20 December 2021


Facebook, excuse me, "Meta" is the worst company in the world. I was putting this together when I found that I was hardly alone in this opinion as Facebook came out on top as the worst entity in a Yahoo Finance survey as well, so this judgement is widespread. How then has it managed to so dominate social media?

 A lot was simply luck, but even more, the missteps of potential competitors. Let’s start with MySpace, which should have been in this position, given its early start, and the fact that it had far more customers initially than Facebook. It had the field to itself initially but blew it by having slow loading pages, blasting music on each one, along with much too heavy individual graphics and multimedia. Still people might have stuck with it except for the painfully slow loading. Fox blew $250 million purchasing  it without realizing what the problem was, so there was plenty of room for Facebook to grow, given its very plain, simple, and consistent interface that loaded right away and focused more on personal connection. But that was really all. 

The real, puzzling might-have-been is AOL, which had a better setup over twenty years ago than Facebook does today. They could and should have dominated this field but failed to adjust. Emerging from the earliest days of the Internet most users went by handles, rather than their real names, and their personal information remained as private as they wanted it to, which in retrospect may have been a plus given the state of privacy these days. But their search mechanism was far better in terms of finding people, they didn’t control who and what you could see, and they didn’t bombard you with ads, but also failed to monetize the service properly. Others, notably Google and Yahoo also tried, but it was too late and they simply abandoned their half-hearted efforts.

So that left Facebook by default, which now owns the field simply because it has the critical mass, which is to say you can assume everyone is here so you basically have to be here to reach them, notwithstanding the fact that you have very little control of who you can actually reach. You can have thousands of friends but only few of them see your posts and vice versa, and you don’t even have any control over what you do see; instead they do based on what their algorithms tell them you want to see. Still the result has been that people have drifted away from sites like Classmates to their equivalent on Facebook because everything now winds up here.

But these algorithms are inexact to say the least. They basically have virtually had a license to print money to the extent that they can micro-target ads to you by tracking your web surfing. But again it is far from perfect and sometimes laughable insofar as you often see ads for something you already just purchased which makes them obviously useless and a complete waste for the advertisers. Only recently have people begun to resist being tracked, and at least one major company, Apple, now makes privacy a priority, making it more difficult for Facebook to follow you without your permission. 

Worse they don’t even screen their advertisers so that people are getting burned by bogus vendors, with, i.e. storage devices with impossibly large memory that simply don’t work. So greedy and warped are they that they ignore crooked vendors but regulate users with a heavy hand. But they have also failed even functionally and aesthetically. Given all that power and control they could have done so much better than they have, but somehow it still feels like black and white in a world of color, there being remarkably few features available. 

But worst of all is the arrogant, almost complete indifference to users. It is just outrageous that a company of this size has no real customer support. If you need help with something you are out of luck. There is simply no one there. There is no number you can call nor even an email address you can write to. You are left with very limited and often useless help pages, or forums of other Users that costs them nothing. I, personally have been struggling for months to fix the link to my personal Home page that neither I, nor anyone else can now see or get to since they zapped the link to it when I set up a public page to post some writings, and switched it to the new page. So far my efforts have been in vain. 

So there’s no staff available to do anything useful so you have to wonder just what all the people working there do. Basically a lot of them just monitor and spy on you, and will interfere with your communications if they don’t like what you’re saying. So we have a situation where some kid is sitting there deciding what you can and cannot say. As if that weren’t bad enough, they are doubling down on it by adding yet more staff to do this sort of thing while still neglecting the basics of customer service that every other company provides. As a result you see more and more “corrections,” advisories, and labels covering your posts that you, of course have no ability to rebut. 

The icing on the cake is the blatant political bias and the concerted attempt to suppress not kooks, but ordinary conservatives from expressing themselves freely. They have censored people, they have blocked people, or arbitrarily completely shut down people, most notably a President of the United States in a breathtaking abuse of power. Even if you loathe the man, the very fact that they have the power to censor even a sitting President ought to be troubling to everyone. The end result is that in this private, not-so-little world, there is effectively no free speech and an inordinate amount of control over what you can do. 

As a private company they have the right to do so, but the result is that people are increasingly chafing under their yoke, and vast numbers of people have become disenchanted, to say the least, with their skulduggery. So although now nobody likes them, users are basically trapped to the extent that if they leave the service they are cut off from all the connections they have accrued and interacted with. No surprise then that they have turned themselves into the most hated company in the world, and I mean that literally because they have also alienated countries everywhere.

But worse for them, soon there are going to be consequences. You don’t screw around with people like this and get away without paying a price. I predict that price will be heavy as sentiment and power increasingly shift in this country. As that power begins to manifest itself they may pay dearly for their transgressions, and it is quite possible that the company will collapse over the next few years. As much as he may try, this time Zuckerberg is not going to be able to buy his way out of the situation he has created. Not only is the public disenchanted, for those likely to assume power are genuinely infuriated with these shenanigans. But if they fail to do anything in spite of all of this abuse, they too will be culpable and the time for revolution then may really have arrived. 


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