The Farcebook Farce

Gee, I haven’t ranted about Facebook for a long time. It had become quite irrelevant to tell the truth as the site is basically garbage and I haven’t been doing much of anything with it. So let’s back up and see how today is going.

After nearly killing myself yesterday by smashing up the ice on the driveway and then splitting more wood, I wake up today to:

1). Four inches of new snow;

DSCF1183
Today

2). No Internet connection;

DSCF1102
File image

3). Dead battery in Jojo;

IMG_1985
File Image

4). A moronic message from Farcebook saying I can not post or comment for 24 hours due to my offensive posting. What offensive posting? It seems they took exception to a nasty remark I made about them and their incompetent Artificial Intelligence post parsing. How dare I write in German! How dare I use Sarcasm! 

That whole thing started as a bunch of my friends and I were laughing at the fact that now that all the Farceboook employees have been sent home to die of COVID-19 in peace only their idiotic AI is employed to check up on what people write. You can’t complain about any violation of TOS as you get this dumb message:

FBMESS

But in the meantime their Anti-Intelligence algorithm is deleting posts about the forerunner of Jaguar cars because “SS” (Swallow Sidecars) is of course a Nazi term only. Someone noted Chevy Super Sport cars, which also use the initials, managed to get past but not the origins of Jag. It’s okay to be a Nazi as long as you’re an American Nazi?

The irony here being that when acting on an alleged offense to sensibility, specifically ‘promoting Nazism’, they in fact act like Nazis themselves. Hence I commented “Hail victory”, in German, and got banned because German is all Nazi all the time according to Farcebook’s AI. Can anyone not see the irony? It’s drowning in it! *Cue Alanis Morisette* (There’s an extra dimension to that which I won’t go into.)

Meanwhile actual Nazis on Facebook go about their daily abuses uninterrupted – because the AI can’t comprehend intent, only content. Words are not in themselves offensive; only how you use them can be.

In future I shall remember to insult Facebook only in English, so they can better understand what I think of them and their dilapidated failure of a social media web site. If FB dies of coronavirus I won’t cry any.

In the meantime I’m not having a good day. Fortunately I wasn’t planning on going anywhere anyway, except to get a new battery for Jojo and check the mail and … Look, it was going to be my one day out this week. Oh well, guess not.

 

Shifting Sands of Time

Lately I’ve been spending a lot less time on Facebook, on purpose. It was a good idea when it began, but blunder after blunder in its operation and updating has turned it into a cringe-worthy mess of a social media website. Since I’m retired and not all that healthy, I do spend a lot of time on-line. Or at least with the computer fired up and the browser open, which isn’t exactly the same thing. So instead of the mind-numbing horror that is Farcebook I have been perusing WordPress more, and using it more.

At first I was seeking commiseration with my health problems among those with similar trouble. But I stumbled on a few interesting photography blogs and have since been wading waist-deep in them. I suppose this is psychologically beneficial in that it’s something positive to focus on (the fun of photography) rather than something negative (the health troubles). Although there is some negativity in that I don’t get to indulge in photography as much as I want either.

That being as it may, the over-all effect is good I think. I will write more about my own efforts with cameras, put up some samples to show I’m not just whistling Dixie, and try not to drown myself in the inevitable melancholy of my age vs. the younger generation. (Generally I’m pleased to find younger people interested in the subject and trying their hand at it, but sometimes the relevant facts of chronology hit me like a brick to the back of the head.)

I won’t be going full-bore photo here, as that is for those who pursue with passion and I’m just an old guy who still messes about with pictures for his own amusement rather than with any delusional aspirations of grandeur.

There’s probably no real point to this post (I have a tendency to lose the thread of what I’m talking about; a minor flaw of working on one’s seventh decade) other than to warn people of things to come. Anyway, it amuses me.

