Facebook is still your class enemy.
Mark Fuck’s tradition of publicly announcing his annual “personal goal” yielded a surprising result for 2018: Facebook’s CEO intends to… . Wading through his vague, cringe-laden language remains a , but - perhaps just this once - it is worth finishing if one has the fortitude, all the while remembering, of course, that its author holds the keys to the single most intellectually powerful property in human history.
A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands. (The first four words of Facebook’s mission have always been “give people the power”.)
If it were ever appropriate for Mark to use “us” in this sentence, it was years ago - decades, even. Whatever his original intentions, he has become the most powerful centralizer who’s ever lived, directly empowering him over virtually all “people.” At the risk of echoing a dozen old men in your life, Facebook is a business, and so exists primarily to make money. “Connecting people” has been, is now, and will forever remain little more than a mostly-pleasant side-effect of the service’s operation as long as it maintains a form at all resembling its current one. Somehow, the important names in tech journalism have spent the past year acknowledging that Mr. Fuck deals primarily in attention - directing his company’s resources into developing and optimizing methods of keeping you present as long and as often as possible - while simultaneously that they “like” him. Granted, many know him personally (and most are paid with advertising dollars themselves.) I do not.
Last week, Facebook “meaningful interactions” as their new keyword. with a morsel more specificity its upcoming changes to its News Feed in keeping with Mark’s , this time relying on
By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.
Oh, bless you, Fuck! How noble of you to show such generosity in this difficult time!
The truth is, “meaningful engagement” is not a revolutionary new concession in the industry - it is a relatively as old as the advertising business itself, deployed as per SOP when your data says your audience needs more reason to… actually engage with your ads. Of course, it would be unreasonable to expect the public faces of a modern media company to be happy discussing bluntly all the ways it intends to profit off of its users, but the purple cloud of proximity to privilege hanging about the heads of those who should be holding them accountable has left the details catastrophically underreported. Last Fall, much of the general discourse surrounding Facebook was fueled by the disconcerting supposition that Messenger was using its access to smartphone microphones to “listen” in on day-to-day conversations in the interest of selling your most intimate & immediate wants and needs to its advertisers. Thousands of users experienced and documented bizarrely specific ads that were perceived to be far too timely to be coincidence, but advertising is anything but random. When Reply All , they arrived - after discussions with ex-employees, concerned users, and industry authorities - at a disputed, but even more terrifying conclusion - the profiling techniques the service practices on its users are so thorough and complex, they supersede any need to actually overhear what’s being spoken. At any given moment, Facebook’s algorithms know more about the nuances of your consumerism than you could possibly state.
Nobody outside of the company knows the precise extent of this unfathomably powerful collection of information and that’s fucking dangerous before any consideration of the company’s suspected role in the outcome of the 2016 election. Regardless of transparency or motive - even if Mark Fuck has happened upon some kind of guilt-catalyzing crucible and come away with a newfound commitment to sacrificing a portion of his company’s profit and/or influence for the sake of our “wellness” - it is, , way too fucking late. If you could devise a method of summing up entirely Facebook’s cultural and psychological consequences thus far in a collection of images - a slide show, let’s say - and project them behind him as he read his posts and press releases aloud on stage, he’d be swiftly decked in the face. His distance from the realities of his two billion daily customers is enabled by the silicon valley groupieism all too prevalent among those voices in place to be critical.