The Easy Reason Facebook Can Not Be Fixed
The technology elite reside in a different world than most of us, and they will not fix what they don't see
Nope. The organization's stock is up 40 percent so far this year as"fresh hell" has been be profitable. Moreover, if you work in technology, at least one person you know with a strong ethical compass has started a new task at Facebook without a shred of cognitive dissonance.
What's any of this possible?
The root cause is quite straightforward. We're asking people who do not experience the effects of Facebook's existential flaws to mend them. This simple dilemma explains why so many Facebookers still have unbridled zeal for your organization's mission and put ominously over any efforts to reimagine what Facebook could be, preserving a status quo that works fine for technician's elite but quite badly for everyone else.
Toexplain this phenomenon, let me take you back to my own days as a 22-year-old new recruit at LinkedIn, fueled by Silicon Valley idealism and exquisite fruit-infused water. As a LinkedIn employee, I obviously spent a good deal of time on the stage, in which my feed was mostly populated with content from other LinkedIn employees and their networks. The end result was that LinkedIn appeared to be a genuinely awesome stage, a potpourri of their greatest articles from the tech press and appropriate job posts -- and I realize it to anybody reading this who has never worked for LinkedIn, this is nearly impossible to trust.
After a couple of months, I moved into a part in customer success, easily my favorite of those fake job titles made by the software as a service (SaaS) industry. To be able to replicate bugs and troubleshoot customer issues, I sometimes had to (with explicit user permission) log into the member and click -- meaning I experienced LinkedIn like a user did.
When I did so, my filter bubble was busted, and I entered a markedly different digital globe. On a professional community, I saw blatantly xenophobic content that has been thinly veiled as thought leadership on endeavors. While this was fairly rare, many consumer feeds were a weird amalgamation of math puzzles, motivational memes, and ridiculous self-promotional stories such as one expansion hacker's account of becoming pen pals with a dictator. Job postings, relevant professional information, and a number of the other things LinkedIn was apparently supposed to supply were often absent entirely.
Like the rich live in different worlds, the tech wealthy live in different digital worlds.
Yet despite the company using a team of almost 100 human editors to curate users and content posting under their real, professional identities, the LinkedIn experience for the average user frequently devolves into a digital used auto lot. I am confident Jeff Weiner would not even comprehend the platform how many members encounter it.
In a similar vein, Facebook is generally a fantastic platform -- for Facebook employees and people with a similar demographic profile. At worst for them, it is a harmless vice with minimal fake news. There is scarcely a plausible path down the rabbit hole of extremism which holds real life consequences for people and their nearest and dearest.
While much has been made of the filter bubbles that produce a red vs. blue Facebook newsfeed divide, a far more important chasm exists among societal media users. Digitally savvy users like well manicured feeds; while advertisements are present, they can be imprecisely personalized and easy to glaze over. Meanwhile, the audiences that advertisers can caricature are the groups that become the item and therefore are shown advertisements to exploit their more closely held fears. The vast majority of Americans fall into the latter camp.
While the 3 percent of Americans who actually read the Mueller report may get their information from directly following prominent journalists or politicians on Twitter, the network is more like a funhouse mirror than the real world. Much more Americans are visiting political content on social websites in the kind of wildly unregulated advertisements that are added into their feed for fractions of pennies.
For probably the grand sum of about $110,000, text reading"construct the wall" in shining lights got 70 billion viewpoints. That isn't a bug; it's Facebook's pièce d'résistance feature. The business may operate a stage that works beautifully for the technology elite, offload the externality on more gullible customers, then sell their gullibility for countless dollars.
Even though Tesla's engineers are less or more driving the exact same car as their customers, Facebooks's engineers are constructing a product that, when it hits the market, fundamentally bears no resemblance to the one they've shipped. When it breaks, it's like being asked to fix a car that, anytime you take it out for a spin, then slides easily across the open road. However, whenever you flip the keys to a customer, it pulls slowly to the right until it crashes into a dumpster fire filled with Nazis.
Much like the rich live in different worlds, the tech wealthy live in various digital worlds. Facebook's leadership is about as well-equipped to repair the monster it constructed as Andrew Cuomo would be to correct the nyc subway. For all intents and purposes, neither have used this item.
To its credit, Facebook has tried to address this issue, after famously slowing net speeds to 2G levels to simulate the experience for its users in the developing world. The company now needs to go further and force its leadership and rank-and-file product managers to dip deep into the abdomen of Chupacabra. Anybody who touches the center product should be onboarded by spending a month shadowing content moderation teams. Spend some time with users in the Philippines, where the belief that vaccines are essential has plummeted from 93% to 32 percent in only 3 decades.
Although these are strong steps, no matter how much you force empathy, Facebook employees' most important point of reference to the item would always be their particular Facebook accounts. Along with the stage will be the worse for this.
With its core business model ushering in a post-truth age, where can Facebook move from here? The trope of U.S. companies pivoting their business models to resemble their Chinese counterparts is an overused cliche, but in Facebook's case, it appears accurate. Facebook wants to be WeChat, free to capture the spoils that come with having an individual's social and financial lifestyle. To hide the authoritarian undertones behind this vision, it is being packaged in a sudden epiphany round the significance of consumer privacy.
