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Former Facebook Employee Questions the Social Media Life

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the none-of-us-are-as-lame-as-all-of-us dept.

Businesses 171

stevegee58 writes "The Washington Post published an interesting article about Facebook's employee #51, Katherine Losse. As an English major from Johns Hopkins, Losse wasn't the typical Facebook employee. But after starting in customer service, she later became Mark Zuckerberg's personal ghostwriter, penning blog posts in his name. The article traces Losse's growing disillusionment with social networking in general and Facebook in particular. After cashing out some FB stock, Losse resigned and moved to a rural West Texas town to get away from technology and focus on writing."

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Sounds like (4, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#40889183)

A total Losse for the big Z.

Re:Sounds like (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889287)

He should get a twitter account, his losses would be much less dramatic.

A life with no privacy is no life (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#40889833)

Telling the whole world when, where and what you have taken your lunch, when, where and what you did when you were with your gf/bf is a life with no privacy whatsoever

Absolutely not the kind of life a normal, self-respecting human being would lead
 

Re:A life with no privacy is no life (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890217)

Telling the whole world when, where and what you have taken your lunch, when, where and what you did when you were with your gf/bf is a life with no privacy whatsoever

Absolutely not the kind of life a normal, self-respecting human being would lead

With apologies to Bowling for Soup:

Four years you think for sure,
That's all you've got to endure,
Before your options vest,
And then you'll have success,
IPO went fizzle, a bubble burst...
Then when they say "you're fired,"
Atlas gives a little shrug and you say RETIRED!
This was the same as where I just came from,
I thought it was over!
(Aw thatâ(TM)s just great.)

CHORUS:

And the whole damn world is just as obsessed,
With who's options vest, and who's having sex,
Whoâs got the money, who gets the honeys,
Whoâs kinda cute, and whoâs just a mess.
And you still don't have the right look.
And you don't have thousands of friends.
Nothing changes but the facebook, its pages, its trends...
High School Never Ends [youtube.com] !

(Congratulations #51 for getting out while you were ahead. You're missing nothing! Zuck fucked everyone from his users to his employees to his investment bankers to the entire dot-com bubble 2.0.)

Re:Sounds like (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40889293)

well, she cashed out and is now social networking in the "big boys" social network: the media.
which she as a writer is going to have to do a lot...

anyhow, her complaints about the online life are not actually facebook specific. people lived that "i'm in a car" online life long before facebook, I remember reading a bit after middle '90s on irc a from a dude "I'm bicycling". and well, that's how our irc chat life went back then but he was one of the very few who had a company paying for gsm data(and a communicator to use that).

It's not about facebook or "social media", it's about being online and sharing what you do, for some people it's security, for some it's just about sharing, taking part. what it makes harder to do is re-inventing yourself on weekly basis, since everybodys a celebrity and the track record is there, but only sort of since there's 900 million so nobodys really a celebrity in the whole context.

Re:Sounds like (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889603)

Well, and it's easy to look down your nose at the masses when you've already made a boatload of cash and can afford a nice, remote place somewhere to just go unplug, ruminate, and write. :p

I'd like to move to a tropical island and do heady things. But as it turns out, I'm here in my condo, bs'ing about the mars lander on facebook, waiting for monday morning.

Dark Profiles (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#40890425)

Read page 2 of tfa if you have the time

There is a mention of "Dark Profiles", and I quote:
 
 

"... a team of Facebook engineers was developing what they called dark profiles - "pages for people who had not signed up for the service but who had been identified in posts by Facebook users. The dark profiles were not to be visible to ordinary users, Losse said, but if the person eventually signed up, Facebook would activate those latent links to other users."

 

Re:Dark Profiles (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#40890493)

Re:Dark Profiles (4, Interesting)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 2 years ago | (#40890971)

Dark profiles indeed. Go to Yahoo. Make sure you have Noscript turned on. Let's say you for some insane reason want to leave a comment.

Try to do it without Facebook getting and tracking it. No membership required.

People who think that Apple, Google or Microsoft are evil ought to check out how FB is tracking everyone. It's not just Yahoo, they are just folks I am familiar with.

Re:Sounds like (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#40890567)

Well, and it's easy to look down your nose at the masses when you've already made a boatload of cash and can afford a nice, remote place somewhere to just go unplug, ruminate, and write. :p

I'd like to move to a tropical island and do heady things. But as it turns out, I'm here in my condo, bs'ing about the mars lander on facebook, waiting for monday morning.

