Why FB really loves the first amendment

If it wants to stay this big and unregulated, Facebook cannot afford to upset the rulers of countries where it operates, no matter how abhorrent their actions. We saw that in Myanmar, where military personnel used Facebook to help incite the Rohingya massacres. Now we see it in the US, where Facebook refuses to run afoul of a president who just called in troops to tear gas citizens.

—From The Financial Times, in ‘Facebook and the creation of a US oligarch

The copy them all strategy

Teams is particularly effective as a way to prevent a Microsoft customer from even trying Slack. And, in that case, it doesn’t matter how much “love” Slack put into its product: said love was not simply unrequited, but unexperienced.

The Slack Social Network by Ben Thompson

Tech company (ir)responsibility

There are arguably lots of things that a technology startup or any company that collects data on its product and users “knows or should know,” where “should know” seems to mean “should know by virtue of having the data.”

Bird knows or should know where scooters are left;
Airbnb knows or should know when properties are rented illegally;
Amazon knows or should know when banned products are sold on its site;
Facebook knows or should know when fake news is distributed.

The Bird complaint is, in that sense, a microcosm of the debate over what responsibilities technology companies have as custodians of our data.


Continue reading Tech company (ir)responsibility

The power balance – India v Facebook

Even officials in India, a major power, struggled to get the company to listen. Indian pressure on Facebook, however, has dropped since the arrival of new government leaders who rose, in part, on a Hindu nationalist wave still prevalent on social media.

NYT: With Alex Jones, Facebook’s Worst Demons Abroad Begin to Come Home

Brad Feld (and me) on Twitter & Facebook

I never really got Facebook, so I was a Twitter guy, but since mid-2016 engaging with Twitter has simply made me anxious, upset, jangly, and distracted.

—Brad Feld in Relentlessly Turning Input Knobs To 0

I couldn’t have put my feelings about FB & TW more concisely.

Tobi Lutke on succeeding in an Amazon world

Amazon will never win all of online shopping, “even in Bezos’s wildest dreams,” Lutke said. The Seattle-based web retailer will exist for everything people need on a regular basis, like food, toilet paper and batteries, but for the stuff they desire rather than need, most people still want to shop, whether it’s in physical or online boutiques.

This is an interesting view of Amazon’s positioning in online retail, and the gap that it leaves for independents (and Shopify).

As for Facebook and Google, Shopify could be an e-commerce appendage that helps these companies keep a foothold in the space even as Amazon rolls on. Shopify has been building the operating system for independent merchants to sell online for years, and even if Instagram were to get over its hesitance to turn itself into an online mall, Shopify would still theoretically be powering all the boring, difficult stuff that comes with selling, like order tracking and logistics, Lutke said.

This is quite ambitious, and a bit too hopeful. Lutke has correctly identified the opportunity for Facebook and Google. However, his belief in F/G turning to Shopify, instead of enabling the independent merchants directly seems tenuous.

There may be an opportunity with Facebook, but Google has quietly been pursuing shopping, money, and commerce related products for a long time. Google does lack capabilities in order tracking and logistics, that it could offer merchants. But these aren’t capabilities that Google, or the merchants, couldn’t buy from other third parties. Logistics-as-a-service isn’t a category lacking in providers.

Irrespective of my qualms, I really like the thinking that Lutke has presented here. His view of the opportunity space, him using Amazon’s dominance into a selling point for Shopify both display the clarity of his mental model. I love that in a (not-anymore) startup CEO, all the more in one from a core developer background.

Facebook? Non!

Facebook is inherently conflicted. It promises advertisers it will deliver interested and engaged users—and often what is interesting and engaging is salacious, aggressive, or simply false.

Rodrigo Duterte Turned Facebook Into a Weapon, With a Little Help From Facebook, December 10, 2017 at 05:32PM

Attention monopolies

The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?

Sean Parker, ex President at Facebook

Facebook, the almost-monopolist in the attention economy.

Continue reading Attention monopolies

Inevitability of the trolls

Mat Honan wrote on Tuesday about Facebook, Inc.’s new augmented reality tools:

“Yes, someone can create a virtual painting, meant to beautify the city, or leave a virtual note to a loved one that reaches them at just the right moment, in just the right place. But someone else will probably leave a swastika. Because if there is anything to be learned about the modern internet, it is that if you build it, the Nazis will come.”

Juice Machines and Red Flags, April 22, 2017, at 08:23 AM

Linearity vs serendipity vs filter-bubble

You think you want a linear newsfeed, but actually, the data shows that you’re wrong. Facebook is the first company to measure false consciousness.

Surfing, metrics and creation: Facebook and Snap, March 7, 2017 at 04:04 AM