Donald Trump

Is Facebook Doomed? What To Expect from Mark Zuckerberg's Senate Testimony

His company's revenue and user growth are flattening; his image is in the toilet. Expect an embrace of hard or soft regulation from the social media king.

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Facebook

Today at 2 p.m. ET, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate Judiciary and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees on the social media platform's use and protection of user data (watch live at C-SPAN). Tomorrow, he'll sit down with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

What will he be asked and how will he answer? Republicans and Democrats are lining up to use Zuckerberg as a social-media punching bag. Liberal Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D–Conn.), whose bluster in the past has included lying about serving in Vietnam, has said "it's really kind of a high noon" for Zuckerberg and warned the young billionaire to come prepared with a better answer than, "'I made a mistake.' He didn't just spill milk on the breakfast table. There is a more fundamental issue related to Facebook's business model—they sell your information without your consent. That's what has to change."

From the right, Zuckerberg can expect to be grilled over questions about tamping down conservative news and opinion at Facebook. Recall it was only two years ago that Zuck met with prominent media conservatives to assure them that not only was Facebook's trending news system not biased against right-wingers but that Donald Trump and Fox News were big fish in the platform's pond. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), who was the first Republican presidential candidate to contract with Cambridge Analytica, the data-scraping service at the center of the current controversy, has said he's "very concerned" about political bias at Facebook. Sen. John Kennedy (R–La.) has opined that, "our promised digital utopia turned out not to be all the land of milk and honey."

The political dynamic at today's hearing should actually be excruciatingly fun to watch. Historically, Congress has made a fool of itself when weighing in on technology and new media ("a series of tubes," "Buffcoat and Beaver," etc.). But its ignorance also comes with a heavy dose of power. Zuckerberg is a liberal and presumed to share more with the very Democrats who will be grilling him over how his company cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election (which it didn't, but dreams die hard). Russian trolls, fake news, fake ads—that's what Dems will be talking about.

Republicans will be threading a different needle. To satisfy conservatives, they need to attack Zuckerberg as a millennial snowflake who is running the greatest con around. In the representative words of National Review's Rich Lowry (channeling a very old man), Zuck "pretends to have stumbled out of the lyrics of John Lennon's song 'Imagine.' To listen to him, Facebook is all about connectivity and openness—he just happens to have made roughly $63 billion as the T-shirt-wearing champion of 'the global community,' whatever that means." Yet if Republicans suggest that Facebook somehow "let" or helped Trump win in an underhanded way, they will be accused of undermining their own party's fearless leader. Cruz, one of the most camera-hogging, tendentious interrogators to hit the Senate in decades, is in a particularly tight squeeze, since he was the original client of Cambridge Analytica and yet failed to make much good use of whatever data it stole or bought (depending on who's talking) from Facebook.

Expect both Dems and Reps to puff up their chests and demand restitution in the form of favors of going forward. That will include threats to sic the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after Facebook. There's a 2011 consent decree in which Facebook admitted it deceived users into thinking some information was private when in fact it was being sold to app makers and other third parties. Expect Dems to push for more protocols on who is allowed to advertise and under what circumstances, especially when it comes to political speech. Republicans will push more on the idea that their views are grossly and systematically under-represented on the site and they therefore want more visibility on the site.

For Zuckerberg, it will be easy to give both sides what they want. What he wants is not fully clear, but he has already said he's open for federal regulation of social media: "The question is more 'What is the right regulation?' rather than 'Yes or no, should we be regulated?'" In North America, the platform's most-lucrative market, Facebook has recently lost daily, active users for the first time in its history—and that was before the latest flap.

Recode.net, Facebook

If history is any indication, what Zuckerberg will push for is a form of regulation—either explicit or implicit—that will allow Facebook to maintain its pole position in the social-media landscape. As the socialist historian Gabriel Kolko discovered, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries this took the form of railroad owners actually calling for regulation to bolster falling profits and declining market share. "In their desire to establish stability and control over rates and competition," wrote Kolko, "the railroads often resorted to voluntary, cooperative efforts….When these efforts failed, as they inevitably did, the railroad men turned to political solutions to [stabilize] their increasingly chaotic industry. They advocated measures designed to bring under control those railroads within their own ranks that refused to conform to voluntary compacts….[F]rom the beginning of the 20th century until at least the initiation of World War I, the railroad industry resorted primarily to political alternatives and gave up the abortive efforts to put its own house in order by relying on voluntary cooperation." The regulations took the form of uniform, guaranteed rates, routes assigned and enforced by the government, and more that ended up costing customers more than they paid during the dread era of laissez-faire.

