Ben and James discuss Mark Zuckerberg’s appearances before Congress, and try to sort out exactly which Facebook issues matter, and which don’t.

Presented by WordPress.com: Get 15% off on a new site by visiting WordPress.com/Exponent.


  • Ben Thompson: The Facebook Current — Stratechery
  • Zeynep Tufekci: Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook — Wired
  • Ben Thompson: Fake News — Stratechery
  • The Toutiao Apology — China Media Project
  • Growth At Any Cost: Top Facebook Executive Defended Data Collection In 2016 Memo — And Warned That Facebook Could Get People Killed — BuzzFeed
  • Ben Thompson: The Facebook Brand — Stratechery
    There’s Always a Bigger Fish
  • 2018 Antitrust and Competition Conference: Digital Platforms and Concentration — Stigler Center


Podcast Information

United States


00:00:00hi James how are you I am okay how are you I'm doing well a couple of weeks ago and this coming week it's going to be my turn so life's about to go into boxes not not not not not drop box it relaxes Rio boxes yeah I know Dropbox equivalent for moving in Silicon Valley yet but I'm sure somebody's thought of it now we're going to be like 15 email pitches are there are definitely some I I've definitely seen pictures for like Dropbox for like real stuff so there's no need to say there are challenges in in Vision but I doubt we were excited to have wordpress.com as a sponsor as always what do you like to go to personal blog of Business site or both. Wordpress.com poplars find you remember you and connect with you you don't need experience that guide you through the process from start to finish take care of the technical side your site up and running their customer support team is made up of Wordpress experts James how often are the eager to help you
00:01:0024 hours a day 7 days a week I like that so instead of even messing around with 20% over by 7 just blow it out that I like that approach the problem don't get don't get stuck in your little local Maxima like back out and say can I deal with this in another way absolutely sorry I got distracted plant start at just $4 per month in all plans include a custom domain name for the wife of the plan go to wordpress.com to get 15% off you up to today that's wordpress.com exponent thanks guys as always that's right I have to admit after i-140 how many episodes are we get to 148 episode guide to feel that way I can imagine how our listeners was feel I I would agree with that out at the same time there was a little bit I took some enjoyment watching
00:02:00so many of the topics that we have talked about over the course of the last 4 years like bubble to Bubble to the surface in inside of the changes of the US Senate and the US House guy I thought that was pretty cool to to finally see us this is the keys of society turning and institutions officially start to try and grapple with some of these issues I thought that was pretty cool I have to say though and then I make that the grand Revelation through it based on some messages I saw a preview that the rest of the world may have seen on this blog you you are a little you may have been a little disappointed with how the hearing went over all I had this impression like oh this is the point of this was the court case this is where all the evidence get put out and there's a guilty not guilty verdict then instead it was either I mean not everybody there was some they're obviously a few very shop 20 questions
00:03:00would driving at some of the things that will get into on the puck house but there was a lot of bumbling around this is the this is the case where things get two sided and then I think I had this realize I shouldn't this is not what this is about at all like this is literally just stepped out Showmanship in grandstanding and probably not that much new information is actually going to come to light and I was like oh wow so this isn't really such a big deal after all is it referring to the opening of my article this week where where his friend from was it was you but I think your your point if I can reference back to the broader set of the other conversation at the time was that you kind of had some frustration about the back there was just so many it was so disorganized and some respect like there wasn't a a real you know your line of questioning to like you don't put Zuckerberg
00:04:00on the spot and I think to that point you know when given the sort of like a tendency towards Facebook fatigue perhaps Among Us individually in her audience generally but then also taking that and using it. What can we do with that what what is a given the fact we have a Facebook so much maybe we can lend a bit of a hand here and you know sort of organized and break down all the different threads that are going on here into that into that point you know I think they actually that did start to happen a little bit more to take away is that I had from this week was won the fact that sucker was in Washing DC a tall is a big deal more important than being there as opposed to whatever might have happened at those hearings there were some interesting and maybe surprising threads that did come out and baby are we can make you feel better by sort of elucidating them in organizing them is that and I spent some time so much that was so much written
00:04:59got it and people were on different like you said people were on different angles of attack trying to understand different things and it it's almost like the company has become something of a rosh Posh test with people just projects that that pains on to the company and everybody and their at everybody sees all the bad things that they might have done in the past where they did or didn't and weather that that real or not now I'm sure that they have done some pretty aggressive thing there was a fantastic zeynep tufekci article a wired that Lit the world on fire around how that have been so many things that Zuckerberg the true Facebook and a different app face match back when he was at Javed he's just being on this he's be pushing the boundaries again and again and again and he's being on this apology to acid to be fit there are plenty of things to there are plenty of things that have been done that have upset people and perhaps I'm wrong but I think there's definitely
00:05:59real Value Inn pulling days apart and understanding what they are because otherwise it'll just get get smashed together and it this company becomes is bogeyman as opposed to like doing the hard work of understanding what's going on whether it's a real problem whether it still pisses now and if it is still a real problem and it still pisses now what should be done about it and I've had my differences with to Patchy in the past or take Aleve O'Reilly on the election or would you like to happen if she was out like guns blazing about fake news and I will sometime I like yeah I don't think you are fake news route because as I predicted it's going to be co-opted and taken over by truck on the other side and and there are like what is fake news anyway what is getting reporting wrong like I let him use example in there about me
00:06:59I have to give her tremendous credit for this lead this is like a fellow writer and someone that speaks to craft compelling narrative is the 14-year apology tour was was just narrative devices spectacular all week but that we that was that was it doesn't get much better than that I agree it's also going to it's incredible the extent to which she managed to get away with that but it I think he's going to have a little bit more difficulty polymetric off in the future but nevertheless I can sort of stuff went in to wait until she started with the Eye camera Dimension is DD the face match app which you know Zuckerberg notoriously created to be hot or not for for a Harvard undergraduates