Facebook commits suicide

In the latest disastrous re-imagining of Facebook’s every-annoying Javascript, they have not only eliminated any notification for friends’ postings but have turned the ‘newsfeed’ into a “top stories” only zone. At present I have nothing showing there at all. It was bad enough I had to go to each friend’s individual timeline to see what, if anything, they had posted. It was stupid seeing only my own posts (really, FB: I know what I post) and feeds from groups. This after they eliminated feeds from Pages if you were blocking their stinking ‘sponsored post’ ads. Now it has been reduced to nothing.

The history of Facebook amounts to a good idea going bad and getting ever worse, with over-emphasis on money. Indeed they parse posts and if you put certain key words or a dollar sign in your writing it automatically turns on ‘sell mode’ because all Facebook ever thinks about is money. Surely you must be the same, right? Their corporate obsession with income is psychotic.

We know about the security breeches and unethical selling of personal data. We know about the promotion of fake news and hatred. We know about the false user numbers inflated to justify their ‘targeted’ ad fees. We know about their utter failure of analysis metrics and the total inability of their AI systems to handle reported posts. It’s been one failure after another on every front. Amidst all that they pile on ‘features’ no one wants or uses instead of correcting things that don’t work. Now it’s about two steps away from having no aspect of it at all working.

Why do people keep funneling time and money into this trash heap of a web site? Just because it’s so big that it has no real competition. Whenever it feels threatened by a start-up, it takes some of its ill-gotten billions and buys up the newcomer. This means Facebook is operating as an illegal monopoly under U.S. and other laws, but it gets away with it because the rich can do anything.

They make promises about clamping down on fake news, fake users, hate speech, and other violations of their so-called Terms Of Service and/or Community Standards. The truth is they never do anything about the problems beyond a little well-publicized lip service to get regulators and public opinion (temporarily) off their backs. Then it’s business as usual again.

You read a few stories now and then about people leaving Facebook, and some do. The trouble is; you need to take all your friends with you. And they have friends, so they need to switch platform too. Most people are unwilling to maintain multiple social media accounts on different sites to stay in touch with everyone they know. With FB everyone’s in one boat. Unfortunately that boat is a garbage scow full of toxic waste.

Well I’ve tried re-adapting over and over to the various shenanigans Facebook comes up with, but it really has become unusable by far. I’m not jumping through all those hoops anymore. I don’t have to be there anyway. What others do is their business.

More WordPress, less Facebook.

Dylan: “Do you have a Plan ‘B’, Tyr?”

Tyr: “Always.”

MeWe

And now a word to our sponsors

Shut up.

Okay, that’s two words. And I’m about to add a lot more.

If we take it as a given that the purpose of advertising is to attract customers and get them to buy the product, is it not logical to assume that annoying customers is a bad thing to do? There are many ways to annoy customers; the content of the ad itself is chief among them. But the Internet has given us a much more powerful way to drive away business: the pop-up ad. It’s not limited to just the little block ads either. Perhaps a more accurate term would be the “in-your-face” ad.

When you click a link to read something on a page we want to read what we went looking for. We do not want to see the screen suddenly pirated by another display that insists … well, something. I don’t know exactly what it’s trying to do because there’s nothing that makes me click ‘X’ faster than some smart ass interrupting my endeavors.

It’s bad enough that news articles are accompanied by side bars with annoying attention-grabbing flashes and even automatic video (another horror story), but do you have to interrupt the text paragraph by paragraph with not only links to ‘related’ stories (better left to the end of the current reading) but also promotions for things which it is unlikely anyone will look at merely because you did stick it in the middle of the read. This is not the way to engage your audience: it is the way to drive them away.

“Uh-oh! Looks like you’ve got an ad blocker!” Well no kidding, idiots. That is because your ads are so damn annoying no one wants to see them. Really people do not mind advertisements if they are presented in an acceptable fashion. “HEY STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND BUY THIS CRAP NOW!” is not an acceptable fashion.