Its the Z man effect.

Re:Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890813)

I'd like to move to a tropical island and do heady things.

Well, it is not that you actually can't. Try Solomon Islands, Papua NG or such, that's not even expensive if you let aside the comfort of your life that you are used to...
(as for the heady things, you can use your head to crash coconuts)

Re:Sounds like (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890865)

Your post made me sad.

Re:Sounds like (5, Interesting)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#40890095)

The more connected I'm forced to be, the more disconnected I wish I was. My job at a technology company forces me to be connected 24/7 for various reason. Sooner or later I'm going to retire very early and move to some small town in the Sierra Nevadas. I've come to learn that I hate the privacy walls that are being torn down by both business and government on the internet, and as it evolves past the Old West in to East Berlin, I hate the whole thing more and more.

Re:Sounds like (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#40891015)

I had a job where I had to be available on-call all the time, and I ended up opening the notebook and working at home as much as from home. Coding during the day, paperwork like responding to e-mails in the evening.

Add in a healthy dose of berating idiots on slashdot and browsing other negligibly informational news aggregator sites, and I did maybe 9 hours of work a day. But I felt tethered.

I switched jobs, and the expectation to be ever present is gone. We have great user sign-off and the infrastructure is relatively simple, so I don't get downtime calls like I used to. I leave work and it leaves me. You might look into a change of pace, if you have to move and you have 8 years before retirement, I'd make the change.

Re:Sounds like (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889311)

The linked article is hidden behind a paywall. You can read 2 pages (out of 5) before you are blocked.

Re:Sounds like (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889403)

I read it all with no problem. Try disabling javascript.

Re:Sounds like (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889455)

The linked article is hidden behind a paywall. You can read 2 pages (out of 5) before you are blocked.

Print article gives full text.

Re:Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889471)

Clearing your Internet history will take care of that problem.

Re:Sounds like (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890871)

I cleaned my browser history and was able to read the rest. Yes, I read the articles....[bows head]

Fakebook (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#40889223)

I knew that FB had fake accounts, but apparently it also has fake Zuckerberg and more importantly a fake market valuation and probably a fake business model.

Re:Fakebook (5, Funny)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#40889435)

Now c'mon. You didn't really expect the big "Z" to enter his own blogs? I mean, I'm not even the big "K" - I'm actually an offshore ghost writer for Kittenman who lives somewhere in South Korea.

Re:Fakebook (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40889465)

You may be dismayed to learn this, but nearly every large company has fake communications from its CEO. You don't think the Delta CEO personally pens the "from the CEO" letter at the front of each month's in-flight magazine, do you? He may read it and suggest (or even make) changes, but I am pretty sure he isn't writing the draft.

Re:Fakebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889717)

You may be dismayed to learn this, but nearly every large company has fake communications from its CEO. You don't think the Delta CEO personally pens the "from the CEO" letter at the front of each month's in-flight magazine, do you? He may read it and suggest (or even make) changes, but I am pretty sure he isn't writing the draft.

Yeah, you're right. God forbid we actually ask a CEO to actually use their MBA for more than wall art.

Amazing how people think that just because you have three letters after your name you're suddenly far too important to wipe your own ass.

Re:Fakebook (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890887)

Yeah, and if every domicile and enclosure in their life doesn't smell like Corinthian leather they get all confused and start flailing around to find their bearings--ignoring the poor clueless fools who are trying to figure out what is wrong and help them.

Re:Fakebook (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#40889823)

I think given the fake business model and the fake valuation, Zuckerberg could have at least keep something real, but then again, he may just be totally incapable of actual human communications with people and if he started writing his own journal entries, people would be even more turned off by what he has to say.

After all, isn't that the guy who said:

I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS," he said. "People just submitted it. I don't know why. They 'trust me'. Dumb f----.

--

As to me, I am happy I don't have an FB account, but then again, governments may now consider me a 'mass murderer' for that reason [slashdot.org] .

Re:Fakebook (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#40890135)

One leading indication to me of the worthiness of a product is if the company uses it's own product. Apparently Zuckerberg doesn't use it. So I guess it is not worthwhile for me to use it either.

Re:Fakebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890869)

There is a difference though. Delta's product isn't the CEO's personal letter. Facebook's product is the CEO's personal letter, along with everyone else's. So the fact that Zuckerberg doesn't write them is just as significant as the millions of other fake users.

