Facebook in a nutshell

by Volker Weber

Lujan: Facebook has detailed profiles on people who have never signed up for Facebook, yes or no?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, in general we collect data on people who have not signed up for Facebook for security purposes to prevent the kind of scraping you were just referring to [reverse searches based on public info like phone numbers].

Lujan: So these are called shadow profiles, is that what they’ve been referred to by some?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not, I’m not familiar with that.

The answer is "yes".

Zuckerberg is trying to hide the ugly truth. And his company works exactly like him.


The hearings were a royal waste of time. Looking at some transcripts like the one Volker shared, Z was close to lying on many occasions. And I do not blame him or the ones who have prepared his scripted answers. I blame the congressmen who did not call him to account. This is, in my view, strategic. The problem is not that those guys are clueless about technology, and I am sure they have somebody who prints out their Whatsapp messages. But they have a large number of young and savvy staff that script these hearings as Z‘s aides do. They did not care, or were told not to care. Eventually, they want to use the machine themselves in the next election, and they need to care about money in order to finance their campaigns.

Peter Daum, 2018-04-12

Well, in my book he is not "close to lying". He simply has no moral compass.

Volker Weber, 2018-04-12

Hm, depends, no?

What did you have for dinner last night? - Let me check with my team.
How‘s the weather today? - I am not familiar with that.
and so it goes on

I might agree that this is not „lying“ in the strict sense. But it‘s no honest answer either. Calling it a moral failure turns the debate into a moral one, where there is no clear right and wrong and everything is subject to interpretation and debate. This is exactly where FB wanted to get to.

Peter Daum, 2018-04-12

And one more...
Others tried the same in other hearings, look at WellsFargo, the pharma guy who was just sent to jail, etc. Here, congresspeople used these non-answers as segway to launch scathing attacks on these people, obviously addressed to their electorate, showing how engaged they are caring for them. In the FB hearing this did not happen.

Could it be that the electorate does not care? I am fully supporting your „leave FB“ strategy and actually never joined in the first place. But I fear we are the minority in terms of sheer numbers. I see that a lot of my friends, all very smart, considerate and even politically active in Europe and the US, do not care at all.

Peter Daum, 2018-04-12

Things that make you go "hmmm....". https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/984118196952322050

Ingo Seifert, 2018-04-12

I'm not the biggest facebook fan either, but in my opinion the hearing(s) were complete waste of time, with senators just trying to get some soundbites out. That quote alone might point to "lying" on zuckerbergs part, but there are quite a few things mixed up there. She made it sound like facebook is collecting "really" personal data about people not signed up on facebook (in the extended clip it even sounds like they are collecting "medical data" or things people buy outside of facebook). I doubt that facebook is even close to what google tracks - they only have "like" buttons and some conversion tracking and obviously some way for remarketing, but their analytics is by far less pervasive as google analytics and adsense networks.

There also aren't easy answers anyway. When developing a service you want to collect as much behaviour data as possible to know where your users are having problems, and what your users want. The problem is when you get to the scale of facebook and are already so successful at it, that it looks like they make people addicted on purpose.. But this *is* the ultimate goal, look at the "don't break the chain" posts, a prime example on how to get people hooked and positively influence behavior.

Herbert Poul, 2018-04-14

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