Facebook will survive unscathed because it’s too important to many people

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First, a primer, courtesy of the Daily Beast: 

Zuckerberg has been publicly silent since the Observer and the New York Times reported on Saturday that Facebook has for years been aware that a third-party app, billing itself as collecting user data for research purposes, exploited sufficiently weak privacy settings on unsuspecting user accounts to accumulate 50 million profiles. The app designer provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, the analytics and messaging firm controlled by Donald Trump allies.

Facebook reportedly asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data in 2015, but did not verify that the deletion occurred. Cambridge Analytica subsequently received approximately $6 million from the Trump campaign to aid in its messaging and voter targeting. (The company had additional contracts worth millions of dollars with pro-Trump political action committees.)

We must keep in mind that this is playing out in the bigger context of the Russian interference scandal. This is why the scandal rocked the US as a whole. So because of shady practices (allowing a dev to exploit their data) Facebook is in a very delicate position. There will be exits, there will be “big plans to fight for privacy” but Facebook will survive. 

Why?

Even though WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton (who sold his company to Facebook for around $19B in 2014) tweeted it’s time to #deletefacebook, what he doesn’t realise is that for many people around the world, Facebook is the Internet (Indonesia is the 4th biggest Facebook population (and the world’s 4th too)). Brian Acton also now works at Signal, a Facebook competitor.

So while a few privacy-conscious people from SF and NY will leave the service, utility-hungry people around the world are joining by millions. 

If you don’t pay for the product, you are the the product. As long as we don’t have a viable alternative, most of us are sticking with Facebook. Independently from the scandals and crises. 

[Source: The Daily Beast]

The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change

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Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market, which in turn allows it to remain competitive and stay ahead of its rivals.

[Source: The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik]

Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read

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Foster Kramer wrote a hell of a piece explaining why we ought not to trust Facebook with the stories we see appearing on the newsfeed. Here are two tidbits but please read the whole thing:

And as smart as you think the people who run Facebook are, trust us when we tell you that they are far, far, far smarter than you could imagine (and if not the people, then definitelythose algorithms). 

They understand human psychology to a stunning degree, which is how they’ve been able to capitalize on it for the last few years. It’s why Facebook is filled, mostly, with the things you agree with, or are seemingly helpless against clicking on. But because you’re a human being, something about it probably rubs you the wrong way. As it should! You’re a human, and not a hamster doing a stupid pet trick, which is what Facebook has turned both readers and publishers into. Credit where it’s due: They’re that good. And yeah, fake news is a problem—but before we learned about it being a problem, where Facebook was concerned, it was a feature.

And

So! Facebook created the newsfeed, and then turned to publishers/media outlets, and said: Guess what? Everyone’s on Facebook. You want a piece of the action? You’re gonna play ball with us. You’ll put share buttons on all of your stories. You’ll participate in our Facebook Instant Articles program. You’ll advertise with us! When we tell you that we’re going to start promoting video over articles, you’re going to start making video. And then when we tell you what kind of video, you’ll make that video too! And if you don’t want to play ball, fine. Your competition will.

[Source: The 2018 internet resolution everyone should have: Bring back your browser bar]

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

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In case you wondered how Facebook knows who to recommend on their People You May Know feature: 

Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.

Source: How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met