"Facebook’s algorithms [..] put immense profit before safety and society"
Wow, what a surprise.
Not to diminish the testimony in any way but, honestly, US senators are the only ones who are going to feel a revelation here.
Whistleblower Frances Haugen today urged Congress to regulate Facebook and its algorithms that she said put immense profit before safety and society. “I am here today because I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, weaken our democracy, and much more,” Haugen, a former program manager at Facebook, …
Why is it a surprise suddenly that Facebook prioritizes profits over safety and well beings of its users? Wasn't this a known fact to all of us since its inception? For me it was. The sad and bleak future of all those who use Facebook to 'socialize,' will keep Facebook operating as if 'whistlers' are just attention seekers.
Statement based upon historical prescient...
"Why is it a surprise suddenly that
No, they know it very well - they know where lobbying money come from - and politicians are also those who put their personal gains before safety and society.
Just now could become a little more complex pretending there's nothing to change and that the "industry will self-regulated itself" so politicians could keep on doing anything but what they are paid "by the people" to do. Moreover acting would disappoint some lobbies...
High time that changed. "Greasing the wheels" almost always involves money, influence, favours or some kind of benefit changing hands. Bribery by another name is still bribery. Make it illegal in all forms.
Never gonna happen, though. The people we need to make the change are the ones benefiting from the status quo.
Bribing officials IS illegal. The US government understands that and addressed it many decades ago by creating a system of allowing campaign contributions.
Bribery is something that happens without any records etc. If it's all public knowledge it cannot be bribery right ?
Just the declared lobbying, apparently you can have lobbyist that don't technically fall under the definition so that's cool, just like brown envelopes don't I guess.
I have been told that if the "officers of the company" do not maximise the profit in every way, they can be sued by the shareholders and in some cases they can end up in prison.
If this is even remotely true, they need to fix those rules before coming down too heavily upon various companies for actions that merit jail time in the developed world.
No. The "Maximize shareholder value" is just an idea that came from the Chicago School and is in no way a legal binding for the board. There's no law stating that, although it became common belief that that's the only right way to run a company - and in the meantime creating disasters like the 2008 crisis, or becoming strictly dependent on China....
Of course shareholders can change the board if they don't like how business is conducted. They can try also to sue members that may have acted illegally against the shareholders' rights - but they have to demonstrate that.
Ms. Holmes may end in jail because it mislead investors, etc. etc. - not because it failed to maximize the profits.
You make a FANTASTIC point — that many journalists mindlessly parrot (beyond the Chicago School faux-academic nonsense; see the revelatory “Inside Job” documentary).
I've seen reference to this before. It's something a lawyer who understands the principle in question should answer...
but I would question the court who upheld such a claim where the company was acting in the best interests of its clients, or to meet legal requirements. I would certainly question any court's legitimacy if it supported causing harm to the public just so investors got a bigger dividend.
However: Lawyer question more than some random IT geek on a forum :p
Yes we keep on being told that a company must maximise profits nothing about being nice about doing it.
Facebook's behaviour is the result of this, which just show how bad the idea that a companies only exist to maximise profit is.
Very true, but then Zuck wouldn't stand to make his billions or at least keep them. It's seems that this is basically because FB is headed the way of MySpace as they lose the kids and all that's remaining is the old folks who like to argue over politics and religion.
I'm patiently waiting for FB just end up a dead zone in the universe.
All the teens who wouldn't touch Facebook with a ten foot pole are on Instagram, so Zuck wins either way.
The first step would be to antitrust action to force them to divest Instagram and WhatsApp. You can't really break up Facebook in any effective way (and if you could, you'd create multiple baby Facebooks that would act the same way, solving nothing) so at least you can prevent them from getting multiple sources of information to feed into their evil algorithms.
I don't know what the solution is for Facebook's hate-enchancing algorithms though. You can't legislate the algorithms you're allowed to use, all you can do is make them easier to sue if something hateful/violent goes viral on Facebook and ends up leading to someone's death.
Anyway MySpace didn't die "because they lost the kids". They had all the kids, they lost everyone because it became a spam haven. For all Facebook's pious claims that it isn't possible to detect violent content or threats, they sure seem to be able to remove spam so quickly that it is rarely seen, because they learned from MySpace's failure.
