Can Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Be Trusted To Turn Facebook into a “Privacy-Focused Communications Platform?”

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Facebook CEO and squillionaire Mark Zuckerberg recently announced (in a Facebook post, naturally) that Facebook will become a “a privacy-focused communications platform.” He writes:

As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms. Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.[1]

Since recent events — the New Zealand massacre live-streamed on Facebook, an executive exodus, a criminal probe into data sharing, and a ginormous day-long service outage[2], all in one week — have put Facebook back in the news, now seems like a good time to evaluation Zuckerberg’s new direction. In this simple post, I’ll ask two questions: First, can Zuckerberg be trusted? Second, can Facebook become “privacy-focused,” as any normal human would understand the term? Spoiler alert: No, and no.

Should Zuckerberg be Trusted?

Zuckerberg should not be trusted, for three reasons.

First, Zuckerberg either either lies or bullshits consistently and flagrantly. Hacker Noon reviewed Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony:

I watched Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress this week (first to the Senate, then to the House), I was shocked by how many patently false or misleading statements he made…. feel it is important to already get some of the obvious lies out there. I feel that we software engineers and machine learning experts who actually understand Facebook’s technology have a duty to spread the word that Mark is either lying or he doesn’t actually know what Facebook does

The article reviews four of Zuckerberg’s lies, in detail, and concludes:

For those who are US citizens, I ask you to consider for a moment the gravity of the fact that the CEO of one of the world’s most powerful companies is outright lying to the Congress.

Nick Bilton, who has been covering Silicon Valley for years, writes in Vanity Fair:

Zuckerberg is seemingly oblivious to how people really feel about him. He is, without question, one of the least trusted tech executives alive today. When Satya Nadella says he is going to do something with Microsoft, people don’t question his ulterior motives. When Tim Cook (or Tim Apple) says he’s going to do something at Apple, people don’t squint their eyes trying to see where the deceit may [lie] in his statement. Yet, with Zuckerberg, it’s the complete opposite. Zuckerberg could tell the world he’s giving away all of his stock, selling his homes, and walking barefoot around the globe in penance for his sins, and we would all wonder if he’s secretly figured out how to generate advertising money from people who walk around the globe barefoot. Facebook can pivot as many times as it wants, but the problem isn’t Facebook, it’s Zuckerberg.

That’s hardly fair. The problem is Facebook too!

Second, Facebook the firm lies strategically. From the British House of Commons, “Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Final Report” (PDF):

The management structure of Facebook is opaque to those outside the business and this seemed to be designed to conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions. Facebook used the strategy of sending witnesses who they said were the most appropriate representatives, yet had not been properly briefed on crucial issues, and could not or chose not to answer many of our questions. They then promised to follow up with letters, which—unsurprisingly—failed to address all of our questions. We are left in no doubt that this strategy was deliberate.

There’s no reason to think that the strategy of Facebook’s Founder is any different.

Third, previous Zuckerberg announcements have come to nothing. Consumer Reports:

The company hasn’t always delivered on past promises. In the spring of 2018, for example, Zuckerberg announced that a “Clear History” setting would soon allow consumers to delete data Facebook had collected off the site and from third parties. Nearly a year later, the tool hasn’t appeared. It’s now promised for this spring, and it’s still unclear exactly how it will work. Consumer Reports e-mailed Facebook for more details about the rollout of “Clear History” but the company has not yet responded.

(See above; no “follow up” is a strategy.)

Can Facebook Become “Privacy-Focused”?

Here is the technical core of Zuckerberg’s announcement:

I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about.

This privacy-focused platform will be built around several principles:

Private interactions. People should have simple, intimate places where they have clear control over who can communicate with them and confidence that no one else can access what they share.

Encryption. People's private communications should be secure. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — including us — from seeing what people share on our services.

Reducing Permanence. People should be comfortable being themselves, and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later. So we won't keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them.

Safety. People should expect that we will do everything we can to keep them safe on our services within the limits of what's possible in an encrypted service.

Interoperability. People should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely.

Secure data storage. People should expect that we won't store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.

Over the next few years, we plan to rebuild more of our services around these ideas.

