Facebook when it started out and it was kind of nice to be able to chat to my mates around the world, however for me it was always just a junk thing to be a clown on, little did others or myself know it would impact the very cores of society. Instead of it being monitored and controlled like most other major impacts it was left to just snow ball into a massive situation we have today. Lol FFS to allow them to employ people to focus on addiction techniques like what the hell how was that even legal, I mean come on where were the audits and protections it's crazy.


> Lol FFS to allow them to employ people to focus on addiction techniques like what the hell how was that even legal

Gambling industries all over the world have been doing this longer than Facebook, and nobody seemed to bat too much of an eyelid.


Yeah, I understand. Early Facebook was a nice "keep in touch" platform - before likes and sharing. I think the reality is for-profit social networks will always be detrimental to society long term. You can add paywalls, but then you're only working with an exclusive minority. That probably won't work long term.

I wonder if something run by the Wikimedia Foundation or an equivalent could work. Like a MyWiki.


Maybe like it could work where you get like here karma, but the Karma is more based on your content you submit which needs to be approved and audited, like a forum or peer review. The points allow you to connect with people but only connect with people that have the same value. IE a person with 100 points can connect with a person who has 100-150 but not someone with points above this. Below this you might also have an up and down cap to keep people in smaller community based circles and maybe limit this to like 400 people. It's an idea it's not perfect but maybe it could allow us to be better. Having a limit of 5000 lol how can you even have 5000 friends it's impossible. You can always follow these groups that part anyone can do you just can't interact with them with out being connected, or forming your own sub group which in doing this will spin up your own fan base and acceptance feeling. Again is not perfect


Yes however when you have allowed a "free" platform to be used be adolescents and made it normal part of life then you start exploiting that, the education part becomes unimportant and it's more about the creators then about helping. Just put an 18 plus limit on it maybe ban it from kids as they are the ones who are so easily manipulated they don't know fact from fiction and it makes the rumours worse. If kids are learning their truth from social media it's a problem as it becomes engraved in their thinking.


I don't think you can ban anything from kids. They'll always find a way.


Maybe it's possible, however you would need like a law to allow freedoms but not hinder on others freedoms, maybe like a art platform where you can only discuss via symbols and signs, original artwork or images that are approved but then you enter a kind of dictatorship platform it's a fine line.


Anything “for the masses” has to compete to win over the average and below average intellects. From what I can tell, that means that you have to get more and more sensationalistic to keep market share. You’re competing with a lot of addictive content out there, and educational content generally doesn’t fare well in that regard. Remember all of those educational video games in the past? Math blasters? They sucked. There’s no way they could compete with Mario and Zelda. This is the same phenomenon.


> You’re competing with a lot of addictive content out there, and educational content generally doesn’t fare well in that regard. Remember all of those educational video games in the past? Math blasters? They sucked. There’s no way they could compete with Mario and Zelda. This is the same phenomenon.

I think you took the wrong lesson here (seems appropriate given the subject).

Edutainment (Word Rescue and so on) wasn't unpopular because people are stupid. It was unpopular because it wasn't very good. They chased two rabbits and lost them both (education, entertainment).

Mario was more fun, better art, and probably better for your mind.


Is life and being alive not already the game that achieves this unless I'm mistaken it's the ultimate education platform, so maybe the answers are in finding a new way to address it.


People play games and consume media mostly to get away from life, because life has many aspects that suck.


Touché good human. Touché!


OfficeHours.global is working on it…


> When it debuted on the internet in 2004, Facebook seemed like a revolutionary innovation. A way for millions of people to engage with one another on a central virtual platform.

That's quite a load of revisionist history right there. Facebook was neither the first, nor the first large platform or what we today call social network to enable that.

It's differentiating factors were that it was web-based, easy to use, and managed to stick around.


It is very revisionist. But it was certainly not special in being web based or easy to use. MySpace, for instance, was far more web based than Facebook has ever been. The major differentiating feature was the marketing model that drove it's initial rollout. It was progressively released to a handful of elite US universities. This led to demand and excitement as it was further expanded. What's striking is that this specific plan was stolen. Without this marketing trick, I sincerely doubt that thefacebook.com would have survived and grown into it's current form.


Does anyone genuinely believe any for profit company gives two shits about its customers?

They care as far as the customer spends money (or watches ads blah) but as long as people keep coming, no one really cares for the customers.

Who believes that Ronald mcdonald is here to help the customers make the best choice for the customer?

