Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Facebook: haplessly evil, or just hapless?


Have you heard all the fussing out there about Facebook manipulating some users’ news feeds to see if that might have an effect on emotion? BFD.

Apparently, Mr. Zuckerberg thought it would interesting to find out if sad news going through peoples’ news feeds would make them sad. The answer is probably maybe, but what I find fascinating about all this is that, Didn’t we already know that? Think about it. The country went to war in 2003 (I mean Iraq, not Afghanistan) because the news business pretty much limited our “news feed” to negative shit about Iraq. Something like 98% of the population said, “Nuke Saddam.” We’re kind of seeing the same thing now with Iraq again, and Syria, most immigrants, occasionally China, sometimes Russia, and always Iran. When the stream of information is negative, people have negative emotions because of the information.

Zuckerberg has figured out how propaganda works, that’s all.

But really, what Facebook has always been about is manipulation. In its early, simplest iteration, it was kind of a Kool Kids directory. You wanted to belong. You wanted to be in that group. And on a larger scale, the question “Aren’t you on Facebook yet?” was laced with judgment. The day might be coming when the question, “You’re still on Facebook?” is more cutting.

It’s pretty clear that all Facebook is — and this is certainly what the founders must have had in mind when they went big-time — is yet another advertising delivery medium (with information collection while they’re at it). It’s all manipulation. Buy the crap flashing in front of your face, and keep buying it, because if you don’t you’re not one of the Kool Kids.

The reason I bring this up, other than the fact that this negative story about Facebook happens to be in the news right now, is that I’m selling shit on Facebook and therefore I’m part of the Manipulation Nation too. So are most self-publishing writers. We’re told it’s a necessity, even if it feels a little smarmy sometimes. A lot of the time.

To summarize, then: No one should be too shocked that Facebook engaged in an unethical experiment. It’s in the manipulation business. Selling is manipulation. Facebook is here to sell stuff. (And it might just be selling you to someone else!)

Speaking of selling, Yesterday Road is still 99 cents at Amazon because they take so long to put some price changes into effect. If you want to snag a copy cheap, be my guest. Or give it as a gift to that special Kindle owner.

7 comments on “Facebook: haplessly evil, or just hapless?

  1. John W. Howell
    July 3, 2014

    Wish I understood Facebook better.

  2. ericjbaker
    July 4, 2014

    I still don’t get it. People spend half their day on that site. Ah well. I don’t go to Starbucks or watch animated movies, either. I’m barely human.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 4, 2014

      And apparently un-American. I suppose you drive a Subaru or something…

  3. 1WriteWay
    July 4, 2014

    Facebook is fine for keeping up with my family and some friends, not much else. Although I really really hate the “news feed.” Stuff I would rather know about is hard to find among the crap that FB thinks is “top news.”

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 4, 2014

      I’m finding it more satisfying to seek out my own news. There’s always a hidden agenda when some “news source” feeds it to you!

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This entry was posted on July 3, 2014 by in Social media and tagged , , .
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