Facebook Whistleblowing in the Dark

If you don’t know the rules, you don’t know if you are winning or losing until you have lost.

Interestingly, as I write this, Facebook web is not responding. I am sure it is coincidence. Maybe it is a distraction campaign to make you forget the Facebook censorship debates.

Firstly, read the article below (just one of many now). Then think about the relationship of profits, permissiveness, and secret rules.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-misinformation-public-60-minutes-2021-10-03/

Frances Haugen: The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.

And

Frances Haugen: Yes. Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money.

Facebook is a profit driven soapbox. An algorithm is a set of rules and Facebook’s algorithms are proprietary, secrets known only to themselves. This is a multi-dimensional decision matrix for business; “Profit vs. Loss” against “Censor vs. Permit” and “Open Reasoning vs. Closed Reasoning”.

The algorithms are separate from the decision to censor or permit a post. Censorship is a result of a calculation. The algorithms, or rules, are choices, with each choice having a reason. The reasons behind the rules are the dimension to consider, and the reasoning is hidden from the public.

People can see what is censored after the fact, and profits are measurable. Hidden rules, however, cannot be reviewed, nor can someone know if their voice will be allowed before they speak.

The effect of hidden rules is divisiveness, an anger on wasted effort and feelings of being unheard. It is, potentially, counter-productive to the desired outcome.

This 2019 internal report obtained by Haugen says that the parties, “…feel strongly that the change to the algorithm has forced them to skew negative in their communications on Facebook… leading them into more extreme policy positions.”

The whistleblower indicates censorship is for the good of the public and is unprofitable. Simultaneously, unknown rules drive censorship; bad for the public and profitable.

Making the rules transparent, debatable, and understandable would be good for the public. Profits may go up or down, but discourse would reduce variables and discord.

That assumes Facebook survives its unmistakable outage.

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