Facebook’s Faux Reforms

Andrew Burt, chief privacy officer and legal engineer at data management platform Immuta, has written an article appearing in Harvard Business Review that takes Zuckerberg and company to task for proposing “reforms” that are already being imposed. Essentially, as Burt sees it, Zuckerberg offers nothing of value with his recent mea culpa. The business model is still the business model, which has birthed all the problems.

It’s an interesting read. Here’s the link:



Is Facebook Really Changing?

This article in Wired seems to point to a “Yes” answer:


It’s certainly a step or two in the right direction!

Are Social Media the New Smoking?

This provocative question has been raised by Ben Maynard online at One Zero, as curated by Medium. Psychology has already identified excessive use of social media as a problem similar to bio-physiological addictions like narcotics and nicotine. (Think FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out.)

The book Zucked, by Roger McNamee, is a searing indictment of Facebook’s leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, and their “profitability at all cost” business model, knowingly based on engineering the site’s algorithms to create an addictive dependence on Facebook and its other social media captures, Messenger and Instagram.

McNamee suggests that social media giants need to either be treated as monopolies and broken up or, at the very least, regulated.

Regulation of such a complex industry, however, is fraught with difficulty if it is built around the idea of censoring content.

What Maynard is proposing seems to me a much more feasible alternative: creating anti-social media messages that treat social media use like smoking and making it uncool. I guess we might call it a “cancer of the mind.” After all, smoking remains legal, yet it is also recognized as harmful. Maynard notes that social media have a good side but that they also are harmful, a point that McNamee’s book makes in chilling detail. Anti-smoking messages achieve maximum traction not because they emphasize negative physical harms but because smoking has become uncool. It’s really a psychological appeal.

I think Maynard’s on to something. Can we have a social media equivalent of a surgeon general’s warning?

Others are suggesting we all need to simply opt out of Facebook but I admit to enjoying the posts I see from my far-flung network of family members, friends, and a few Facebook groups I belong to, that I find both enjoyable and wholesome.

Here’s the link to Maynard’s article:

The Case for Breaking Up Facebook

Writing for MIT Technology Review, Constantine Kakaes dissects Mark Zuckerberg’s recent 3,000-word essay on how he intends to change the Facebookiverse, supposedly for our benefit, concluding that the changes will in fact only accrue more power and control to The Zuckster.

He is not alone in this assessment, as I learned this past weekend at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Day event. Speaker Roger McNamee, venture capitalist par excellence and early supporter of Facebook, has turned against Facebook and argues very convincingly for its breakup or at least some form of regulation to curb what he sees as its anti-democratic business model. His book, Zucked, paints quite the picture.

Here’s the link to the MIT article:

What do you think?

New Study from Britain on Effects of Screen Time on Children

As the article whose link I provide below notes,

“Social media is linked to depression—or not. First-person shooter video games are good for cognition—or they encourage violence. Young people are either more connected—or more isolated than ever.

“Such are the conflicting messages about the effects of technology on children’s well-being. Negative findings receive far more attention and have fueled panic among parents and educators. This state of affairs reflects a heated debate among scientists. Studies showing statistically significant negative effects are followed by others revealing positive effects or none at all—sometimes using the same data set.”

Well, let me get out of the way and link you to the article on this important new study from Oxford University.


What Would David Ogilvy Say?

According to a recent article in Ad Exchanger, the day of the 30- and 60-second TV commercial is descending into twilight, giving way to a new dawn of 6- and 8-second clips that TV watchers will be less inclined to dismiss. Here’s the link:


Those of us who are veterans of the ad wars may recall David Ogilvy’s view that copy is king and that long copy is better than short copy. His reasoning was simple enough: When a consumer is interested in what you are selling, she can’t find out enough about your offering. Short copy is actually a disservice and leaves her unfulfilled.

Can this not be just as true for TV commercials? The problem is not that people do not like “putting up with” distracting commercials, the problem is those commercials are trying to sell things in which viewers are simply not interested.

I’m a big fan of high-performance automobiles. I would much rather watch a 60-second spot about a hot new road demon than a 6-second nano-commercial.

I think advertising’s problem these days is laziness. Media planners have placed far too much reliance on programmatic and algorithm-based buying models and no longer seem to care about carefully matching offerings to audiences.

Who’s watching what should be the watchword. Audiences are no longer “mass,” if indeed they ever were. The sanctified 18-to-49 demographic needs to die. It is simply not relevant anymore, if it ever was. Behavioral targeting is a much more effective way to parse audiences. But it requires more work. Segmenting an audience by its values yields greater interest. It also requires more work.

I think the planners need to get off their asses and start working for a living.

Artificial Intelligence Creates an Ad for Lexus

You have to watch this excellent ad for the Lexus ES that used artificial intelligence to write the script. I’m not sure how much of this is really the algorithm and how much is due to the human creative direction. The accompanying narrative provides a valuable list of takeaways that all ad message creators should endeavor to employ. Thanks to Muse by Clio for this fine piece.


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