This is just the way, friends and family care for each other.


Of course they do, it's just they don't care as much as they do about profit. This isn't as bad as it sounds. If you don't look after your profit, you don't stay in business.

That doesn't mean you have to make obscene profits (compared to their burn rate) but most organisations don't, just a few headliners.


"Does anyone genuinely believe any for profit company gives two shits about its customers?"

Yes. I've worked for them and with people who were very concerned about their customers.

Some of us actually care about value being delivered to a customer and the public. Were not all a bunch of greasy mountebanks gaming people to maximize returns.


>The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.

Here's the red flag: for the children. Anytime that is brought up, it's something bad for the population. See drug war, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria (Aleppo), vape pressure (to keep people smoking cigarettes for state settlement money), etc.

I'm afraid the ultimate plan is to get rid of section 230, which would of course give a monopoly of political discourse back to the corporations: Viacom News, Comcast News, Fox News, Warner News, Microsoft News. Of course controlling that is a lot of power and allows business as usual in our governments with little to no pushback.

https://www.aclu.org/news/free-speech/dear-congress-platform...


People do this too to be fair. The most notable people in the world are people who hoard wealth.

We put all our points into commercialism, of course people would sell their own grandma for a few quid. We wanted this apparently.


If I hoard a billion news papers clippings I'm a mad man but if I hoard billions of dollars I'm a hero this seams like a bit of a paradox in itself no?


> if I hoard billions of dollars

If you literally "hoard," as in store it up and hide it away [1], yes, that would be crazy. But nobody does that. Those billions are invested and working.

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoard


Investing and working, in order to... make more money?

After a certain point - when you can afford literally everything it's possible to want to consume - it's no longer about improving your own quality of life. It's either about increasing your "score", or about increasing your power over others.


I understand people need money to make money, I get it, but surly we could place a cap on it. The super rich are no different from the kings and queens of old, they just are called by different names like CEO or some other three letter thing.


> we could place a cap on it

Why? What benefit does society gain from telling Elon Musk, years ago, no more money, go buy cars and nice dinners, you're not allowed to start SpaceX or get involved with Tesla?

Also, it's trivially sidestepped. Japan is a culture with notoriously uncompetitive executive pay. As a result, one, its ambitious tend to not do their work there. And two, many firms have the entire family on the payroll. (Beyond that, a deep system of patronage.)


Ideally, the value that Elon Musk has captured would instead go to an institution that we collectively control, like NASA, and we would accomplish the same things but in a more accountable way. Is it really right and fair that society is ploughing money into Mars colonization, without any of us having been consulted, just because some nerd got "disruptive" with banking regulations?

In any case, Elon Musk is a pretty bad example because most billionaires do not orient their investment activities around some forward-thinking idealistic goal like Elon has. For every Elon, there's a hundred very boring billionaires who are perfectly content with swinging their wealth around in ways that just make society worse, like lobbying politicians and buying up chunks of economically valuable real estate in cities.

Money is power, and power begets more power. People shouldn't be able to circumvent democracy no matter how cleverly they've played the economy game.


What benefit does humanity gain when not everyone has the same opportunity and has died in a war or from lack of health care, as their country was not able to help them due to wealth accumulation in one area. How many Elon Musks never have been, because we removed even the chance of them to exist your argument is flawed.


> when not everyone has the same opportunity and has died in a war or from lack of health care, as their country was not able to help them due to wealth accumulation in one area

The U.S. government is more than able to spend on these things today. Spending isn't constrained by taxation. We don't do those things because we don't want to. It's magical thinking to imagine that if we expropriated wealth, that it would be spent on what you want it spent on.

Also, if only we had historical examples of governments that confiscated wealth, and how that turned out for its poor...


Well as long as it's technically not hoarding, problem solved! Nobody is hungry anymore :)

Come on mate you know what we mean..

I'm not even calling to get shot of billionaires, I just want them to pay their damn taxes


> Come on mate you know what we mean

I know what you mean, and I agree with you. But OP was literally calling for a wealth cap [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28956273


A wealth cap why is this looked at as such a bad thing, your body has caps, the environment has caps, earth has a cap on how much it could handle. But na don't touch money or cap that, as that would not be fair instead allow it to keep going uncheck and spinning out of control we will fix it when it's no longer a situation we can live or exisit in. Is that a better option? Just let it explode and blame something else


No. Newspaper clippings don't give you impossible, unaccountable power. Money IS a proxy for power in a way that old newspaper clippings (even of your own great deeds) can never be.