Something, in other words, a lot like China’s WeChat, or Japan’s Line. From the perspective of changing Facebook’s strategy, this makes perfect sense. From Forbes:

Zuckerberg’s essay is a pragmatic business decision rather than some newfound manifesto for solving Facebook’s privacy problems. The writing is already on Zuckerberg’s wall: the underlying market realities for social media are changing. Consider two kinds of platforms owned by Facebook, the company – the town square version, e.g. Facebook, the original social network for broadcasting widely, and the living room version, e.g. a messaging subsidiary, such as WhatsApp, which narrowcasts to a select audience. The town square is slowly but surely emptying. As a social network, Facebook, has 15 million fewer users today than in 2017. During October – December of 2018, 23% of Facebook users in the U.S. showed signs of activity, e.g. updated their status or posted a comment, as compared to 32% at the same time in 2017. In 2016, Facebook accounted for more than half of time spent on social networks, but that figure is anticipated to be 44.6% in 2019, while, for the first time, from 2018 on, it was expected that Facebook usage among the 11-24 demographic – highly coveted by advertisers – would decline.

At the same time, the living room is increasingly where the action is taking place. In the third quarter of 2018, 63% of U.S. internet users shared articles and photos via messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger, as compared to 55% sharing them on a town square social network. By the end of 2018, 60% of survey respondents globally (except for China) used WhatsApp, up from less than 50% two years earlier. In China, the dominant local messaging app, WeChat had 1 billion users in 2018, up from 500 million in 2014.

All Zuckerberg is doing is preparing the ground to shift resources over to where the users are going.

In other words, Zuckerberg’s announcement is really a “product road map.” This, again, makes sense, but not as a “pivot to privacy.” And so to the question we’ve posed: “Can Facebook Become ‘Privacy-Focused’?” And if we look at Facebook from the 30,000-foot level, from its founding until today, the answer is clearly no, because — like so many Silicon Valley companies — Facebook is based on a form of arbitrage. We can see Zuckerberg himself expressing this idea, in crude terms, way back in 2004 (and ironically enough, in chat):

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks

Konstantin Kakaes explains in more sophisticated terms, in Technology Review: “Zuckerberg’s new privacy essay shows why Facebook needs to be broken up“:

Facebook has minted money because it has figured out how to commoditize privacy on a scale never before seen. A diminishment of privacy is its core product. Zuckerberg has made his money by performing a sort of arbitrage between how much privacy Facebook’s 2 billion users think they are giving up [“dumb fucks”] and how much he has been able to sell to advertisers [“Just ask”]. He says nothing of substance in his long essay about how he intends to keep his firm profitable in this supposed new era. That’s one reason to treat his Damascene moment with healthy skepticism.

So — as we might call it — privacy arbitrage is Facebook’s business model and has been since its inception (as regulatory arbitrage is Uber’s). To avoid tedious discussions about what privacy is and is not, let me give an example where privacy clearly does not exist. From Boing Boing, “You cannot opt out of Facebook’s surveillance network”:

Even if you don’t use it, Facebook is embedded across the web and in apps through ads, share buttons, tracking pixels and so forth, watching everything and everyone. Katherine Brindley set out to find how forthright the company was in its claims not to track users who engage privacy controls. Not very.

“I enabled a bunch of privacy settings and still felt like my Facebook/Insta ads were a little too relevant. So I faked a pregnancy by downloading the What to Expect app to see how long it would take for FB to hit me with a maternity ad. The answer? 11 hours.”

The systems that tracked Katherine Brindley will not go away with Facebook’s pivot. Nor will the collection of metadata generally. From the New York Times, “Zuckerberg’s So-Called Shift Toward Privacy“:

Here are four pressing questions about privacy that Mr. Zuckerberg conspicuously did not address: Will Facebook stop collecting data about people’s browsing behavior, which it does extensively? Will it stop purchasing information from data brokers who collect or “scrape” vast amounts of data about billions of people, often including information related to our health and finances? Will it stop creating “shadow profiles” — collections of data about people who aren’t even on Facebook? And most important: Will it change its fundamental business model, which is based on charging advertisers to take advantage of this widespread surveillance to “micro-target” consumers?

The Financial Times, in “Facebook’s pivot must be viewed with scepticism,” concludes that it’s unlikely that Facebook will do any of these things:

Moreover, end-to-end encryption is a red herring as far as privacy and advertisers are concerned. Facebook does not care so much about the content of private messages as their metadata, such as the location and recipients of messages. This is valuable to advertisers, allowing them to discover groups of users with similar interests. Mr Zuckerberg’s post mentions metadata only once, asserting that “we use this data to run our spam and safety systems”, and suggesting time limits on storage. Minimising data stored is a good principle, but it is largely irrelevant for advertisers once a network of connections has been identified.

