The new cyber colonialism.

Like water to fish, [Facebook’s] Meta wants to become the imperceptible medium that permeates our entire existence. It will no longer be a choice you make but rather the space within which choices are made available to you. In other words, it’s not the company sponsoring the event, it’s the stadium in which it’s held. The idea is that Meta will be a holding company in charge of a thriving ecosystem of interconnected products and services, all seamlessly integrated into a hybrid world able to effortlessly extract profit at every point in the system.

The metaverse is bad, actually.

2021-12-20T07:27:35+11:0021st December, 2021|Tags: , |

Concentrated, centralized, regulated.

Yet the concentration of power in the hands of a small group is the fundamental political and economic problem with Facebook. We have never allowed one man to set rules for communication networks that structure the information ecosystem of billions of people. But that is the situation we’re in. We have to radically decentralize this power. But a regulatory overlay in some ways would worsen the problem, because it would explicitly fuse political control with market power over speech and it would legitimize the dominant monopoly position of Facebook. (Common carriers, for instance, have an antitrust exemption from FTC rules). The right is suspicious of such a regulator because they are afraid of what Biden and the left would do with it. But I suspect that suspicion isn’t out of place on the left either. If you are a Democrat, imagine, for instance, if Trump were able to pick a regulator for social media, to negotiate with Zuckerberg on how to run global discourse. Better not to have such concentrated power in the first place! [ . . .]

On a practical level, it’s important to recognize that Facebook exists today because of the failure of regulators to take action on privacy, on market power, and on basic rule of law problems such as advertising fraud. We already have agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, which is supposed to police and research unfair practices and work on privacy questions, and the Federal Communication Commission, which does the same in the telecom space. Why would a new regulatory agency be any better? [ . . .]

In other words, we have to eliminate Facebook’s toxic business model, not regulate it, because regulating something serves to legitimize it. It’s not about stopping the collection of data and manipulation, it’s about stopping the practices that make that collection of data and manipulation profitable in the first place. Get it at the source. Monopoly and market structure are upstream from the data, misinformation, censorship and privacy problems.

Matt Stoller on regulating Facebook.

2021-12-14T08:00:11+11:0015th December, 2021|Tags: , , |


There are now databases containing the personal details of about a third of the world’s population which, at least for a span of eighteen months, an average of one engineer was fired every two weeks for improperly accessing users’ profiles, targeted advertising categories, or location data. This excerpt implies they were caught because they had used company-provided computers, and that they only represent a fraction of the “thousands” of engineers spying on Facebook users. This is an extraordinary abuse of power, akin to real-world stalking with fewer risks to the perpetrator.

Nick Heer on Little Brother.

Tl;dr if you want to stalk someone, anyone, just get a job as a Facebook engineer and go nuts, basically.

2021-10-20T07:13:56+11:0026th October, 2021|Tags: , , , |


[C]onservative-only social networks don’t work. Yes, they quickly fill up with nazis and anime porn, but they lack the one thing that Twitter, in particular, gives them — immediate access to liberals and members of the media to cyberbully. More than that, there’s no sense of domination on a site like Gab or GETTR. In fact, right-wing users are so desperate to carry out violence against others that, when they were all siloed together on Parler, they spent months organizing an irl coup.

I’m also beginning to wonder if all these apps are their own grift in a way. Loudly launch a site no one will ever use, claim it’s a free speech sanctuary for Republicans, do the rounds on all the right-wing news outlets, and wait for it to fill up with the worst people on Earth, refuse to moderate it, wait for Apple to ban it from the App Store, and then go back to the right-wing news outlets and screech about liberal cancel culture impacting your ability to share hentai with white nationalist flat earthers or whatever.

Ryan Broderick on win-win.

2021-09-28T07:11:57+10:0030th September, 2021|Tags: , |

Twitter famous.

Interesting profile on Yashar Ali, who’s one of those people you’ve surely come across if you’ve ever made the Poor Life Choice of spending a non-zero amount of time on left-wing Twitter, and yet who doesn’t really seem to exist outside of it . . .

2021-09-09T08:48:14+10:0011th September, 2021|Tags: , , |

Discourse-damaged Zoomers.

Tumblr is not one single whale, but the site’s memes and in-jokes and trends are whales that die on the ocean floor of the internet and then go on to influence wider culture. I also don’t necessarily think this is always a good thing. Yes, Tumblr gave us memes like Dat Boi, but, at its peak, it was a huge vector for fandom harassment and an extremely puritanical, sex-negative, and toxic “social justice” movement.

But to continue this idea of how Tumblr interacts with the rest of the world, I recently came across this great post written by user zvaigzdelasas, “The growing rift between tumblr culture as practiced on this site & ‘tumblr culture’ as practiced by expats to twitter is a fascinating example of divergent species evolution when like a cliff or river separates groups.” I’ve seen shades of this argument, as well — the super toxic users left Tumblr in 2016 and now they’re power users on TikTok and Twitter.

And this idea from zvaigzdelasas’s post lines up with another good take on this that I saw recently from user tempestpaige. They wrote about a phenomenon they’re called “discourse damaged zoomers,” which I think is a really useful concept. They argued that while a lot of the culture war discourse happening on TikTok right now was happening on Tumblr six or seven years ago, it never reached the scale that it can on a platform like TikTok.

Ryan Broderick on cultural whalefall.

Tumblr’s Great Contributions to internet culture being Dat Boi and ~The Discourse~ are both pretty strong arguments for deleting it from the face of the planet and salting the servers in its wake . . .

2021-08-25T06:28:56+10:0028th August, 2021|Tags: , , |

The Youfs.

Gonzo Millennial Harper’s writer gets banished to the Content House to write David Foster Wallace-esque missives about the local populace.

Gods. That’s really what this is, isn’t it? The Boomers had “The Motorcycle Gangs” (content warning for, uh, very victim-blamey takes on rape), and Gen X “Big Red Son“, and Millennials are going to get exposés about fucking TikTokers.

Truly, we are living in the stupidest timeline . . .

2021-08-23T08:55:24+10:0026th August, 2021|Tags: , |

Signs without signifiers.

TikTok fame celebrates a different kind of mediocrity, though, the kind where “relatability” means adhering to the internet’s fluctuating beauty standards and approachable upper-middle-classness and never saying anything that might indicate a personality. This, as opposed to the kind of relatability you get from hearing someone articulate a specific feeling or watching someone else experience a similar kind of mundanity you recognize in your own life. The songs, the shows, and the specials to come out of TikTok fame feel hollow, the opposite of good art, which has a point of view and a meaning beyond itself.

On the terrible whiteness of TikTok.

Also, this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen Sarah Cooper described as someone whose hacky lip syncs to Trump speeches made her beloved among resistance boomers which, uh. As someone who never “got” Cooper’s shtick, but whose resistance boomer mother loves it, I find deeply hashtag-relatable.

2021-08-12T07:07:41+10:0017th August, 2021|Tags: , |
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