Saturday, March 24, 2018

over at Vox Matthew Yglesias makes a case that Facebook itself is the problem, not just the Cambridge Analytica side of it

If you step back and think of Facebook as being useful for basically two things, advertising/propaganda on the one hand, and establishing and maintaining an online network of contacts who may or may not be personally connected to you in the "offline" world, the thing has some uses.

But it would seem that Facebook is a platform that is run by people who are not able to admit that they're whole business model depends on relentless data mining to keep it running on the one hand, and on the other hand that the very nature of social media is to allow for the creation and distribution of what Jacques Ellul called sociological propaganda and horizontal propaganda. 

Facebook and Twitter are propaganda tools.  It's hardly a surprise if people on the left or in progressive movements find them useful but the kicker is that these are social media platforms that are not looking to be all that regulated.  Cambridge Analytica is not shaping up to be a bug or even a feature, it could be an opportunity for people to observe that mercenary data mining is the whole point of the social media enterprise in a platform like Facebook. 

If you understand that it's a propaganda platform then you can use it knowing what it's there for.  If you don't know that it's a propaganda platform then you'll probably feel bad that the curated lives mediated by social media of people who may or may not know look better than yours.  They aren't better than yours. 

Since Facebook is in the news for fairly obvious reasons I'll try to get to some of that with a links for the weekend post but this particular "case against Facebook" might misconstrue the business model.  The business model is the data mining side of things.  The "fake news" part isn't necessarily the only thing that can be done with the results of data mining. I'd write more a long the lines of what I wrote in "Mars Hill and the idol of social media" but I don't feel like doing that now.

1 comment:

Eric Love said...

As I understood it, the rules were broken not when Facebook shared users' data, not when the app developer collected it, but when they later sold it onto CA. The rule broken may have been hidden in a long set of rules that few people read.

Should companies be allowed to give such extensive lists of conditions that no one can read them all? Should all the important rules be in 500 words, and breaches of anything beyond that be let off without penalty?