Of course, the barriers to entry in industries such as railroads are infinitely higher than in social media (the massively popular messaging and VOIP service WhatsApp was started in 2009 by a handful of people and was sold to Facebook in 2014 for almost $20 billion). In written testimony for Wednesday's hearing in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Zuckerberg runs through actions Facebook has already taken to address the Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference issues. "It's not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive. It's not enough to just give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren't using it to hurt people or spread misinformation," he writes. "It's not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they've given it to are protecting it too." Actions that have already been implemented include automatically disabling unused apps' access to user data, increased opt-ins from friends contacted by a user's apps that request access to personal information, higher levels of identity verification for users and advertisers, and "cooperating with the U.S. and foreign governments on election integrity."

Given his earlier statements about welcoming regulation and given bottom-line concerns about Facebook's growth, look for Zuckerberg to sign on to broad recommendations about how safeguarding people's privacy is absolutely essential to any and all new and existing social-media platforms. Exactly what those rules might look like, who will ultimately enforce them (governments, civil courts, or businesses), and whether they will work in any way other than to degrade the ability of new competitors to flourish and grow is anybody's guess. What isn't in question is that in the sped-up life cycle of internet businesses, Facebook is entering its middle age despite only being 14 years old. Its revenue growth is enviable by virtually any measure but it is flattening out too, which is surely sending chills down the spine of managers who in recent years have pushed unsuccessful strategies such as Facebook Live, a "pivot to video," and the promotion and sponsorship of original content.

Quartz, Facebook

For much of the past three years, the conversation about the future of the internet has centered on issues such as "Net Neutrality" and reining in internet-service providers (ISPs) who were assumed to be figuring out ways to squeeze more money out of customers and content providers in an era of cord-cutting and declining ratings for cable TV. But a bigger and more meaningful concern actually involves platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google (including YouTube) that have massive audiences and opaque-at-best systems for internal governance. Whatever Wild West days the World Wide Web once enjoyed are mostly over, and today's internet more closely resembles a suburban shopping mall rather than a rough-and-tumble part of town. (Kudos to the folks at Blockstack, Ethereum, and elsewhere that are working to decentralize the internet.) Facebook's "walled garden" has succeeded in many ways to make online space safe and accessible for over 2 billion users, a sort of Club Penguin for adults. The challenge in front of all of us is to make sure that in saving Facebook's business model and vision, Mark Zuckerberg and Congress don't put the screws to an online world that has barely been mapped.

NEXT: Worried About Economic Inequality? Get Rid of Occupational Licensing

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  1. …warned the young billionaire to come prepared with a better answer than, “‘I made a mistake.’

    Or else what?

    1. “HAHAHA! This Senate is puny! Now you see you can’t even block me, right?”

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        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

    2. “Or else we’ll give it back to the Winklevoss twins!”

      1. What, and have them give up on Bitcoin?

  2. Facebook…Have you tried turning it off and on again?

  3. Biggest factor on Zuck’s mind: Facebook has lost $75 billion in market cap since the revelations of their misuse of data. That’s about the market expecting regulation but not knowing what that regulation will be, whether it will significantly harm their business model, etc.

    The markets hate uncertainty, and, remember, you market cap doesn’t only tank because long terms holders are selling. All it takes is for would be buyers to wait on the sidelines until they get more certainty about what the regulation is going to look like.

    The best way for Zuck to get rid of that uncertainty (and regain that $75 billion in market capitalization) is to embrace regulation–if only to get rid of the uncertainty. If the regulation makes the market underwrite his core business at a loss of $10 billion in market cap, that will be more than made up for by getting rid of the uncertainty.

    The last time we saw this kind of thinking in the public eye was probably during the mortgage crisis. The government will do anything and everything up to using taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street to get rid of that kind of uncertainty. Zuck wants to get rid of the uncertainty of regulation like that, too.

    If that turns out being a market barrier to smaller startups, then that’s just icing on the cake for Facebook.

    1. I think the last time we saw something like this was when congress brought in microsoft and talked about breaking that up but it never happened and now microsoft has 40 full time lobbiest when before they had two part time lobbiest.
      Congress just wants their cut

  4. What To Expect from Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate Testimony

    A lot of irrelevant interjections from grandstanding senators, mostly.

