13 votes

Facebook is nearing a reputational point of no return

28 comments

  1. [3]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    Something about this piece rubbed me the wrong way. I was struck by the cognitive dissonance of these last two lines. How can someone who is really all-powerful also be a liability? Was his...

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s all-powerful founder, made a reasoned statement after this week’s wave of anger. He was ignored or ridiculed and increasingly looks like a liability.

    Something about this piece rubbed me the wrong way. I was struck by the cognitive dissonance of these last two lines. How can someone who is really all-powerful also be a liability? Was his statement actually "reasoned"? This article didn't even discuss that statement other than here mentioning it was ignored or ridiculed—if you have a beef with those who ignored it, why not take the opportunity to address it yourself rather than join in ignoring it?

    13 votes
    1. [2]
      pallas
      Link Parent
      While I think the tone of the article tends toward being overly supportive of Facebook's views in order to make an argument, the reason why the article didn't address that statement is because its...

      While I think the tone of the article tends toward being overly supportive of Facebook's views in order to make an argument, the reason why the article didn't address that statement is because its argument, I think, is that none of it matters. Maybe Facebook's statements on these matters are entirely reasonable and in the right, and maybe all the criticism is wrong, but whether that or the complete opposite is true, it doesn't matter: Facebook's reputation now is so bad that no one will trust it and everyone will oppose it simply because of that reputation and history.

      Zuckerberg being described as all-powerful is a reference to his power to control the company: he has special shares and voting rights that mean he individually has essentially complete control over the company, even if all other shareholders opposed him. The point about his statement being reasoned is that his reputation, and Facebook's, makes him making a reasonable statement pointless, because his credibility and reputation is so destroyed that no one is willing to give any consideration to his statements any longer. He is both all-powerful and a liability because, even though he has complete power to remake the company, and to address the many serious criticisms, no one would trust any of his efforts, even if they were completely genuine. The author suggests that the best thing Zuckerberg could do for Facebook now would be to leave, because only something that drastic---the departure of someone who practically is Facebook---would have any chance of changing the company's reputation.

      The comparison to Philip Morris is reasonable. If Philip Morris released extensive, rigourous clinical trial results strongly showing that they had a perfect cure for lung cancer, it would take an enormous, perhaps impossible, amount of effort to make anyone actually trust it. Everyone would sooner believe that all the data was fabricated, that all the patients and doctors were paid off, that all the regulatory agencies were in on some conspiracy, and given history and reputation, they'd be justified believing that.

      17 votes
      1. onyxleopard
        Link Parent
        I guess this is a “boy who cried sheep” argument? I.e., the expectation is that Zuckerberg and Facebook have been so unabashedly terrible for so long that everyone’s given up on expecting anything...

        I guess this is a “boy who cried sheep” argument? I.e., the expectation is that Zuckerberg and Facebook have been so unabashedly terrible for so long that everyone’s given up on expecting anything good from them, even if that isn’t an impossibility. I feel like the article was not as clear about that as you were. If that was the intent, I think you put it much more clearly and in fewer words.

        7 votes
  2. [7]
    skybrian
    Link
    It seems like the “reputational point of no return” is when many people are willing to spread misinformation about a company and nobody cares. Not that people want to spread lies. They really...

    It seems like the “reputational point of no return” is when many people are willing to spread misinformation about a company and nobody cares. Not that people want to spread lies. They really believe it. But they believe every bad story, and no facts are checked. You can make whatever confident claim you like and “everyone knows this” is sufficient justification.

    There are places (like Tildes) that claim to be against spreading misinformation, but there are some subjects where we fall for this too.

    I try not to fall for misinformation even if it’s about something I dislike, but many people don’t get it. It means I end up “defending” things I don’t really care to defend and it’s no fun. (Rather than a full defense I’m usually arguing that we are outsiders who don’t know enough to make such confident claims.)

    Later I’ll remember that nobody is paying me to be misinformation cop. You just gotta let this stuff go.