If you hoard millions of dollars, it's not really the same: it's effectively saying 'I'm going to do whatever I gotta do, in order to seize unthinkable power over everybody I interact with, and rule them'. The money isn't useful in itself past a certain point, it's keeping score and it's a marker, showing what you can do if you want. It's a lot like if you are able to make nuclear weapons and you're hoarding uranium. It's not an inherent value in the uranium, it's what you're prepared to DO with it and how people must interact with you, knowing that.


That is something that we need to change, I have no issue with being wealthy I do have an issue when it is something that is misguiding, misleading and breaking the social structures of society just cause "old mate" has a behavioral complex and mental disorder due to potentially a lack of self confidence.


Well, that's the key, isn't it? Societally we have a different approach to the basically natural (but not exclusive) human drive to just dominate and rule and conquer those around us. There's laws and rules based on the concept that some people WILL want to beat up those around them, and that this isn't helpful or good.

Wealth legitimizes this, and that's the problem. But civilization is a long history of society taking on these problems and slowly, awkwardly solving them only after it became impossible to continue any longer as things stood.


Yes some of us do have that mentality the keep your hands off my stack pal, but open source thinking kind of goes against that thinking, sharing and helping. While these elements don't have much gain to the individual to the collective they are the fundamentals. I get the whole money thing yeah it's awesome to be rich, it's awesome to be powerful ok shot bro, what next. I really do feel we should help, respect and build products that respect individuals but also helps the collective cause one day all of us here won't be here! So why not help those who follow us not make the same mistakes over and over again like a pack of (insert any word that is an insult here)


So do both?


It's a company, companies work for profit.

Free market should deal with that, but with what is basically a monopoly (atleast in userbase), regulators should do their job.


That companies optimize for profit is afaik a pretty modern (1900+) phenomena. VC didnt do any good in that process. Companies should hold a responsibility for it's owners, it's employees, it's customers and theyr envrionment (socially and environmentally) in equal parts. Unfortunately thats wishful thinking, especially with the multinational industries.


Companies/merchants have sought profit forever. It really doesn't seem much different at all in ancient Rome, for example [1], except everything was smaller scale - they sought capital investment and contracts for mining operations with the goal of squeezing as much profit out as efficiently as possible.

1. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=m2kVDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA274&lp...


Should, sure, but it's a competitive disadvantage so if you want the free market as the fitness function, you'll end up with companies choosing profit over externalities like that.


Yes, free market is not free-so-I-can-do-anything. It must have some regulations, or else all the corporations will become evil.


As long as paying customers are advertisers instead of users, why would they care? Why is this even news?


Hmm. Well, if you're not one of the sheep - it probably isn't.


And it you are one of the sheep - it probably isn't.

Everyone is happy, no problems


How many people bemoaning Facebook's evils on HN still have Facebook accounts?

Do what you know you ought to do. Stop feeding the beast. Set a better example. Close your account and don't look back. And, when people ask you why you left, tell them.


This is precisely what I tell people whenever they think they can harness Facebooks algorithm and censorship powers for good.

"But we can use it to amplify 'the right' stories, and bury 'hateful' ones!"

No, you can't. And the more and more power you give Facebook to shape morality, the more you'll find that society's morality is guided by what companies consider profitable.


Traditional companies may have been kept in line by having to keep their customers happy. But in Facebook's case, that's advertisers.


As long as you don’t break the laws and..

You have some “values” which allow you to ignore anything else that may compromise your profits for the sake of them

And as long as you have a free market (gasp) and investors that only care about EPS and other profit related metrics..

Under these constraints you get companies that promote these toxic environments under the slogans of “bring communities closer together” etc etc


> As long as you don’t break the laws

Facebook getting fined for breaking laws may as well be a weekly column at this point.


... getting fined and sincerely apologising.


Isn't it how every company operates? Does Coca Cola think about people or about maximizing profit (by adding more sugar?


The US already has a couple billionaires doing space stuff and one trying to eradicate things like polio so if this were a Civilization video game tech tree choice it would be amazing to pick the next billionaire (i.e. FB's Zuckerberg) to fully fund non-profit mental health centers across the country.


Breakup FB. It's a mind control piggie bank. Sick.


Fundamentally, it is many times easier to be negative than to be positive. Any (general) social media platform will (eventually) skew heavily towards the negative. Facebook just had a head start is all because of Zuck.