    1. “How DARE you?!”

    2. If history is any indication, what Zuckerberg will push for is a form of regulation?either explicit or implicit?that will allow Facebook to maintain its pole position in the social-media landscape.

      I think Nick is right. It will be some variation of this. Something to raise the barrier of entry into the marketplace for other would be social media providers.

      1. Maybe, but what?

        The problem is, any regulations are going to immediately infringe on free speech. Remember, Facebook can do what it wants, but the government cannot force it’s competitors to follow violations of free speech.

        Because, ultimately, Facebook is a speech platform.

        As I said in the other thread, this is more about Democrats threatening Facebook to stay in line. I doubt any regulations will come of it, especially in this administration, and with Ajit Pai in Trump’s ear.

        1. If they regulate gathering/use of user information in order to do targeted advertising they’d probably be able to avoid 1st Amendment challenges in court.

          Here’s an example: https://www.eugdpr.org/

          Now that’s Europe, with its own messed up notions of rights, but the net effect is to essentially forbid nothing while making everything more expensive in terms of compliance costs. Net effect is to make startups that want to make money from advertising have to spend a lot more on legal costs.

          1. Yeah, I could see that. But I still can’t see Pai signing off on it. Dude is too smart for that.

        2. regulations that prove you are protecting information which involve paper work and lawyers. Something face book didn’t have to deal with so who would back something new and risky with so much overhead cost to even start.

    3. Exactly, kind of paying attention for the last couple hours, it’s a great argument for smaller government. When you get up close you can see how fucking stupid most of these clowns really are.

      1. With a special shout out to Leahy, Dickless Durbin and the woman from Nebraska. They need a bright red STUPID stamp across their foreheads.

  5. Yep. Regulation is great for facebook because then they can easily quash smaller competition by constantly probing their systems for minor violations. Of course fb won’t do it directly. But they can easily get stooges to do the work for them. I bet Zuck will ‘lean in’ on regulation.

  6. Sen. John Kennedy (R?La.) has opined that, “our promised digital utopia turned out not to be all the land of milk and honey.”

    “There ought to be a law!”

    1. There ought to be a law against saying “There ought to be a law”.

      1. Probably just a matter of time — which saying should also be banned.

    2. That is what he gets for believing in utopias. Human institutions always end up being grungy, especially if they are open to all people and free. Crooked timber of humanity and all.

  7. If Facebook IS doomed, my mom and all her friends are gonna be so upset.

    1. Facebook is going to go the way of MySpace. It is only a matter of time.

      The only reason it is still viable is because of old people who are not technologically savvy enough to learn a new platform. The only reason I’ve stayed with it is due to this. If I wanted to change platforms, I’d have to teach everyone over 45 in my family how to use the new platform.

      1. Meh, I had my daughter show me the ins and outs of instagram. Toughest seven months of my life.

        1. Which is owned by Facebook.

          1. Heh I didn’t know that. So all those kids who think they’re hiding from the ‘rents on Instagram are just shoveling all their info to Facebook anyway. D’oh.

            1. Millennials and Gen Zers are not the smartest tools in the shed.

            2. The only reason I’m on instagram is because it’s a cool platform for people who don’t want to share their personal details. It’s great for photographs, and that’s really fine if you have a hobby or aspergers and only take pictures of things.

              1. You might like Pinterest as well.

      2. LOL I remember when Facebook was the new kid on the block and everyone made fun of old people for using MySpace or Friendster. Sigh…

        1. #thislandismyspace….thislandisyourspace

      3. My aversion to “new platforms” is more a matter of time. I don’t have time to do the things I want to get done *now*. Add on another service or site (like Twitter, Instagram, etc)? Nope, I’ll pass; I want to get my writing done (original and fanfic) *before* I die.

    2. I’ll comfort her as I always do.

      1. Be kind. She’s been through a lot this past year.

  8. “Ha ha ha ha, so I threw the senate at him. The whole senate! True story!”
    -Palpatine

  9. Of course, the barriers to entry in industries such as railroads are infinitely higher than in social media (the massively popular messaging and VOIP service WhatsApp was started in 2009 by a handful of people and was sold to Facebook in 2014 for almost $20 billion).

    Yeah, but where is the barrier to not getting snapped up by Facebook?

    1. Inside Facebook’s stomach.

      Yeah, it’s a strange place for that to be, a bit of a catch 22.

