posts about or somewhat related to ‘facebook’

We have had a hard time thinking clearly about companies like Google and Facebook because we have never before had to deal with companies like Google and Facebook. They are something new in the world, and they don’t fit neatly into our existing legal and cultural templates. Because they operate at such unimaginable magnitude, carrying out millions of informational transactions every second, we’ve tended to think of them as vast, faceless, dispassionate computers — as information-processing machines that exist outside the realm of human intention and control. That’s a misperception, and a dangerous one.

Modern computers and computer networks enable human judgment to be automated, to be exercised on a vast scale and at a breathtaking pace. But it’s still human judgment. Algorithms are constructed by people, and they reflect the interests, biases, and flaws of their makers. As Google’s founders themselves pointed out many years ago, an information aggregator operated for commercial gain will inevitably be compromised and should always be treated with suspicion. That is certainly true of a search engine that mediates our intellectual explorations; it is even more true of a social network that mediates our personal associations and conversations.

Because algorithms impose on us the interests and biases of others, we have not only a right, but also an obligation to carefully examine and, when appropriate, judiciously regulate those algorithms. We have a right and an obligation to understand how we, and our information, are being manipulated. To ignore that responsibility, or to shirk it because it raises hard problems, is to grant a small group of people — the kind of people who carried out the Facebook and OKCupid experiments — the power to play with us at their whim.

Nicholas Carr, Los Angeles Review of Books. The Manipulators: Facebook’s Social Engineering Project.

FJP: For more on tech, media and algorithms, check our Algorithms Tag.

What Happens When You Like Everything?
Journalists can be a masochistic lot.
Take Mat Honan over at Wired who decided to like everything in his Facebook News Feed:

Or at least I did, for 48 hours. Literally everything Facebook sent my way, I liked — even if I hated it. I decided to embark on a campaign of conscious liking, to see how it would affect what Facebook showed me…
…Relateds quickly became a problem, because as soon as you like one, Facebook replaces it with another. So as soon as I liked the four relateds below a story, it immediately gave me four more. And then four more. And then four more. And then four more. I quickly realized I’d be stuck in a related loop for eternity if I kept this up. So I settled on a new rule: I would like the first four relateds Facebook shows me, but no more.

So how did Facebook’s algorithm respond?

My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages…
…While I expected that what I saw might change, what I never expected was the impact my behavior would have on my friends’ feeds. I kept thinking Facebook would rate-limit me, but instead it grew increasingly ravenous. My feed become a cavalcade of brands and politics and as I interacted with them, Facebook dutifully reported this to all my friends and followers.

After 48 hours he gives up “because it was just too awful.”
Over at The Atlantic, Caleb Garling plays with Facebook’s algorithm as well. Instead of liking though, he tries to hack the system to see what he needs to do so that friends and followers see what he posts:

Part of the impetus was that Facebook had frustrated me. That morning I’d posted a story I’d written about the hunt for electric bacteria that might someday power remote sensors. After a few hours, the story had garnered just one like. I surmised that Facebook had decided that, for whatever reason, what I’d submitted to the blue ether wasn’t what people wanted, and kept it hidden.
A little grumpy at the idea, I wanted to see if I could trick Facebook into believing I’d had one of those big life updates that always hang out at the top of the feed. People tend to word those things roughly the same way and Facebook does smart things with pattern matching and sentiment analysis. Let’s see if I can fabricate some social love.
I posted: “Hey everyone, big news!! I’ve accepted a position trying to make Facebook believe this is an important post about my life! I’m so excited to begin this small experiment into how the Facebook algorithms processes language and really appreciate all of your support!”

And the likes poured in: “After 90 minutes, the post had 57 likes and 25 commenters.”
So can you game the Facebook algorithm? Not really, thinks Garling. Not while the code remains invisible.
At best, he writes, we might be able to intuit a “feeble correlation.”
Which might be something to like.

What Happens When You Like Everything?

Journalists can be a masochistic lot.

Take Mat Honan over at Wired who decided to like everything in his Facebook News Feed:

Or at least I did, for 48 hours. Literally everything Facebook sent my way, I liked — even if I hated it. I decided to embark on a campaign of conscious liking, to see how it would affect what Facebook showed me…

…Relateds quickly became a problem, because as soon as you like one, Facebook replaces it with another. So as soon as I liked the four relateds below a story, it immediately gave me four more. And then four more. And then four more. And then four more. I quickly realized I’d be stuck in a related loop for eternity if I kept this up. So I settled on a new rule: I would like the first four relateds Facebook shows me, but no more.