And Wired, in “Zuckerberg’s Privacy Manifesto Is Actually About Messaging,” concludes:

The fact that your individual messages might be encrypted in transit does not, in any way, prevent Facebook The Entity from knowing who your friends are, where you go, what links you click, what apps you use, what you buy, what you pay for and where, what businesses you communicate with, what games you play, and whatever information you might have given to Facebook or Instagram in the past.

(“Whatever information” including Facebook’s ginormous social graph, which will doubtless be thrown against the new data from “the living room.”[3]) Clearly, everything that happened to Katherine Brindley with Facebook as it exists today will continue to happen. It’s absurd for Facebook to call this a “pivot to privacy.”

So think back to Facebook’s fundamental business model:

[A] sort of arbitrage between how much privacy Facebook’s 2 billion users think they are giving up [“dumb fucks”] and how much he has been able to sell to advertisers [“Just ask”]

What Zuckerberg is trying to do with his disingenuous announcement is keep that trade going, by making people think — again — that they’re not giving up as much privacy as they actually are, and that’s all he’s trying to do.


Should Zuckerberg be trusted? Of course not. Can Facebook Become “Privacy-Focused”? [hollow laughter]


[1] “Which is why we build social networks. It is? Really?

[2] For your amusement and delectation, here’s a section of the Facebook Terms of Service: “We cannot predict when issues might arise with our Products. Accordingly, our liability shall be limited to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, and under no circumstance will we be liable to you for any lost profits, revenues, information, or data, or consequential, special, indirect, exemplary, punitive, or incidental damages arising out of, or related to, Facebook Products, even if we have been advised of the possibility of such damages.” So, whatever Facebook might have been doing — it’s not even clear that the outage was an accident, given that it occurred across the entire Facebook “family of apps and services,” which Facebook could could be furiously integrating to make an antitrust-driven breakup more difficult — good luck collecting for damages, pal!

[3] There’s also no particular reason to think that the messaging encryption won’t be backdoored, both for Facebook’s purposes, and as a service to the intelligence community.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Geo

      It’s not always that simple. I agree that using FB for posting family photos or personal info is dumb. And using it for news or whatever is even dumber.

      That said, for small businesses, artists (musicians, filmmakers, etc), and other entrepreneurs without deep pockets for marketing it has been an essential source of attracting audiences and customers – along with other social media sites.

      I, as a small indie filmmaker, cannot place tv ads, billboards and other ads like th big studios do. To get a review in major media I need to have at least a one week theatrical run (which is incredibly expensive and rarely turns a profit). So, how can audiences find out about my creations if not for social media?

      My last film took four years before it found a solid audience and much of that came from people sharing it on social media. A solid social media following is often the difference between a flop and a success.

      I don’t use FB (or the other social media sites) at all for anything personal but it is a necessary evil for my work.

      Almost everyone I know that works in the creative fields wishes they could live without but social media presence is more important than resume for our careers.

      Some of my favorite artists making some of the best music, films, books, etc aren’t able to make a living from it due to no one knowing their work exists.

      Example: a band named Palodine has six albums that are all amazing. Think Loretta Lynn attitude meets Led Zepplyn style with Cowboy Junkies craftsmanship. They have a FB page with only a few hundred followers and barely sell any albums. Whereas, another musician friend plays for “influencer” musicians with huge followings that sell out major international tours even though their music is disposable and generic.

      Long story short: unless an artist has the backing of a major label/studio marketing budget, they better be on FB and all the other social media sites daily building up an audience. Its not like we can sell our creations out of our trunks like the old days – nearly no one has physical media players anymore.

      The way people find out about products and art has changed. The way they consume them has too. It’s not ideal but it’s the system we have. The only ones who can break that mold are the ones who already have huge followings.

      If FB collapses it will be replaced by something similar. Let’s just hope it’s something better.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Facebook collapsed from a mass-revulsion exodus, perhaps its successor would learn a thing or three about what not to be and what not to do.

        ” Facebook can never collapse. It can only BE collapsed”. And that depends on all of us. Or at least a critical tipping-point massload of us. It makes me wish I had ever been on Facebook so I could resign in a rage.