  10. Your boy Wyden is coming off as a real statist ass.

  11. Etherium is the shiznit. The only thing that scares me about it is that it rests on the decision of a 20 something billionaire not to quit it all and go scuba diving in Bora Bora. If Etherium doesn’t do it, that technology will be utilized by someone else who will.

    I think Steemit is a legitimate model with the potential to challenge Facebook and reddit. Steem may be a legitimate contender to threaten YouTube, too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steemit#Concept

    Why share revenue with YouTube or personal information with Facebook, when you can just get paid directly for the content you create instead?

    Point being, there are legitimate contenders out there.

    1. A Steemit Video, I think, could easily topple Youtube.

      Maybe you would know… Where would the bandwidth for something like that come from?

      1. I’m not sure I understand the question you’re asking, but if you’re asking how Steemit funds its own bandwidth, it’s presumably through the demand for content and the cryptocurrency they’re initiating.

        The currency is convertible into dollars or Bitcoins or whatever. People are mining it because it’s valuable, I believe they’re issuing a fixed amount to themselves–and they sell it. Steem currently has a market cap of $470 million–and that’s after all the cryptocurrencies have taken a beating since January.

      2. I should add, I’m not betting on the management of any of these currencies so much as the underlying model. Someone else could come along and do to Steemit what Facebook did to MySpace. But the underlying model is impressive–even if somebody else can implement it in a way that make better pizza for less, their pizza delivery system appears viable.

        Time will tell, but one of the big questions Facebook competitors have is getting people to walk away from their friends and family on Facebook and try something new. Why would someone do that? The answer might be pay. People comment here because they enjoy reading each other’s comments (or because they’re psychologically damaged like P/B, Tony, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, and M/H). What if in addition to writing articles and posts that people like, you got paid to do it.

        Look at Arts and Letters Daily or even YouTube.

        There are professional YouTubers out there. They get really upset because advertisers don’t want their ads running on objectionable content about guns, sex, and all the other good stuff. Well, this is a model without advertising. It isn’t about using users to generate free content and then sell their personal information to advertisers. It’s about giving a platform for people to generate content–and paying them for it.

        That’s a superior model.

        1. Looks like I’ll have to do a bit more research. I’m not sure I understand how mining their own cryptocurrency is sustainable in the long run without advertisers or some sort of user fee.

          1. I believe they’re reserving currency for themselves.

            Some cryptocurrencies don’t do that at all–as a point of honor. The people behind Monero, for instance, didn’t reserve any for themselves.

            Other cryptocurrencies with a specific application do it differently.

            I’m looking at Steem now to figure this out, and I was wrong–you can’t mine Steem.

            You can only buy it or earn it through content related actions–creating, upvoting, etc. Presumably, they’re floating more of it as demand grows by some well known metric. I guess they’re scaling their business by issuing more currency.

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    1. ^^ Deploys Russian bots for Facebook.

      1. At $40/hr, you get lame gifs; what do you expect?

  13. I hope to see Zuckerberg go on the attack. Interrupt them when they’re trying to make soundbites for their campaign ads, point out their hypocrisy (like Cruz doing *exactly what he’s now bitching Trump was allowed to do*), that Facebook has been pretty open that users are not customers, that they’re what’s being monetized – because no one does anything for free – and that people in general are not so stupid as to think otherwise.

    He won’t. But it’d be nice to see one of these assholes point out that he really is effectively untouchable since he not only hasn’t done anything illegal, most of Congress has been his customer for the shady shit they’re complaining about now.

    1. It’s too bad so many people instinctively and unreflectively respect political offices.

      1. But enough about Mark Zuckerberg.

    2. Zuckerberg is smart enough to recall what happened to that pharma bro when he took that tract. The bastard politicians will come after him if he doesn’t bend the knee to their absurdity.

    3. I know he won’t, but I would love Zuck if he went on the attack.

      “Remind me who you are? Oh, a senator. Right! You’re the people who pass federal budgets and declare war. Oh, but wait…When was the last time you actually performed your job? So, you get X hundreds of thousands per year from the Treasury for work you consistently fail to perform. It seems you guys should be sitting where I am being grilled by your bosses, the public, as to why you shouldn’t be fired and indicted for theft.”

      Congress-critter: “That’s enough! You are in contempt!”

      Zuck: “No sir. YOU are. You’re all contemptible. Good day!” (Walks out.)