Re:Fakebook (1)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#40890125)

Funny. I had a fake account, but I was kicked off after about three weeks from using it. :(

It's scary that Facebook find suggested friends pretty good. I am trying to figure how it knows that. I assume it is tags, texts mentioning my name, my e-mail address, etc.

Fake users? Hah! They have Facebook in heaven... (5, Interesting)

Life2Short (593815) | about 2 years ago | (#40890195)

It's a lot worse than you think! FTFA:

"Celebrities had found Marfa too. The town's beloved food truck, the Food Shark, has nearly 1,700 'Likes' on its Facebook page -- including ones from luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Tammy Wynette, and Willie Nelson."

According to Wikipedia Tammy Wynette died in 1998. Facebook was launched in February 2004.

Re:Fakebook (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890861)

What'd you expect from Herr Judenberg?

Re:Fakebook (1)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | about 2 years ago | (#40890999)

Apparently, they have fake security too! From TFA:

In her first days, she was given a master password that she said allowed her to see any information users typed into their Facebook pages. ,,, In one exchange, she noticed the man's password, "Ilovejason," and was startled by the painful irony.

Now Generation (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 2 years ago | (#40889255)

Where are all the posts? I expect them noooooooooow!

What has the Internet become? (5, Insightful)

evanism (600676) | about 2 years ago | (#40889267)

What a horror. She saw the light, as did I.

After 17 years of building, learning and promoting I now realise just how awful it has now become. I have left the industry entirely.

Facebook is not a product of Zuckerberg, but a reflection of the inevitability that horrendous and highly penetrative technological processes will have on our lives.

People haven't asked for Big Brother, they demanded him.

Re:What has the Internet become? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889283)

Maybe in another 17 years you'll stop posting crap like this on slashdot!

Re:What has the Internet become? (2)

evanism (600676) | about 2 years ago | (#40889593)

Says the Anonymous troll. QED.

Re:What has the Internet become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889663)

Hey - you claim to be one of the architects of this shit. Time to look in the mirror?

Re:What has the Internet become? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889959)

He did, idiot. That's why he left.

Re:What has the Internet become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889289)

It all started because people wanted to know what other people were doing

Re:What has the Internet become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889357)

... which does not require Facebook or for that matter any proprietary service at all.

Re:What has the Internet become? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890895)

Obligatory....."but what about Diaspora?"

Re:What has the Internet become? (5, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40889447)

No, it started because people wanted other people to know what they were doing. "Look at me, I'm important."

It is an efficient way to communicate, basically a kiosk. But when the host becomes too intrusive the convenience is outweighted by the cost.

Re:What has the Internet become? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40889609)

It is an efficient way to communicate

No it isn't, because you cannot count on people who have subscribed to you or people on your friends list who haven't muted your posts actually seeing your content for a number of reasons which vary from censorship to incompetence. That goes for private messages too, except they're less likely to be censored, and more likely to show up very late or not at all or without a notification.

This goes for Google+ too, except there things just show up a little bit late, or get censored.

Re:What has the Internet become? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889341)

People haven't asked for Big Brother, they demanded him.

True, but you generalize far too much when you say "the internet".

You can use the internet without giving away your privacy Facebook-style. There are plenty of more or less secure ways to do everything you can do on Facebook. Status updates, instanting messaging, emails, you name it. FB doesn't have to enter the picture for any of that.

I use Pidgin and OTR's encryption to talk with amongst my friends. It works great. Ok, sure, if the NSA takes a personal interest in me it won't be enough, but that's not the real threat. The real threat is everything else - commercialization, casual "track everything that goes through" style logging by intelligence agencies, and so on. The fact that this isn't perfect doesn't mean it isn't a hell of a lot better than what most people do.

Just because the rest of the world demands Big Brother doesn't mean you have to. You and your friends can do whatever you want. The internet just routes your packets. What you do with them is up to you.

Re:What has the Internet become? (2)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40889587)

Just because the rest of the world demands Big Brother doesn't mean you have to. You and your friends can do whatever you want. The internet just routes your packets. What you do with them is up to you.

Nah. What others do is important. If anybody but me watched TV 24/7, or slowly unlearned to read or write sentences longer than 140 characters, how would I be able to have a decent conversation about fuck all? To me that's like saying you can swim anywhere you want, where the bucket is poured is not your concern. Sure, it seems like that, for a while, but it's not like that in the long run,, so even if it wasn't so extremely selfish to say it doesn't concern you, it would still be short-sighted.

