Facebook: Eliciting Glee from Those Who Should Love It

February 6, 2022

I read – and this is the “real” title – “The End of the Metaverse Hopefully. Read to the End for a Tremendous Meditation on February. Facebook Made Its Own World and Now It’s Stuck in It.” The write up appeared in an online publication called Garbage Day.

Here’s the conclusion which I found interesting for several reasons:

Basically, Facebook and Instagram is [sic] Squid Game, the algorithm is the big piggy bank, and the last three traumatized contestants in tuxedos armed with knives are an out-of-work magician, an antivax chiropractor, and a QAnon mom from Tuscon who runs a drop-shipping pyramid scheme. Which, of course, is not a platform that users will want to use. But it’s all Facebook has to fall back on now that its attempts to “build the metaverse” have been exposed as an absolutely ridiculous bluster. And it seems like that’s what they’re actually going to do. Zuckerberg said yesterday that that they would be focusing — or pivoting — to video again. It’s all they can do. They’ll pivot to video, then they’ll pivot to reactions, then they’ll pivot to groups, then they’ll pivot to news, then they’ll pivot back to video, all the while, shrinking and becoming less and less relevant until one day we won’t even notice they’re gone.

The Zuckbook faces an uphill climb. However, large companies like an aircraft carrier require some time to stop. With an admiral screaming at the captain, the inputs contribute nothing to the physics of a big, often technologically outdated, vessel chock full of explosives, fuel, and former Googlers.

I agree that Facebook faces headwinds. What’s important to keep in mind is that the Big Zuck has his hands on the controls. Like a cornered ferret, an animal control officer must appreciate what the clever little creature can do.

Let me offer a few examples:

  • Act on rumors of accepting political advertising which is tailor made for the Facebook throw-fuel-on-the-fire algorithms of engagement
  • Enter into for-free agreements with organizations engaged in intelligence activities for a wide range of governments. Here’s a hypothetical question: “How much would Mr. Putin’s colleagues pay for unfettered access to near-real time user activity in a geographic region?” If not Mr. Putin, what about an person who is an alleged oligarch?”
  • Create differential advertising rates and charge more for ads which come with a nifty control panel designed to allow on-the-fly tuning?
  • What are the subscription revenue opportunities of a service infused with artificial intelligence informed for grandmothers?

I recognize the brilliance of the Big Zuck who allegedly created the service in a dorm room. I think his business acumen is worthy of a case study if universities have business schools which focus on real world behaviors. I admire the Big Zuck’s desire to buy Hawaii.

However, ignoring the Zuckbook and the Big Zuck is not a good idea. Assuming that the aircraft carrier will crash into a reef and sink is not a good idea. Suggesting that the doomsday clock is accelerating is not a good idea.

What is a good idea? Think about a cornered ferret.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2022


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