      2. mle detroit

        With regard to your last paragraph, Geo, has anyone established a foothold at MeWe or
        Some of the FB groups I used to belong to, quite happily because they were easy for all to use: Voters Not Politicians, library’s science fiction book club, Lewy Body Dementia Carers, my favorite mystery author. I ditched FB two months ago. but I miss those groups.

    2. Carey

      “Facebook users”?

      Do you use the internets? If so, Faceborg is *using you*, whether you know it or not,
      with the blessings, IMO, of seventeen intelligence™, which is why nothing bad ever
      happens to Zucky, Bezos, Cook, Bayer-Monsanto… the list goes on.

      1. Ciro Pantera

        That’s correct, Facebook and others are using you regardless. There are some precautions you can take to minimize their reach though, such as using Firefox with certain browser extensions like Privacy Badger, Decentraleyes, Multi-account Containers etc, with the added benefit that most tabloid websites won’t work for you.

  1. Dan

    It doesn’t require any deep analysis to know that Zuckerberg shouldn’t be trusted. But it’s also naive to trust anyone from Apple or Microsoft. While they may not be as despicable as Facebook, they’re nevertheless monstrous corporate entities whose sole raison d’etre is to increase profitability, everything else be damned. It’s inherent in the structure of the system. People don’t work their way to the top of these behemoths without internalizing that simple fact. And if, perchance, they did decide to abandon this precept for the good of the wider society as opposed to the narrow corporate interest, they’d be fired. Simple as that. Everything else is just verbal diarrhea.

    1. Carey

      In my opinion, it’s a mistake to personalize this, though Zucky seems to be thoroughly horrible person. He and FB are very useful to the Few. For now.

  2. ChrisPacific

    This seems like a textbook example for Betteridge’s Law.

    I was going to offer WhatsApp end to end encryption as a lone example of a Facebook service that actually provides privacy, on the grounds that (a) Facebook has reportedly struggled to monetize it and (b) they are making moves towards changing the encryption model. But a bit of Googling shows that even that isn’t true, meaning Zuckerberg’s statement to Congress was, if not an outright lie, at least an implied one:

    Short version: Facebook has a shared security sandbox on your device for all its apps, and could (if it chose) access your WhatsApp messages before encryption takes place, or after decryption in the case of received messages. (In other words, end to end encryption isn’t secure if the endpoints are compromised). It is probably not doing this (yet) because it would be obvious and create a huge public backlash. But the security model that would allow it is already in place. All they have to do is make it easier to cover their tracks.

  3. Big River Bandido

    Betteridge’s Law in action…

    Actually, you could shorten the headline and Betteridge’s Law would still apply:

    “Can Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Be Trusted?”

  4. TimH

    Re the last para “[3] There’s also no particular reason to think that the messaging encryption won’t be backdoored, both for Facebook’s purposes, and as a service to the intelligence community.”:

    There’s a Slashdot piece on this:

    The statement:

    “The Facebook-owned chat app is internally testing a new option that would allow a user to quickly verify the legitimacy of images they have received on WhatsApp by checking if those images had ever appeared on the web before”

    …does not align with:

    “WhatsApp, which protects all messages and media content on its platform with end-to-end encryption.”

    How can the image be verified unless all the encryptions uses the same key?

  5. Nakatomi Plaza

    I think there is a fair amount of skepticism about FB’s user count, particularly when it comes to the effectiveness of their advertising. I have no evidence for this, but I wonder if FB is a bit of a house of cards in terms of its value. What if Zuckerberg is constantly lying and pushing his product not (just) because he’s a terrible human being but because FB has been badly oversold and is precariously overvalued? Could they have something to hide and the consequences of allowing a little light into the darkness is worse than what they’re currently doing?

    I know FB was huge some years ago, but my 75 year-old mother is currently one of the few people in my life who still uses FB regularly. I think FB is hiding something.

    1. Yves Smith

      It’s not just suspicion. FB was caught out claiming it had more users in a key and large demographic (like 18 to 34 year olds) than exist in the population, and the level of overstatement over the actual number that exist was significant.

      1. notabanker

        “Friendly Fraud” was reprehensible as well. It was so common internally they used the acronym FF.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    Since Facebook is the most dangerous of the Social Media companies, Facebook should probably be avoided the hardest by the most people out of concern for those most-peoples’ safety and privacy. Until one can change or cure Facebook, it is best to avoid it if one can.