Literally 100% of the adverts I see are spam, because I don't want to see any of them. In many cases I continue to see ads that I have previously hidden from businesses that I have blocked and reported. A lot of them are for things Facebook aren't supposed to be advertising, like fake medicines and gambling sites.
If you look at why these adverts are sent, it's always "$COMPANY seeks to reach people aged 18 or over". Which translates to "$COMPANY paid Facebook to do it". They're not just complicit in the abuse; they're active participants profiting from it.
Facebook (and all the rest) could be broken up. Design an API (RSS + Oauth might be a start) and compel them to use it. Require them to allow following/commenting on each other's sites via syndicating.
The key is to remove the FOMO that ties people to these cesspools by forcing them to allow sharing.
Then let markets do the rest, just like capitalism requires.
This is the way Henry, the ideal. Decentralised social media, I can choose to use my own provider but accept feeds from selected other social media, where it has been shared with me and without requiring me to have an account. All of them open this way. I would be back in the game, and it would prevent zuck from becoming the new de facto internet. It would encourage innovation.
I was also pondering the addiction response to this... phenomena (I do not engage the facebook).
I got as far as "I cannot even comprehend what someone psychologically dependent on it would do without it" when I read your post.
Prob'ly look like the insurrectionists in January, if they tried government oversight.
Ah well, Rome didn't fall in a day.
Almost, Facebook should be closed down.........
Then ceremonially destroy all backups, any thing that might have anything to do with any piece of Facebook or one of the related companies.
Prevent anyone in the Management Chain from ever being in a position of power on a board again.
This is a cultural issue of the worst kind that regulators and politicians sat on for so long that it has become impossible to do anything about.
As for the Zuck, incarcerate him somewhere where he can no longer do damage to society.
I have a simpler solution: just remove ANY legal protection from them against lawsuits, since they (apparently) censor content and mark it in various ways and even (allegedly) steer people towards specific content, making them more like PUBLISHERS and less like "public forum".
THEN, let people SUE them for the usual harm-causing, discrimination, and maltreatment of any kind.
I would rather the court system battle it out with l[aw]yers than to see CON-GRAB enable the FOXES to guard the henhouse... (because THIS is why FaeceBan WANTS regulation, you see? The best regulation that political contributions can buy!!!)
"Despite all this, we agree on one thing; it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet."
"Rules for the Internet". Presumably they mean "Rules for public content on the WWW"; What I care to send in private mail, rsyncing files, whatever, is none of their business, and if that's stuff that violates local laws at either end then it's a matter for law enforcement.
And who would be the arbiter of those rules? The US? They shouldn't have a say over content that for instance an Icelandic citizen places on a French server or someone from Burkina Faso commenting on a Kenian site, though the US might want to block people under their jurisdiction from seeing it if applicable. And that holds for any entity trying to take on that role; what they deem indecent or illegal may not be indecent or illegal at all elsewhere.
It is incredible that it has come to this, but FB are essentially using the same tactics as Trump.
"Don't trust the news, it's all fake, get your news from me and my social media accounts" has morphed in to "Despite all this, we agree on one thing; it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet" with Facebook no doubt framing it this way because they want to be the ones, or at least one of the ones, creating the new rules. With of course suitable loopholes and exemptions for whatever they are up to.
... is how easy it is to walk out with internal docs, or blow the whistle. They'll put some security controls on internal info (security of information goes against the grain for them) and get their high-power legal team on wording NDAs and employment contracts to void whistleblower protections to the greatest possible extent.
They should have those controls in place already, but that doesn't really help if it's someone authorised to work with the documents that are now public.
And if they don't have those controls yet, well, boohoo. Cry me a river. Something about trying to capture the horses after the barn doors have fallen off their hinges, or something.
Wait, I thought that Facebook was one of the friendly, happy, progressive, people-friendly companies from the heavenly Silicon Valley?
Or did it turn out that the progressive facade just hid the violently monopolistic business practices of SV?
no, that would be EVIL WORLD DOMINATION corporate "success", the kind that exploits, cheats, manipulates and tries to take over the world. FaeceBan might very well qualify as one of those.
The best corporations provide goods and/or services to happy customers. That is TRUE success.