      1. All he would have to do is keep talking about James Clapper.

        1. I came here today to be straight forward and honest. Like the honorable James Clapper.

      2. Good day!

        Oh man… a full-on Wonkaesque rage. That would be epic.

    4. All of Zuckerberg’s answers are going to be either a thumbs up, a heart made with his hands, a single tear, or an O face.

      1. A sepia photo of a sandwich with 6 Likes.

      2. CNN should impose semi-transparent rainbow stripes over Zuckerberg every time he’s on camera.

    5. Facebook has been pretty open that users are not customers, that they’re what’s being monetized

      This is why I can’t figure out what the scandal is supposed to be here. The whole point of Facebook is to sell information about users.

      1. You are obviously not a performative wokeness specialist.

      2. Well, from my perspective, it is that Facebook sucks up information about me (no account there) by getting OTHER people to give up information on me. And while doing so without being open about it.

        My friends generally do not understand they are helping Fakebook create a file on me when they name me as a “friend”, post pics with me, tag me in those pics, etc. Combine that with the great information sucking they do buried in webpages that their name does not even appear on. (that I inhibit as much as possible with blockers) and yes, and the face recognition they are using to tag pics that others do not tag (creating more links in their database) and you bet your ass I have a problem with Fakebook.

        1. I can understand why you might, but I just can’t get too worked up about that. I do make a bit of an effort to have a low online profile, though. I’ve got a very low facebook profile anyway. I’ve never used it under my real name and at least my closer friends who are likely to have pictures with me know I don’t want my name on there.

          And what are you going to do? Unless you really isolate yourself, information about you exists in the public domain. In the “information age” some people will have the means to collect lots of it in one place.

        2. you realize the whole internet is watching you even while posting on reason. there is no real big deal its all numbers.

          1. Its all just two numbers: 0 and 1

        3. To be honest? Sounds more like you have a problem with your ‘friends’. They just won’t do what you tell them to do.

    6. Zuckerberg does not strike me as any kind of Randian superman protagonist. Sorry.

  14. “Sen. John Kennedy (R?La.) has opined that,”

    There’s a Kennedy in the Republican party? Is he one of those Kennedys (is he related to JFK)?

    If so, when was the last time he spoke to anyone else in the family?

    1. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican ex governor of California, is married to a Kennedy. They don’t care power is power.
      But wikipedia says he is not related to The Kennedys.

  15. Facebook is as doomed as Trump…

    1. Except Trump is doomed. He’s going to get caught up on the campaign finance abuse and we’re all going to pretend like this never had anything to do with wild conspiracy theories about Russia which were always nonsensical.

      1. Unlikely, his lawyer might get caught, but Trump won’t.

        For one thing, he wasn’t really out there shilling for big bucks like Hillary (and most politicians) do, he funded a lot of his campaign from his own pockets. Not all by any means, but a lot.

        Not to say that Trump is sqweeky clean, but I don’t expect him to get caught up in any campaign finance abuse.

  16. Is facebook doomed?
    Naw, none of my fantasies ever come true. But a guy can dream, right?

    1. They might not vanish like Geocities, Netscape and Alta-Vista but they’ll become the next MySpace and ICQ.

      1. Interestingly, the company once known as Prince Netscape is now owned by Facebook.

  17. What To Expect from Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate Testimony

    Something like this?

  18. Don’t expect a performance like Howard Hughes. We don’t make men like that anymore.

    1. Neurotic OCD codeine-addicted recluses that ate only milk and chocolate?

      1. LOL, that sounds like half of Hollywood! Except for the recluse part, since they are all attention whores.

  19. Facebook is entering the beginning of its decline. A couple years ago I was talking to my friends who all have kids from 13-26 years old and NONE of their kids had it (I don’t have kids so I’m ignorant of what kids like). People under 25 see Facebook as the old folks home of social media. It had a good run, but as more social media outlets open up and become popular it’s going to continue to become less and less relevant.

    1. Which is exactly why Zuckerberg is going to ask for Congress to regulate social media. Facebook still has the financial ability to comply with legal requirements that would bankrupt any would-be competitors.

    2. Facebook owns some of the smaller platforms that the young people use. Facebook doesn’t (and can’t) really innovate any more, they’re too big, so they purchase innovation.

    3. That seems to be case based no my observations too.

      The problem for FB is that kids want to be on cool new social media platforms which they can jump to quickly. Faster than FB can put together a buyout deal. By the time FB completes the deal, the kids have moved on.

