Facebook: Conform or else
Robert Scoble, discussing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:
He also said that his system looks for “outlying” behavior. He said if you behave like an average user you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off.
Let’s be specific here: if you behave like the system’s Harvard undergraduate founders and primarily-male engineering staff have programmed the software to think like “an average user” behaves you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off. Except in reality, most people don’t behave that way. Robert is surprisingly sympathetic to arbitrary undocumented limits on speech:
Of course, that irks me a bit because my usage of social media sites is totally outlier behavior. But, I can see his point. One thing that’s nice about Facebook is that I see very little spam or other nasty behavior.
That’s Jon Pincus discussing “Zuckerberg: Facebook to ratchet up exploitation, only bans “outliers”.”
I think this is a real concern. Facebook exists as a means of connecting with others. As I discuss in “Identities are Created Through Relationships,” we create and evolve our identities through such interaction. If Facebook imposes conformity through secret rules whose violation results in suspension, then it acts as a censor on our social interaction and our willingness to explore and excel.
It’s unsurprising that Scoble sees little spam or other nasty behavior, but free communities have some level of that, or they have a constant level of looking over one’s shoulder for the camera or the plainclothesman. Scoble shouldn’t be ok with that, and neither should we.
They’re trying to dress up giving users the ability to up/down vote on their rules as “democracy,” and giving users a voice but as Michael Zimmer documents, it’s a vote. They haven’t (say) Wikified their Terms of Service and given users real input. They certainly aren’t offering minorities any protection against the wishes of the majority.
What if the entire userbase votes to make everything from a member of the Screen Actors Guild fully public?
It is fascinating to watch the autocracy of Facebook forced to take tentative steps towards democracy. Here’s hoping that their community also pushes for liberty.