The corruption and surveillance culture of Facebook is baked in deep and can never be removed; if you doubt it, just peruse a sampling of their patent filings, which are like Black Mirror fanfic written by lawyers.
Tim Wu (previously) points out that sites on the scale of Facebook -- like Wikipedia -- deliver value to titanic, global audiences at a fraction of the cost of Facebook's operating budget. When you take out the spying, the sleaze, the giant paydays for execs and investors, it's a tractable proposition to run Facebook without Facebook, Inc.
Another “alt-Facebook” could be a nonprofit that uses that status to signal its dedication to better practices, much as nonprofit hospitals and universities do. Wikipedia is a nonprofit, and it manages nearly as much traffic as Facebook, on a much smaller budget. An “alt-Facebook” could be started by Wikimedia, or by former Facebook employees, many of whom have congregated at the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit for those looking to change Silicon Valley’s culture. It could even be funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was created in reaction to the failures of commercial television and whose mission includes ensuring access to “telecommunications services that are commercial free and free of charge.”
When a company fails, as Facebook has, it is natural for the government to demand that it fix itself or face regulation. But competition can also create pressure to do better. If today’s privacy scandals lead us merely to install Facebook as a regulated monopolist, insulated from competition, we will have failed completely. The world does not need an established church of social media.
Opinion | Don’t Fix Facebook. Replace It. [Tim Wu/New York Times]
Every year, veteran sex-advice columnist mounts (ahem) HUMP, an amateur, pornographic short film festival, which tours around Canada and the USA for a dazzling evening of smut, humor, tenderness, weirdness and delight. HUMP is now in its 15th year, and none of the videos from the festival have ever leaked online, which is a testament […]
Social Science One is an academic consortium that was created to conduct "independent scientific research into potentially consequential phenomena such as online disinformation, polarization, and echo chambers" after the Big Tech platforms made changes to their policies that made this kind of research effectively impossible without cooperation from the platforms themselves.
The NSO Group (previously) is an Israeli spyware company that sells tools to autocratic states that are used to spy on democratic opposition movements, journalists, and so on (the company's tools were used by the Saudi government to spy on Jamal Khashoggi in the runup to his kidnap and grisly murder).
Most parents know that giving their kids educational toys and other projects will expand their minds. But what many might not realize is that physical play is actually building their mental abilities as well. Studies are still in beginning stages, but some early research supports the theory that kids who get the chance to get […]
Not every house has a fireplace. And to be honest, not every homeowner wants to deal with the hassles and maintenance of a fireplace. But it’s tough to argue that the intoxicating glow and dance of a licking flame isn’t mesmerizing, not to mention all of a fire’s practical uses. For those looking to enjoy […]
Knowledge is power. And a company that knows who its customers are is far more likely to see those customers return. On the web, information gathering often comes in the shape of an online form. Whether it’s a registration, a contest, an order, or just a simple contact, those opportunities to engage with users and […]