Wednesday April 11th, 2018 15:20 Fundamental Facebook filing flub

Mmmmmm…the alliteration.

But seriously, folks. A lot of people have been spending the last day and a half looking at or talking about this guy:

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There’s been an incredible amount of discussion of social responsibility on the part of social networks, whether social networks should be regulated, if social networks have become ubiquitous enough to warrant a government-sponsored takeover, and blahblahblah.

One problem: Facebook is not a social network.

Say it with me: Facebook is a market research and advertising platform.

It’s just one that conducts its business in an, honestly, revolutionary manner. Ol’ Creeptastic got the people to come to the advertising, instead of the other way around. That’s bloody brilliant.

Sure, it started as a ‘social network.’ But we didn’t even have the term back then. By the time that existed, FB had long since ceased to fit in the mold.

Take, for example, the subject broached by Sen. Chris Coons. He mentioned the fact that it took an entire year for FB to properly remove the options for advertisers to choose the race of the people they wanted to see their advertisements.

First off, I can’t take another breath without jumping for joy that not only was it Captain Cracker McGingerton who brought up FB’s tacit support of racial discrimination, but his name is Coons. Can’t make that stuff up.

Now, I am no longer a developer, nor was I ever on the level of Zuck or probably anyone that works for him.

But I know damn good and well that, at a social network, this is how things would go:

  1. Controversy begins, and eventually goes as far as to appear on TV news
  2. CEO sees controversy
  3. Every dev in the entire company gets an email to remove the federal-law-breaking feature from the site immediately
  4. That tick box is gone within the hour
  5. CEO goes on TV and says he’s sorry, this has been removed, and everyone involved has been fired

Conversely…

On an advertising platform with a massive global presence, it might take a good while for them to plan out how to remove that feature without losing too much revenue or pissing off the wrong people. A year sounds about right.

There is absolutely no possibility that this was a technical problem. The advertising part of FB is little more than a machine that prints money. There’s no old code sitting around. There’s no quirky workarounds that might throw things off. That thing is kept in perfect working order 24/7/365.

So, they could have stopped openly flaunting discrimination laws. They just didn’t didn’t do it right away.

This clearly shows that ads, not users, are the core of not only their profit strategy, but the company as a whole. You don’t risk openly breaking federal laws otherwise.

Thus, an advertising platform.

If we could just start thinking about it like that, all of these conversations will get a whole lot easier.

Also, if people could start dealing with the fact that, complicated TOS or not, they voluntarily agreed to let FB do every single thing they’re currently doing, that would help as well.

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IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org