  7. barrisj

    Zuckerberg is a classic case of arrested post-adolescent development, and that – coupled with his “voting rights” Class B FB share holdings – virtually guarantees that no meaningful reforms can ever take place as the company is currently structured. Zuckerberg has this rather perverted vision of how to exploit user information, and collapsing WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger under the umbrella FB structure further tightens his stranglehold on his user base and “privacy”. We all have seen what happened to the original Google slogan of “Don’t Be Evil”…it crumpled under the exigencies of monetization of user search queries. Facebook now is SV evil incarnate, but still dressed up as “Connect The World” bollocks.

  8. notabanker

    Trust C-Level technology executives at your own peril. I’ve dealt with hundreds of them and can count on one hand minus a thumb the ones that I would trust to actually do what they say they will do. These people are apex predators and very skilled at what they do. They have unimaginable connections into everything and know how to use them for their benefit.

    Zuckerberg is a guy who needs an undercover security detail in his own office complete with a panic hatch to the garage below. Why anyone would trust him with their personal data is beyond me.

  9. Louis Fyne

    (This will be of limited use to many if those around you insist on using Facebook, nevertheless)….there are alternatives to facebook that don’t use advertising as their revenue model.

    As an example for messaging/chat, there is the Kakao app (from Korea, available in all languages)—-its model is based on selling software add-ons, not selling your user data.

  10. Acacia

    Obviously can’t be trusted and will never reform.

    The only question I see is: what do you say to people who still use this platform?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It depends on whether they have a choice about using it or not. Those whose bussiness model depends on Facebook may well be helpless until enough “customers” begin using other platforms that the bussiness modelers could follow their customers to those other platforms.

      Shrinking Facebook may have to start with the purely social and recreational personal users. If enough of them go somewhere else, perhaps the Facebook dependent micro-bussiness community can follow.

  11. Carey

    “Facebook?” “Gub’mint?”

    No, it’s all one thing now.

    “The misdirection will continue until the many are made utterly irrelevant, except as cash cows.”

  12. Synoia

    Zuckerberg’s announcement of privacy did NOT include absence of tracking the Calling/Celled Party info. aka the “meta data.”

    It is a pretense of privacy. So slick that it’s actually slimy.

    As for Google “Don’t be evil” there is a typo, it was in reality “Don’t! Be Evil”.

  13. The Rev Kev

    I am lucky enough to be able to refuse to have a Facebook account as I have no work or social demands that require having one. But I do wonder what my ‘shadow’ account looks like. Its kinda creep that. Thanks Mark. You know what the worst thing about Mark Zuckerbeg is? He is only 34 years old so we can expect his inputs into society for the next half century or so. He is obviously very intelligent going by his history. Unfortunately he has so little moral compass that it is surprising that he can find his own front door each morning. Maybe, just maybe, we have reached peak Facebook as it is seen as something for oldies and not the younger generation. That if it was any more unhip its b** would fall off. One can hope and we have seen this before-

  14. Synoia

    Can Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Be Trusted To Turn Facebook into a “Privacy-Focused Communications Platform?”

    Absolutely, after the second coming of Christ.

  15. urblintz

    I suggest everyone should join facebook under a fake name and fill your profile with false info… then we could all blow the lid on their fake statistics en masse. You can even use an absurd name and still get on… I did (10 years ago) and whereas I won’t reveal that name here, I can assure you that no one could possibly mistake it for a real one. I am also 106 years old work and for J.P. Morgan, heh.

    Now, I don’t doubt they know who I really am as I make no attempt to hide my true identity, my friends often use my real name in messages/comments and I have posted professional pictures of myself (I am a classical musician) which can be found all over the web. But since using one’s real name was always at the top of the “must do to join” list it’s clearly bogus. I have also written numerous short and succinct two word messages (F.Y!) to their (hard to locate) contact/help people and have never once been banned, kicked off or asked to leave. My posts are almost exclusively articles form alternative left-wing sources which are flagged as suspicious and yet they don’t want me to leave… they don’t want anyone to leave. Make of that what you will.

    They do not have my phone number or an “alternate” e mail address (and are always asking me to supply both for “security” haha). I have never, and will never, use the google browser on my cell phone for anything and have never downloaded an app, using only the most rudimentary ones which are (unfortunately) pre-loaded on my android. I would like to believe that it frustrates them to no end but may be giving myself too much credit.