Ultimately, a company should decide whether to be a really good platform for a excellent platform for merchants.
However, Facebook's rally to solitude seems doomed from the beginning. For starters, it is comically late. Zuckerberg is George Clooney attempting to turn the ship around in the eye of the storm. But most importantly, Facebook still wants to keep all its fish. In the exact same keynote it declared that the"future is private," Facebook proudly declared that it'd really like to understand that of your buddies you secretly wish to bang.
It requires a great deal for a big, publicly traded firm to maintain the wherewithal and forward-thinking mindset of investing in something at negative or zero earnings. A business that started its apology excursion Morgan-Stanley-style is not going to commit to overhauling its whole business model. As its role as a propaganda system became clear, Facebook felt compelled to plead to Wall Street for lackluster advertising earnings than to Main Street for subverting its democracy.
As a first step toward realizing its brave new world, Facebook is frantically trying to proceed on trade, beginning with the long-awaited launch of Instagram Payments and P2P trades in Facebook Marketplace. I have long thought that commerce would be Facebook's endgame for one basic reason: total addressable market. In the next ten years, more than $1 billion of products will be purchased online in the United States alone. Even the most bullish projections of digital advertising set the marketplace in a fraction of that number.
As a pure trade play, pretty much everything about Facebook's current product is working against it. Ultimately, a company must choose whether or not a excellent platform for a excellent platform for merchants. When platforms like Pinterest and Instagram sell ads, they guarantee users won't see a competitive ad. From a shopper's perspective, this is completely absurd.
If Facebook is pivoting to earnings streams that don't rely upon personally identifiable information, the company must lose the fallacy that there's a set of win-win decisions that may address existential issues. To really commit to trade is to ditch the ad-based company model.
I believe what we're going, this is, we're going to build more tools for individuals to purchase things straight through the platform. ... It will be valuable to them and so that'll translate into high bids to the advertising and that will be how we view it.
Translation: While we might truly devote to commerce sooner or later, our primary goal for now is to encourage individuals to buy things to show advertisers how precious we are.
All of this suggests a remarkable callousness toward the real people whose lives are changed. ... The platforms are perfect -- it is us pesky humans that don't get it.
The only company that has walked this tightrope is Amazon, and in a heavy cost to consumer experience. This competitive form of advertising creates Earth's most customer-centric business nearly unusable sometimes. However, it took Amazon 15 years of refining e-commerce logistics and buying customer goodwill (and monopoly power) before it got the right to sell ads. Goodwill is not a thing that Facebook has in book.
The wave of anti-vaccination propaganda on his own platform that made much of the possible must hit close to home. This begs several questions:
Can Zuckerberg's awkward apathy toward Facebook's flaws be a cover for a more profound ennui? Imagine if he's realized he's built something he does not have any expectation of controlling? In the span of one year, Facebook took down over 2.8 billion fake accounts, and to the general public, it seems like it barely made a dent. Imagine if conditions for the world's largest social experimentation have become shaky because the hypothesis Facebook is built on is fundamentally flawed?
Since Pinterest went people, it didn't have to answer questions concerning why consumers searching for crochet kits were becoming pioneers in chemtrails. People come to Pinterest to find inspiration for tonight's dinner or tomorrow's DIY job. Put another way, Pinterest's vision is fundamentally sane. Joining the whole world on a single, centralized platform is not. What sane entity would want the type of responsibility that accompanies policing the whole zeitgeist?
This was the primary question running through my head as I saw Jack Dorsey, yet another beleaguered platform leader, discuss his vision to the future of Twitter in TED. Dorsey, seemingly with no opportunity to alter after his set playing rhythm guitar Paramore, talked as if Twitter had turned into his Ultron, a monster borne of good intentions he could no longer control. As I watched, I could not decide whether to feel sympathy or disgust. The irony of Dorsey and Zuckerberg -- two of the most powerful men on the planet -- living in purgatory in the mercy of their own algorithms makes to the perfect 21st century Shakespearian tragedy. But the actual tragedy is that they're not trying to battle back.
To make Twitter website operational again, Dorsey might have to spend the stage down to the studs. Yet somehow, he still has to be the CEO of another public company, take 10-day retreats, and rebrand eating disorders. Until Dorsey steps down from his post at Square, he's full of shit. Zuckerberg, in an effort to win the"hold my beer" world championship, took the stage at F8 and made a joke regarding privacy.
All this suggests a remarkable callousness toward the real humans whose lives are influenced by the Leviathan. The programs are perfect -- it's us pesky people which don't get it. In the event the cretins could just get better at using technologies, everything will work. It is this smug attitude more than any technological problem that all but guarantees Facebook will not be fixed.
Amid all the turmoil, Facebook is still hiring like crazy, with 2,900 open functions across the world in the time of this writing. In posts about how to build a winning team, thought leaders, expansion hackers, along with other Silicon Valley apologists still estimate Sheryl Sandberg and Zuckerberg with no hint of irony. One of their favorite quips is Zuckerberg saying,"I'll only hire a person to work right for me if I'd work for that person."
Congratulations, Mr. Putin, and welcome to Facebook!