Friday, 25 September 2020

volenti non fit injuria

Via Slashdot, we are referred to the testimony of a former Facebook manager who baldly admits that the company took its cues from the business model and public relations campaign that Big Tobacco waged for decades to rebuff critics and make their addictive product more palatable at a congressional hearing.

Not mincing words, the ex-director of monetisation continued the analogy of growth at any cost—including the privileging of status and on-line reputation that drives ever more extreme content and hollows out any parasympathetic—human inclinations in favour of an insidious tribalism that’s antithetical to dialogue or consensus. We’ve been here before of course but the frankness and urgency are refreshing, though it might make those who regard this criminal enterprise in a favourable light grow further entrenched rather than simply walk away. Far worse than individual harm or second-hand smoke, the drive for engagement—framed as a proxy for user-satisfaction without respect to said-user’s motivation—has brought the US and the world to the breaking point, fomenting violence and unrest for followers.