Re:What has the Internet become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889349)

Yeah, it's fucked seeing people i know in real life puttting up these instagram/hipstamatic photos of themselves posing and looking super cool when i know they're actually depressed and insecure and, to be perfectly honest, a bit boring. Other people see those photos and think they're missing out on some exciting shit. The fact is people who are actually exciting don't put up pictures and tweets of every thing they do every day since they're too busy out actually do interesting things.

Although i have to say i love google books, having access to scans of rare 18th century French history books at my convenience is one of the best things ever. Sure, I live in a big city and probably Columbia or NYU has them, maybe, but it's just so much better to bring them up on my computer and search right to the section I want. So amazing.

I've come to the conclusion the internet is best used for research not socializing. Yeah, it's a little hypocritical to say that on Slashdot but at least I don't have an account here or anything. I just drop an occasional AC post.

Re:What has the Internet become? (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40889503)

I'd follow her example... if only I had company stock to turn into cash. Unfortunately I'm one of the tech people who got tired of the web without first getting rich from it.

Re:What has the Internet become? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about 2 years ago | (#40890485)

I'd follow her example... if only I had company stock to turn into cash. Unfortunately I'm one of the tech people who got tired of the web without first getting rich from it.

She didn't leave to just go somewhere and vegetate. She's concentrating on her writing. I presume she'll be getting paid for it, too.

You know, you can start to focus on another passion/interest of yours while still working. If it becomes important enough, you'll eventually make an exit plan and figure out a way to live off it. You don't have to be rich to do it.

Re:What has the Internet become? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889643)

Meh, people will adjust. They're in the honeymoon phase now like I was back in the early 80's with BBS's. I remember back in those days spending entire days doing nothing but dialing BBS after BBS just to converse with people and check out what's new. After a few years I realized how much time I was wasting doing nothing productive.

I mean it wasn't all wasted time. I met many friends that became friends in real life. I even met several girlfriends this way (there actually were quite a few normal girls on BBS's even in the 80's, especially the younger/teen set like I was).

When the Internet got popular I noticed new geeks going through the same phases. Now it's being repeated with everyone else (ie. mainstream "normal" people). I think most people will figure it out eventually. They may even temporarily reject technology like this woman is doing. I firmly believe they will eventually reintegrate technology into their lives except with a more controlled attitude. Technology is too beneficial to completely reject.

Re:What has the Internet become? (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890939)

In the 90's I was hitting the BBSs hard. I racked up a $400 phone bill one month calling Cincinnati and California--I lived in the countryside east of Cincinnati. I'll never forget my mom bursting through my bedroom door with the phone bill in her hand. We lost the phone for a while, and I, the fix for my new addiction. Good times.

Re:What has the Internet become? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889993)

Ditto.

A real life instead of a virtual one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889275)

Speaking as an expert (as many of us are), I can say with a certainty that all my friends, my house, my pet, my family are all fully contained within the Matrix. Someday everyone else will realize that their lives are also part of the matrix. Only then will world peace be achieved.

Re:A real life instead of a virtual one? (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40889647)

There are those who believe this has already happened.

Re:A real life instead of a virtual one? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40890947)

Yes, this should help with my plans for single, homogeneous world government.

Summary: FB evil, got my $... (0)

ztexas (1351217) | about 2 years ago | (#40889305)

... and off production/consumption treadmill. I r writer!

Re:Summary: FB evil, got my $... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889633)

>moved to a rural West Texas town to get away from technology and focus on writing.

>moved to Marfa to hang with the hipsters.

There fixed that for them.

He doesn't even use his own crap... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889309)

So Mark Zuckerberg doesn't even use his own site? Indeed he's smarter than I thought.

isnt that *special* (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889321)

you happen to strike the pot of gold, get rich, you can go to a little town in TX and bemoan technology while the rest of us work
Isn't that just so special ?
Perhaps this person will start something useful to society, like hand printed books, on vellum, about how much money you can make and still diss the person or institution that gave it to you

It's not really social (5, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#40889323)

It sounds like she thought this was something of meaning but, imo, it's not. It's not even really social. From what I can see, it doesn't matter how many "friends" people have. They often don't chat to each other. They talk about themselves and hopefully get a lot of people telling them how awesome they are. That's probably because most people don't have real friends on facebook. It's a list of people that decided to friend them for no good reason or because they met once or twice. It's impossible to have 500 actual friends.