00:07:59fortunately it wasn't for a Harvard MBA students so you know you've been keeping Dominic has been and then how to win forward to Facebook's you know doing apologies and she kind of made the note that had one point second grade posted four times in a company bought and they were all they're all apologies but but I think there's but but in that that for example what are the apologies was news feed like dat Newsfeed was crowded and people were posting stuff publicly and they were upset because Facebook made what they had posted publicly easier to to to discover you know where one is was is that were really sorry about that and to like should he be sorry if you should be quite clearly people love Newsfeed and by love I mean not like they're expressing their love but their actions like they're revealed preference or that they think news feed is the greatest thing since sliced bread
00:08:59and so you know there's an aspect where I just said Thank why it's useful to your point you sent kind of pull some of the stuff apart you like face smashed it like it's quite obviously a bad thing to do and he was right to apologize for it was news feed a bad thing to do and end as should he have a positive or was it a tactical apology to get people to 2222 Neal reduced at Evo you are you if you are talking about bodies a good thing or a bad thing but I think it's very easy to your point to lump all this stuff into one sort of kettle I would actually there's so many different things going on here and I think it's dangerous to to One Pilots up together oh by the way I got myself a quick when would I ever say no to my time there were 5 * 5 * where Mark Zuckerberg was able to run out the clock by explaining that Facebook does not sell data
00:09:57this is exactly exactly why I have railed continuously for years against Tim Cook and everyone else that's his Facebook says data not because I don't care about privacy because by doing so it lets Facebook off the hook and you had happened literally this week Mark Zuckerberg five times in a few of those were very very strong lines of questioning that he did not have to answer because people perpetrated the false story that Facebook says data because it's it sounds good it's a good rhetorical device and it's false and and and is it close to being true sure but but being precise matters and this week was a perfect example of why it matters I need to sit down for myself very high WhatsApp to go down the stairs or no that's okay I mean I think at this point like we sat down and we actually I like
00:10:57he's got it made a bit of a listing and ran it past you and got your input as well until I call the things that we could possibly talk about in terms of issues that people might have with Facebook and let's lay them out right at the start and we we might dig into this summer all of the bit like I kind of a put this in order of things that I think least important to things that I think are most important and it is Cambridge analytica and then giving away two friends profile / Facebook misunderstanding it's business model thinking it's a platform when really it's an advertising business then 2016 with the election in Russian meddling been fake news and then the the impact on the media's and and sucking the life out of the the media's business model and the algorithm changes and media monetize a
00:11:57and so on then filter bubbles then I put an inverter, is time well spent which is Zuckerberg referring to whether this is where the time spent on Facebook as well spent or whether it's not really that good for you after all and then the last one which is like easy seminar play both on the social networking site but also on the advertising side Inn in the Congressional hearing this week and I think that's part of the reason why did the hearing felt maybe unfulfilling to some people because it's like a walk can we focus on one of these things but a lot of people said what two things people wanted to focus on where are often very different and I and I would probably quibble a bit with your list in because you said was an order of importance but I would I do that right was putting cameras able to get the top-end that specifically in and the reason is I think this deal hearings really brought this home and we can I wasn't passing Cambridge analytica is it was a symptom of a boy
00:12:57water problems which I which is why I would actually say the the the way they gave away personal data to base whoever wanted it I would I would put that further down the list as being more important where is the Cambridge analytica manifestation of that. I think you're exactly right what was the reason was less important was was one like this is already happening all over the place to eat like the Obama campaign as we noted did the exact same thing like the break about it didn't buy it because the pool was available in 2012 where is it wasn't the reason why I think it is there is it such a distraction and I think you really saw this in the difference between the senate committee and the house committee if you actually care and want there to be a meaningful debate about Facebook you pretty much by definition have to get out of partisanship you know what I mean and the problem is if the entire debate is framed around the how did this get ex-politician elect
00:13:57no matter how much you made the test that politician your inherently not going to get anywhere and and I and I think that's so I can look like it was really important in that it's clearly prompted this hearing clearly has move the ball down the road but I think the extent to which this is going to have legs and is going to actually lead to something meaningful will depend on how quickly the currency move past everything would have happened this week is it going to mention the house hearing barely mentioned came to look at at all it where is it was much more into like a privacy and Battery data and what and why were you giving to the state of a natural Cambridge look up but to all sorts of companies I mean I almost think of this is it's almost the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand it's like Penny World War 1 on gavrilov princip the guy who shot it I didn't say sorry I go to blame to pin World War 1 on this incident is East
00:14:57completely missed the point in so much as this is what sparked it well I'm glad it has been sparked but to think that this is what we heated debate is just to completely missed the point. Facebook off the hook because you to the extent that the discussion about Facebook regulation or or whatever it might be whatever the outcome IP to the extent it becomes about a outcome in a partisan election is to descend it's not going to happen particularly given the fact that the the the losing party in the election doesn't have power so people want there to be progress on the Facebook question I think the faster they should get off of the you're just from a piercer a technical perspective that make sense I absolutely agree now I'm going to leave it in the order that I suggested it but it's Julie noted that you objected to the order and maybe we come back and revisit it next one that I
00:15:57really want to come to which is like the broader point of what Cambridge analytica was taking advantage of was giving away friends profiles to develop is so it when you logged in using Facebook to an Apple to a website and then that app developer would just get your information it would get all the information of all your friends and obviously some really personally I just personal information from religion sexuality we talked about this previously now for the races I talked about in the previous podcast felt extremely sensitive I was extremely sensitive to this this is a really big deal and it was one of these areas where I in terms of privacy felt this was a gross violation but the reason I didn't put this further down the list is to be fat DC's now in the past the horse the horse is bolted it's it's it's 10 miles away which the barn door is shot and yeah maybe there's some penalty through the FTC or whatever
