Thursday, October 07, 2021


Some nasty shit about Facebook came out this week. 

Facebook was already mired in it, really, but this just confirms what many of us already believed. Here's the money quote (Facebook “is tearing our societies apart,” whistleblower says in interview):
...a significant change the company made in 2018 to the News Feed algorithm, which prioritizes the content that is shown to users. Those changes, she said, pushed divisive content to users because that’s what drove engagement and profits. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she told CBS.

You'd think that after a serious accusation like that, Facebook would respond with imaginary concern. Nope. They did this, instead: 
Facebook’s vice president of policy and global affairs, Nick Clegg, sent a lengthy memo to employees in advance of Haugen’s interview, claiming that social media in general and Facebook in particular are not responsible for rising political polarization in the US and elsewhere. “The idea that Facebook is the chief cause of polarization isn’t supported by the facts,” Clegg wrote.

I read that quote, and I had a realization: Facebook is this era's Philip Morris. 

You remember Philip Morris. No matter how many scientific studies came out linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, Philip Morris put out a blanket denial, never conceding the most insignificant point (yes, insert your political joke here). They had an army of scientists running dubious "studies" to muddy the water. 

And they did it because they were making billions of dollars, and in this country, making billions of dollars is its own morality. 

Facebook is the same. No matter how many studies come out (they're not hard to find) indicating that Facebook has significantly increased polarization, they'll just say the studies were poorly designed and aren't conclusive. Buying time to pump that money machine a while longer.

Self-reflection? Morality? That's for suckers. 

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