So how did Facebook’s algorithm respond?

My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages…

…While I expected that what I saw might change, what I never expected was the impact my behavior would have on my friends’ feeds. I kept thinking Facebook would rate-limit me, but instead it grew increasingly ravenous. My feed become a cavalcade of brands and politics and as I interacted with them, Facebook dutifully reported this to all my friends and followers.

After 48 hours he gives up “because it was just too awful.”

Over at The Atlantic, Caleb Garling plays with Facebook’s algorithm as well. Instead of liking though, he tries to hack the system to see what he needs to do so that friends and followers see what he posts:

Part of the impetus was that Facebook had frustrated me. That morning I’d posted a story I’d written about the hunt for electric bacteria that might someday power remote sensors. After a few hours, the story had garnered just one like. I surmised that Facebook had decided that, for whatever reason, what I’d submitted to the blue ether wasn’t what people wanted, and kept it hidden.

A little grumpy at the idea, I wanted to see if I could trick Facebook into believing I’d had one of those big life updates that always hang out at the top of the feed. People tend to word those things roughly the same way and Facebook does smart things with pattern matching and sentiment analysis. Let’s see if I can fabricate some social love.

I posted: “Hey everyone, big news!! I’ve accepted a position trying to make Facebook believe this is an important post about my life! I’m so excited to begin this small experiment into how the Facebook algorithms processes language and really appreciate all of your support!”

And the likes poured in: “After 90 minutes, the post had 57 likes and 25 commenters.”

So can you game the Facebook algorithm? Not really, thinks Garling. Not while the code remains invisible.

At best, he writes, we might be able to intuit a “feeble correlation.”

Which might be something to like.

One of the things that we do is ask product managers to go travel to an emerging-market country to see how people who are getting on the Internet use it. They learn the most interesting things. People ask questions like, ‘It says here I’m supposed to put in my password — what’s a password?’

Mark Zuckerberg in a Q&A with Farhad Manjoo, Can Facebook Innovate? 

Covers a lot of questions about the company and what it’s trying to do. Also see his column, The Future of Facebook May Not Say ‘Facebook’.

The News Feed is perhaps the world’s most sophisticated mirror of its readers’ preferences—and it’s fairly clear that news isn’t one of them. We simply prefer stories that fulfill the very purpose of Facebook’s machine-learning algorithm, to show us a reflection of the person we’d like to be, to make us feel, to make us smile, and, most simply, to remind us of ourselves.

Derek Thompson, The Facebook Effect on the News, The Atlantic.

Thompson uses data from the BuzzFeed Partner Network (a conglomeration of popular sites) to compare the type of content that goes viral three different ways: Twitter, Search Traffic and Facebook.

On Twitter:

It’s a blend of news, like terrorist attacks and music shows, and evergreen silliness with Ryan Gosling and Kim Kardashian. 

In Search Traffic:

Just about all of them arguably count as “news.” They describe recent events, whether it’s a bikini sighting, terrorist explosion, or celebrity death.

On Facebook:

Of the 20 most viral stories on BuzzFeed’s network, only seven deal with recent events. Only three deal with what you might call national news stories: the Miss America Pageant, Netflix technology, and the Video Music Awards (not quite A1 fare, but news, nonetheless). But the vast majority of these stories aren’t really news, at all. They’re quizzes about your accent, lists of foods and photographs, funny reminders of what life feels like as you age. For lack of a better term: They’re entertainment.

New Gender Options for Facebook Users →

Facebook users have been long been lobbying for gender options on their profiles beyond “male” and “female”, and the idea has been percolating at in-house for the last year. After consulting with leading gay and transgender activists, Facebook has come up with a list of 50 different terms  people can use to identify their gender, as well as 3 pronoun choices, reports AP.  

What it means for advertising?

At this point, Facebook targets advertising according to male or female genders. For those who change to something neutral, ads will be targeted based on the pronoun they select for themselves. Unlike getting engaged or married, changing gender is not registered as a “life event” on the site and won’t post on timelines. Therefore, Facebook said advertisers cannot target ads to those who declare themselves transgender or recently changed their gender.