So most interactions on facebook aren't really socialising. That patting each other on the back (or blowing each other depending on how far you take it) and to be honest I think the days of geocities were more social. People made websites with interesting content that would spark conversation even if were just between you and the author via email. I'd genuoinely say the vast majority of content I see people posting on FB is no interesting, it's not remotely deep or thoughtful. it's shit like announcements that someone likes amazon. Well good for you, you're like 99% of the population.

I don't really like having an account which is reflected in the fact I don't use my own name or talk about myself. It's there basically to keep in touch with some people which unfortuantely think there is no other way to keep in contact on the internet and since they're family it's a bit more awkward to tell them to suck it up and use email like a normal person. Though I feel that day coming up pretty soon.

Re:It's not really social (-1, Flamebait)

cupantae (1304123) | about 2 years ago | (#40889523)

You sound bitter. I feel a little sorry for you because of some of the things which you seem to believe are true.

They talk about themselves and hopefully get a lot of people telling them how awesome they are.

Yeah, but people like that do the same in real life. That's why you don't add them on facebook.

That's probably because most people don't have real friends on facebook.

What? I have nothing but real friends.

It's a list of people that decided to friend them for no good reason or because they met once or twice. It's impossible to have 500 actual friends.

It's very possible if you've lived in many places, joined many clubs, etc. I have 425 friends. I was in no rush to accumulate them, I would certainly recognise all of them on the street and know their first name. I would definitely have a pint with any and everyone I'm friends on facebook with. Otherwise I delete them.

Well good for you, you're like 99% of the population.

That "like" is highly subjective. The way you choose to separate 1% from the remaining 99% would seem silly and arbitrary to a lot of people. Try being a bit more humble, please.
I like to use facebook, but I only go on for 5-20 mins / day. A lot of my friends are creative. They put up good pictures, they say funny things, they are generally entertaining, because they're my friends, and I love them. Facebook might well be evil, but I like using it anyway.

Re:It's not really social (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889615)

You sound fatuous. I feel a little sorry for you because of some of the things you say describe you as exactly the type of thing the guy was pointing out. You agree with his premise (after a personal attack) and only and that fine with it.

Signal meets noise.

Re:It's not really social (1)

Anonymice (1400397) | about 2 years ago | (#40890127)

Feeding the trolls, but I'm bored

Not at all. The parent (thetoadwarrior) sounds very much like many other tech associates I have, whose social reach doesn't extend much beyond "geek" circles.
I'm afraid the majority of people simply don't hold the same views (they're unlikely to even be aware of the subject matter).

The quality of the content on you get on the site, can be directly correlated with the type of people you add.
If I haven't even had the minimum of a conversation with you in real life, I won't be accepting your friendship requests. If you only post inane drivel - zap, you're gone.

As for it being "impossible" to have x number of friends, I'm afraid that's entirely subjective & dependent on your lifestyle.
I like to travel & I've lived in several countries. At certain times in my life (alas, not currently) I've also found myself socialising in many different circles & have been heavily involved in various sports.
By all means, if I'd spent my entire life living in the same area & my social group hadn't changed much since the days of school/university, my social reach would be far more limited.

In short, Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends across large distances. Email simply doesn't compare when it comes to sharing & commenting on media/photos & for having real time discussions - all in one place. When I go $home, it's as if I'd never left.

Re:It's not really social (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 2 years ago | (#40891013)

In short, Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends across large distances. Email simply doesn't compare when it comes to sharing & commenting on media/photos & for having real time discussions - all in one place. When I go $home, it's as if I'd never left.

Mostly I've found it's for people trying to get dates with my wife.

Re:It's not really social (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40889585)

From what I can see, it doesn't matter how many "friends" people have.

It doesn't, it matters what quality their friends are.

I don't really like having an account which is reflected in the fact I don't use my own name or talk about myself. It's there basically to keep in touch with some people which unfortuantely think there is no other way to keep in contact on the internet and since they're family it's a bit more awkward to tell them to suck it up and use email like a normal person.

So in summary, you use facebook as a social network, for socializing.

Re:It's not really social (1)

BeanThere (28381) | about 2 years ago | (#40891001)

So in summary, you use facebook as a social network, for socializing.