00:16:57needs to be imposed as a as a result of this isn't something that is happening the Facebook is doing right now and to focus on it as much as it was a gross violation of uses trust is to miss the broader points that is still ongoing further down the list that's a good point in the end I think you're you're the fact that it's it's sort of already been taken care of on Facebook own volition is is a is a good point the reason why I think it may be boundless I guess it depends on the respect you take and the reason is cuz I think from face the proper Facebook is this is going to be the gift that keeps on giving me cuz that data was out there it's going to be your the media has been able to write stories about this for basically as long as they want to use their daddy and you know it's coming they're going to start finding other examples and other companies other place it is out there just to keep trip trip trip trip trip trip trippin or anything
00:17:57and if they follow on what they saying they're transferring about 3 have to keep releasing these these notes and I think that this is an area where we are just in so deep and we understand so much what's going on that is easy to lose track of the sort of like the way that we perceive broadly and I suspect that the drip drip did the fact that this is awesome it's already taken care of in already been solved is going to totally get lost in the noise it's going to come across as over another privacy pay surprise violation violation and I don't think it's going to be appreciated they're all the same privacy violation if you know what I mean I totally agree I guess this is interesting cuz it's kind of bringing to light the the scoring mechanism from which I had a went which I was ordering and it was almost like the scoring mechanism of okay we have brought Facebook to Washington we starting to think about this from the perspective of what should Society be focused on going for it as opposed to as a
00:18:57I think about that in terms of like what regulations are what actions if any should be taken as opposed to your point right then which was what is going to be the impact on the Facebook Brands and why he's going to keep the media what what are people going to focus on in terms of Facebook and from that perspective I absolutely agree this story is just it's going to keep going to be on dead like you speak it you put it down and that's just someone's going to find a way of bringing it up in some other incredible way that people are taking advantage of this data that shocks people got to have the order different in her head because the I'm thinking about it from up put 1/4 spective and the reason I'm doing that is because this is a this is a political question the nature of being a company Facebook size and influence and pervasiveness in all aspects of society and the economy is that decision about what to do about it on the surface they are regulatory
00:19:57legislative decisions and all those sorts of things but in reality and practice their political decisions this is why it was meaningful that Zuckerberg was their number what is why it was meaningful that it didn't most watched BC hearings evolve into Democrats live regulation and rolling same regulations bad her to the patient with repeat that happens again and again and again I've seen enough hearings and no this is what happens when a companies are called before it but it wasn't there like there was a there was a remarkable consistency in something screwed up here and again just stop there eating your guess it all got it went all over the place after that and ever a different concerns you had you had kind of extreme is on both sides that you had one you said you had one side saying that Donald Trump had had 50 million ads in and Hillary Clinton 50000 inch was that because you weren't approving Hillary Clinton has like one no she wasn't running ads right you're you're biased
00:20:56conservatives in your censoring I was just thinking what you what you know about all I've been since Facebook is is bent over backwards in the opposite direction but the point is not it's easy to get lost in that to get lost into the sort of extreme Boston who's everyone was talking about something is a big deal and is a meaningful different from what was before and they have the third point I spent on there was actually distinct you point emerging about what to do with it end. They were slight you had those kind of squint to see it and there still wild it typical for the cliche rhetoric but the fact that there was even in emerging like sort of difference about what to do means we're way farther down the road then we were not very long ago. No I absolutely agree I guess my concern is taking the political Viewpoint or taking the thing that gets the most attention is given this problem has basically been sold
00:21:56Chilli from the Facebook perspective in the perspective of the big advertisers like they have a very big interest in protecting use a data for all the reasons you be talked about like it seemed a financial interest to do so what is concerning is if this is the thing on which People based the decisions on like let's regulate here or let's take this action if this is the thing that that focused on going to the absolutely solving the wrong problem it's not going to it's not going to help at the big end of town because the big guys already have any interest to keep the date of private once they realize what that business model is and the little guys aren't going to get started because the regular tree bud and is going to be so high that there are the silent screams of all the companies that never get started you know did the two sides that I kind of saw a merging in in the Alesis a question that is the house questioning I think was much much harder on Zuckerberg
00:22:56again in part because it really got into what they were doing with with data where where Facebook doesn't have a good answer you know did you go back to the point about yet they've shut the barn door but that doesn't change the fact the barn door was at one point all they can say they like they literally have nothing else to say and so it and I think that's why the house session felt in such more more difficult for Zachary because it just hammered on that point again and again and again and again where's the Senate what it's been too many people Grand Slam okay we're done with it is that a problem bite by Trump's election my point is as far as a political matter of something happening to Facebook but the other thing about this particular is the much more clear articulation above
00:23:56potential remedies and what Michael Ford end in SharePoint yes there's really two one was much stronger regulation the control of of user data and to your point and there was what you would expect a Poulan push back that what about other companies that have new handle that data and in a very Illuminating exchange Zuckerberg kind of admitted he's like yeah we're big we can handle it doesn't cost us that have a Regulatory Compliance Center by the way but one of his statements was he asked how many registered compliance officers Academy the dorm room
00:24:33just got to like just got to drive the point home that of course you didn't have any notice point was no new company is going to be able to deal with the stuff that was that was one side of it the other side though that was interesting if you think that Facebook is a problem and you are skeptical of Regulation because of the impact regulation has on new business formation and in potential competitors then there is remains a regulatory a regular solution which would most want to save it for later on like let's leave it as a cliffhanger cuz it fits in really nicely further down the list and it's actually something where I'm very much coming around to agreement on the point though and I'm looking forward to taking you to I guess then the next thing on the list would be the 2016 election in Russian meddling and this is this somewhat relates to the point about Cambridge analytica and
