[strange guttural noises]
Something that strikes me about these "papers" is that we're still sort of using the Watergate playbook after all these years. The press reports outrageous things and the people with power, given new information and new outrage from the public, is spurred to action.
None of these reports has had as much of an effect on Facebook's stock price as the change Apple made to allow users to opt out of tracking. The Watergate playbook worked during an age that was fundamentally more democratic than our own. Government ability to act on large collective problems caused by large corporations has been effectively neutralized by the last 50 years of politics.
Personally I don't think anything meaningful will happen absent collective action by Facebook workers.
Fascinating piece, Charlie. When reading all of these reports over the past few years — and especially the reports of extremists organizing and communicating through FB — what keeps coming to mind is the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s, and the role propaganda (spread by radio) played in inciting and inflaming all of the bloodshed there.
The difference, it feels like, is we can talk about that clearly now. It was obvious from the start how the extremists there used radio as an essential tool to encourage people to slaughter their enemies (around 800,000 people were killed, most hacked to death with machetes). There was no libertarian-techbro culture around radio; owners of radio stations and radio technicians didn’t circle the wagons around themselves and their technology to insist they’d played no role in what happened.
There is something deeply anti-social at its core about our tech culture today; there is a desire to change the world wedded to an absolute refusal to feel any responsibility toward that world that, even now after all we know, still shocks me.
Great article & summary. On the question of “what is to be done,” I think a good first start is to mandate reporting for more transparency. Force them to share more data so independent researchers can help us make sense of it all. Make it a blanket mandate for any platform of more than, say, 50 million users, that employs amplification algorithms.
We have to take our data back from these companies. When we take our data (and posts, videos, likes, etc.) away from them, we're taking their power away. We need to refactor the social tech so that the 'network effect' no longer results in social mastodonts who are not able to moderate content equitably. This will require regulation and legislation: https://stevenhessing.medium.com/5-steps-to-fix-social-media-3f794e9c141
Here is a piece written by Facebook Corporate that epitomizes everything wrong with the way corporate citizens approach their externalities. When I read bafflespeak like this, I long for la fin du monde (the beer, not the apocalypse, although both are inevitable).
They use the same corporate PR drone-speak their boss deploys. Clearly, they intend to lead us out of the wilderness by denying there is any such thing as a wilderness. When PR drone-speak is your weapon of choice, every wilderness looks like a Generalized Non-Urban Area of Concern.
Thanks for the reference to Max Read’s substack — the pitch alone is worth paying for, and his posts-so-far are great.
Great overview here Charlie. Thanks for putting it all together. I'm definitely guilty of just tuning all this out a bit yesterday. (I was also on deadline, so I have something of an excuse!) Maybe my mistake was reading Ben Smith's "how the sausage got made" media column at NYT before any of the actual reportage. That made me tired from the jump.
Cone on...grow a pair. tell us what should be done, you've been studying this for years!
Controversial view here. FB reminds me of the auto industry, with its balance of economic & societal benefits versus widespread harm. But the auto industry doesn't annoy one particular faction or class who wish for its users to be more compliant. I'm no fan of FB but the orchestration of this omnicrisis for the business is the story I want to read. If anyone has seen any good (ie not just opinion-led) reporting on this please recommend.
I am hoping Zuck's Meraverse becomes his Shangri-la and he departs this mortal coil for a fantasy world he can control completely. A god-like presence like Zeus.
Does anyone remember Second Life?
Good read. Saying outlandish things on FB in America is allowable, but in other countries it got people killed.
Know one “knows” what should be some so experts should speculate what should be done that’s how we make progress!!