      The main thing is that business spends a ludicrous amount of money on advertising like it works well. Its doesn’t. Once companies cut their advertising budgets to reflect this, FB’s revenue will just continue to fall.

      1. business spends a ludicrous amount of money on advertising

        That’s what I can’t wrap my brain around. I never see an ad on FB because I block all ads and have done so for as long as it has been possible. It amazes me that there are people who don’t block ads.

        1. I am not in the advertising world but I think advertising types convincing business how effective advertising really is quite the scam.

          I am like you, I block ads. I also don’t have tv, so I never watch commercials. I don’t get print media, so no adverts from that source. Even when I am exposed to ads, I am so annoyed on how much money is wasted which would have resulted in a lower price of their product I usually avoid the whole company.

          I am not the norm though. I still get the impression that ads are not as effective as business thinks and is paying for. I could be wrong though.

    4. all have kids from 13-26 years old and NONE of their kids had it

      Now that I think about it, that makes sense. If I was a kid I wouldn’t want to be on the same site as my parents.

  20. God bless him, he is the honest to goodness, real life version of “Revenge of the Nerds”.

    He can spend the rest of his life getting back at every jock who ever gave him an atomic wedgie and all the pretty girls who laughed at him and gave him fake phone numbers.

  21. My 14yo cousin and none of his friends use facebook, it’s all about instagram and shapchat. Tired of all the lefties bitching on facebook every day, so now I just use it for pictures and check-ins. The less I use it the happier I am

    1. The big secret that Zuckerberg is hiding is that core users who actively do things is dropping. Many people have accounts but barely do anything so their exposure to any advertisements is very limited.

      The point of FB first time losing new users was big news. Its reflects that FB will move to some steady number of users who barely access it.

    2. it’s all about instagram and shapchat

      That’s where all the celebs are too. Children at heart, I guess.

  22. Does anyone else find it rich that the federal government is upset with Zuckerberg about the misuse of personal data?

  23. Also, it’s going to be interesting to watch Congress craft a “privacy law” that covers people who voluntarily put all their personal details on a publicly accessible internet site.

  24. ‘ He didn’t just spill milk on the breakfast table. There is a more fundamental issue related to Facebook’s business model?they sell your information without your consent. That’s what has to change.”

    They do get your consent. You give it when you sign up. This is people not wanting to feel bad about their agreement, not that FB has violated any contract.

    Even more obviously political is the fact that they’re not also going against Google, who also has the exact same business model. And Pinterest, which also has the exact same business model. And nearly every fucking web application one can think of.

    This level of illiteracy happening in this area is driving me fucking nuts.

    1. Yeah, but Facebook is where oldsters who vote live. No one cares about those apathetic teenagers who use ChatFace.

      1. True. They still don’t vote. Maybe the teenage turnout will be a bit higher in the midterms because the gun issue made it cooler.

        1. And those apathetic teenagers HAVE NO MONEY! In fact, over the last decades more and more of them are in mommy’s basement because they got degrees in fields where there is no job demand. No money, no prospects, living on handouts from mommy and daddy.

          Truly, TRULY, sad.

          1. Sorry, I meant that the teenagers go on to live in Mommy’s basement on into their thirties.

    2. I hear ya. Nobody reads those ToS agreements on FriendFace.

      1. Please, please link to the fantastic opening of the friendface episode.

        I have not the technical wherewithal.

        1. IT Crowd Friendface episode. Get thirsty and drink Cuke!
          IT Crowd FriendFace episode

          1. Thank you, sir. I’ve lost count of the friends that I’ve turn on to that show.

    3. “They do get your consent. You give it when you sign up. This is people not wanting to feel bad about their agreement, not that FB has violated any contract.”

      That isn’t always the case.

      I’ll have to split this into multiple comments since what I’m about to quote is all pertinent but long.

    4. “If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook’s installation on Android a few versions ago . . . that permission also granted Facebook access to call and message logs by default . . . .

      Messenger was never installed on the Android devices I used. Facebook was installed on a Nexus tablet I used and on the Blackphone 2 in 2015, and there was never an explicit message requesting access to phone call and SMS data. Yet there is call data from the end of 2015 until late 2016, when I reinstalled the operating system on the Blackphone 2 and wiped all applications.

