Interesting thread on the Facebook papers. 🤔 So many of us joined the #virtualpanopticon without realising what the consequences would be for democracy & our folks. Including those folks who wanted no part of it. A huge quandary staff who did realise the consequences.
RT @AdrienneLaF
I’ve spent the past several weeks reading the Facebook Papers, a gigantic collection of internal documents from Facebook unlike anything I’ve encounte…

But it feels like Facebook was always going to be a toxic dumpster fire. Its very reason for being created in the first place was about rating women. Reducing them to things. Once you reduce people to reactions and clicks, it's only a matter of time before it's weaponised.

@onepict Sort of agree, although I was on early (c.2004) and it did fill a social niche at the time. The stuff that made it toxic are IMO the ones directly related to monetization and "engagement" maximizing.

Early FB had a closed-community model (max sharing was with your campus) and simple chronological timeline. Posts were basically persistent AOL IM status messages. Biggest use was as a distributed address book of non-FB contact info and post-college emails.

Do you think that initially there were people on that team who tempered the development strategy initially? Do you think that as more investors etc came on board they enabled Zuckerberg and the team to perhaps put Facebook in a direction it should not have gone?


@onepict @kadin I got off Facebook when it stopped being campus-only. It got worse basically immediately when that happened. It was Facebook's Eternal September moment -- every woman I knew on the platform started getting harassed from day one. Previous to that if there was a harassment problem you could file a complaint on campus, because the person would have been subject to the same school's policies. After it went 'public access' schools took a not-my-problem stance.

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So it comes back to what's considered moderation and who's responsible. 🤔 Which was a problem from the beginning by the sounds of it, when schools were kinda decoupled from it. So the potential issues were there from the start and it relied on moderation from outside the network at first?

@onepict Back then a lot of people's internet access came exclusively through school, so I wonder if schools felt responsible to help police a service they were providing. I know people had different experiences at other schools, and American universities' tendency to act as daycare-cum-education provider was probably a part of that ethos. There was (and is) a tendency to handle administratively some things that belonged in criminal court. @kadin

@onepict @khm Yes definitely. I think the problems were always potentially there, but in the beginning it had some "out of band" moderation since it used real names and .edu addresses.

@khm @onepict
Yeah I was at a fairly small college and early on, creepy FB behavior was handled like creepy emails from a campus address: you forwarded to IT and they could reprimand someone and threaten to cut their net access.

I do remember women calling it "Stalkerbook" early on, because it let you search by gender and relationship status from the beginning, but lots of people trolled that by setting relationship status to jokey stuff, basically breaking it for that use.

🤔 Sadly this is what I mean by reducing people to things. Because being a woman, I am fairly used to being reduced to shallow takes like physical form and looks. But to some extent that's how our society does run. People are reduced to statistics, quantified. You have to reduce people to stats to govern at scale. Because sometimes governments and organisations need to make decisions that have knock on effects. So there's a need for distance emotionally.

@kadin @khm
Which is partly why FB is where it's where it is now. The driving need to scale, to drive advertising. To maximise connections between human beings while keeping the emotional and democratic consequences of it's algorithms and sales model at a distance.

@kadin @khm
But people find a way to work around it. Like the teens in Danah Boyds book it's complicated. There was a teen in foster care that knew her case officer etc monitored her FB profile. She'd delete it and reactivate it before her 30 days were up. So direct surveillance by the folks around her she could avoid. Not government surveillance.

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