    A also never, ever log into or sign up for any website using FB… which prompts me to ask…

    What’s with almost every site I visit, including the good ones (except NC), using FB as a sign in option? Do people really do that?

    1. Acacia

      Well, you may feel you’re “sticking it to the man” but this is just giving them more data to sell. Do you think they care if it’s fake?

      And meanwhile your computer’s browser cache is full of Facebook droppings, which allows Facebook to stalk your web use (they know about your *cough* habits), and is why every web site you visit asks you to sign in using Facebook.

  16. Acacia

    This is from last year but nicely sums up the disaster that is Facebook:

    “Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and its COO Sheryl Sandberg, and its public relations people, and its engineers have lied. They have lied repeatedly. They have lied exhaustively. They have lied so much they’ve lost track of their lies, and then lied about them.”

  17. John Beech

    I don’t trust the Zuck, either. Why should I? Then again, since he’s not charging me to use website then a) I don’t bitch he’s gotten rich as Croesus by monetizing my data, and b) I continue using it.

    After all, if you come to my house for shelter, I’m going to charge you. Don’t like? Leave! Come to my house for drinks and never pay? Nope! Want to use my car for free? I don’t think so!

    What am I missing? Could it be a bunch a whiny self-entitled adults have forgotten TANSTAAFL?

    1. TimH

      I expect that you don’t lie about the charges for your shelter service. That’s the difference.

    2. Mel

      What bothers me is that we’ve taken the fundamental social process of Speaking Out In Public, and we’ve routed it across Zuckerberg’s private property, so that he has the legal right to do anything he wants with it. We should have thought ahead. Even a formal Public/Private Partnership deal would likely have been better than this.

  18. Acacia

    Another thing to be said about Facebook: it’s not only a question of whether we trust Zuckerberg (anybody paying attention doesn’t), it’s also a question of what we can expect from people who still use FB on a routine basis.

    Since many people seem to get most of their news there, and since FB is both an important channel for MSM propaganda and also one of the bleeding edges of “innovative” methods of censorship, I find that generally I am not on the same page with the political views of those who spend a lot of time on FB.

    In a way, it’s become a useful filter. Just as I know that when I meet a person and they ask “are you on Facebook?” that they generally can’t be bothered to use e-mail and we won’t ever have anything more than a superficial social media relationship in the future (or, worse, they are looking to recruit me into their posse), I also get a significant data point about their political views, i.e., generally conformist.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Is it fair, if oversimple, to say that “Facebook use” is a good bozo filter? That is, only a bozo uses Facebook for anything other than bussiness so filter the Facebozos out of your life?

  19. Raulb

    Personalizing this to Mark Zuckerberg will merely replace one set of abusers with another. Google is stalking people 24/7 via chrome, search, maps, email and android. Just incase you still slip through they even have a global database of all wifi points. There is no escape. This is market failure, time after time economists talk about ‘choice’ but in the real world free markets race to the bottom coupled with complete lack of regulatory constraints actually leaves users with no effective choice.

    There are now thousands of companies profiting from surveillance and shady operators like Thiel funded Palantir peddling surveillance systems to law enforcement and state actors. The entire culture in silicon valley have long sold out and see no problem building invasive surveillance systems and stasi type dossiers that dehumanize users and dump the social costs of mass surveillance onto society while cashing out.

    At least with the government surveillance we had Snowden, with silicon valley we don’t even get that lone voice of dissent, on the contrary employees zealously defend their employers in tech forums hand waving and normalizing surveillance dismissing users as too stupid to care about privacy while merrily designing systems to intentionally mislead and deceive.

  20. Prairie Bear

    I don’t see any way that Facebook can be a “free” service and make any money without selling people’s information (the model the Kakao app uses that Louis Fyne mentions above sounds interesting, but it seems like that would be hard to keep generating revenue on a continued basis). I also don’t see much prospect for any similar service to succeed by charging even a modest subscription fee. Most people would say, “Why should I pay even $5 per month when Facebook is free?”

    As for the privacy issue, I’m as paranoid and cynical as the next person, but I’m not sure I see what the danger is. In principle, I do feel stupid and somewhat regretful for having fallen for it in the first place. But if the jack-booted thugs are going to come smashing into my house, can’t they do it with or without Facebook? Maybe I’ve just gotten old enough that I just think it’s part of a general “[family-blog]-it” factor.

    I am thinking now about downloading that pregnancy app. Maybe if a few tens of millions of us did it …

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