    10 votes
    1. nothis
      Link Parent
      IMO that dilemma is easily solved by controlling for size. If you can reach a billion people you have to have stricter rules than if you reach 10,000. I'd exclude sites with, say, less than 1...

      IMO that dilemma is easily solved by controlling for size. If you can reach a billion people you have to have stricter rules than if you reach 10,000. I'd exclude sites with, say, less than 1 million users from much if not all possible regulation. If it's an extremely hateful site, posting links to it on a platform with billions of users might not be ok, though.

      3 votes
    2. [5]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      Is there an example of misinformation on here that you could point me to? I'd like to read the post and/or comment to get a feel for what to look out for.

      Is there an example of misinformation on here that you could point me to? I'd like to read the post and/or comment to get a feel for what to look out for.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Well, calling it misinformation implies I know it’s false. Often it’s not worth figuring out if it’s true or false. Nobody investigated, including me. To pick an uncontroversial hypothetical...
        • Exemplary

        Well, calling it misinformation implies I know it’s false. Often it’s not worth figuring out if it’s true or false. Nobody investigated, including me.

        To pick an uncontroversial hypothetical example, let’s say someone decides to say nasty things about Phillip Morris, and when you ask how they know that, they say, “Everyone knows they’re evil. Do a Google search.”

        And, it’s not as if I like smoking. I’d be happy if they went out of business. I vaguely remember reading in-depth articles in reputable magazines about things the tobacco industry did. But I don’t remember which articles I read or which tobacco company did what. To check claims I’d have to do research.

        And I have little interest in becoming well-informed about the history of the tobacco industry and checking up on claims. I’m not actually all that curious. But still, if you’re not checking your work, you’re potentially spreading misinformation.

        I would feel bad if I said Phillip Morris did something evil and actually, it was some other company, or it didn’t really happen that way. I hate goofing up like that. I suspect I’m in the minority on that, though? Accuracy about villains doesn’t seem valued.

        So I suspect the people making confident claims are in the same boat as me (the details are fuzzy) but they don’t care. And seeing people fervently declare their beliefs about their favorite enemies gets old.

        In the end it’s a style thing. If you’re not going to check (and mostly we aren’t), confident claims are high-risk, because they are easy to get wrong. It’s better to hedge and be quick to admit you never learned or don’t remember the details. But this is an uncommon writing style and I think the whole idea that “confident claims are high-risk” is weird to many people.

        I’d say low-information subjects include most of the controversial ones. I’ll think about coming up with a clear-cut example that doesn’t draw us into a controversy.

        7 votes
        1. [3]
          suspended
          Link Parent
          I appreciate that and I understand where you are coming from. Thank you.

          I’ll think about coming up with a clear-cut example that doesn’t draw us into a controversy.

          I appreciate that and I understand where you are coming from. Thank you.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Actually, on second thought, I don’t think Tildes actually is a big source of misinformation. The patterns I described happened in other forums for the most part. But a good example to look at...

            Actually, on second thought, I don’t think Tildes actually is a big source of misinformation. The patterns I described happened in other forums for the most part. But a good example to look at might be the recent discussion of housing and landlords.

            There is good discussion and I think it went okay, though I’m afraid I offended MimicSquad. But some posts were highly ideological, or simply declarations of hatred.

            Think about how this would have gone if nobody with experience being a landlord had participated? It would be everyone dunking on landlords and no insight.

            There are other professions where there is nobody on Tildes to tell us we’re being simplistic. A discussion of teaching might go very badly if there were no teachers here.

            4 votes
  3. [16]
    moocow1452
    Link
    The article mentions that people still buy the stock, so what use is Facebook's reputation if everyone is using Facebook already? It feels like they're aiming for a Nestle or a Comcast position...

    The article mentions that people still buy the stock, so what use is Facebook's reputation if everyone is using Facebook already? It feels like they're aiming for a Nestle or a Comcast position where they are such a staple in modern society that they can do whatever the hell they want, and I think they mostly have succeeded. Maybe the best we can hope for is that the feds ban FB from making anymore acquisitions and someone makes a better one, but there's a reason FAANG starts with F.

