social media

/Tag: social media


In retrospect, I think the problem is pretty clear: Tumblr, like most social networks, values creators as a means to an end—the people writing and posting make the platform more valuable and more worthy of the average person’s time, but the rewards for that value quite often go to the people who operate the platform, not the people who make it relevant.

Ernie Smith on value.

See also Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Steam, et cetera, et cetera. Basically any and every content aggregator.

Incidentally, the post this quote is taken from is about urging people to start an independent blog which, obviously, is something I am always here for.

2019-01-23T10:16:05+10:0020th June, 2019|Tags: social media, tech|

Hidden bodies.

If you believe moderation is a high-skilled, high-stakes job that presents unique psychological risks to your workforce, you might hire all of those workers as full-time employees. But if you believe that it is a low-skill job that will someday be done primarily by algorithms, you probably would not.

Instead, you would do what Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter have done, and hire companies like Accenture, Genpact, and Cognizant to do the work for you. Leave to them the messy work of finding and training human beings, and of laying them all off when the contract ends. Ask the vendors to hit some just-out-of-reach metric, and let them figure out how to get there.

At Google, contractors like these already represent a majority of its workforce. The system allows tech giants to save billions of dollars a year, while reporting record profits each quarter. Some vendors may turn out to mistreat their workers, threatening the reputation of the tech giant that hired them. But countless more stories will remain hidden behind nondisclosure agreements.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of people around the world go to work each day at an office where taking care of the individual person is always someone else’s job. Where at the highest levels, human content moderators are viewed as a speed bump on the way to an AI-powered future.

Casey Newton on moderation.

Hey y’all remember that article from a while back about how fucking awful it is to be a Facebook moderator?

Guess what? There’s a Part II. Content warning for the full story, which deals with death, workplace harassment and negligence, PTSD, and animal and child cruelty. Also: delete your fucking Facebook.

Also big shout-out to the graphic designers at The Verge, for the subtly filthy page margins, which… eurgh.

2019-06-20T10:22:08+10:0020th June, 2019|Tags: facebook, social media, tech|


Decentralization upends the social network business model by dramatically reducing operating costs. It absolves a single entity of having to shoulder all operating costs alone. No single server needs to grow beyond its comfort zone and financial capacity. As the entry cost is near zero, an operator of a Mastodon server does not need to seek venture capital, which would pressure them to use large-scale monetization schemes. There is a reason why Facebook executives rejected the $1 per year business model of WhatsApp after its acquisition: It is sustainable and fair, but it does not provide the same unpredictable, potentially unbounded return of investment that makes stock prices go up. Like advertising does.

Eugen Rochko on decentralization.

2019-04-29T12:03:36+10:0016th June, 2019|Tags: internet, social media, tech|

Srsly tho delete Facebook.

Maybe the lesson we are to take from the last two years is not simply that surveillance capitalism is bad news but also that the kind of ubiquitous connectivity upon which it is built is also bad news. This, it seems, is somehow unthinkable to us. To some damning degree, we seem to agree with Zuckerberg’s ideology […] that digitally connecting people is somehow an unalloyed and innocent good.

This recalls Alan Jacobs’ point from a couple of years back: “So there is a relationship between distraction and addiction, but we are not addicted to devices […] we are addicted to one another, to the affirmation of our value—our very being—that comes from other human beings. We are addicted to being validated by our peers.”

L.M. Sacasas on connectivity.

2019-01-09T09:20:46+10:0030th May, 2019|Tags: culture, social media|

Kpopcalypse 2019.

… Lest we forget.

This whole experience1 was wild, and someone way more articulate than me I’m sure could make hay writing some kind of retrospective about:

  • clashing online community mores
  • emergent user behaviors engendered by commercial social media’s growth-at-all-costs mindset
  • the “too-cool-for-you-plebes-but-oh-gods-please-acknowledge-my-greatness” dichotomy in “influencer”2 culture

… and probably many, many more!

  1. Tl;dr, Twitter kpop fandom crashed the Fediverse en masse, caused damage for about half a day, then was pretty much banned indefinitely from every server they invaded.
  2. What we used to call “BNFs”, back in Ye Oldene Dayes.
2019-03-18T11:28:23+10:0014th March, 2019|Tags: mastodon, social media|


This post has been doing the rounds today, about what it’s like to be a Facebook content moderator, and it’s absolutely damning.

It’s not necessarily even the stuff about the sorts of content moderators are faced with, or the ridiculously inconsistent rules for dealing with it.1 It’s the little indignities of the actual outsourcer, like the underpayment and the ruthless micromanagement of workers. It’s well-known that a lack of autonomy in a workplace causes the kind of stress that’s psychologically damaging, and that that kind of stress is significantly more common in low-wage jobs.2 Compounded with a workplace where people are constantly confronted by traumatic material, and…


  1. Though they are bad… and also the product of Facebook’s “all things to all people” monopolistic approach to social media, which is a different-but-related issue.
  2. High-wage jobs tend to come with a different kind of stress, i.e. one associated with having to deal with complex problems and difficult decisions. This type of stress, while still “stressful” is nonetheless not associated with long-term psychological damage in the way of stress originating from a lack of autonomy.
2019-02-26T15:15:42+10:0026th February, 2019|Tags: facebook, social media|