Oh well, let's talk about an old Facebook history.
There was once called a horrible company Six4Three. It made an app called Pikini & # 39; s who found photos of your Facebook friends in their swimsuits and organized them all in one place. It was, in fact, the living embodiment of contemporary fears about abuse of the Facebook developer platform, and few mourned when Facebook stopped the company's API access during the major clean-ups of external developers in 2014 and 2015.
The memory of Pikini & # 39; s may be blurred, but the founder of the company, Ted Kramer, decided to sue Facebook in 2015, claiming that his behavior had been anti-competitive. Four years later, the lawsuit continues and is perhaps one of the stranger cases in Silicon Valley history. The app looks less sympathetic in the middle with every passing year – but the main claim that Facebook has used its stranglehold on personal information to harm the competition is now very much in vogue.
In fact, we would probably not hear much about the case if it had not yielded thousands of pages of legal discoveries that would appeal to managers' mindset about competition in the first half of the last decade. The British parliament, which is conducting its own investigations into various Facebook issues, has pressured Kramer to transfer the discovery documents while he visited England last year, and made 250 pages public last December.
Then, on Wednesday, NBC News has released another 7,000 pages of documents for perusal. Reporters Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar summarize them for us:
Together, they show how Zuckerberg, together with his board and management team, has found ways to leverage data from Facebook users (including information about friends, relationships, and photos) as leverage for the companies with which it collaborated. In some cases, Facebook rewards partners by giving them preferential access to certain types of user data and denying the same access to competing companies.
Facebook, for example, gave Amazon special access to user data because it spent money on advertisements on Facebook. In another case the messaging app MessageMe was blocked from access to data because it had become too popular and could compete with Facebook.
All along, Facebook was planning to publicly frame these movements as a way to protect user privacy, the documents show.
On the one hand, we know the broad lines of what these documents describe. Facebook once granted very broad authorizations to developers, which helped to promote the interests of the company and stimulate growth; it traded with some of those developers when it meets its needs, and it has over time reduced development rights as the company reached a dominant position and the monitoring of its data practices increased.
On the other hand, there is boldness in some of the newly revealed documents that I found striking.
For example, there is the switcharoo issue. Here are Katie Paul and Mark Hosenball in Reuters:
Some executives at & # 39; the world's largest social network seemed to refer to the strategy to promote a privacy-oriented explanation for change, such as & # 39; Switcharoo plan & # 39 ;, show internal emails included in sealed California judicial records.
The Switcharoo plan turned out to be an idea where Facebook executives would abolish several APIs that developers were dependent on, fearing that one day those developers would compete directly with Facebook, while publicly announcing that the changes were intended to promote privacy. Reuters again:
With thousands of developers losing access to user data, executives decided to announce the changes publicly. They chose to link what they called PS12N & # 39; "bad stuff" to an unrelated update to the Facebook login system that gave people more control over their privacy.
The "story" before the announcement "will focus on quality and the user experience that may provide a good umbrella for folding in some API depreciations," one manager wrote in an email.
Another colleague invited colleagues in a February 2014 email to review the "Switcharoo plan", calling it "a good compromise" that will allow them to "tell a story that makes sense "
Oh, I'd say the story makes sense, okay. Competition: eng. How to fix this: Switcharoo Plan.
The gift of these newly leaked documents is to shed even more light on the full competition of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most paranoid leaders in the history of Silicon Valley, and I almost mean that as a compliment. (I suspect he might consider it one; he is one Andy Grove man.)
Anyway, the documents are full of things that Zuckerberg is paranoid about.
He is paranoid about dating apps, for example Rich Nieva points this out:
And he was paranoid about messaging apps, such as Sam Schechner and Parmy Olson cover in the Wall Street Journal:
"Those companies are trying to build social networks and replace us," said Mr. Zuckerberg about a trio of Chinese and Korean messaging apps that he had decided not to advertise on social media in a January 2013 email thread. network. a dozen executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.
In the same vein, growth manager Javier Olivan said chat-app companies were dangerous because they could & # 39; change to Facebook & # 39 ;, and then pointed to a recent announcement from WhatsApp that it had 18 billion messages per day on December 31, 2012.
The same story describes the concerns of one executive paranoid about the growth of WhatsApp, for which Facebook would eventually spend $ 19 billion to acquire.
All this gets the biggest difference between how the world sees Facebook and how Facebook sees Facebook. For outsiders, it is a monolith that steams entire industries and national states while pursuing its business goals. For insiders it is a premature baby who is in intensive care forever, never more than a few bad breaks away from oblivion. This is a document leak that reads like a hospital chart.
Even hardcore anti-Facebook partisans would better understand the company, I think, if they'd look through it for a while. So many of the qualities that people blame most about Facebook – the speed of development, the blatant copying of rivals, the ruthless treatment of partners – are all born of mortal fear. (Greed too! But fear prevails.) If you ever get confused by something that Facebook does, try changing your perspective – see if it can be explained by paranoia.
