Recently, Facebook has suffered some difficulties that were caused by its very design. It’s clear now that one of the features of large, complex social services is that they contain within themselves the seeds of tragedy. Worse, thanks to the money at stake, there’s no remedy. Not even a tough-to-implement one.
Two recent tragedies come to mind. The first has been the systematic exploitation of how Facebook functions to distort the news, influence Facebook subscribers and even promote the interests of a hostile foreign government.
The second event was an abuse by a subscriber so horrendous it brought national attention to the foundations of how Facebook is used. “Father in Thailand Kills 11-Month-Old Daughter Live on Facebook.”
In the first case, Facebook has issued a report that, according to The Verge, “details a comprehensive plan for dealing with what Facebook calls ‘information operations’ — any sustained attempt by an organized force to distort public discourse.” The Verge analyzes the 13 page report here: “The most important part of Facebook’s disinformation strategy is what it leaves out.”
Facebook After Action Report
Author Russell Brandom has some interesting and depressing things to say about this Facebook report.
In some ways, Facebook faces an impossible task.
But what we’re left with is the real prospect of foreign powers manipulating public discourse, and no clear way to fix it.
As a result, what should be a reassuring document ends up as an admission of defeat.
No matter how one feels about Facebook, it’s slowly becoming clear that the very design of Facebook naturally leads to the exploits and abuses described above. In the case of that horrid video, CEO Mark Zuckerberg may suggest that Facebook will do a better job filtering those kinds of videos, but it’s really just a continuing game of whack-a-mole.
I’ve heard it said that a uniquely American psychology is that we think we can fix any social problem, no matter how difficult. However, some things just can’t be fixed by their very design, complexity, size, and financial ties.
It seems to me there are only two approaches. The first is to remain stuck amongst the Facebook goings on, remain immersed in the wretched hive and slowly become more and more depressed.
The second is to delete your account and go skiing.
Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of April 24th. False narratives about Apple.