Most of us here know that Feckbook is evil. Most of us know that won't change, because with so much money and influence Feckbook is quasi-untouchable.
The only way would be that its users spontaneously learn to use their neurons, but I doubt it. The most probable will that Feckbook will die when something worse will replace it.
"Civic Integrity team"
The CivInteg team in Newspeak.
This is largely explicable as it has been a recognised tendency of all large corporates for a very long time, in aid of financial advantage. However let's not forget how Farcebook's founder described its customers in the early days, so there might be something more to it in this case. Nevertheless I'd be the last to suggest that the leader might be a psychopath (although many 'successful' business leaders apparently are).
The thing that worries me more, though, is why so many young people primarily seek their self image from such arbitrary and unreliable sources as 'social' media. The 'instagram influencer' is in reality no more than a tool in the hands of commercial product promoters and the image is typically bogus, but that seems to have gone unnoticed by the folks that participate in the 'following'.
We should be teaching our kids the arts of objective thinking and self-appraisal, rather than letting them be led by the nose down paths that lead to dissatisfaction with self image. If our societies had more human cohesion, 'social' media wouldn't have so strong a hold over our young people. Ultimately, that's what needs fixing, and legislation won't do it.
"50% of the population has an IQ in double digits."
<Pedant mode on> That's not strictly speaking true if IQ distribution follows a true bell curve where the median, mean and mode are all the same (and by the definition of IQ, they would all be 100)
<Pedant mode off> but generally I agree with your sentiment, since it IS correct to say that more than 50% of the population has an IQ that is 100 or less
"50% of the population has an IQ in double digits
I'm not at all sure that's a significant reason, as most people I meet (even those on Farcebook) seem of adequate intelligence. This isn't about intellect, but about emotional position. So more likely, there's been a loss of local group identity that's left a void that 'social' media have rushed to fill. The human, being a herd animal, needs external confirmation of its place in the scheme of things to feel comfortable. Not so long ago in terms of human evolution, the relevant scheme of things was small - the small town, the village, the extended family. Societal changes such as increased (and often forced) mobility, increased competition for resources and so on, have largely broken those relationships, and the commercial folks have leapt into the void to capitalise on the still present human need for affirmation.
However, supported and guided by professional psychologists, they long ago found that you can actually increase the need, rather than just responding to it. For at least one human lifetime, mass media have been promoting an image of us to us as fragile (so needing 'therapy') and defective (e.g. not 'body beautiful'), and all the solutions need to be paid for in one way or another - if not in dosh, then in monetisation of our private lives. This was going on long before Farcebook, long before the web; it was previously done on television and in magazines The thing that makes the current situation worse is the ubiquity and accessibility of the malign influence, not its nature.
The result is not due to people being stupid - it's due to carefully orchestrated manipulation of some inherent and necessary human needs that our societies leave largely unfulfilled. The most effective countermeasure is not legislation, but education - by which I mean real education that cultivates independent thought and analysis. Recognising oneself for what one is and not minding it makes one less likely to be manipulated. As I believe Mark Twain said "getting old is about mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter". Substitute any other attribute for 'old' and the same applies. But the key to self protection is that it's your personal judgement that it doesn't matter, not an externally imposed one.
"The most effective countermeasure is not legislation, but education - by which I mean real education that cultivates independent thought and analysis."
Problem is, the ones exploiting the masses know this, so conspire to make this as damned difficult as possible. Quite frankly, it's a classic case of the haves wanting to protect their belongings (which is practically human instinct). If push came to shove, things could get ugly (perhaps even Randian ugly). IOW, I don't see how this would end well.
Dead bang on. But the root of the problem has been with us since time immemorial:
You can't FORCE someone to learn.
You can give them the *option*, but the willfully ignorant and those with cognitive dissonance will *always* refuse to do so.
Then there are the truly stupid, who through a loss of the genetic lottery *can't* be any smarter than they are. But those people are by far in the minority on the internet. Most of the ignorance on the internet is willful, stubborn, and intentional. :(
"You can't FORCE someone to learn."
It isn't a matter of forcing or not forcing. It's a matter of the cultural milieu in which kids grow up and operate later as adults. As has been clearly demonstrated in the case of 'radicalisation', if you eliminate the reference points that anchor a society, you can bend folks in any direction you like. In most of the G20 nations, we live in fragmented societies that lack clear common aims or leadership. Consequently there's a perceived need to seek alternative sources of guidance.
