9 votes

How Facebook failed to break into hardware: The untold story of Building 8

12 comments

  1. [12]
    JXM
    Link
    To me, much of Facebook's struggle to make successful hardware has little to do with the hardware itself and more to do with the reputation they have. Facebook is known as a company that doesn't...

    Dugan’s departure marked a huge setback for Facebook, which has repeatedly struggled to break into hardware while its big tech rivals Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have found various ways to succeed, whether through popular consumer electronics like the iPhone and Xbox or streaming devices and voice assistants from Amazon and Google.

    And then there was the Facebook stigma. Following the company’s role in enabling the spread of disinformation in the 2016 election, the team knew it faced a massive public trust and privacy problem.

    To me, much of Facebook's struggle to make successful hardware has little to do with the hardware itself and more to do with the reputation they have. Facebook is known as a company that doesn't respect your privacy. The last two or three years have been filled with scandal after scandal about how poor they are at respecting privacy.

    Why would anyone let them into their home via hardware that would undoubtedly slurp up even more data?

    11 votes
    1. [11]
      Empusa
      Link Parent
      I agree that Facebook has that reputation, and rightfully so. I do find it interesting that they're faced with this problem while their competitors aren't, Google and Amazon in particular.

      I agree that Facebook has that reputation, and rightfully so. I do find it interesting that they're faced with this problem while their competitors aren't, Google and Amazon in particular.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Luna
        Link Parent
        I think it's partially how stealthy Facebook has been. Google has been rather obvious about how they gather data - contacts, email, YouTube, Photos, Drive, search...so when you see highly targeted...

        I think it's partially how stealthy Facebook has been. Google has been rather obvious about how they gather data - contacts, email, YouTube, Photos, Drive, search...so when you see highly targeted ads, it's not very shocking, as you have some idea of how much data they collect. Meanwhile, Facebook's tracking pixels and other techniques are not well known outside the tech industry, so when people get ads for stuff they were searching for and never posted about on Facebook, it's rather creepy.

        Google has also been (or at least appears to be) more serious about security. Facebook responded poorly to Cambridge Analytica, while the G+ API leakage resulted in the service being shut down for consumers, which seems like extreme dedication to security for those not aware it was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

        It certainly doesn't help that Facebook is increasingly seen as isolating and disconnected from its original purpose, inviting extra scrutiny with everything they do. Google deserves a lot more criticism in the mainstream press, but people aren't as aware of their dark side since they haven't had any massive PR blunders (yet).

        6 votes
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          I agree. Google is very open about how they operate and has demonstrated that they really care about keeping your personal information out of the hands of third parties (at least when it comes to...

          I agree. Google is very open about how they operate and has demonstrated that they really care about keeping your personal information out of the hands of third parties (at least when it comes to personally-identifiable information).

          Facebook, on the other hand, has demonstrated again and again that they don't give a damn about you, they just want as much money as possible. When they were investigated about how they handled apps not actually letting you know you were making purchases, allowing people to spend thousands of dollars without ever realizing it, it turns out they knew about it the whole time. They actually made plans on how to stop it but never bothered to actually implement it because it would interfere with the revenue stream if they had a window open up to confirm purchases. They actively chose to take the dishonest route.

          Google may deserve criticism, but Facebook is just plain malicious. The people who run it should be banned from running any business ever again.

          5 votes
      2. [8]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        I think Google has, but to a much lesser degree.

        I think Google has, but to a much lesser degree.

        4 votes
        1. [5]
          chembliss
          Link Parent
          And that's not really fair. For now it's relatively easy to avoid Facebook almost entirely, but it's way, way harder to "ungoogle" your online life. Google has much more info about you than...

          And that's not really fair. For now it's relatively easy to avoid Facebook almost entirely, but it's way, way harder to "ungoogle" your online life. Google has much more info about you than Facebook ever will, specially when taking into consideration Android phones.

          I would really like to see Google, Apple and Amazon (at least) getting as bad a reputation as Facebook has.

          6 votes
          1. [4]
            emdash
            Link Parent
            Why is Apple in your list? They're not even remotely as damaging to your privacy as the former or the latter.

            Why is Apple in your list? They're not even remotely as damaging to your privacy as the former or the latter.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              chembliss
              Link Parent
              They are damaging nonetheless, specially as part of the PRISM surveillance program, and given that they control both software, hardware and distribution.

              They are damaging nonetheless, specially as part of the PRISM surveillance program, and given that they control both software, hardware and distribution.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                emdash
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Can't say I agree. Their decision to control hardware & software leads to stronger and more privacy-supportive products, not weaker ones.

                Can't say I agree. Their decision to control hardware & software leads to stronger and more privacy-supportive products, not weaker ones.

                4 votes
                1. chembliss
                  Link Parent
                  Stronger privacy against actors different from them, but not against them. So yeah, you know that nobody but Apple can spy you (in theory). If you trust them, good. But there are no objective...

                  Stronger privacy against actors different from them, but not against them. So yeah, you know that nobody but Apple can spy you (in theory). If you trust them, good. But there are no objective reasons to trust Apple, and the Snowden revelations proved that there are reasons to not do that.

                  One has to be careful not to think that Google or Facebook being absolute privacy hells makes other companies good. You may prefer trusting Apple rather than Google, but you can do that while acknowledging that Apple, as part of PRISM, isn't trustworthy either.

                  4 votes
        2. [2]
          Empusa
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I think part of the problem is it's just much harder to separate yourself from Google.

          Yeah, I think part of the problem is it's just much harder to separate yourself from Google.

          1 vote
          1. JXM
            Link Parent
            True. I wouldn’t have a google account if not for YouTube though.

            True. I wouldn’t have a google account if not for YouTube though.