I think Facebook has lost its mind (not that it really had one). Within 24 hours of that attempted coup I started getting advertisements related to guns. And today, when posting a quote from a certain Italian fascist during WWII about a certain Germain fascist leader from WWII I was banned for 24 hours despite having only posted the quote.
What the hell?
This happened for one of two reasons:
1. Someone on my friends list (the only people that can see my posts) reported the post.
2. The Facebook algorithms are looking for mentions of certain historical figures.
I honestly don’t think anyone on my friends list would be dumb enough to think me posting a quote from Moussilini (sp?) is something supportive of white power movements in America. One simply would be able to determine that by looking over a day of my posts: cats, guinea pigs, a few COVID memes to lighten the mood, and a fair amount of social and political commentary. I share a lot of news posts from the BBC, NPR, and the like, in hopes of educating people. And sometimes when I’m feeling passionate (and yes, angry–but who can blame anyone these days) I voice some pretty strong opinions.
But those opinions have never been pro Republican or pro alt-left or pro white power.
I use Facebook regularly. It keeps me up to date as to what’s happening in the world, the country, and my community. I try to do so skeptically and intelligently.
But I’ve never been a huge fan of Facebook’s lack off accountability and that, in my humble opinion, is why I got blocked for a day. They’ve been slow to do anything meaningful about hate speach but after the events of last Wednesday they’re freaking out. Mark Z., who I’ve never had a lot of respect for (he seems like a priveleged college kid who can solve technical problems but doesn’t have a big picture view of reality combined with a sense of moral duty), and what I see happening is an extension of what I view as his poor leadership.
Take for example in the spring of 2020. They recognized that people were spreading an enormous amount of fake news about COVID on their platform. Solution? Anytime I shared a valid news article that had the word COVID in it I’d get a warning essentially saying, “What you’re posting has the word COVID in it do you want to post?”
Really? I’m so stupid I didn’t notice “COVID” was in the post?
Mark? Do you really think that’s going to stop any bullshit right wing type from sharing fake news about COVID
Their algorithms are notoriously crap. Yes, they’re good at addicting people but it’s not Artificial Intelligence folks, and anyone that tells you that isn’t a software engineer (as myself). When I’ve listened to more technical talks about their algorithms they’re pretty simple. To put them in laymans terms they work something like this:
1. Feed child candy and junk food and soda pop every day for three months.
2. Block child for 24 hours.
3. Shrug when the kids throws a tantrum or ends up in the Emergency Room.
If they truly wanted to make some positive changes I have two suggestions.
First, when someone’s made a complaint or their algorithms have blocked them, a full and complete reason should be explained (pointing to the “community standards”–which say nothing about posting quotes from historical figures–is not that). Then, instead of having a few options to protest, use what in computer science is called an expert system. Expert systems are pretty dumb forms of AI but make use of tons of data. The system would ask users multiple questions until it can either make a determination about the post or route it to the right human for review. All I could do was say, “Facebook misunderstood my post.”
That doesn’t help their platform get better or smarter, does it?
The second is stop with the bullshit algorithms intended to manipulate us. Here are some ways to do that:
Give users more flexibility in how they see things. For example, I want to see ALL posts from friends and family first, followed by news, followed by science, then it’s all kittens from there. Also, I want to see posts in the order they were posted. Finally, I want to see ALL posts, not have them filtered based on emoticons and comments (this is how FB has become addictive–it uses large data sets to decide what people want to see, not anything remotely suggestive of a real AI system). Give me options to do that. And yes, I understand that the platform is free for me to use so continue throwing in advertisements like you already do, but when I hide and add for mattresses don’t show me ads for mattresses from five other companies.
I have a lot of other ideas and they are, frankly, quite simple. The problem is, they weigh in on the side of the user, not the company. Manipulate people and play on their emotions is how Facebook became as rich and powerful as it has become. They have a duty to humanity, in my view, to figure out how to have a successful business while putting aside practices that are, psychologically and neurologically speaking, not much different than a drug dealer stringing out their users, keeping that flow going.