Why the fuck should it!?! Like as if any other business in the world ever does!??


I am also a bit lost about people being bamboozled by this reality of life.


s/Tech giant/Corporations/

ftfy


Non-intuitive insight here:

* The claim is that Facebook should censor "fake news" more

* Facebook/Twitter /YouTube have employees with control of these sensor tools.

* A sub-set (not all) of them chose to use these tools to censor when the Republicans / Libertarians make their political points.

* Rand Paul had a YouTube channel. YouTube employee leftists censored him by removing (censoring) his ENTIRE YouTube channel.

* John Stossel is a high integrity guy. Facebook's censor tools put "PolitiFact: This post (his) is NOT TRUE". Censor-type tools were used against views of the libertarians.

* The current majority thought is that COVID originated from the Lab. Across 2020 people posting various facts that were pointing this direction had those posts censored.

We all hate real lies. However, the above list of valid political content from the political right is being censored. The list is long. Free speech & free debate is the fuel of democracy, and we need to protect it.


No shit. Small and large companies are always on the side of profit and companies like Facebook are certainly not your friends.

It is naive to think that they will ever change. It is only going to get worse.


> It is naive to think that they will ever change. It is only going to get worse.

Why? Exploitative monopolies have been dismantled in the past, robber barons have been held to account. It takes further innovation combined with collective action, political will, and forceful regulation.


Do you think "Y Combinator" cares about you?


Facebook as a corporation is merely an extension of Mark's values (or lack of them, thereof) and priorities.

Why is this surprising?


It's not. And expecting FB/Mark to correct poor behavior is a losing strategy. The only way to rein them in is through regulation.


FB would absolutely love imposed regulation.


Just in: [Company Name] doesn't care about you: [Company name] always chooses profits over people


All companies choose people. The people they choose may not be you, however.


So does Google or Apple or Amazon. Along with Facebook these make 4 horsemen of worse internet.


“People’s World, Continuing The Daily Worker”. I never thought I would see a Marxist newspaper at the top of Hacker News: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_World

At least Marxists by definition have been at it longer than anyone else when it comes to criticising capitalism.


> think of a situation involving a caregiver and a baby. The caregiver is found to be feeding the baby poison. When questioned, they respond that they continued to feed this to the baby because initially, the infant seemed to respond favorably to the taste. The caregiver claims the final result isn’t their fault, because it’s what the baby continued to go for. The caregiver is aware of the dangers of the toxin, but they seemingly ignore this as the baby keeps coming back for more. The caregiver is only concerned with the fact that the baby is eating their food, rather than what the baby is consuming. That bleak analogy isn’t far off from Facebook’s dealings.

A great example of how the mainstream center-left in America views the unwashed masses. Talk about paternalism. No wonder the vitriol peddled by right wing media hits home for so many people. This doesn't seem like a great strategy for American liberals going forward. Not a great way to build a coalition with the people they are supposedly trying to help


Wait until you figure out that government always chooses power over people.


I wonder if someone genuinely thought that Facebook cares about him or her.


Juding only by the headline: where's the news?


'We value your privacy [, at about 30¢].'


The problem is that the road to hell is paved with gold. It's not that Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, et. al are choosing a little extra profit over people, it's a LOT of extra profit over people.

That's why this needs legislation. You don't get to be the CEO of a Tech giant without being, at a minimum, ruthless; asking ruthless people to "do the right thing" and give up a lot of money for the good of "other people" is never going to work.

To be clear though, Facebook is the worst and I believe that Zuck is a sociopath who would happily ruin people's lives for another nickle.


* Amazon doesn’t care about you: Tech giant always chooses profits over people

* Apple doesn’t care about you: Tech giant always chooses profits over people

* Microsoft doesn’t care about you: Tech giant always chooses profits over people

* Google doesn’t care about you: Tech giant always chooses profits over people

They are all the same. It's how capitalism works and no amount of hysterical TYT shows can change that.


tl;dr

> Lastly, it is also important to be critical of the capitalist system that allows information to be bought and sold for profit. The perverse notion that we—in the form of our attention and information—should be ok with becoming products to be sold by companies, in exchange for efficient forms of communication and human connection, should be rebuked.


Water is wet, not dry!


Everybody seems to be surprised on how capitalism works, forgetting that capitalism without some sort of proper market regulation and real proper heavy fines means jack shit.


