Connecticut Post (Sunday)
Removing mask from Facebook
Am I wearing nostalgia goggles, or was there a time when Facebook seemed kind of nice?
I remember liking it. You could get a whole bunch of people together and communicate with them. It was free.
Free, it turned out, in the fairy tale sense of poisoned apples and houses made of cake and candy.
I was not alone. Facebook now has 2.9 billion monthly users. India does not have 2.9 billion users. Of India.
October 2021 may go down in history as the month when the world saw the gingerbread siding get stripped off the Facebook house revealing the cannibal-witch making smoothies out of eighthgraders.
Whistleblower France Haugen, a former Facebook employee, spirited away a large tranche of documents and then offered convincing testimony to Congress. Her point: the company knew a lot but did very little about curbing hate speech, the psychological destruction of adolescents, toxic rhetoric and destructive falsehoods.
In many cases, Haugen explained, the most poisonous user content was also the highest octane profit fuel. It didn’t pay to ratchet that stuff down.
It’s probably just a coincidence that, here at the end of this disastrous month, Facebook is rebranding.
We (or I, anyway) don’t know the new name yet. It’s worth noting that Facebook is the name of two things: the wonderful social media playground and the company that owns said playground along with Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus. The new brand name will apply to the latter entity, much the way Google did not stop being Google even after its uber-company became Alphabet.
Reality check. The Google rebrand happened in 2015. Have you ever, even once, called the parent company Alphabet in the past six years? Me neither.
The H&G witch could try to rebrand as Nutranippers or Soylent Kids, but there’s no guarantee it would boost sales. (Pro tip: never purchase a bratwurst from a witch without making sure it’s not made of actual brats.)
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman, CEO and approximation of human life, Facebook is transforming from a social media company (and digital crime scene) to a metaverse company.
So that clears up everything, right?
What he seems to mean is that very soon Facebook — or Lovejoy, let’s say — will veer away from stuff you read on screens in favor of selling you stuff to put on your face so that you can experience virtual and augmented realities. Instead of posting pictures of your grandchildren, you will sit in a chair and visit grandchildren you don’t actually have.
Facebook has proven itself deeply unworthy of your trust in the comparatively straightforward business of hosting content on a site. Now they want to mess with your brain in a much more intrusive and comprehensive way.
It’s like the dentist who wrecked your teeth, knocked you out with gas and fondled your booty suddenly announcing that he also plans to become your gynecologist.
Facebook/Lovejoy has eagerly embraced the term “metaverse” as its new frontier, apparently unfazed by its origins in a 1992 science fiction novel where the word refers to a virtual space where people are exploited and subjugated by corporate overlords.
This should worry you, for realsies.
Where to turn? Help is on the way in the form of Truth Social, Donald Trump’s latest stab at creating his own social media platform. Possible slogan: “Truth Social: Where information goes to die.”
Trump has attracted investment capital to this enterprise despite many early indications that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and despite even earlier indications that he has never known what he is doing. Samuel Johnson called second marriages the triumph of hope over experience. I’m not sure what he would call investors flocking to hand money over to a guy who will be a first ballot inductee into the Bankruptcy Hall of Fame, who is legendary for stiffing and shortchanging vendors, and whose principal family company is currently under indictment and facing additional criminal probes.
The promotional materials for Truth Social are full of fake quotes from businesses that never gave permission for their names and brands to be used, sometimes appearing to post on Truth Social to promote products that do not exist. In other words, the promotional materials for Truth Social are full of lies.
Meanwhile a not-evenbeta version of Truth Social was immediately hacked by pranksters who, among other things, created a fake donaldjtrump account and posted a picture of a defecating pig on said account.
Hey, I never said there wouldn’t be any fun associated with the demise of reality.
Colin McEnroe’s column appears every Sunday, his newsletter comes out every Thursday and you can hear his radio show every weekday on WNPR 90.5. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for his free newsletter at http://bit.ly/colinmcenroe.
October 2021 may go down in history as the month when the world saw the gingerbread siding get stripped off the Facebook house revealing the cannibal-witch making smoothies out of eighth-graders.