Yes, but you see, he's better than all the other lowly facebook users, as everyone else just made a list of 500 people they met once or twice and don't it use properly. He's the worst kind of "I don't even own a TV" snob - the type who does actually watch TV.

Re:It's not really social (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40889683)

It's not even really social.

older, but always a good read:

http://blog.pinboard.in/2011/11/the_social_graph_is_neither/ [pinboard.in]

The social graph wants to turn us back into third graders, laboriously spelling out just who is our fifth-best-friend. But there's a reason we stopped doing that kind of thing in third grade!

You might almost think that the whole scheme had been cooked up by a bunch of hyperintelligent but hopelessly socially naive people, and you would not be wrong. Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender. Our industry abounds in people for whom social interaction has always been more of a puzzle to be reverse-engineered than a good time to be had, and the result is these vaguely Martian protocols.

But let's say an inspired mathlete proves me wrong. There's a brilliant hack that fixes all the issues I've raised and we go ahead and build the Platonic social graph. What can you actually do with it?

Well, one thing we've seen is that machine-readable lists of friends make it much easier to launch social sites. Letting a thousand startups bloom is one of the big justifications in Fitzpatrick's essay. But is removing this friction a good thing? It is admittedly annoying to have to re-follow people every time you sign up for something, but it also forces the authors to make the site appealing enough to get us over that hurdle. We're already starting to see apps whose first act is to suction down our contact list and spam our various accounts with invites without bothering to woo us at all. I can't imagine having open API access to the social graph is going to improve that.

In other domains, a big graph would be good for recommendations, but friendship is not transitive. There's just no way to tell if you'll get along with someone in my social circle, no matter how many friends we have in common.

But one thing you can do is mine a huge amount of information about my friends and infer things about their interests, income, social status and tastes. And then maybe you can use that information to bring them valuable news and offers, or help them digitally engage with their favorite brands.

Imagine the U.S. Census as conducted by direct marketers - that's the social graph.

Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.

Because their collection methods are kind of primitive, these sites have to coax you into doing as much of your social interaction as possible while logged in, so they can see it. It's as if an ad agency built a nationwide chain of pubs and night clubs in the hopes that people would spend all their time there, rigging the place with microphones and cameras to keep abreast of the latest trends (and staffing it, of course, with that Mormon bartender).

We're used to talking about how disturbing this in the context of privacy, but it's worth pointing out how weirdly unsocial it is, too. How are you supposed to feel at home when you know a place is full of one-way mirrors?

We have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage - we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action. Even if you have faith in their good intentions, you feel misgivings about stepping into the elaborate shrine they've built to document your entire online life.

Open data advocates tell us the answer is to reclaim this obsessive dossier for ourselves, so we can decide where to store it. But this misses the point of how stifling it is to have such a permanent record in the first place. Who does that kind of thing and calls it social?

Re:It's not really social (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 2 years ago | (#40890605)

"They often don't chat to each other. They talk about themselves and hopefully get a lot of people telling them how awesome they are "

In other words, they behave pretty much the same way they do face to face.

Please sign in to access this article and other ex (5, Funny)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#40889335)

Sign in

Use your Washington Post account.

        E-mail Address:
        Password: Forgot your password?
        Remember me on this computer.

Or use your preferred network credentials.

        Login with Facebook

Kids, if you're wondering what this "irony" thing is that we oldsters like to talk about...?

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889453)

That is not irony, Alanis. Furthermore, click "print" and enjoy the entire article ad-free with no login required.

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#40890305)

I knew what irony was before Alanis was even a zygote, thanks very much.

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889463)

The only thing worse than someone referring to the readership of their post as "people," is someone who refers to us as "kids."

Thanks, Dad.

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#40890315)

Sure thing, Son.

BTW, I notice you're on the Internet wayyy after lights-out, so you're grounded from the computer for the next two weeks.

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890639)

"The only thing worse than someone referring to the readership of their post as "people,""

What's the matter with _you_ people?

Re:Please sign in to access this article and other (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890265)

That reminds me of when I tried to pay for something with my credit card instead of PayPal. It went like this:

"Please enter your e-mail address"

clickity-click-click....

"Hey it looks like you have a PayPal account. Want to use it?"

(how the f.....???) [No]

"Ok, give us your credit card info"

clickity-click-click....

"You sure you don't want to pay via PayPal? Last chance!"

[No]

"We're pleased you decided to pay through PayPal. Here's your confirmation; you should receive an e-mail shortly."

