Posts tagged facebook

bloomberg.com Bloomberg
Matt Levine has a good summary of the fine Facebook negotiated over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But his analysis of why legislation doesn’t happen in the wake of scandals feels right on to me:
"...Americans are biased toward thinking of bad things as being already illegal, always illegal, illegal by definition and by nature and in themselves. If the thing that Facebook did was so bad, then it must have been illegal, so there is no need for a new law against it."
Our laws are not equipped for our current media age and we’re biased against thinking laws could be out of date.
om.co om.co
Om Malik tapped into a current of mistrust around smart device features sponsored by the big services after he wrote about his hesitation: Hello HomePod. So Long Sonos & Bose. Even my first generation Sonos speakers attempt to phone home frequently (for use stats?) and I block that with pi-hole. When I wanted to add a speaker recently I purchased a used first gen on eBay because I don’t want yet another always-on microphone in my home. I mean, have you seen the headlines?
The Verge The Verge
image from The Verge
Casey Newton is back with another look at the human cost of social media.
I asked Harrison, a licensed clinical psychologist, whether Facebook would ever seek to place a limit on the amount of disturbing content a moderator is given in a day. How much is safe?

“I think that’s an open question,” he said.
Important reporting here that I hope will help people that these powerful corporations are forgetting.
ted.com ted.com
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“Handmaidens to authoritarianism.”
Medium Medium
image from Medium
Living the dream? On one hand this is a clever way to game Instagram. On the other hand, social networks are supposed to be about being social with other people so bots like this make it a less social environment. (I've also thought that hashtags in text are machine garbage that make things less human so I'm an outlier.) And businesses just blindly handing out gifts to antisocial media accounts? What? This whole article is an exquisite mess.
The Verge The Verge
cover image from The Verge
I have to link to this excellent reporting by Casey Newton. This is an important article that shows the human cost of maintaining large centralized social networks. I think it also reveals a sick society where people are constantly uploading psychologically scarring material that other people then have to sift through. I felt like Facebook's response was weak—at some point the we're growing too fast to keep up and we're so new at this doesn't work. As Bloomberg points out, companies have always said artificial intelligence is just around the corner to save the day. I think that's why companies view human moderators as a failure of technology rather than a key piece of their success. Matt Haughey ran an indie corner of the open internet for years and knows Content moderation has no easy answers. Just because it's hard doesn't mean we shouldn't hold Facebook accountable. They made decisions that created this problem and it's a shameful aspect of the internet we need to fix.
gq.com gq.com
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Speaking of digital habits, Cal Newport has a new book called Digital Minimalism. This GQ interview has some great gems on the rise of social media, like this: "It took this careful attention engineering, and cultural engineering, to try to make this seem innovative, and high-tech, and like you had to be doing this. If that falls apart, the whole thing goes." Ezra Klein also recently had him on his podcast: Cal Newport has an answer for digital burnout.
Gizmodo Gizmodo
image from Gizmodo
I never get tired of these stories where people change their digital habits. This piece by Kashmir Hill is an extreme example, but also a good illustration of how ubiquitous the major tech companies are. Understanding the often hidden architecture of our tech environment helps us make mindful decisions. A couple other posts in this genre I've enjoyed lately: Bye, Bye, Google by Bogdan Popa and Pulling the plug on Facebook by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.
The Verge The Verge
image from The Verge
Not following the daily long scream of social media news? This article is a good way to catch up on the fresh horrors. Facebook is really leading the way in ethical absence: But don't count Google out yet! The Verge: Apple blocks Google from running its internal iOS apps. And why is Apple suddenly the arbiter of justice? Shouldn't that be the role of our government? Yes, says Apple: Tim Cook Calls for ‘Data-Broker Clearinghouse’ in Push for Privacy Rules. This is all happening while Facebook's stock is soaring: Facebook keeps growing despite scandals and privacy outrage. The Market will not fix this. I guess there's nothing anyone can do. Let's just get weird again.
blog.chaddickerson.com blog.chaddickerson.com
This really rang true for me, especially: "I don’t sit there and think about what other people might think about what I’m writing — just the person who emailed me. To me, this is closer to what true friendship is like." I feel like we've collectively forgotten what private one-on-one relationships are.

My Year in Social Media

Last year around this time I talked about trying to stop contributing to corporate social media: Facebook-Free in Twenty Eightee-n. That went ok. I stopped using Instagram altogether. I posted three pictures to Facebook in 2018. I deleted my Twitter account in August (Twitter Breakup) and then went back and claimed my username so it couldn't be used for evil. (I got my username back too late to save the 11-year archive which is mildly annoying—but also ok.) And I do still read Twitter ocassionally through a significantly smaller window. I didn't post to Flickr at all. (That might change now that they're under new ownership.)

So that's some kind of progress. How is my current relationship with social media? To put it in meme terms:



Leaving social media does not make it go away. If you work on the web in any capacity (I do), the big sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are omnipresent. It seemed like each week of 2018 brought a new jaw-dropping revelation of Facebook mismanagement. Google leaked user data, hid it, and employees were in the streets asking for fair working conditions. Twitter is a platform for Nazis because they incentivize engagement above all things and do not adequately handle abuse. I agree with Anand Giridharadas who posted this Twitter thread: "Trying to fight a predatory, politically connected monopoly through heroic personal responsibility doesn't work." We need regulation.

So that's depressing! I wouldn't call it heroic responsibility, but I did change my online habits quite a bit in 2018. I now read and post social messages via Mastodon which is a distributed kinder, gentler Twitter. I wish more people would make the switch so I could close my Twitter reading window altogether. I stopped posting photos online which is something I used to enjoy. I'll make an effort to post them here more frequently.

In October I did start posting more frequently to this site which means I also started paying more attention to my site metrics. Last week I made a snarky post about Google Analytics which was my poor way of processing this. I deleted it because the fact is, Google Analytics is a necessary tool if you work on the web. Necessary, but I don't like the way it turns people into numbers. So that's a tension I'm trying to live with and the answer might be that I shouldn't use web marketing tools for personal projects. I'd like to have a way to know if what I'm writing here is being read and resonating, but not if it means getting alerts and notifications that traffic is dropping, engagement is lower, and people are bouncing away forever. There has to be a more humane way to visualize and engage with web audiences.

My wish for social media in 2019 is for new leadership at all of the major web companies. I don't think we'll ever see them disappear, nationalized, or regulated in a meaningful way. I'd like them to have a less central role in how we create and share online. I think some new leaders could steer the companies away from growth-at-all-costs toward a more ethical relationship with users. I'd like to see them usher in the era of maintenance! That's where they take the amazing tools they've built and optimize them to work within society.
motherjones.com motherjones.com
image from motherjones.com
This is a good summary of the twists and turns in the Facebook saga. What makes this article interesting to me is that Mother Jones discusses their own relationship with Facebook over the years. Facebook sent them lots of traffic at the height of "Facebook as news feed" and they profited from it. This kind of symbiotic media relationship is a big part of the Facebook story but most media outlets don't want to discuss it. For example see: CBC's longstanding tech columnist condemns the broadcaster's cozy relationship with Facebook. Companies are still driving traffic to Facebook every day by encouraging their users to connect and subscribe via Facebook. Those solicitations are an endorsement of Facebook. We should discuss this part of the system.
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