Having watched the highlights1 of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook are changing the name of the company to Meta and working towards a new platform that will combine Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, I think Nick Heer sums it up best:

The metaverse is me making a list of chores to give to the staff of butlers and housekeepers and gardeners I am employing at my large country house I will have in ten years instead of vacuuming my apartment today.

How many of us2 talk about what Alphabet do rather than just talking about Google?

  1. Am I being unfair to Zuckerberg by not watching the entire 1hr 17min video? The thing is, nobody is paying me to spend time reporting on the whole Facebook/Meta story and I don’t pretend to be a journalist. This post is, like every post here, my opinion and readers are welcome to disagree with me in comments here or email me links to (hopefully more succinct) accounts from Facebook/Meta of what they’re doing and why. 
  2. Other than journalists quoting from a press release. 


Having caught up with Kashmir Hill‘s Gizmodo piece ‘People You May Know:’ A Controversial Facebook Feature’s 10-Year History, I’m both supremely glad that I’m not on Facebook [note]I was briefly a member a few years ago for as long as it took me to conclude that I didn’t need any of the services they were offering. Not that I’m making any claims to be particularly wise or virtuous or forward-looking: more that I’m markedly less sociable than they’d like their users to be.[/note] and creeped out by how little difference that makes to Facebook’s determination to shadow profile me whether I like it or not.

In other words, People You May Know is an invaluable product because it helps connect Facebook users, whether they want to be connected or not. It seems clear that for some users, People You May Know is a problem. It’s not a feature they want and not a feature they want to be part of. When the feature debuted in 2008, Facebook said that if you didn’t like it, you could “x” out the people who appeared there repeatedly and eventually it would disappear. (If you don’t see the feature on your own Facebook page, that may be the reason why.) But that wouldn’t stop you from continuing to be recommended to other users.

Facebook needs to give people a hard out for the feature, because scourging phone address books and email inboxes to connect you with other Facebook users, while welcome to some people, is offensive and harmful to others. Through its aggressive data-mining this huge corporation is gaining unwanted insight into our medical privacy, past heartaches, family dramas, sensitive work associations, and random one-time encounters.

[Via Pixel Envy]

Mark Zuckerberg’s 14 year apology tour

Zeynep Tufekci on Why Mark Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook:

At a minimum, Facebook has long needed an ombudsman’s office with real teeth and power: an institution within the company that can act as a check on its worst impulses and to protect its users. And it needs a lot more employees whose task is to keep the platform healthier. But what would truly be disruptive and innovative would be for Facebook to alter its business model.

Basically, until someone gives Facebook a reason to change their business model – which is to say, one that results in a quantifiable financial penalty for them carrying on as they have been – they’re not going to do so. At one time that would have been a government-backed regulator’s job, but once the present furore dies down is that something there’s much chance of us seeing?