00:25:33Addison and wanting to find a way to blame Facebook for what happened in the election but maybe and you do need to desegregate this from fake news and filter bubbles which which topics that we will dive into next but this idea that the Russian government somehow manipulated the American public particularly through the use of $100,000 I'd spend which is the biggest red herring in the world just it consistently agitates me now the idea that you can have state state actors acting as quote-unquote sock puppets where you have things like the internet research agency pretending to be legitimate citizens in tilting public Behavior by attaching two issues that people believe in weathers African-American issues or immigration issue getting people all riled up and then tilting the behavior a little bit that is that is relatively serious but this idea that the election with suede on the basis of Russian interference and it paint Putin is
00:26:33master puppets that really he is not I I again find this whole thing so frustrating and evolving into partisanship on this topic doesn't allow us to properly deal with the issues at hand yeah you're right this is the least important that I was wrong it wasn't get rid of the reason why these days you kind of mentioned it at the end there the reason why did extent these agents were effective is because they were giving people what they already wanted to see what they already wanted to hear right like there's there's a there's a let's get all worked up about the thinnest branch on the tree with a well completely ignoring me or the trunk in The Roots like they are exploiting division but that is inherent upon that division existing in the first place and two deer Point Yacht to do if you follow it to his watch gold conclusion
00:27:33it's that the Americans have no agency they have no ability of himself that pup that you can sit there and Moscow and control what we do in thinking that the other day like we elected Donald Trump accept it until we that's like accepted and like that is the reality and we stop trying to blame or attribute agency to other people in other folks instead of to ourselves as Americans are lucky lucky you you get to be excluded from this we're not going anywhere but the issue and I think there's a point you just made that I want to double down on the the issue isn't that the the the Russians managed to create oldest division the issue is perhaps I mean maybe I think the broader point in the contacts to Facebook is that these platforms are on some level because of that designed to
00:28:33Tracy gagement States Rive on Division and creating this kind of behavior and the Russians were able to then pour fuel in the fire but like so is everybody else and if it wasn't going to be the Russian so it's going to be someone else who comes along I guess people all worked up into a ladder about this like it's it's going to be something that populates the newsfeed whether it's them or somebody else you can see that all the time I heard there's all kinds of things that are stoking Division and end to end on both sides and you see people getting extremely worked up and I think your to your point we can talk about the filter bubble and got in that is that next on your list actually it's Peyton using in filter bubble because I know there's no way that fake fake Muses pays more of an issue than the filter bubble stop yeah I know I I think that goes in with some other than the Russian disinformation thing that Sony Z2 you know at the end the day fake news is a confirmation bias provider like people will see it and believe it and don't question it
00:29:33cuz they already think it and and there's been all the resources come out about fake news since the election has has water that it had no Factor the people who shared it and spread it already Sheridan had those beliefs and then again we're not what I think we're making logical message to put this podcast but I think the the point that I would tie it to the sort of like saying that Facebook sells your data sort of idea right like there is there might be some aspect of Truth here but unless we're super precise about what the problem is and what it stems from it we're just going to get distracted and I think that was the frustration you felt about these hearings like we're getting distracted about stuff that is that maybe on the margins has some sort of very slight impact but it's allowing us to skip over an obscure far bigger issues
00:30:28I am in the Deep wave at the fake news thing was presented by the media in the aftermath of the 2016 election was like you felt like this was the thing that's why you didn't like you said you get into the deep a research and it's like it's not doing that at all it's not great that things exist where you're creating quick bite that's clearly false in order to get to to take advantage of these these people's Angel actual laziness or the fact that you were exploiting people that the confirmation bias that people already have but this is a solvable problem and it actually I think rather than relying on on a regulatory solution like if a platform becomes known for spreading this over an extended period of time people are going to stop in gauging on the platform I think Facebook have an incentive and inability a technical ability to solve this and that's why I just think this is not such an important one
00:31:28I'm doubling down on your level down so it's if it's a quadruple down but at some point like we we have to grab people agency you know it or I mean like we can't solve every problem for everyone about the content that consumer old debate this worried that people are spending time on things they should do a reading things they shouldn't or pursuing their there you'll lowbrow things are or you satisfy their. Interests of the word. How to spell it the pr go start with PR it's not p u I had no idea I told you I do it I do it in a little people who see you ought to do this people oxygen is there to eat their vegetables they are to read good things they have to spend their time well they shouldn't waste too much time spending TV they shouldn't be doing
00:32:28are doing Dad are doing do doing whatever and I was thinking about all this week because there was the story about China where there is a good news reading app and it's very algorithm we driven where he gives people the headlines in the news that they at they want to see it it's it's extremely successful you don't think something like muscle but like with with no dent in the millions of users and end actually use it it typed into your revealed preference like the things that you want to read it gives you more of them right and and they got a huge crack down this week where there apps were taken down from all the stores like in this account with a 30 billion dollar valuation and Y and n d Founders worse to write this Earth object apology basically saying people read things they should
00:33:28and wasn't you know it wasn't sharing enough of the official matter or like the Good Vibes was was he was doing too much of giving people what they want to see and not enough of giving people with the government that they wanted to see and and there's just a reminder that sometimes just letting people do what they want even though they mostly do crappy things that maybe aren't the best thing for them there is a dark side to going the other way and at that same sort of Freedom that wets people do stuff they want to do in to rebake news in to you know look at stuff they should look at my door or you know look at you know gossip websites are we don't date in quick things that whatever might be that's also the same sort of Freedom that lets people start new companies to create new ideas to come up with new Concepts to do all sorts of things in and when you
00:34:28really worried and start to cut off what is what people allowed to do one you can Veer intracellular tarantism very easily but your your restricting what can also be created what's the new things can come out of that and I just thought this news coming out trying this week at the same times I can bring his sitting in front of these committees again he's there by choice responding to popular opinion not like that because his ass got taken out from the App Store in wasn't useful sort of contrast and I may need absolutely is that it's actually it's such an extreme contrast in terms of do you I wouldn't want to live in a place where that happens like yeah sure I might not like this idea that and it will probably get into this more in the time well spent quite a bit there it's that I suddenly very much associate me that I don't think that to a lot of the time is spent on the social networking is time well spent and that business model is to engage people pass the point where it is time well spent and I don't think they can easily pull back