Full story here.

Facebook v Princeton: Who You Got?
Princeton punches first, via The Guardian:

Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but we are slowly becoming immune to its attractions, and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, say researchers at Princeton University.
The forecast of Facebook’s impending doom was made by comparing the growth curve of epidemics to those of online social networks. Scientists argue that, like bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually die out.
The social network, which celebrates its 10th birthday on 4 February, has survived longer than rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, but the Princeton forecast says it will lose 80% of its peak user base within the next three years…
…”Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” the authors claim in a paper entitled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.

Facebook punches back:

In keeping with the scientific principle “correlation equals causation,” our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely…
…[Trends suggest] that Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.

Read through for Facebook’s assorted charts and graphs to back its claims.
The Princeton paper is available via arXiv (PDF)

Facebook v Princeton: Who You Got?

Princeton punches first, via The Guardian:

Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but we are slowly becoming immune to its attractions, and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, say researchers at Princeton University.

The forecast of Facebook’s impending doom was made by comparing the growth curve of epidemics to those of online social networks. Scientists argue that, like bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually die out.

The social network, which celebrates its 10th birthday on 4 February, has survived longer than rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, but the Princeton forecast says it will lose 80% of its peak user base within the next three years…

…”Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” the authors claim in a paper entitled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.

Facebook punches back:

In keeping with the scientific principle “correlation equals causation,” our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely…

…[Trends suggest] that Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.

Read through for Facebook’s assorted charts and graphs to back its claims.

The Princeton paper is available via arXiv (PDF)

Not Every Social Network Doubles as a New Source

Not Every Social Network Doubles as a New Source

How Many Dead People Will Have Facebook Profiles in The Future?
On his What-If blog, artist and physicist Randall Munroe estimates that in either the 2060s or 2130s, Facebook could contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones.
He breaks it down into studies of the past, present, and future:
Via What-If:

The Past:
Based on the site’s growth rate, and the age breakdown of their users over time, there are probably 10 to 20 million people who created Facebook profiles who have since died.
These people are, at the moment, spread out pretty evenly across the age spectrum. Young people have a much lower death rate than people in their sixties or seventies, but they make up a substantial share of the dead on Facebook simply because there have been so many of them using it.
The Future:
About 290,000 US Facebook users will die (or have died) in 2013. The worldwide total for 2013 is likely several million. In just seven years, this death rate will double, and in seven more years it will double again.
Even if Facebook closes registration tomorrow, the number of deaths per year will continue to grow for many decades, as the generation who was in college between 2000 and 2020 grows old.
The deciding factor in when the dead will outnumber the living is whether Facebook adds new living users—ideally, young ones—fast enough to outrun this tide of death for a while.
Facebook 2100:
This brings us to the question of Facebook’s future.
We don’t have enough experience with social networks to say with any kind of certainty how long Facebook will last. Most websites have flared up and then gradually declined in popularity, so it’s reasonable to assume Facebook will follow that pattern.
In that scenario, where Facebook starts losing market share later this decade and never recovers, Facebook’s crossover date—the date when the dead outnumber the living—will come sometime around 2065.

According to Munroe, even if the accounts of dead or “inactive” people make up a majority of users, it probably will “never add up to a large part of [Facebook’s] overall infrastructure budget.”
FJP: But what about apps that let you post posthumously — like Google’s Inactive Account Manager and Twitter’s LivesOn app? What does it mean for Facebook if dead people actively use accounts into the future? Hmm… — Krissy
Images: What-If.XKCD

How Many Dead People Will Have Facebook Profiles in The Future?

On his What-If blog, artist and physicist Randall Munroe estimates that in either the 2060s or 2130s, Facebook could contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones.

He breaks it down into studies of the past, present, and future:

Via What-If:

The Past:

Based on the site’s growth rate, and the age breakdown of their users over time, there are probably 10 to 20 million people who created Facebook profiles who have since died.

These people are, at the moment, spread out pretty evenly across the age spectrum. Young people have a much lower death rate than people in their sixties or seventies, but they make up a substantial share of the dead on Facebook simply because there have been so many of them using it.

The Future:

About 290,000 US Facebook users will die (or have died) in 2013. The worldwide total for 2013 is likely several million. In just seven years, this death rate will double, and in seven more years it will double again.

