Look I'm no tech expert and MZ is certainly far more successful than me BUT... as I listened to the interview I too was scared on several fronts. MZ seems to live in a guilded cage and does speak in broad brush strokes but what is even scarier is he projects like he is God creating the Earth in his image and he is so sure of his vision. IF FB has taught us anything it's that they are far too naive and dangerous as a company with this ethos. IMO

Expand full comment

Zuckerberg is an amoral sociopath. He doesn't care about the consequences of his company's actions. He's made it abundantly clear that expansion is his sole goal. He is as apathetic about democracy as he is about white supremacy, anti-semitism, and anti-vaxxers. Yet, we all have the power to stop him...close your FB accounts. Few will take even this minuscule step to preserve our freedoms. Perhaps as a country we are reaping what we have carelessly sowed.

Expand full comment

Charlie, I'm sorry to be even more of a pessimist, but I think you're being soft on Facebook. I don't think there's any argument any more that they operate from an admirable form of optimism. It might be delusional, but I'm more cynical than that; I think it's self-serving. I believe they've lost all credibility when it comes to the good of connecting people using their products. The company is untrustworthy and Zuckerberg evinces a kind of parochial vision, centered on himself and people like him. Facebook (and its ilk) have been engines for redistributing wealth to a limited klatch of fairly narrow-minded people.

Related to this latest announcement, I foresee what the past suggests: acquisitions and other tactics that will reduce choice and eliminate competition. I hope the individuals and organizations that are creating valuable tools and services for creatives to do their work in this ecosystem resist consolidation and work together to make it easier for creatives to thrive, as you say, in a more equitable, sustainable way.

Expand full comment

P.S. I find your columns and posts and articles, etc., really interesting and I look forward to them. I can't swing it at the moment but I hope I can become a $ supporter.

Expand full comment

In America we have the freedom to fail. And the freedom to succeed. I am a singer and Facebook provides limitless opportunities for someone like me with the new features.

Most musicians I know would love to make minimum wage with their talents because that is more than nothing, which is what you will make if nobody hears your music.

It sounds like you want to contort Facebook into the old top down mediascape we just liberated ourselves from Charlie.

The freedom to fail or succeed should be available to anyone willing to do the work. I have watched the Shaws create a musical career with awe and wonder. It started on Facebook.


Before you kill this thing dead with your sky is falling nannying, let's give it a whirl.

Expand full comment

From the vantage point of creators and various services they can use to reach publics and monetize their work, FB’s initiatives indeed look like thoughtless land grabs, pure and simple. I also share the concern that this is just another way that interaction on the internet gets pushed into another form of fragmented transactionalism. (It’s become enough of a permanent cultural structure that I think the “ism” suffix is merited.)

As a consumer rather than creator, I view FB moving into spaces like Substack with a different set of hostile reactions. One of the great pluses of Substack, like its ancestor blogging, is its openness to the internet.

It’s up to each creator to decide what type of relation they want with their readers - whether, how much, and for what price content goes behind the subscription wall, who (if anyone) can comment, moderation policy etc.

And it’s up to each consumer to decide what type of relation they want to establish with each creator - from the type of subscription (paid or not, monthly or annual etc.) to no subscription (just bookmarking a newsletter archive page).

What Substack doesn’t require of a consumer, since it’s not operating a walled platform against which it sells ads, is requiring consumers to become “members.” And if one does choose to have an account through which multiple subscriptions can be managed, no additional personal information is collected against which Substack will monetize its own advertising business (or sell mailing lists).

I refuse to go to an offering on the web that requires me to have an account with FB or its children, IG or WhatsApp. If an author posts on an internal FB page, I’m not going to read it. If an organization uses FB or IG tools to hold an event that isn’t outward facing, that event is simply lost to me. I have other things I can do with my time.

FB may appear to offer creators a better deal for monetizing their work - lower fees, easier promotion to potential audiences etc. But for potential consumers, it’s going to serve up an experience that’s less attractive to some of us. Even if the product is not exclusively inside FB’s walls, each consumer is going to become a stream of data for MZ to monetize. No thanks!

Expand full comment

We only hear the polished version of their slogan. The real version, the one that sums up their true mission, is:

To connect the world to Facebook.

If only they would stop at land grab. Remember that time they and one other tech company almost ended American democracy?

Expand full comment

"Or is rolling out a tipping tool to 2 billion-plus people only further normalizing the internet’s tendency to monetize every single moment of a person’s online existence to eek out a lower middle class income?"

I think using the United States middle class definition when talking about Patreon creators makes sense since Patreon is overwhelmingly serving a US audience (in both # of creators and # of patrons) iirc. But because the US doesn't make up even close to the majority of FB's user base it feels a little weird to use the same benchmark again (even if I don't think it detracts from the point made since I feel relatively certain that the relative distribution of wealth on creator platforms is probably the same regardless of country).

Expand full comment