Building World Domination
To our community,
On our journey to rule the world, we often discuss products we're building and the promises we shall later renege on. Today I want to focus on the most important question of all: do we yet own your DNA? Check your terms of service. My lawyers tell me we do.
But before I get to a nagging issue that has caused some consternation, let me remind you of some of social media's overflowing benefits.
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Although Facebook has achieved near Zen perfection, and is slowly learning more about your personal life and behavior than the NSA knows about Paul Manafort, we recognize that in one or two areas we still have more work to do.
While we are part of a duopoly that controls literally 100% of every new advertising dollar spent in the world, there are still some street urchins out there -- Tronc, Walt Disney Co., CBS, Globo, Comcast etc. -- feeding on our crumbs. Hilariously, many starving publishers are ceding to us distribution of their content to our platform. Mua ha ha ha! We toss them a few coins, obviously, to keep them from squeegeeing our windshield, but fear not. We give them none of the audience data they need. Eventually we'll treat them to dinner at Comet Pizza and they will simply disappear.
Perhaps you noticed that I used the word “publisher” to describe the inhabitants of the apocalyptic hellscape of the media economy, and us as “platform.” That is because we are not a publisher, unless you somehow think that selling ads against news and lifestyle content and making it available to audiences is the definition of “publisher.” No, we are a community. Content owners are free to come and go as you please. If they don't like our terms, why don't they run over to Friendster and see what they've got going?
And now, the main reason that I and 32 p.r. executives write today: a word about “fake news.” Accuracy of information is very important. We know there is misinformation and even outright hoax content on Facebook, and we take this very seriously. But we are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes and opinion. For instance, while some people say there was “no such thing” as the Bowling Green Massacre or 3 million illegal votes in November or papal endorsements for president, other people are delusional or “lying sacks of shit.” And they are all our users, so don't hold your breath for a thumb-up-your-ass button, OK?
In a free society, it's important that people have the power to share their opinion, including slander, fraud and political dirty tricks, because we sell ads against all of it, so…
Polarization exists in all areas of discourse, not just social media. It occurs in all groups and communities, including companies, classrooms and juries. In the tech community, for example, discussion around AI has been oversimplified to existential fearmongering. In the Gilligan's Island community, some people like Ginger, others Mary Ann. In the Jewish community some places of worship are defaced with swastikas while others, quite the opposite, are defaced with “Heil Hitler.” Diverse opinions are the lifeblood of our democracy.
That said, Facebook is taking important, concrete measures to encourage civil discourse:
Flagging content originating from North Korea.
Scanning headlines for certain key phrases, such as “This Is a Complete Fabrication Targeted at Morons.”
Asking our communities to join hands and find common ground, because, after all, we all share the same planet, and the same two Gods.