What allows feedback but isn’t Facebook? (“10 Reasons Why I’m Leaving Medium” Addenda)
Yes, I left in a huff not even a year ago with a number of choice words for the site. And I hate to go back on things I’ve said. Nonetheless, there are a couple of factors that compel my return:
First, in the continuing race to the bottom that is today’s internet, Facebook (FB) has managed to retake the lead. I won’t go into it too much, but while I like being connected to my people, the actual business is an amoral cesspool. They’re currently running a pricy rebranding campaign to try to redeem their image after their less-than-awesome policies have become public. I haven’t been able to track down the spend, but it must be massive with entire public transit stations nationwide plastered with their posters in addition to TV spots.
The basic pattern of these is “[x] is not your friends”, where x is the various ills that they themselves have perpetrated: clickbait, data misuse, false news, spam, etc. I’m always equal parts annoyed and impressed this type of campaign, of which there are several right now, including PG&E (for burning down communities) and Wells Fargo (for massive fraud against its customers). In each of them a soulless corporate entity is presented as a group of relatable, fallible humans who have always had your best interests in mind, but because of circumstances beyond their control strayed from the true path, but now have seen the error of their ways and are recommitted to the values they would like you to believe they stand for. As. If. The FB one should cut to the chase and say:
Facebook is not your friend.
Fake accounts are one category that FB is now theoretically going after. I can tell you from personal experience that at least in the pre-IPO days, when games were a significant element of the platform, the hardcore players—middle-aged women—were multiboxing. That means they had at least two accounts so they could engage in “social play” by acting as their own in-game friends, for gifting, trading, etc. FB’s IPO prospectus put their active monthly users 845M, which anyone with any real-world knowledge could tell you was grossly inflated by the fake accounts they now say are not your friends; they definitely were the friends of shareholders in the biggest internet IPO of all time at $104B. I was a developer of several of the games that built that house, and then a victim when they decided to move us to a shed out back and then burn that shed to the ground. I’ve still got at least four accounts—come at me FB.
I won’t be posting there, at least for the time being (obviously, I should never say never)—I have no illusions that this will adversely affect them in any way, but doing anything to increase anyone’s usage of the site would make me complicit. And, handily enough, while I’ve failed thus far at being able to add a comments section in Ghost, Medium does have this capability built in. I guess we’ll see what happens with that activity.
Since, as I’ve noted, monetary compensation is not something I’m interested in, I guess I shouldn’t really care about the various metrics particularly. So it’s not a level playing field; what is? Ghost also has nearly no discoverability, short of me assing around with Google AdWords, which won’t be happening. I also had been considering this as an either/or issue, when there’s actually no particular reason not to post the same articles in both locations, allowing readers to choose which they prefer. Admittedly, it’s a bit more effort, especially as, in Borgesian fashion, I have a tendency to repeatedly detect flaws and re-edit ad nauseam. Over the next few weeks I’ll be copying my more recent articles from Ghost over to Medium, as well as updating some of the older ones.
Finally, I’ve decided I had been overusing footnotes: my thought was to use them to impart additional information without breaking the flow of the narrative, but I realized that the information either was important enough that it should be incorporated into the body of the article or it wasn’t, and should therefore simply be omitted. Now I reserve my footnotes for citations, so hotlinking to and from them is less important, they’re just there to assure the reader that I do my research and don’t just make stuff up (mostly).
Addendum: I did it!
It seems I underestimated the impact my Facebreak would have on the company, which lost $120B week before last, which, as John Oliver noted is more than the value of the entire global cheese market.¹
While it might seem I’m either confusing correlation with causation or being ironical, I mean it: together with many others certainly, I voted with my eyeballs by not looking over there. The reasons for the drop were declining revenue and user growth, the very areas affected by a Facebreak.
Last week it came to light that there remain massive numbers of fake Russian accounts on FB stoking political, cultural, religious, and racial divisions—much to my unsurprise. This is one of the many reasons the Facebreak will continue.
I do continue post all of these articles on Medium, but my own website is now my main focus. Medium is free, which is good, and my hope is that posting there will help people find the rest of this stuff here. I am still more committed to staying off FB.
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- Last Week Tonight, Season 5 Episode 18.