00:35:28from that because of the financial incentives they have but then you think about what the regulatory leave is R22 soul that kind of problem and then you see the the Chinese perhaps on the far end on the Other Extreme and it's like you know what I absolutely agree. I mean tell people and let people know that this may not be best for them but don't Nanny stay or shutting down businesses because it's not pushing the head that the appropriate use that sounds like a horrible solution you have one state are you in the Chinese obviously there is a vast amount of space in the in the middle I just think it's it's a it's supposed to keep in mind because it's so there's so much talk and chatter about switching to get into things like fake news in and jump ahead to the filter bubbles ideas or the time well spent idea where a lot of this is people doing things that we feel they ought not to and you know what you got to let people do things that they are
00:36:28because by letting people do things they ought not to sometimes I think they are not do or things that we actually need to get done and no one would have been otherwise white what is or two and what not to do it so culturally and context-dependent on Capitol Hill as opposed to the old Forbidden City but it does bring us to the next one which is the topic of filter bubbles then. That is something that compared to the fake news and I know it we've discussed this before I think that the filter bubbles issue is much more of an issue because it is reinforcing to people and it is polarizing folks because they only see things that they agree with they don't get to spective from the other side and I mean I feel like when you think about it if you really want to start to get into how social networks might have really had an impact on on the 2016 election I feel like it's much
00:37:28more around this area then it is around fake news or Cambridge analytica or any of that other stuff yeah I agree and I I've written about you know the the concern of about filter Bubbles at the end of days old newborn it's not just about Facebook social network that mean if someone chooses to watch you no wonder cable channel for example what name any names and then they get all their News and Views from there should they be forced to watch another television channel I mean like I think some people disagree or whatever it might be actually want to talk about the fairness doctrine that the old SEC your requirements that that broadcast channels you don't show both sides as a work I don't like where it where how far does it go where where does it end in baby it should go somewhere maybe maybe there is something that should be done by the end of day were dealing with people's desire to hear what they want to hear and
00:38:28it's in and it's adding more intractable then people appreciate and the solutions to that intractableness perhaps require to actually be effective going further than most people also search for preciate ya I mean like I start to feel like we really getting into the right end of the list it difficult end of the list when when you're pausing around the how how serious the problem is and how how to do with it and that's kind of the the way that I feel about it to one hand by this tragedy for society that you don't have a civil discourse anymore you go back and not to be the person that's that we've decried for the past 20 episodes about how great the good old days were but you go back and people were at there was a extent to which more civil discourse was able to take place and in pot that stem from the fact that
00:39:28who were writing reading from the same script and tons of where they got that new sauce that is going away and the new sources that are big encouraged to crop up both on the channel front but it's being super charge by the internet a reinforcing to people the things that they already hit but then you start to get into solution land and like what the Chinese government did for example that sounds horrible I mean by end and yeah you can impose these regulations on cable channels but what about something like stratechery all all these fantastic new new sources that you can get on the internet are they required to do it as well and if people don't like what's happening to the cable channels and this is what people want they will just go somewhere else to get it so I totally agree I feel like I mean I put it down the house cuz I think it's a problem but I don't necessarily have a good solution your description of a bank intractable is one that I very much agree with that the only alternative is to be at the Chinese government
00:40:28in the middle there by your point on the website point it is very well maybe cuz you don't remember we talked to hurt on we're going from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance stand the fairness Doctrine to use an example came up when they were three broadcast stations you know there were only three places to get brought you know TV news and that was the context in which that that doctor was enforced and when it was repealed it was in the context of cable is like well there's actually a whole bunch of cable channels if you there's competition can take care of that in two weeks and if you think about it if you look at it holistically that's actually true right people generally buy large is an object deserves would say that box is more on the right msnbc's more than whacked in CNN is Yule Ball in the middle of it you can have dispute where CNN is it in the middle that's where they are right
00:41:28is competition there is all viewpoints or within a spectrum of course all viewpoints are available and I think this is why it's intractable because people's problem is not with the availability of viewpoints it's the insistence that people hear their beer and that's why it's that's why it's dangerous that's why I thinking about Solutions are problematic because people problem is not with the suppliers it's with the end-user and they want to control what people think and control people see and I'm not defending what people see anything particular you're there is quote-unquote fake news and I am people believe things that are crazy and don't see the fax and we do need shared fax them all those things are true but if you start seriously thinking about Solutions it gets very problematic very very quickly
00:42:28you want on the internet and the problems here go back to people if indeed the point of the internet is demands rules the date people get what they want because there's others all kinds of Supply in the platforms that succeed are the ones that are the most efficient and getting people what they want as quickly and seamlessly as possible and so it turns out the problem is with people it's a job it's not the it's not the media I mean I agree with that but it is a pretty nice segue into the quote on quote time well spent they which is the realization perhaps among certain circles and I think this is particularly being pushed is an RD from inside the Tech weld and particularly by a number of former employees of some of the big social media companies that because of the business model of these organisations is based around engagement it is in that interest to keep people engaged on that site on that as long as possible and that might include showing an inflammatory things or things it necessary
