Somewhere along the line, Facebook moved from being the preposterously insecure social media service, into a corporation whose people seem pretty insecure — which has been further demonstrated by the company on Thursday trying its latest attempt to convince people how privacy-breaking targeted advertisements are actually good for consumers.
On Thursday, we are yet again seeing a Facebook blogging tirade where the company wants to be seen as our lone champion against — well, anything it can grab on to. If you can’t be bothered to read this latest diatribe, the short version is that the company appears to believe that we need our online habits tracked in order to provide us with more ads, and we should be thankful that Facebook gives us that.
The even shorter version is that there’s no difference from the last tirade — except that the new blog has an accompanying ad campaign. It doesn’t matter – Facebook knows you won’t read it anyway.
You, specifically you, the reader of this piece, will not do anything more than glance at this nonsense from Facebook and you will not be fooled by what is patently false — but you’re not the audience for these missives.
Facebook has written off the audience that understands what it’s doing, or which is interested enough to find out. It’s probably right to figure out that we’re all going to carry on using the service, but just in case, it is aiming very squarely at the audience who does not want to think about it.
Hence the previous newspaper ads, read only by people who are involved in regulation. Hence the mutterings about taking Apple to court, believed only by people who hate Apple.
Hence, too, Facebook’s loud attack which comes over as deeply insecure defense. The fact is that if you know one single thing about privacy, you are not going to be supporting Facebook.
It’s not about the technology facts
Facebook knows it has lost the generally tech-savvy on privacy grounds. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, there’s no convincing you that they are for our good.
But there is plenty of room to tell everybody else that this is really a very simple story of good versus evil, and Facebook is somehow maintaining that it is the good guy with a straight face. Facebook will not shut up about how it is the sole champion of all small businesses, even as that is not true, because everybody cares about small business owners.
Facebook will not even whisper about the only absolutely true thing in its entire campaign, that it’s afraid for its own profits.
We all support the idea of people building a business out of nothing but then once they’ve done it, few worry too much about its bottom line. Facebook just makes it harder than ever to care about its income when it is quite plain that it does not care about us.
Right back at the very start, when Mark Zuckerberg started “The Facebook” in Harvard, he described all users as being “dumb f***s.” He’s since said he regrets it, but if he ever genuinely changed his mind about us, the new tirades suggest he’s changed it right back.
In its quest to look like the good guy, Facebook is repeating statistics that have been disproven. But, it doesn’t care because if it keeps saying them, enough people will believe.
That does not include the tech savvy, but it does include the kind of America that doesn’t live in technology, that doesn’t follow its every move. That audience is the one most likely to stay with Facebook, so long as Facebook can persuade enough of them that it’s a good guy.
Facebook has always regarded its users with some level of disdain, but now it’s vastly more blatant about it than ever. The tirades against Apple’s privacy seem panicked, like a politician knowing he’s about to be caught doing something incredibly stupid, and tries diverting attention.
The fact that Facebook now so very loudly does not want you thinking about what it does, is making more people think about it. And you cannot think about Facebook’s business model for one instant without being uncomfortable about it.
So there’s Facebook, forever disdaining us, now making us uncomfortable. And there’s Facebook, blackmailing Australia and showing the rest of the world that it’s ready to put charities in jeopardy unless it gets its way.
And then there’s Apple. While we admit this is part of Apple’s entire marketing schtick, Tim Cook and Apple keeps telling us about privacy and giving us an informed choice of what we do or don’t want to accept as it pertains to our habits, our information, and what we do on the internet.
Apple is using privacy to sell its devices, and Facebook is using its total absence of privacy to sell us to advertisers. And to line its own pockets. Even Google has a better privacy record than Facebook does.
Yet it truly does seem as if companies have personalities. Apple is an adult, and puts that foot forward, whether you agree with what it does or not. Facebook has the temperament of a child, whatever it does — and most particularly when it gets caught with its hand in the cookie jar.
Or perhaps it’s a teenager. After all, as huge as it is now, it’s acting as fragile and petulant as the student who created it 17 years ago.