    5 votes
    1. [12]
      onyxleopard
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'd be careful about reading too much into the order of that initialism. I'd guess that Jim Cramer (the guy who coined the initialism) just liked that it was pronounceable like the English word...

      but there's a reason FAANG starts with F.

      I'd be careful about reading too much into the order of that initialism. I'd guess that Jim Cramer (the guy who coined the initialism) just liked that it was pronounceable like the English word "fang" (and originally spelled the same) more than it has to do with some sort of scalar rating of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.

      Why no M for Microsoft (probably because FANGAM is less aesthetically appealing)? What about Twitter, Adobe, PayPal, etc.? Why doesn't the Silicon Valley metonym suffice?

      11 votes
      1. [8]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        The exclusion of Oracle on all the various articles on big tech behaving badly is a constant source of surprise for me. They just seem to float under the radar even though I'd put them right below...

        The exclusion of Oracle on all the various articles on big tech behaving badly is a constant source of surprise for me. They just seem to float under the radar even though I'd put them right below Facebook on the "scope for villainy" scale.

        8 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          I think it's because they don't directly sell their products to consumers. Their customers are other companies, so knowing that "big company X got screwed over by Oracle" doesn't get as many...

          I think it's because they don't directly sell their products to consumers. Their customers are other companies, so knowing that "big company X got screwed over by Oracle" doesn't get as many clicks as "Jane and Joe Schmoe got screwed over by Facebook when all they wanted to do was look at pictures of their grandkids".

          10 votes
        2. [5]
          vord
          Link Parent
          Oracle is the most evil tech corporation, my top 3 are Oracle, Microsoft, and Amazon. Facebook is bad, but they can't throw their weight around in quite the same way as those three. They were able...

          Oracle is the most evil tech corporation, my top 3 are Oracle, Microsoft, and Amazon. Facebook is bad, but they can't throw their weight around in quite the same way as those three.

          They were able to throw their weight around and bully literally everyone because their database product was the undisputed best for decades. Same kind of way Microsoft was able to permanently lock themselves in as a desktop OS. Specifically their ability to horizontally scale with RAC. And Oracle just edges out Microsoft simply because Oracle is legally predatory in a way that even Microsoft is not (though do not pirate Office as a business).

          Others have caught up on major features and performance now, which is starting the mass emmigration from Oracle. Many large companies are marking their Oracle systems legacy simply because of the massive costs.

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            I mean Oracle is bad for technology and the economy, but Facebook is bad for democracy and society. It has literally enabled at least one genocide (that we know of), as well as a number of...

            I mean Oracle is bad for technology and the economy, but Facebook is bad for democracy and society. It has literally enabled at least one genocide (that we know of), as well as a number of lynchings, people getting scammed by multi-level marketing schemes, and a resurgence of easily preventable illnesses that we were on the verge of eradicating.

            12 votes
            1. [3]
              vord
              Link Parent
              You could say that of virtually every platform out there, even (especially?) pre-internet ones. I'd just say that Facebook exposes that visibility more. They should be considered more culpable due...

              You could say that of virtually every platform out there, even (especially?) pre-internet ones. I'd just say that Facebook exposes that visibility more. They should be considered more culpable due to their algorithmic sorting instead of just chronological though.

              people getting scammed by multi-level marketing schemes

              A tale as old as time. Heck, I almost fell for one myself pre-facebook. Some nonsense energy drink.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                That's kind of a big deal don't you think? Facebook isn't a neutral medium. It makes editorial decisions about what people see, even if those decisions happen via algorithm, and those decisions...

                They should be considered more culpable due to their algorithmic sorting instead of just chronological though.

                That's kind of a big deal don't you think? Facebook isn't a neutral medium. It makes editorial decisions about what people see, even if those decisions happen via algorithm, and those decisions drive these behaviors. And they know those decisions drive these behaviors. And they continue doubling down on them.