(multiple explitives and wishing I had simply closed the browser earlier on....but I did get the item, and no immediate harm done to my PayPal or credit card accounts)

Sums up every bad 'social media expert' (4, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 2 years ago | (#40889375)

An underqualified English major pretending to be a douchebag.

Re:Sums up every bad 'social media expert' (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40889513)

Be fair. She's a perfectly qualified douchebag.

Re:Sums up every bad 'social media expert' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889873)

s/bad//

Registration Sucks Almost as Bad as Facebook (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#40889389)

But her concerns continue to grow. When Zuckerberg, apparently sensing this, said to Losse, âoeI donâ(TM)t know if I trust you,â she decided she needed to either be entirely committed to Facebook or leave. She soon sold some of her vested stock. She wonâ(TM)t say how much; they provided enough of a financial boon for her to go a couple of years without a salary, though not enough to stop working altogether, as some former colleagues have.

And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

So, if I understand this correctly, she got rich and decided working wasn't for her and she wanted to chase every writer's dream to lock themselves away in some far off locale to write their lifetime novel?

How is this news? Because it deals with the side of Facebook everyone knows about but ignores so they can post photos of their kids and let other people tell them how cute they are or is there something I missed in the last two pages?

Re:Registration Sucks Almost as Bad as Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889629)

She's getting ready to go all Unabomber on us.
Or she's hawking a book.

Re:Registration Sucks Almost as Bad as Facebook (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40890657)

And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

Yet, a privacy freak like my self can read the entire article (all four "pages") without a problem.

I use firefox with these add-ons:

RefControl - normally set to spoof, for wapo I set it to always block the referrer.
NoScript
CS Lite - set to block all cookies

There are more, but I think those three are sufficient to get past the wapo paywall.

Re:Registration Sucks Almost as Bad as Facebook (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#40890697)

And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

It seems there is a bug. I was able to get the other pages by requesting the ready-to-print version

I don't have a Facebook account (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#40889495)

and I wish Facebook an accelerated death as is certain as people grow more wise to their feeding of personal details to an ad making machine

but in reality, Losse's words and opinion seem to have more to do with Losse's own life trajectory than with Facebook itself

human beings are social animals. this has powered Facebook's growth. but the Internet is still young, and you can forgive the world for not understanding the nature of the beast it was feeding. as it dawns on them what Facebook really means to their lives and their society, they will continue to be just as social, but on sites that do not exist for the goal that Facebook does

meanwhile, humans are not universally social, or social their entire lives. some are more introspective and seek a more monklike existence in order to plumb the depths of their spirit or their mind. this is 100% fine and I myself have this tendency. but i recognize that this tendency of mine, and as it exists also in Losse, is not an enemy of human sociability, nor should it be, nor should we evangelize that everyone should tune out and drop out, just like we should not evangelize that everyone should plug in and focus in

to each their own. Losse is making the mistake of projecting her own life's trajectory on the story of Facebook and/ or social networking in general. don't make the same mistake as Losse. unless you yourself are equally interested in tuning out and dropping out. in which case, this is fine, power to you. i hope something constructive comes out of it, for Losse, and for you. now unplug the computer

Re:I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889721)

>>> and I wish Facebook an accelerated death as is certain as people grow more wise to their feeding of personal details to an ad making machine

Please don't wish such horrible wishes. Facebook keeps a lot of undesirables out of public view. It is a blessing in disguise.

Re:I don't have a Facebook account (1)

tooyoung (853621) | about 2 years ago | (#40889879)

and I wish Facebook an accelerated death as is certain as people grow more wise to their feeding of personal details to an ad making machine

but in reality, Losse's words and opinion seem to have more to do with Losse's own life trajectory than with Facebook itself

human beings are social animals. this has powered Facebook's growth. but the Internet is still young, and you can forgive the world for not understanding the nature of the beast it was feeding. as it dawns on them what Facebook really means to their lives and their society, they will continue to be just as social, but on sites that do not exist for the goal that Facebook does

meanwhile, humans are not universally social, or social their entire lives. some are more introspective and seek a more monklike existence in order to plumb the depths of their spirit or their mind. this is 100% fine and I myself have this tendency. but i recognize that this tendency of mine, and as it exists also in Losse, is not an enemy of human sociability, nor should it be, nor should we evangelize that everyone should tune out and drop out, just like we should not evangelize that everyone should plug in and focus in

to each their own. Losse is making the mistake of projecting her own life's trajectory on the story of Facebook and/ or social networking in general. don't make the same mistake as Losse. unless you yourself are equally interested in tuning out and dropping out. in which case, this is fine, power to you. i hope something constructive comes out of it, for Losse, and for you. now unplug the computer

Posted from my Andriod phone.