Even if Facebook closes registration tomorrow, the number of deaths per year will continue to grow for many decades, as the generation who was in college between 2000 and 2020 grows old.

The deciding factor in when the dead will outnumber the living is whether Facebook adds new living users—ideally, young ones—fast enough to outrun this tide of death for a while.

Facebook 2100:

This brings us to the question of Facebook’s future.

We don’t have enough experience with social networks to say with any kind of certainty how long Facebook will last. Most websites have flared up and then gradually declined in popularity, so it’s reasonable to assume Facebook will follow that pattern.

In that scenario, where Facebook starts losing market share later this decade and never recovers, Facebook’s crossover date—the date when the dead outnumber the living—will come sometime around 2065.

According to Munroe, even if the accounts of dead or “inactive” people make up a majority of users, it probably will “never add up to a large part of [Facebook’s] overall infrastructure budget.”

FJP: But what about apps that let you post posthumously — like Google’s Inactive Account Manager and Twitter’s LivesOn app? What does it mean for Facebook if dead people actively use accounts into the future? Hmm… — Krissy

Images: What-If.XKCD

How Facebook Knows Who You're Shagging →

Via Quartz

Facebook can isolate your spouse or partner based on your network of friends. In a fascinating paper to be published next year, Facebook social scientist Lars Backstrom and Cornell University professor Jon Kleinberg reveal just how much insight can be gleaned from the structure of a network, illustrating both the value of what the American security establishment reassures us is “just metadata” and revealing Facebook’s baroque privacy settings as the faith-based garments of the emperor’s new clothes.

Read through for the details: What your Facebook friends list reveals about your love life.

Vintage Social Media Ads

Sao Paulo-based agency Moma Propaganda released a series of vintage social media posters for the Maximidia Seminars ad campaign, “Everything Ages Fast.”

Images: Illusion

Japan Adores Twitter, Remains Wary of Facebook
We’re well aware that not all social networks are created equal (when was the last time you logged onto your Myspace account?), but it’s also true that different cultural environments also render some social networks more fit than others. 
Case in point: last month, Japanese Twitter users logged the most-tweeted moment of all time, tweeting a groundbreaking 143,199 tweets in one second upon the airing of the Miyazaki film Castle in the Sky. This was far from a fluke — Twitter has long been popular in Japan.
Facebook, on the other hand, has fought an uphill battle to gain traction among Japanese users— a difference that speaks to the cultural fit of each platform in the country.
Via FastCo.Labs:

Twitter lets users self-efface, some have suggested, while Facebook is about the humblebrag—a major offense in traditional Japanese culture. When Japanese social networkers can enthuse about things that interest them—anime, games, music—without drawing attention to themselves, they seem glad to engage the broader world. But they are often uncomfortable being forced to broadcast their name and face. Homegrown Asian cyber social spaces have known this for years; Western ones might do well to understand.

Read the rest here, including the linguistic characteristics of Japanese that benefit Twitter, an analysis of how Japanese users tweet, and what this all means for platforms hoping to gain ground around the world. (TL;DR: Not all cultures are as narcissistic as ours, and social networks should take note.) 
Image: Kengo via Flickr

Japan Adores Twitter, Remains Wary of Facebook

We’re well aware that not all social networks are created equal (when was the last time you logged onto your Myspace account?), but it’s also true that different cultural environments also render some social networks more fit than others. 

Case in point: last month, Japanese Twitter users logged the most-tweeted moment of all time, tweeting a groundbreaking 143,199 tweets in one second upon the airing of the Miyazaki film Castle in the Sky. This was far from a fluke — Twitter has long been popular in Japan.

Facebook, on the other hand, has fought an uphill battle to gain traction among Japanese users— a difference that speaks to the cultural fit of each platform in the country.

Via FastCo.Labs:

Twitter lets users self-efface, some have suggested, while Facebook is about the humblebrag—a major offense in traditional Japanese culture. When Japanese social networkers can enthuse about things that interest them—anime, games, music—without drawing attention to themselves, they seem glad to engage the broader world. But they are often uncomfortable being forced to broadcast their name and face. Homegrown Asian cyber social spaces have known this for years; Western ones might do well to understand.

Read the rest here, including the linguistic characteristics of Japanese that benefit Twitter, an analysis of how Japanese users tweet, and what this all means for platforms hoping to gain ground around the world. (TL;DR: Not all cultures are as narcissistic as ours, and social networks should take note.) 