PR is working wonders. People tend to forget anyways, and now they're supplied with an alternative narrative as well.


Facebook again? Why is there always negative news about facebook? What about google & twitter? They do the exact same evil stuff. I swear, at this point it seems like facebook is being targetted by some propaganda group. Not saying facebook is good, but this is suspicious.

As for the "whistleblower"... she told nothing, absolutely nothing. Everything she told was already known. It was like a show for the media.

Also, "showing that whenever there was a conflict between the interests of the company and the public good, the social media giant would choose its own interests"

That's good. That's how it should be. What shouldnt be is when u use your company to hurt the public. And in my opinion, that is what all these giant companies do. These companies decide which opinions are right and which are wrong. That is wrong. It's playing dictator. It's not their job. It's mis-use of power.

Whether FB wants to show ads for Trump or Biden, it shouldnt matter. These companies should not be allowed to decide which information you should be allowed to see and which not. If they do, which they do, it's called interference aka. meddling with elections aka. bias'd system.

I hope fb, google, twitter disappear one day. The world would be better off.


Now that I've learned that Facebook doesn't care about me, I am pretty disappointed. I what kind of a world do we live in? I thought that guy Zuck was a nice person.


Isn't it illegal for a CEO to lead the company away from profit?


No. A CEO’s job is to provide value to shareholders. This doesn’t mean short terms profits at any cost.


Provide value to shareholders or work in the best interest of shareholders? I always took it as: don't enrich yourself to the detriment of shareholders.


Fiduciary duty is more about "do honest work and don't steal from stakeholders".

Nowhere does it state that the gambling bet (publicly listed company) has to optimize for returns of the gamblers (shareholders).


It isn't illegal. And even if it were, the key question is over what timeframe is profit maximised.

Next quarter can be made far more profitable by taking short-term actions that destroy future customer, employee and supplier goodwill. But that just digs a big hole for future profits.


This is about deliberate mind control and behavioral manipulation. For profit. It's disingenuous to claim it's all about free market consumers when you are brainwashing and twisting people. Keep in mind the users are really not the customers anymore. The people posting here are quite a bit higher on the intelligence scale than the general public, who don't really have good critical thinking skills. When you see what happened on Jan 6 I can't find an illustration to prove the point better. FB needs to be regulated for the safety of country. Unless we're all for nihilism. FB is a parasite.


No. Go read Ford v. Dodge. It’s about not actively and deliberately screwing shareholders.


"The Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford could not lower consumer prices and raise employee salaries."

Doesn't this just prove my point?

I oversimplified my statement but would it be legal for lord Zuck to come out tomorrow and say "we are reducing ads by 90% on the platform and here's a checkbox that will disable all tracking and remove all data we have about you that you didn't explicitly upload yourself" with no alternative revenue source presented which inevitably leads to lower revenue for FB which then inevitably means reduced dividends etc.

note: I understand the users are not the "customers" and the actual equivalent would be for Zuck to say to advertisers that the cost to display ads has dropped by 90% which would be even worse for users. My point is the outcome of "lower dividends" being evidently caused by a decision made by the CEO (to now show ads anymore, to not track users behind their backs anymore, etc.) as being in the end illegal.


No it is not. Especially when the CEO holds the majority of voting power (that means company bylaws or whatever it is can be changed by the CEO pretty much unilaterally).


No, absolutely not. And I find it very sad that apparently Big Finance has managed to convince people that it would be.


Profit does not just need to be money based, it can also be defined on mental health and well being no?


Bless your heart.


You should leave this site immediately and never dare return.


LoL why? surly we can measure profit in other forms then money. It's 2nd meaning is simply advantage, benefit. Example "there is no profit screaming at referees from the bench"


Of course "we" can, but we at this site certainly won't, and the relentless tide of half-baked rationalization to this end can drown the weak swimmer.


Sorry do you speak for all members of this website or just yourself. The weak swimmers are what exactly? people who value other people for who they are, not for how much they own? This is confusing.


You should work on your reading comprehension.


Yeah I am confused as it appears you agree with me and I'm debating against myself that is my confusion .


Maybe, just maybe, Zuck isn't the best person to lead a large, mature, highly politically sensitive corporation with a view to generating long term value for shareholders.

But then shareholders can't remove him.


Good for him. He should have the right to control his own company. Anyone investing directly in Facebook shares knew they wouldn't have this power going in.


Good for him, bad for literally everyone else.




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