Call it a Switcharoo plan.
Today in news that can influence the public perception of the major technological platforms.
Popular: twitter launches a series of experiments to get people to quote, tweet, answer and retweet in non-destructive ways. More shipping costs via Twitter! Astonishing.
Sideways trending: Google is allegedly considering changing its policy on political advertisements. Historically, the company has accepted political advertisements, even if they contain incorrect information.
Trending down: Google is highly dependent on contractors for a variety of employees. The two-fold workforce makes more contractors feel burned and willing to speak out.
⭐ The increasing antitrust movement in the United States encounters powerful and well-funded conservatives and libertarians who are committed to reducing those efforts. David McCabe The New York Times explains the reason:
Some conservatives who oppose the urge for anti-trust measures say that many problems with large Silicon Valley companies have nothing to do with competition. For example, they point to privacy concerns and accuse Big Tech & # 39; s critics of applying antitrust laws to resolve a problem that is better suited to new data regulation.
Others say that attempts to change how government policy competition is running too fast. Daniel Crane, professor at the University of Michigan Law School, has written a draft document in which he states that the movement to change the law “came out of nowhere to claim a position at the negotiating table about antitrust reform and the future of the law. company antitrust policy. "Thibault Schrepel, a professor at the University of Utrecht, said that people are flourishing" must be improved by applying reason to antitrust legislation; no fears, no feelings, no feelings, no intuitions. & # 39;
A misleading story about the husband of a British politician went viral thanks to a network of Facebook pages & # 39; s and trolls. The situation is not unique, but it gets worse as the election season increases. (Joey D’Urso and Marianna Spring / BBC)
Mitch McConnell said Twitter & # 39; s The prohibition of political advertisements undermines freedom of expression. He said that unless the company prohibits opinion journalists and media from promoting their work, the ban could create a double standard. And the Lord knows that Mitch McConnell won't tolerate a double standard! (Richard Cowan and Elizabeth Culliford / Reuters)
The national security investigation into TapTok will depend on whether the company can prove its independence from its Chinese parent company ByteDance. (Zoe Schiffer / The edge)
The person Trump Allies accused of being a whistleblower have been a right-wing target since 2017. They have accused him & # 39; pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia & # 39; and to leak harmful information, including on Facebook. (Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed)
In the past, following cyber threats to American national security was a task for the government. Now, join a team Microsoft takes on one of the biggest cyber security challenges in the world: stopping hackers sponsored by the government. (Patrick Howell O & # 39; Neill / MIT Technology Review)
A senior EU official said that lawmakers in Europe will introduce rules that require more disclosure in political advertisements. It is the EU's latest attempt to regulate major technology on issues ranging from disinformation to competition and data privacy. (Elizabeth Schulze / CNBC)
⭐ twitter launches a series of experiments to get people to quote, tweet, answer and retweet in non-destructive ways. The first adds an emoji to a retweet, giving people the opportunity to quote and tweet without going into the field. The second automatically suggests that people use an emoji in their answers. Alex Kantrowitz BuzzFeed explains why these seemingly small changes can help:
Twitter's experiments may seem small, but they can go up to big changes by the time the company finishes them, probably sometime in 2020. "We have big ambitions. We are absolutely serious about changing the way conversations take place at Twitter, "Gasca said.
The emoji tests die in the middle of a sitewide push aspects of the service. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week said the company prohibits political advertisements, with a few exceptions. Twitter will also begin to allow people to follow topics, not just people, a feature announced Wednesday that will go live later this month. Earlier this week, Twitter research VP Dantley Davis explained a series of possible experiments that the company could conduct, including giving people the chance to prevent retweets from their tweets and to remove themselves from a conversation.
Countless people received text messages that were originally sent on Valentine's Day for seemingly inexplicable reasons. They have never received the text messages, and the people who originally sent the messages have done nothing to resend them & # 39; I look forward to the sandy film that David Fincher will make of this. (Jacob Kastrenakes / The edge)
Facebook small business catalogs introduced on WhatsApp. They are billed as a mobile store to bring products to the attention. Companies no longer have to send product photos one by one.
Police departments use the mugshots of people in Facebook messages to shame them publicly. Often the messages mock the appearance of people or problems with drug abuse. (Tasneem Nashrulla and Jennifer Grygiel / BuzzFeed)
Within the rise and fall of I’m Shmacked, a digital media company that promised students Instagram fameand then silenced them with threats and lawsuits after the students gave them hundreds of dollars each for a chance to run their bills. (Taylor Lorenz / The New York Times)
YouTube launched a new home page design with larger thumbnails – a movement that frustrated people when it was tested in August. The homepage now contains less recommended videos & # 39; s as part of the change. (Julia Alexander / The edge)
Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres have sued a series of websites for misleading advertisements. It is an affiliate marketing scandal in which unauthorized persons use their names and similarities to endorse products. (Brooks Barnes and Tiffany Hsu / The New York Times)