Geeze, just kidding...

Re:I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890661)

"human beings are social animals. "

A billion omega people wanting to be an alpha one, it's surely a sad thing.

Full Article here - no registration (5, Informative)

microcars (708223) | about 2 years ago | (#40889527)

You get the full article, rather than 4 pages that eventually require you to "sign in" or "register", if you access the PRINT option.
Link HERE [washingtonpost.com]

It's easy to preach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889541)

....after cashing out.

she wasn't kidding... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40889691)

...when she said she wanted to get away from technology. There is NOTHING in West Texas except a few tumbleweeds and reptiles.

Re:she wasn't kidding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889825)

...when she said she wanted to get away from technology. There is NOTHING in West Texas except a few tumbleweeds and reptiles.

Sounds like my kind of place to live. ;)

Re:she wasn't kidding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890011)

and high school football [amazon.com]

Re:she wasn't kidding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890097)

She went to Marfa, it's pretty much a hipster hangout these days.

big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40889783)

University graduate experiences growing sense of disillusionment with the corporate world. "Plastics", someone whispered to Dustin Hoffman in a movie made in the '60s. "Stepford Wives", someone noticed about corporate life a little later.

So people don't actually have hundreds of friends they can count on, and their privacy isn't what it was in days before the Internet. A lot of time spent updating one's FB pages means that much time for other things they used to do, like read good books. Is that the big revelation?

blood money (4, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#40889967)

Although the title of the article made it seem like she walked away from social media in general, it seems to me that she merely walked away from fakebook (oops) because she didn't drink enough the Zuck's koolaid (claims that zuck said "I don't know if I trust you" to his supposed ghost writer)...

I was once asked to ghost write (in a quasi-technical context), and I politely refused. Didn't cost me too many points with the CEO as there was plenty of other jobs to do in the company. I understand her position was not necessarily the same, but she took that new job and then apparently didn't like it and probably considered it blood money and needed to clean her soul of it.

I submit that the most common outcome of selling your soul for blood money is usually the same for most people. It destroys you from inside until you walk. You usually never really have to take blood money, but the opportuntiy often comes up in a seductive way and challenges you in your weakest moment. The best thing to do is say no, but not everyone does. I'll wager that she didn't have to move in the the position that left her the most disillusioned, but it was likley a most seductive opportunity (to ghost write for the Zuck)...

Hopefully the lesson about blood money doesn't get diluted by polluting it with the equally intriguing, but overdone story about the dangers in the vitualization of real social interaction and trusting your privacy to a bunch of 20-some frat boy wannabes...

Pampered Gen Y quits something (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | about 2 years ago | (#40890205)

Cites "disillusionment"

Stay tuned for more breaking details of this unique event.

Re:Pampered Gen Y quits something (2)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40890727)

She's 36, which makes her Generation X.

Re:Pampered Gen Y quits something (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890763)

She's 36, which makes her Generation X.

She's a woman. That makes her Generation XX.

Re:Pampered Gen Y quits something (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890773)

That girl really has no idea of how the world works for 99.999% of its population. She caught a lucky break doing an easy job and got stinking rich from it. Perhaps she should spend some time around Walmart cashiers until she realizes that most people just can't afford to be 'disillusioned' by their jobs.

Rural West Texas Town? (1)

smcdow (114828) | about 2 years ago | (#40890433)

Marfa is where hipsters go to be alone.

Biggest Ponzi Scheme of the '10s That's Zuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890553)

Zuck ... Schmuck ... Crook.

It's entomology on the internet about the FB insects.

Well, 'At least they are not twits. But not far removed either.'

LOL

XD

PS my /. passphrase is 'reactive'. How did that happen? ;)

Other side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40890959)

Lit major in over her head at a tech company feels the heat and comes up with the rationalization that she really didn't like it there anyway. Snore.

Easy to say (2)

Arkaic (784460) | about 2 years ago | (#40890967)

...after you have cashed in your stock and made a not insubstantial sum of money. I wonder how much effort, if any, she will put into combating the type of issues she is now decrying.
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