      While data collection was technically “opt-in,” in both these cases the opt-in was the default installation mode for Facebook’s application, not a separate notification of data collection. Facebook never explicitly revealed that the data was being collected, and it was only discovered as part of a review of the data associated with the accounts. The users we talked to only performed such reviews after the recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data.

      Facebook began explicitly asking permission from users of Messenger and Facebook Lite to access SMS and call data to “help friends find each other” after being publicly shamed in 2016 over the way it handled the “opt-in” for SMS services. That message mentioned nothing about retaining SMS and call data, but instead it offered an “OK” button to approve “keeping all of your SMS messages in one place.”

      —-Ars Technica

      1. http://arstechnica.com/informa…..id-phones/

        (bold added, H/T to Hihn)

        So, what we learned from this one experiment was two things:

        1) If you opted into one device, Facebook apparently opted you in on all of your devices forever without asking.

        2) The opt in wasn’t a request for consent. It merely asked if you wanted to keep all your contacts in one place.

        1. Now this is interesting.

          And so the question is, was this entirely not included in their TOS? In which case, can we view this as breach of contract. Or is it included and people just missed it.

          Because the former, this seems like it is handled by current contract law and represents a valid Class Action of some sort. The latter is more of my previous point.

          Either way, I don’t believe the government getting involved here is the correct response. People need to handle this on their own. Whether this is by standing up and standing against these data collection models (The preferred solution by me) or something else.

          1. “Either way, I don’t believe the government getting involved here is the correct response. People need to handle this on their own.”

            I’ll just say three things.

            1) If government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect our rights. Our rights are choices. Fraud is a crime. A crime is willfully violating someone’s right to make choices for themselves–whether it’s rape, theft, or fraud. Determining whether people’s rights were violated here is a perfectly legitimate government activity.

            2) It is not a black and white, open and shut case. There are shades of gray running through all of this.

            3) Regulation isn’t the solution to protecting people’s rights–it runs contrary to the principle of letting people make choices for themselves.

            1. If government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect our rights. Our rights are choices. Fraud is a crime. A crime is willfully violating someone’s right to make choices for themselves–whether it’s rape, theft, or fraud. Determining whether people’s rights were violated here is a perfectly legitimate government activity.

              Sorry, I should clarify my position here, as I agree my statement made it more confusing then it need to be. By “the government getting involved” I mean more involved. That is, passing further restriction or regulation, or personally destroying FB or something. I believe there is enough law out there now, to well resolve these issues. The fact that there is a lot of gray running through this only makes me believe further that this should be managed with as little government intervention as possible, as they have a tendency to not do well with subtlety.

              I can only hope that people are forced to realize their complacency in this. They wanted something for nothing, and so they pretended there was no cost to this. People can make the choice to give away their privacy, but they should do that with full recognition of their own part in it.

        2. Part of the problem here is the engineering of Android itself. Far too many apps will automatically ask for access to EVERYTHING, regardless of their need to do so. Why would a solitaire game need to access my contacts, photos, etc? And a lot of those apps will refuse to run unless given full access to your entire device. *Properly designed*, Android should be able to block these requests on a granular basis, but that would require some level of competence on the part of Google programmers. They *sort of* implemented it in later versions, but sloppy and/or malicious app writers still manage to demand access. Meanwhile Google have managed to break the ability to lock-down and customize the OS in many places.

          Properly done, we should be able to load our own stripped-down or custom version of Android on any and ALL Android devices, much the way we can wipe that crapshow known as MSWindows from (most of) our PCs and load Linux, *BSD, or any of a multitude of other alternatives.

          The point being that Faceborg on Android merely takes advantage of the inherent brokenness of the ecosystem. Can’t even begin to imagine how bad it it is in the crApple iFad ecosystem.

      2. I refuse to install the facebook app on my phone. I do access it through Safari. What’s interesting is now I only get 6 items and then it spins. I can refresh and I get 6 items and it spins. I’m on the AT&T network and I think it’s an AT&T thing. If I connect WiFi, it’s not an issue.

        1. It came installed and active on my Verizon phone as part of the “bloatware” and can’t be deleted. The best I could do is to force it off, and disable it, with unknown effectiveness.

          1. It takes about 20 minutes of research and applying said research to root a phone, thus allowing you to uninstall the bloatware.

            1. Not everybody has our hobbies.

              Can you rebuild your own brakes, or do you take it to a shop?

              1. Both.

                And when I take it to a shop, I take it to a shop with a reputation for not doing shitty rebuilds.