                8 votes
                1. Akir
                  Link Parent
                  What’s worse is that they know how bad their systems are and how they take advantage of people but fail to act on them because it would affect their profits. You can see this more dramatically...

                  What’s worse is that they know how bad their systems are and how they take advantage of people but fail to act on them because it would affect their profits.

                  You can see this more dramatically with their social gaming payment policies in the past, where children could unknowingly rack up huge bills on games published on their site because there wasn’t even a notice to adknowledge that a payment was being made. They knew it was a problem, and there were even people in the company who were trying to fix it, but the management stopped them from making those changes. It was only mass media coverage of the problem that got them to change their policies.

                  5 votes
        3. Eric_the_Cerise
          Link Parent
          Completely unwarranted side-rant ... every time I see that guy's name, it still aggravates me that, more than a decade after Jon Stewart publicly eviscerated him, he is still a public figure and...

          ... I'd guess that Jim Cramer

          Completely unwarranted side-rant ... every time I see that guy's name, it still aggravates me that, more than a decade after Jon Stewart publicly eviscerated him, he is still a public figure and not flipping burgers or in jail.

          But then, I'm also still waiting for Bush Jr's war crimes trial.

          /rant

          6 votes
      2. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        I would dare say it’s an acronym. Never heard it said any way but “fang”.

        I would dare say it’s an acronym. Never heard it said any way but “fang”.

        3 votes
        1. onyxleopard
          Link Parent
          It would be a backronym, if only the second A wasn’t added later. I guess it is some sort of back-and-forth-nym?

          It would be a backronym, if only the second A wasn’t added later. I guess it is some sort of back-and-forth-nym?

      3. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        The main reason Microsoft isn’t on there was that their stock performance was mediocre at the time Cramer coined the term. This was before their pivot to Azure and cloud services really kicked...

        The main reason Microsoft isn’t on there was that their stock performance was mediocre at the time Cramer coined the term. This was before their pivot to Azure and cloud services really kicked their stock back into high gear in terms of growth. Microsoft was a massive company at the time still, but growth was stagnant with their failure to anticipate or capture the mobile market.

        2 votes
    2. post_below
      Link Parent
      The article used a great example, essentially: who would want metaverse created by Facebook. Their reputation, especially with younger people, can make or break their future ventures. They can...

      The article used a great example, essentially: who would want metaverse created by Facebook.

      Their reputation, especially with younger people, can make or break their future ventures.

      They can keep their boomers without trying very hard, it seems, but future generations could end up ignoring them entirely.

      It's nice to imagine anyway. Maybe their reputation will even get bad enough to drag Instagram down too.

      4 votes
    3. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I think there is a risk that it becomes another LinkedIn, a site that many people have accounts on but rarely use. There are many messaging apps people could use, after all.

      I think there is a risk that it becomes another LinkedIn, a site that many people have accounts on but rarely use.

      There are many messaging apps people could use, after all.

      3 votes
      1. suspended
        Link Parent
        Last year, I believe, Zuck admitted that a trend would continue of many FB users leaving for other small communities/apps.

        Last year, I believe, Zuck admitted that a trend would continue of many FB users leaving for other small communities/apps.

        2 votes
  4. [2]
    nothis
    Link
    I've been saying this for years! This is why I never got their Oculus acquisition. It's obviously a plan to create the next social network with virtual reality integration. Who wants this from...

    Who wants a metaverse created by Facebook? Perhaps as many people as would like their health care provided by Philip Morris.

    I've been saying this for years! This is why I never got their Oculus acquisition. It's obviously a plan to create the next social network with virtual reality integration. Who wants this from facebook?

    2 votes
    1. an_angry_tiger
      Link Parent
      Supposedly at least any significant amount of their 3 billion users, is what they're presuming. Even 1% of that is more than the population of Canada.

      Supposedly at least any significant amount of their 3 billion users, is what they're presuming.

      Even 1% of that is more than the population of Canada.

      1 vote