Building Trust: Current Instances of Dubious Credibility

June 20, 2019

I buzzed through the overnight email and scanned the headlines dumped in my “Pay Attention” folder. Not much of interest to me. Sure, Congress is going to ask questions about the new sovereign currency from the People’s Republic of Facebook. That’s going to be a rerun of the managerial version of “So You Think You Can Dance.”


I did spot three items which make clear the ethical swamp in which some companies find themselves lost. Let’s look at these and ask, “Yeah, about that bridge to Brooklyn you sold my mother”?

ITEM ONE: Vice reports that Twitter is working on a bug fix which tells a user, “You know that person you unfollowed. Well, good news, that person is now following you.” The write up “A Nightmare Twitter Bug Is Sending Users Notifications When They’re Unfollowed” states:

For several days, untold numbers of Twitter users have been getting push notifications whenever someone unfollows them. To add insult to injury, the notifications say the user has “followed them back” when in fact the opposite is true.

Yep, a bug, not another programming error, not a failure of code QA prior to pushing the ones and zeros to a production system, not an example of a senior management team looking for fire extinguishers. Just a bug. Forget the cause, and, of course, the Twitteroids are going to fix it.

ITEM TWO: The somewhat frantic and chaotic methods of YouTube are going to more attention. “YouTube Under Federal Investigation over Allegations It Violates Children’s Privacy” reports:

A spokeswoman for YouTube, Andrea Faville, declined to comment on the FTC probe. In a statement, she emphasized that not all discussions about product changes come to fruition. “We consider lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that — ideas,” she said. “Others, we develop and launch, like our restrictions to minors live-streaming or updated hate speech policy.”

Okay, let’s clam up and face facts: The methods used to generate engagement, sell ads, and stave off the probes from Amazon Twitch are just algorithms. Once again, no human responsibility, no management oversight, and no candid statement about what the three ring video extravaganza is willing to do with regard to this long standing issue.

ITEM THREE: Facebook’s crypto currency play aside, I noted this admission that Facebook users have zero expectation of privacy, and, if I understand Facebook’s argument, you will get zero privacy from our platform. Navigate to “Facebook Under Oath: You Have No Expectation of Privacy” and note this statement:

In a San Francisco courtroom a few weeks ago, Facebook’s lawyers said the quiet part out loud: Users have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The admission came from Orin Snyder, a lawyer representing Facebook in a litigation stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Now I am not sure this is an admission. It strikes me as a statement of a Facebook bedrock foundational principle.

What do these three current items trigger in my mind? Let me answer that question, gentle reader:

  1. Large, powerful high technology firms say what’s necessary to get past a problem.
  2. Situational decision making creates what are unmanageable business processes.
  3. The senior managers and spokes humans are happy to perform just like the talent on “So You think You Can Dance.”

For me, that show show is becoming tiresome, repetitive, and the intellectual equivalent of chowing down on KryspyKreme chocolate- iced, glazed-with-sprinkles donuts. The music is getting louder, and the tune is “Deflect, aplogize, keep goin’.” Boring.

Stephen E Arnold, June 20, 2019


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