00:43:28play in their best interest sent this notion that I mean Zuckerberg came out with the name of a little bit a little bit ago were talking about wanting to make sure the time spent on Facebook is time well spent and I mean you talked about like people are humans that is absolutely true and you want to be careful tinkering at the same time people are humans would would taken advantage of by tobacco companies by I mean people have various views on what should be done about soda consumption and all the sugar involved by Coca-Cola put cocaine in their product originally like that there are instances with letting people just do what they want as a society we agreed that's isn't always the best idea and this is that's the angle that I would take on time well spent it concerns me that these companies are so powerful and they don't necessarily like that business model isn't necessarily a line with that consumers best interest
00:44:28got that's right and I was out of two two responses one is
00:44:34it makes me it's great that Mark Zuckerberg is concerned up he was time well spent it concerns me to have an unelected unaccountable single person deciding what is time well spent for 2 billion people might think this is an issue to me this is one of the most deepest fundamental problems with Facebook is I actually do lizards there's a slot tournament and was convinced that whole bunch of the road is all you'll tell me what to buy and sell devious these are all about it's like actually don't think so I don't think he actually he doesn't really like he was asked a question but faces Financial then you kind of like barely knew what the answers work I don't think it's because he's dumb he doesn't care like that's inside the company he's focused on his mission and vision in the product side and you know it it's in many respects what we want from Founders that they being to keep the idealism they keep the focus and not worry about the bottom line and do what they think is best but but there is a
00:45:34there's a darker side here which is you know what we talked about this a few times once you lose lose these are Moorings of caring about the financials and all you care about is in acting your vision that is weird angel eyes because the more you're driven by your good intentions and your conviction that you're doing good for the world the greater your blind spot is about the unintended consequences of what's happening in if you want to criticize Facebook and I think it's not the they wanted to make more money as they did all this bad stuff if that they genuinely believe they were doing good things for the world and dusted that stuff and identify much better explanation for why Facebook is data way willy-nilly like Zuckerberg if you want to go back to the 14-year apology to her it's in every single one of those apologies is by and large driven by Zack Burns clearly deeply held belief that more transparency is better
00:46:34more data is better give me some out there is better and better there white what would the Privacy is he sent this like we we need to connect more we need to get more out there if we are more Publican and it always better connections the world will be a better place and it's a very utopian sort of vision that frankly I find much more concerning the Facebook just trying to make a few more dollars on the next earning statement yeah I would tend to agree with that now I mean DD connection to the business side is you want more users you want them or engaged with your site and using your products and like that at all see if you believe your product is the route to a better world you got that you lost one that was your product more as well and that's why I agree I totally agree and like it feels like the belief in more people connected and disbelief in radical transparency I like you said you look at the places where they have apologized it's where they push the envelope in reducing friction of making information that much more
00:47:34the available that is the whole basis of Facebook all the information was available in inside of Hobbit on the various in the various houses they had their own Pages he Amalgamated I made it easier to find and I think this guiding principle of reducing the friction and everybody is everything is transparent and everybody is everything is on the internet everything is represented there and not saying the dangers associated with that just seeing it as a Northstar that must always be moved to words and that reticence around privacy I would tend to a grade the connection I guess I would make you the business side is it it's like you just said and I think your explanation is great it's like that's the mission and then we measured own engagement and when I talk about business model I agree with you I don't think he's doing it the money I think he's viewing it in terms of getting more people engaged you it could easily justify that we need to make more money sucks that we can pursue our vision that is the that
00:48:34the vision that all Humanity have to follow you the right way everything is justifiable I'm this was the point in that memo from from from boss and Andrew Bosworth in the like this that memo and we went to it is where the single most succinct and Powerful description of Facebook ever anything and everything that we do everything is okay if it leads to the goal of of connecting people and I think he is I think use the member was special by BuzzFeed which house originally completely misrepresented it is it did their represented as a scam justifying it is him saying that they should do bad things he wasn't think they should do bad things he's saying we make the mistake of doing bad things because we justify it to ourselves by calling back on this sort of this vision of texting people but backwards like the cause and effect
00:49:34inside the metal if you are driven by evangelicals eel that you are pursuing a vision that that that must be enacted because it's right why would you not want the right thing to be enacted you justify all kinds of bad things along the way and if you want to crystallize Facebook's 14-year apology tour used to fetch his term it is the missionary Zeal of believing they are pursuing a vision that that must be enacted
00:50:05I absolutely agree I was actually very agitated by the way that that memo was received in the focus I mean that he he was clearly trying to prove a point and management style and it's one that I think he's is underappreciated and I will try to employ it but like you see the dark side of it as well if it slips out for example of light provoking people of like playing it out to the extreme of that like the terrorism quote like that's the thing that sucks so many people latched on to this way of provoking people and making them holding them I'd like this is the most extreme example of what's Happening as a result of what we doing and I think I can imagine it's parked and everybody said it's packed a huge internal discussion and this is an instance where leaking at without the context of what it was trying to do just seems grossly unfair to both the organisation in the individual just was trying to do
00:51:05you understand my Facebook people were upset about it because they were upset because of the truth that was fit I need the fact the matter is we spent all kinds of podcast talking about all the downside of this all the problems of social media the fact that it does lead to filter bubbles it does tear down RB institutions that you don't identical party that makes it down four possible things we talked about does lead to the fact that the fact that any small business can walk up the Facebook and do advertising also means Russian agents can walk up to it into advertising write all this stuff all the good things are intersecting with the bad things and N2 to put in the memo was clearly stating that why are we okay with it why we are where we okay with those bad things were okay because we are mission driven and end to me the issue here and in the end it might take away from this and it's something we
