Friday, January 12, 2018

"Mark Zuckerberg’s radical decision to reinvent the News Feed is a plea for mercy." (FB)

Not enough.
The platform/fāke news/gatekeeper stuff is just a distraction from the real risk to the online behemoths, the risk their dopamine manipulation antics will be regulated along the lines of other neurotransmitter manipulators such as alcohol or gambling.

What we heard last night is more akin to the magician's misdirection move—Hey, look over here—than it is to any substantive change.

From The Atlantic:
Facebook Finally Blinks

Mark Zuckerberg moved fast and broke shit, lots of shit.

He broke journalism, by radically deflating the value of the digital advertising on which the livelihood of media now depends; he broke the reading habits of his users, the lab rats in his grand experiment, by constantly manipulating them and feeding them an endless stream of dreck to jack up their “engagement” with his site; and in a way, he broke American democracy, by sitting on his hands as a foreign adversary exploited his platform and by creating the world’s most efficient vehicle for spreading political lies and agitprop. Now, with the announcement that he’s largely stripping the News Feed of news, he’s breaking his own site, too.

This radical overhaul of Facebook is a concession of defeat. At some point in Facebook’s rise—its march past the 2-billion-user mark—the realization dawned: Facebook is now the most powerful publisher in the business, the mother of all media gatekeepers. Initially, that realization dawned on everybody except apparently Facebook itself, perhaps a willed state of ignorance. The company described its product as a mere “tool,” and protested that it played no role in organizing the news that it broadcasts, as if it weren’t imposing its values on the News Feed, as if is weren’t providing a sense of hierarchy to the mass of posts it splays. That description, which trumpeted Facebook’s passivity and neutrality, could never really sustain close scrutiny. And after the election of Donald Trump, Facebook has received no end of that.

But Mark Zuckerberg has always touted his own agility, his ability to overhaul his site when epiphany strikes. In the aftermath of election, in the face of so much biting criticism, Facebook began to describe itself quite differently. The company finally acted as if it might assume the responsibilities implied by its power—it feinted as if it would soon train its algorithms to make strong editorial judgments about the news, about the credibility of the stories it broadcast. It would begin sorting the fake stuff from the objective reality.

In a way, this was a satisfying change in policy. Fake news is a genuine scourge, so it made sense for Facebook to substantively address it. But there was an obvious danger in Facebook imitating a traditional media company. By design, Facebook published the opinions of its users. And it’s uncomfortable to make objective judgments about opinion. No Facebook user wants to believe that they are sharing fake news. And presumably Facebook has no interest in telling its loyal users that their political preferences are founded in lies and garbage assumptions.....MORE
Related: Monday's ""Facebook Can’t Be Fixed" (FB)", last month's "Engineer a Little Addiction Into Your Product - Redux" or the just posted "Cory Doctorow: Persuasion, Adaptation, and the Arms Race for Your Attention ".

Facebook's Statement on Social Media and Mental Health (FB)
"Hey, we've toned down the 'destroying society' shtick, Facebook insists" (FB)
"The Right to Attention in an Age of Distraction"
Climateer Line of the Day: Neurotransmitters and Facebook Edition
 "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works.  No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem."
—Former Facebook Vice President for Addicting Users, Chamath Palihapitiya
And many more, use the 'Search blog' box if interested.