Why I Complain: Facebook Unbreaks Itself…Sort Of.

I get ranty. I know. And I’ll often get ranty about things I have no direct influence over, such as Facebook breaking their newsfeed to extort money or yet another boneheaded, bullying Amazon policy.

I’m not just ranting because someone is wrong on the Internet.    

I’m doing it on purpose.  And you should too.

Big corporations are sociopaths by design. They exist to make a profit for their shareholders, period. Anything and everything a corporation does is in order to make more money. Especially regarding marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook, Google, or Wal*Mart1 serving customers and suppliers is a means to an end, not the end itself. They are not evil, they’re amoral.

That’s an important distinction, and it’s why protests and raising a stink is a rational behavior.

Facebook recently rolled out a specific “get notifications” feature to undo (some) of the damage caused when Facebook broke the newsfeed by design. Go back through your “liked pages” (and this is probably a good time to unlike all the ones you don’t want) and hover over the “Like” button. Here’s a screenshot of me doing it with the Alliteration Ink facebook page:

If you can’t read it, the pictured dropdown that appears has “Get Notifications” as the first entry.  Click it, and you should be (more) likely to see the notifications from the pages you’re actually interested in.  (h/t to the Ennie Awards page for bringing it to my attention.)

Facebook fixed this because of the fuss made about the exploitative broken-by-design changes they made to force people and companies to “promote” their posts.2 

I’ve not done any kind of corporate espionage;  it’s analyzing the corporate behavior  as that of a profit-driven sociopath.  Facebook changed the policy just enough to deflect the worst of the criticism.  If they were making this change to fix an honest mistake… well, they’d just fix the behavior.  This sort-of-fix, poorly publicized, lets them claim that users can see all the updates they’d like to see.  It’s not their fault that people haven’t gone back through every page they’ve ever liked and turned on this new setting…

While I’m cynical about the change, it is a change.  It’s yet another change directly brought about by public outcry. 

Because you and I are the “invisible hand”.

The free market is designed to be self-correcting;  we forget that both our voices and our pocketbooks make up the free market.  Only when we forget that, when we become resigned to fraud and bullshit corporate ethics and can’t even be bothered to complain, that is when we’re really screwed.

And then we’ve done it to ourselves.

1 Yup. They’re marketplaces. Think about it for a few.
2 Yeah, they can do whatever they want to do, blah blah blah. Not really relevant for my point here, but we can have that discussion elsewhere if you really want to.

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