Image: Kengo via Flickr

Delete Yourself From Web Services With JustDelete.me
JustDelete.me is a directory that allows you to permanently remove yourself from different web services such as Facebook, PayPal, Amazon, etc. 
Why can’t you just go to the listed sites on your own and delete yourself that way, you ask? It’s not that easy. 
A lot of sites have dark patterns — interfaces created to trick users into agreeing to terms they otherwise wouldn’t — and JustDelete.me is designed to work around those patterns.
For example, Facebook’s Account Settings menu only offers people the option to deactivate their accounts, so many think that it’s not possible to completely delete themselves from the site; the “Delete Account” button can only be found if you hunt it down. With JustDelete.me, you can click the Facebook link and be taken directly to the “Delete Account” page without all the hassle.
JustDelete.me even color codes web services by how difficult it is to delete yourself from each site, with green being the easiest, and black being impossible. (Good luck deleting yourself from Craigslist.) 
Image: Screenshot of JustDelete.me

Delete Yourself From Web Services With JustDelete.me

JustDelete.me is a directory that allows you to permanently remove yourself from different web services such as Facebook, PayPal, Amazon, etc. 

Why can’t you just go to the listed sites on your own and delete yourself that way, you ask? It’s not that easy. 

A lot of sites have dark patterns — interfaces created to trick users into agreeing to terms they otherwise wouldn’t — and JustDelete.me is designed to work around those patterns.

For example, Facebook’s Account Settings menu only offers people the option to deactivate their accounts, so many think that it’s not possible to completely delete themselves from the site; the “Delete Account” button can only be found if you hunt it down. With JustDelete.me, you can click the Facebook link and be taken directly to the “Delete Account” page without all the hassle.

JustDelete.me even color codes web services by how difficult it is to delete yourself from each site, with green being the easiest, and black being impossible. (Good luck deleting yourself from Craigslist.) 

Image: Screenshot of JustDelete.me

How the Internet Ecosystem Works

CollegeHumor explains the Internet in four simple stages. Predditors and BuzzardFeeds and AggreGators, oh my!
So where does Tumblr fit in the ecosystem?

TumblBees gather LOLlen to take back to their hive, where it is converted into #funny and fed to follower drones. Sometimes a hive will collapse due to an overload of drama. Scientists have attempted to explain this phenomenon, but for unexplainable reasons they “can’t even.”

Image: Stage 1 of the Internet Ecosystem. See the whole thing here.

How the Internet Ecosystem Works

CollegeHumor explains the Internet in four simple stages. Predditors and BuzzardFeeds and AggreGators, oh my!

So where does Tumblr fit in the ecosystem?

TumblBees gather LOLlen to take back to their hive, where it is converted into #funny and fed to follower drones. Sometimes a hive will collapse due to an overload of drama. Scientists have attempted to explain this phenomenon, but for unexplainable reasons they “can’t even.”

Image: Stage 1 of the Internet Ecosystem. See the whole thing here.

Funny Social Media Accounts

Behold! An FJP round up of five hilarious social media accounts that are worth a gander:

1. The new YouTube channel, FaceMashups, digitally merges celebrity bodies, faces, and voices together to create bizarre interview segments.

2. Photographer, Flora Borsi, photoshops herself into old photographs to make it look like she’s taking pictures of past events with her cell phone. View the Facebook album here.

3. Twitter user, @YouSoPretentious, takes pictures of handwritten notes that make fun of typical social media photos and posts them to the Instagram account, Satiregram. The notes say things like, “An attempt at being artsy by taking short clips of nature and the sky. How nice,” “A BLT from a local diner,” and “Oh, look. Another picture of a cat.” 

4. The Twitter account, @FakeAPStyleBook posts ridiculous tips for “proper writing,” and pokes fun at AP Style with tweets like “Today we will be publishing a list of words you should no longer use in any publication. Adjust style books accordingly.”

5. YouTuber, Dom Mazzetti, hosts BroScienceLife, a channel featuring what he calls “Bro Science,” — ”lifting advice from an unqualified bro who looks like he works out.” Each week Mazzetti plays the role of a bro (a male who typically loves to party and talk about going to the gym) and chooses a new “bro-topic” to make fun of. 

Video: Will Ferrell & Natalie Portman’s FaceMashUp