Facebook is having a bad year and we’re barely half way through 2018. Too bad. Perhaps if the company had established a set of valuable values that put customer interests first, it wouldn’t have such a laundry list of dirty problems that needed some bleach, washing, and hung on the line sunshine drying.
It does seem odd that Facebook is facing the brunt of all the challenges to user privacy misdeeds when Google is a larger target and carries around more baggage, but that’s a different issue than ‘We don’t want to trick people.’
That’s the gist of Facebook’s Community Standards missive. Facebook’s VP of Policy:
We do not… allow content that could physically or financially endanger people, that intimidates people through hateful language, or that aims to profit by tricking people using Facebook
Translation: But we’re not afraid to trick you– for profit– wherever we can, whenever we can, and as long as we can without media, government, or the public making too much noise.
Strong words? No.
Advertising is designed to persuade; to alter your thinking about a product or competing product, to manipulate you to prefer this brand over a different brand, or to incentivize you to try something new and different by using words that persuade.
Facebook is a content publisher where the content is created by the user. Facebook’s revenue comes from 1) advertising to the user, and 2) sell access to data to advertisers and marketers; personal data that is culled from the user.
To do that, Facebook has created a publishing platform that helps to connect users to family, friends, co-workers, and various groups of people with similar interests. All that user generated content also means that hate content and fake information content can be shared across the spectrum of Facebook users. Hence, Facebook is a publisher, and like any good publisher, has standards, and now– after being beat up in public– the world’s largest information publisher is enforcing those flexible standards.
Let’s be honest here. Facebook is involved in user trickery. The company has hundreds of experts employed to figure out ways to engage users even more, to find out what they like and why (even if the user doesn’t know), to create methods in the user interface and content that further engages each user to stay on Facebook even longer each day.
Science? Pseudo-science? Business? Or, just plain trickery? The idea behind such shenanigans is to get the Facebook user to engage wherever possible– even if the user doesn’t know they have been manipulated to view more of, well, Facebook content.
How is that not trickery?
To be fair, Apple engages in similar user and customer manipulation. Playlists on Apple Music are designed to get customers to use it more, thereby cementing the relationship. The high quality wrappings in an iPhone box are designed to make a customer feel as if the product is, well, high quality.
How is that not trickery?