                I don’t just take it to the first place I see and assume that everything will be all right.

          2. My next phone will be purchased specifically to avoid bloatware.

      3. That wasn’t Facebook’s ‘default installation status’ – that was *your notebook OEM’s* decision to enable that.

        If you don’t take any new IT gear an spend 30 minutes fiddling with app permission settings . . .

  25. Crucify him!

    1. Give us Bwian! Give us Bwian!

  26. It would be funny if he walked shouted third party doctrine bitch and walked out.

    1. If he were going for comic effect, he should come in sporting a onesie like pajama-boy and cradling some hot chocolate.

  27. We’ve known for years that the product is the user. Now that it’s been confirmed, we act like we are outraged by it.

    1. Yeah well we were are in the times where you sigh up knowing that, but then complain about it later.

      Like Hillary and the Electoral College

  28. Much as I respect Nick Gillespie’s writing and reasoning, I think FB will around for a looooooong time. The average FB user doesn’t care at all about Zuckerberg (if they even know who he is) or even the silly data situation. If these don’t care about the NSA mining every single bit of internet and cellphone communication then I cannot imagine they care about FB selling some minor info. As long as FB gets the job done it will healthy and profitable.

  29. yes, the Facebook is doomed.

  30. Wow, didn’t realize how bad of a statist, nanny hack Markey is. A woodchipper is too good for that Masshole.

  31. facebook will simply move on to the next phase – weaponize their information and use it to physically crush its enemies.

  32. Possibly doomed, but never underestimate the power of narcissism. Certainly many other tech companies have gone from boom to bust in a surprisingly short time.

    I had a FB account for about a year in order to make it easier to stay in touch with my daughter. I hated every single day of my subscription. Initially my avatar photo was a headshot with a bag over my face. Destroying my FB account was a very satisfying experience. I have always been extremely uncomfortable with Zuckerberg’s obsession with sharing personal information. I’m a private person, and share only with half a dozen real friends, not the parasites that one encounters on Facebook.

    This past winter I was forced back into FB in order to participate in a university course. I used a fake ID.

    1. The federal government considers signing up for Facebook, or any other online service, using a fake name to be a felony. True fact.

  33. There are gazillion people on Facebook because its free. If people had to pay an annual membership (even something like 50 bucks) then users would be much more vigilant in protecting their content and FB would incentive not to lose paying customers.

    I play some low stakes daily fantasy games. Even though the min deposit in just about every site is no greater than 10 dollars, you can bet your ass I read up on everything, such as withdrawal policy, rake, etc. The DFS community is tiny compared to FB, but the sites have to be mindful of any rumblings from their niche community. If their contests don’t fill every day, they’ll sink into the red.

    What If FB offered paid membership (maybe this exists already) in exchange for total freedom from ads or monitoring? Nothing would change for the “free” users, FB continues to make money on them in other ways, just as it always had. But of course the usual crowd would be all like “This is Net neutrality all over again”.

  34. so Zuck sez this: “It’s not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive. It’s not enough to just give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren’t using it to hurt people or spread misinformation,” he writes. “It’s not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they’ve given it to are protecting it too.”

    WHO apppinted him the world’s nannie? On WHAT basis does he think HE is the one to “make sure those connexions are positive”? or that its HIS job to “make sure people aren’t using it to hurt people or spread misinformation” or for that matter that HE is the arbiter of what comprises “information” and what comprises “misinformatioin”?

    WHen I used that platform regularly and came across creeps, brainless wonders wanting me to join in their stupid candy games, etc, it was simple: “UNfriend” them, they can no longer access my page or feed.
    Zuck has to decide who gets to see what from whom, and who gets to see this or that “news” or “opinion”. WHY” WHO appointed HIM the Mommy?

    Leave us the tools to block unwanted users, and it will sort itself out. Let ME post whatever I want and tag whomever I will. When Charlie no longer wants to see MY posts, he can make that happen.

    As to deciding what is “information” and what is “misinformatioin”, that’s not his bailiwick. Stop it, Zuck!!! Grow up and let us big people manage our playground. You are too full of yourself.

  35. F that guy!

  36. I’ve just tried to delete my Facebook account which has a capcha on the delete page. This has just failed more than 30 times to recognize that I’d put in the correct string, no matter how hard I tried.

    Facebook has made it impossible to delete my account.

    Another reason for abandoning them as highly undesirable, if not criminal.

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