The classic indoctrination technique is to [a] eliminate sources of information other than your own, and [b] constantly repeat your message with variation and embellishments until it becomes 'second nature'. The 'social' media effectively do that by adjusting their content to the users' profile of activity - creating a self-reinforcing message based on whatever the user initially latched onto. Add to that the propensity to prioritise the dramatic (and therefore stimulating) and you have the perfect brain laundry.
Wilful ignorance and cognitive dissonance are not sources of the problem. It's a kind of addiction that has been cultivated elsewhere as well - notably in Las Vegas. Fruit machine designers and gambling den proprietors employ psychologists to systematically create conditions that keep punters playing regardless of their best interests. Evidence from past events (political prisoners for example) shows that even very stable people succumb under sufficient pressure. Having become inured to the camps, despite all they had been put through many of Stalin's gulag occupants actually wept for grief when they heard he had died.
The education I'm suggesting is not didactic 'teaching' or indoctrination that can be consciously accepted or rejected - it's exposure to examples of effective living that might register subliminally. A kind of apprenticeship, and in fact the way children develop their social selves. What we need to work on is creating examples of sufficient quality and in sufficient quantity.
Could Elon Musk be commissioned to build a time-machine to go back and teach everyone broughtupcy*?
(To non-West Indians: the time-honoured tradition of cutting a switch until such time as the child being reared is properly brought up to compliant societal standards.)
unlikely. In My Bombastic Opinion, Ted Cruz lacks enough guts to play hardball with these guys (and force it through ConGrab) and [Up]Chuck Schumer isn't likely to do ANYTHING that isn't motivated by high dollar contributions in one form or another. He'll talk the talk and get outraged like that crooked senator in "Manchurian Candidate" but I would expect nothing but the same old (IMBO corrupt) business as usual from Schumer and other Demo[n,c]rats.
After all, FaeceBan has been contributing LOTS of moolah to politicians for quite a while now... and (apparently, allegedly) have been soft-promoting the same politicians on their own network as well.
So what makes ANYONE think that Schumer and Cruz would be able to accomplish ANYTHING to stop FaeceBan? Sad, yeah.
(not that it would not be a GOOD thing for REAL legislation, I still think the best would be to take away any protection they might have against being SUED and let the COURTS sort it out]
The reason Facebook is in decline might have something to do with the decline in what people originally joined for?
I mean when was the last time you managed to have a post of something from an old friend whom you don't talk to that much on Facebook? Before I stopped using it I was only getting posts from about 3 maybe 5 at the most people I knew out of the 200+ that I had as friends.
If I went to check it's not like they weren't putting up posts, I just never saw them. What I did get was BS ads for things I wasn't interested in and posts from a beer forum.... That was about it.
So I stopped and honestly haven't missed it. Twitter as much of a fear merchant as everyone seems to think has at least informed me when someone who doesn't post frequently has a new post up. At least I get to see the post.
This is the reason why Facebook needs to lose section 230 protection. The user is posting the content, Facebook is safe there. But Facebook is *prioritizing* the content. If they didn't do that, they would still be safe. But because Facebook chooses what to show the friends, they need to be held accountable.
Honestly, American senators, politicians, in today's planetary society, are not the only ones without sin. And the only "revelation" that any mortal could have on this planet is that of the extermination of the planet itself with all its living species, to follow things as they are.
On the other hand, senators and politicians in general - at a global level - I believe that they do not have a true understanding of what is happening in the world. What I am sure of is that they can "understand" (I am not talking about ‘understanding’); it is the ‘agent understanding’ (not patient) of which, once more than two thousand years ago, a certain Aristotle made mention. Understanding about the repercussions that the "wonderful #" 'social networks' now have, and how they work in our 'brain-ware' and how their algorithms "re-program" us or interfere with our state of consciousness (or 'brain-wave', brain waves) in order to give direction and meaning to this 'mass society' by reinforcing its super-structure, that is, modern humanism, denatured, alienated and removed from the natural world, following the 'algorithms' (read, the conventions of the system). This is how not only Facebook works, but all those WWW giants.