Tag Archives: Facebook

Violet Blue on Facebook

Tech commentator Violet Blue writes about Facebook’s “emotional contagion” experments, and does not mince words, calling them “unethical, untrustworthy, and now downright harmful“:

Everyone except the people who worked on “Experimental evidence” agree that what Facebook did was unethical. In fact, it’s gone from toxic pit of ethical bankruptcy to unmitigated disaster in just a matter of days….

…. Intentionally doing things to make people unhappy in their intimate networks isn’t something to screw around with — especially with outdated and unsuitable tools.

It’s dangerous, and Facebook has no way of knowing it didn’t inflict real harm on its users.

We knew we couldn’t trust Facebook, but this is something else entirely.

Time will tell, but I wonder whether this will turn out to be a tipping point when significant numbers of people conclude that Zuckerberg and co cannot be trusted and seek other ways of keeping in touch online with those they really care about.

It may just be a bizarre coincidence, but I’ve noticed a lot of people I used to know on Facebook showing up as “People I may know” on Google+. Not that Google is much less creepy and intrusive than Facebook.

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Facebook: As Creepy As Hell

The media have now picked up on the story of Facebook tinkering with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment.

Even if this is technically legal under the small print of Facebook’s Terms of Service, there is no way in hell what they did can be remotely ethical. Although it’s difficult to describe it as a “betrayal of trust” since nobody in their right mind should be trusting this creepy organisation as far as they can throw them.

I really hope this revelation encourages more people to log off from Facebook and find other, better ways of keeping in touch with the people they care about.

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Is Facebook approaching the tipping point?

Vocativ thinks it is, using disease epidemics as a parallel.

Like the bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually come to an end.

According to new research from Princeton, which compared the ”adoption and abandonment dynamics” of social networks by “drawing analogy to the dynamics that govern the spread of infectious disease,” Facebook is beginning to die out.

Specifically, the researchers concluded that “Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.”

As I’ve said before, Facebook’s big problem is that its “All your friends gathered together in one place” model is broken for anyone who has anything more to say than banal platitudes or sharing baby photos. It’s become the online equivalent of the awkward family dinner where there are subjects you can’t mention because they set off racist Uncle George.

I’ve getting more convinced that serious discussions on culture or politics should be taking place on forums with like-minded people where you’re not obliged to walk on eggshells because of the aforementioned Uncle Georges.

I know a lot of people who hate Facebook but are only on there because everyone else is. It’s been alienating users of late with increasingly intrusive advertising, ever-changing rules determing who does and doesn’t see content you post, and a perpetually cavalier approach to privacy. I’ve oten thought that Facebook was doomed the moment anything better came along, but now I’m thinking we don’t need somebody to go and build a better Facebook, we need to create smaller overlapping communities of like-minded people. Like we used to have, in fact, before Facebook came along.

As an aside, if you read the rest of the above link, it’s a poster child for DON’T READ THE COMMENTS. More evidence that media websites should only allow comments if the site owner is willing to invest time and effort into moderation.

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For those of you who haven’t noticed, I’m taking an extended break from Facebook. At the moment I have yet to decide whether or not this will become permanent, though one Large Halibut is claiming Facebook is boring without me. One thing I’m trying to discover is how well I can maintain contact with FB acquaintances via blogging, other social networks, or plain old email.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 1 Comment

Geek Social Fallacies

Whenever there is drama online, it’s always worth paying attention to the Geek Social Fallacies.  In this case, #4: Friendship Is Transitive

Every carrier of GSF4 has, at some point, said:

“Wouldn’t it be great to get all my groups of friends into one place for one big happy party?!”

If you groaned at that last paragraph, you may be a recovering GSF4 carrier.

GSF4 is the belief that any two of your friends ought to be friends with each other, and if they’re not, something is Very Wrong.

Hands up who else groaned at that, and immediately thought “That’s exactly what’s wrong with Facebook”?

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I am beginning to think it’s time for all of us to dump Facebook and go back to forums, blogs and email. Facebook tries to be all of those things mashed into one, and succeeds only in doing them all badly. Its only success has been in killing off everything that did those things better than Facebook does.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 4 Comments

The Facebook experiment has failed?

A Programmer’s Tale thinks the Facebook experiment has failed. The suggestion is that problem is Facebook’s emphasis on sharing rather than creating original content.

Facebook is godsent for people who love to talk, but have nothing to say. Here is a network that doesn’t care about originality or the quality of content. In the time it takes to create something original, they could share dozens of things.