Facebook is the champion example of how not to do things, with their ‘sponsored posts’ shoved into your news feed. It’s spam, that’s all. Why do you think FB Purity is so successful? Because Facebook hasn’t got a clue as to how to avoid pissing people off. They seem to take perverse delight in it, and rework their script every so often to circumvent the latest efforts at stopping this nonsense. If their advertisers ever wake up to the fact half of Facebook users don’t exist and the other half don’t look at the ads that company is going to have a sudden problem in the income department. Frankly, they deserve to go bankrupt because they have so horribly and commercially bastardized what is basically a good idea (sort of like what happened to any holiday you care to mention.) And when it comes to FB’s claim of “targeted” advertising, have you ever seen an ad that actually interested you? Probably not, because their analysis algorithms seemed to have been created by elementary school children who can’t even get the hang of the concept of a single selection criterion, never mind the plural form. In fact the businesses are paying for “targeted” ads and getting generic random-hit probability instead. For this they pay a premium.

Some bright spots have even come up with a method of making auto-run videos that so far no browser setting or extension can prevent from happening. Not all of us have unlimited data to waste on your not-at-all-important message. And the rest of us don’t want to be interrupted in what we’re doing anyway. Seriously; put your videos where the sun does not shine upon them.

It didn’t used to be like this, of course. In the simpler, better days of the Internet ads came in fixed blocks like ‘banner ads’ that sat quietly at the top and/or bottom of the page until the viewer looked at them. The technology now allows people to be forced to look, whether they want to or not. Net result: one less potential customer for every intrusive ad displayed. The exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

I am reminded of an election for mayor in a town I used to live in a few years ago. The candidate who won was the person with the fewest campaign signs cluttering up the countryside.

Food for thought.

Try this simple experiment

If you have the misfortune of being a Facebook user (like so many of us are) take a week out of your life and see if you really need it. It’s easy: just don’t post anything for a week.

See if anyone notices your lack of activity. You may find that many of your so-called ‘friends’ only have you on their list out of social obligation. They don’t really care or notice what or if you post. Indeed many of them will only interact with you if they are specifically tagged in your post and thus can’t easily ignore it.

So many people that you think you have something in common with. But do you have enough in common to make it worth your while? Or theirs for that matter. Maybe you aren’t friends or even acquaintances; maybe you’re just habit.

Possibly the problem isn’t the people either: the structure of social media makes for a kind of false-interactive metric which is a mere facade of real personal relationships. You may really be friends, or would be in ‘real life’, but the method of interface cheapens the reality of it. Whichever, the point is to question whether this system of relating to others is truly viable for you.

Don’t be surprised to find out it’s not.

Fakebookery

More about everyone’s least-favourite web site.

First up we have the laughable claim that they’re interested in protecting your privacy: Facebook Privacy

Since they’ve claimed this repeatedly and done basically Face-all about it (even under threat from various governments) there’s no reason to expect anything to happen this time. The article does indicate that FB wants to move away from being in the public eye, something that has got them into a lot of trouble, and concentrate on selling the content of your private conversations to whoever can afford the price.

Second we have this equally laughable claim that they’re going to do something about “vaccine misinformation”: Vaccine misinformation

Since they can’t even man-up enough to call it “lies” it is doubtful and real effort will be made to reduce the number of those lies. Remember that FB makes its money by pretending it has billions of members who can be individually targeted by very expensive ads which have a totally unproven effectiveness but hey, let’s pretend it’s 100%. Ever lying Page, every group of idiots, every hate-mongering user equates to money in the bank for FB so they have zero incentive to cut out any one of them. As it is now something only gets taken down based on the number of complaints (i.e. weighing the thumbs up against the thumbs down), not by analysis of content using a functioning human brain.

Facebook is crap. It always has been and it always will be. The true crime is that it has the potential to be something positive in society, but profit gets in the way every time.

Hell just throw some more useless ‘features’ at them and they’ll think it’s better, right Suckerborg? That’s all you ever do, you greedy useless waste of space.