00:52:05Bremen has its own very serious inherent problems because you have the more your dream by Mission the larger your blind spots are you have to worry about the next earning three about the bottom line though that's problematic because you're too worried about Wall Street etcetera what does the good thing is it's very measurable so if you're needing it or not meeting it or or any problems are very quickly and readily apparent right that's the reason why Wall Street will push companies to measure the performance by the bottom line because it's measurable and it in and there's more accountability to the extent your motivation you're driving force has nothing to do with the bottom line the more bite serve definition huge number of blindspot there's going to be in that can be both a good thing because the more that can be accomplished in the more mucus you can build like Amazon is a forwarded a huge blind spot in if you could frame it that way because Wall Street has faith that they're going to use the all the money all the runners are generator
00:53:05to to build your business is right that that's a that's an example of a positive blind-spot a negative blind spot is you're going to end up unleashing huge numbers of unintended consequences because you're not actually Bound by anything that is it is measurable or accountable such a great point I like having you think about zealots throughout human history and they they they cost the side so many things that many of us take for granted because that's so focused on that mission and I mean this is Rife in Silicon Valley Mall so that perhaps anywhere else that there's this almost like righteous belief that everything that everyone is doing he is making the world a better place and I would like part of that is part of the reason why I wanted to come here these kind of techno utopianism the extent to which people refuse to counsel the possibility that it could be used in negative ways and it and the
00:54:05don't know I mean this is this whole thing is almost like Silicon Valley's wake-up call like all these big companies or number of them anyway that have most successful this is the instance where I suddenly The Narrative shifted this isn't necessarily making the world a better place anymore we have very real examples of where part way down the list of like how it's not necessarily making the world a better place and you're right like the mission is blinding people to that possibility and it's only when you're dealing with the consequences of ignoring it that people are starting to realize I'll hey maybe we should have been thinking about this all along I'm going the opposite direction where you get so wrapped up in the de bad things you missed a good thing that in your hasn't got tweeted during the hearings like I was talking about them the problem and ask for example we talked about before I dads are a Facebook ads are a huge leveler of the Plainfield for all kinds of like tiny businesses and things like that
00:55:05everything in this Society that's been happening for 30 years right you can't blame an internet company for a trend that's been going on for Fort for three decades I mean to that is like how much worse we exactly if it weren't for those that exactly it ended there's all kinds of examples over the place of companies that are possible unique way possible I would look at the App Store the vast majority of money making apps in the App Store are there more dependent on Facebook and they are at an Apple for their success apple is just the conduit and they take a tax by virtue of having the disorder distribution but they are actually able to build an audience and to make money thanks thanks thanks to Facebook and end we're in this middle of like a pendulum swinging wildly back and forth now right like there is a long time just the presumption of all good and now we're kind of gearing towards the presumption everything is terrible and the hope is we can kind of figure out a path where we kind of connect now it's both
00:56:03yeah I know I mean I guess that is as good as Segway is Eddie to the last thing on my list which is like this notion that and I mean I started to come around to it and this notion that perhaps we starting to look at Adam and I'll play like this is what happens when you have in Monopoly post both on the advertising side but digital advertising side but no sew on the social networking site into the Cliffhanger is somewhat reviewed by Miley didn't like that but I think you were you were referring to a was it a senator who is who is driving with a line of questioning yeah we've talked on his pockets previously that if you if you are believe that a company to regulatory approaches by Bi-Mart and you know if they're often lumped into one but the truth is that regular regulations Like rules like limitations on what a company can do is one sort of Regulation and I and I noted it
00:57:03inherently skeptical of those not because they don't have benefit but because the benefit is very easy to measure and the cost is extremely difficult to measure because who Bears the costs of the companies that are small we're having up informed right it's a it's a it's a definition nearly impossible to measure and the other sort of Regulation that I noted repeatedly I am much more favorable towards is antitrust regulation because what is the point of entry ways in the point Refrigeration is that competition is no longer a meaningful limiter or restraint on a company's actions and behavior and it's to restore competition the right so my concern about the rules bass regulation is that at limits competition and white anymore Fair of antitrust regulation is because the source source competition where they was in was
00:57:54as I kind of mentioned before you eat there was these or Democratic proposal for regulation and if there was the sort of cliche or poems about the regulations bad right now. To regulate etcetera etcetera but there was also a rather distinct threadlike and more in the Senate and the house about you don't know there is a problem here and no regulation is just going to make the problem worse like this that was the point I want to send her sitting Senator Sullivan from Alaska but he he was he's like there's two remedies is so intricate like there's usually two remedies to come and get this big as powerful as you what is regulation is one is break up NES is Zuckerberg what do you think about that it's like we're not opposed to regular kind of admitting that conversation regulation baseball compare the cost of regulation in
00:58:54GTR came up at on in these hearings right and you were like oh why why why does Facebook have Google fight against UTEP are they fighting because it's expensive right of the big pain in the neck who wants to deal with it is it going to correct their business of course is going to keep their business the question isn't whether it's going to hurt Facebook or Google the question is who can most afford to bear the cost of a bind by the regulation and write it and basically Google can cuz it's not just about the cost of compliance is that you have to get permission on your customers for dinner tracking and then you have to do all these sorts of things and guess what if you're on Facebook if you're on Facebook and using Facebook and in doing all that they are they have permission to this all on Facebook right now might they be limited with a gift from third-party from WhatsApp absolutely but what about companies like they add trackers or basically any other advertising Network other than Facebook or Google where their entire business is predicated on third-party on third-party websites in third third party place that's right I think they're probably going to feel the pain a whole lot more and if you follow that through
00:59:54if digital advertising is going to continue to exist where do you think that is advertising is going to go it's probably to go to the companies that relatively speaking feel the pain least it ended I don't know why people can't can't get this that of course face when will don't want the sort of Regulation but it's not like it's good but you have to look at it relative to to the entire landscape North absolutely spot-on I tithe 100% agree with that and I agree the frustration that people can't see it I mean like yes to reducing Facebook's ability to get this 100% accurate picture of you down to 60% but you're reducing everybody else is down to a tiny fraction if anything at all but you think about it from from the other perspective in just how if you had competition in the space how many of these things might be being sold and the fact that when Facebook stocks to my Facebook starts to