There was a time when my feed was flooded with pictures which consisted of annoying platitudes superimposed on stock images and passive-aggressive someecards. Too many of these things originate from dodgy “like farms” run by spammers.

Inevitably, there is an entire industry working non-stop creating low quality, emotionally appealing content that gets ‘likes’ from gullible users.

Although looking at my own Facebook feed, the signal-to-noise ratio is nothing like as bad as described above. It may be that FB has improved their edgerank algorithm so that it no longer favours pictures over text the way it used to. Or it may simply be that I’ve unsubscribed from photos from a couple of dozen of the worst offenders for sharing low-quality content.

The conclusion is that we need to abandon Facebook in favour of returning to blogs and forums.

We need to go back to smaller communities. Where people aren’t lost in the mediocre averages of large networks. That’s where ideas flourish.

That’s one thing I don’t like about Facebook; the way it’s sucked the life out of other once thriving online communities. Whether it’s possible to go back to them, I don’t know. Many people say they appreciate the “one stop shop” approach of a social network rather than visiting dozens of different sites to check for new content.

The internet continues to evolved, and I’m beginning to think Facebook has peaked, and its day in the sun is over. What will replace it is anyone’s guess.

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The perils of relying too much on Facebook

A post on Hypebot about the perils of fake Facebook likes highlights some of the problems with Facebook as a means of bands promoting their music.

This situation reinforces the fact that musicians need to build their own home on the web and need to build their own mailing lists.

It’s also a reminder to me that, despite the fact that such points are raised in somewhat of a repetitive manner on sites like Hypebot, a lot of musicians just aren’t tuning in and just don’t get it. On a positive note, that means musicians that are in the know have an extra leg up in the game.

Ultimately a shift away from Facebook needs to occur. I see more and more people both in and outside of music discussing alternatives.

As Zuckerville has grown in popularity, more and more bands began using it as their main means of interacting with fans. With a larger potential audience there was some logic in the way a few bands I know of closed down their increasingly inactive forums in favour of interacting on Facebook. But I’ve seen too many bands neglecting their web presence altogether, to the extent that some bands didn’t bother with a web site at all, having Facebook as their sole net presence. I think this is dangerously short sighted.

The moment Facebook introduced pay-to-promote for posts ought to have been a wake-up call. Not only was it a classic bait-and-switch move, but it was the sort of thing a monopolist does once predatory pricing has put the competition out of business. Investing too heavily in one platform you don’t have any control over is a big risk.

It’s true that bands still can’t afford to ignore Facebook as long as it continues to remain as popular as it is. But there’s no excuse for any band not to have it’s own website and an old-fashioned mailing list. Yes, it might seem a bit old-school, but that way neither Mark Zuckerberg nor anyone else can then hold them to ransom by holding their only connection with fans hostage.

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The Return of the Facebook Privacy Monster

I see the Facebook Privacy Monster is rearing its ugly head again with another subtle unannounced change. People need to understand that Facebook does not care about our privacy. All they care about is selling our data to advertisers. And they notoriously employ no testers, so whatever privacy options they do try to implement are always going to be riddled with holes.

The problem with Facebook is the way it aggregates all your postings and comments across posts, pages and groups, and you have no control over any comments left outside your own page. If you post to public groups or leave comments against public posts, Facebook will show them to all and sundry. If you’re concerned about privacy at all, you should not be posting things you wouldn’t want you mum, your boss or your ex to see anywhere on Facebook. Keep that sort of stuff for closed mailing lists, private forums, or places that allow anonymous pseudonyms.

I wonder if we should all go back to forums and blogs, where your postings on different sites weren’t connected and aggregated together in the same way, and none of them ever forced you to use your real names anyway.

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Should Social Networking Work Like Email?

A few days ago, Jason Gorman tweeted that he thought social networks should work like email – a set of common standards that no one company owns and controls. It fits in with my thinking that the walled-garden approach taken by Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn is not a good thing. It may make it easier for those companies to monetise their services, but confining content and relationships to proprietary silos is a bad thing for the web as a whole. You risk ending up having to use the web equivalent of seven telephones.

I’d prefer to see an ecosystem of collaborative applications each of which focusses on doing one thing and doing it well, using open APIs and common standards like RSS. I’d love to see a separation between applications that focus on hosting content, be it micro-blogging, photo-sharing, discussion forums or friend list management, and those that aggregate, filter and display that content. Each can adopt whatever financial model makes sense for whatever it is they’re trying to do.

The irony is that’s how Twitter started out, encouraging a large number of third parties to build applications using their users’ data, then shutting down the APIs and killing off those apps once their user base reached critical mass.

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