01:00:54reduce add inventory prices go up that's like a sure sign of a digital advertising and I'll plate what you think about it from the perspective of people buying I had some like that just going to go to Facebook because it covers Facebook and Instagram and Sons of social media that covered so much and the friction involved to go to another Network where is if you start to pull those apartments like okay we starting with Juan and that's not going to Neely being out so you might as well do to then once you doing too well you might as well to 3 it starts to enable much more of an ecosystem and then on that they use aside the social media site he was Austin number of times about like oh so where else can you go in a talked about Facebook being one of at like there were 8 options he is very specific in his language options in terms of how how people can communicate and like you said in one of your update what he failed to mention is three of those ate a Facebook properties like this comes to light with
01:01:54things like oh they just decided to arbitrarily delete some of Mark Zuckerberg messages to use is like okay not only do you have like an incredible control over the way that people have communicated you're also using it in a way that doesn't seem fantastic from it again from the societal perspective I started to come around I don't think the regulation is going to help in terms of its going to have the invoice effective what people hope I would tend to agree with that Senator I think this this breakup approaches probably have all the remedies on the table the one that makes the most sense calling for Facebook to be broke it up
01:02:32I think the challenge with that is a very high level you can see you like that that would be using a benefit of that right cuz I can and you made the point about advertising that's the real that's a real challenge. You can snap has demonstrated you can build an audience by doing a Facebook alternative and then that's different if he will spend time there but they have not demonstrated and are not even close to his writing is that you have to build a viable business doing that it and for all the reasons that you you kind of mentioned as far from Advertiser perspective then the question is always hurting from here to there right now what is the what what is actually Facebook doing that is anti-competitive as opposed to just being really successful at it you know yes did the Acquisitions were anti-competitive and we've discussed and written about that but as they are today but you know what what what is the really worked up about this point particular give me a specific from here
01:03:32to their strategy about how that happens like what what is the lawsuit that is going to be brought against them you know that it's going to lead to this and which means I think it's much more likely and I said this a few weeks ago that there isn't a regulatory response a rule making response to something that came to the GDP are that that walks on user data that is all about privacy and you know to the point we had discussed about you may end up making the competitive situation worse but the other thing that's worth thinking about and I have a little bit but
01:04:08it's not there are good things that do come from having this one's for the standard pot for bright again go back to the respective the fact that there's really one place to go to advertise you can kind of reach everyone that's actually kind of a good thing if you're a small Advertiser rightly because there's if you got to go to multiple platforms and have different creative everywhere to effectively reach everyone that actually it's a respect favors the bigger guy because they have more resources to to do that right where is it ever was walking up to the same portal buy a large that that is RV levels the playing field go back to our jungle analogy of there being tall trees on one side and underbrush on the other you could make an argument again I'm not sure what yet but you can make the argument that it actually is a very sort of logical out come to accept the reality of the tall trees too heavily sort of regulate them and put you know rules around them
01:05:08and it seems like that and admit there's not going to be other tall trees that come along but we want to make it that the most there could be more thriving rather than less on the jungle for I'm I'm laughing part way through because I think somewhere along the 148 episodes I've gotten got into your head and you got into mine like I'm the one proposing to break up a and end of the blunt approach where is the other one that's now proposing the regulation in order to do to thinking through the extra implications of this cuz you can there's an argument to be made that the inherent nature of of aeration. And all these Market is there's always going to be dominant player because that that idea we talk on the cast of sorts right if you have to search engines that have the exact same sort of technical capabilities and one is 51% sure what it's for and ever since year you want 51% shares an increase of Cheryl
01:06:08by virtue it's going to improve better and more quickly and in Gates still share another one right and if that's the case if that is the inherent nature of these markets maybe this solution is instead of an endless game of breaking up alligators such that the new aggregator can take its place maybe it is to accept the reality of alligators and and put limits and rules around them and accept their benefits that you're Bona can grow on top of them if that makes sense it makes total sense I mean like the ideal solution would be to have a platform where like all these problems in obviously this is a utopian Vision that will never gets old but all these problems issues and like that's just the platform at electr is perfectly theoretically neutral platform that advertises can come people can connect with that family whatever in the meantime I guess we'll probably be debating this for maybe another hundred Forty-Eight
01:07:08that's why that's why they need the I've always been much more biased towards neutrality I an in and everything again with all the downsides that comes with it because you don't there is a presumption if if neutral neutral control e is it necessary if there's competition did you like fairness Doctrine sort of idea right you need a fairness Doctrine when there's only three options you don't need a fairness Doctrine when there is 70 or 400 or on the Internet effectively incident that's a good point everything that's old is New Again like we starting to move back into that kind of welder we'll see we'll see it is this is a tip my hat to a topic and I've been thinking about for it for a long time and I'm not I'm not totally sure I haven't quite body in all the way but I think there is it's at least something it's worth thinking about
01:08:03car light on the subject of Facebook I think we can make it promises to our listeners that we will not talk about Facebook for at least 2 weeks yes next week I'll be traveling to on top of actually the the universe Chicago is having a second annual conference about sore antitrust issues and this year is about digital platform so I will I will be I'll be attending that and I think there will be some live streams on the panels that I'll be on I will I'll put those links in the show notes but I will not be able to record next week so you're right we will not talk about Facebook although I might I think I will come for you and you and happy as they do every week again go to wordpress.com exponent to get 50% off your order and I will talk to you in 2 weeks then
01:08:52safe travels night I'll talk to you later see ya bye bye

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