The Social Media Evolution

The Make Me Smart Podcast episode 96: Do it for the ‘gram had an interesting quip that Instagram was what the Facebook News Feed was before it got corrupted by ads and political arguments: the trivialities of our daily lives.

Screenshot_20180704-075738_FacebookAll social networks became popular because of trivialities. “What’s on your mind?” THAT is what we want. Users flocked to them because of trivialities. We want gossip, random, and meaningless.

Corporations need to monetize somehow. Ads are how social networks try to do so. Facebook showed that targeting ads by getting numerous attributes about us is the way to make the most money on it. Tumblr, for example, has completely inane ads that only get clicked by accident because ever couple posts presented is an ad. Instagram has almost as many ads as Tumblr but the targeting of Facebook.

Tribe, Friendster, and Myspace died because users left. The triviality was lost, so there was no reason to stay. Something I find fascinating is Facebook survived several of the exodus movements. Not enough people left to kill it.

I wonder if Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc are capable of dying in the modern era. Will enough people leave to cause an exodus movement?

Yes, Google+ was killed, but it died because it never made it into the user consciousness. I suspect that is because Google tried to make it the cornerstone of their ecosystem. It would be like Microsoft creating a social network around Office. Productivity tools do not a social network make.

Facebook should honor those privacy notice hoaxes

I’ve seen several friends post the new variant of the notice saying that in order to have privacy, you have to post the note that does not give Facebook permission to use your photos or status updates.

Here is the thing. Taking away that permission makes Facebook unusable as no one can see them even people you want to see them. If Facebook cannot use them, then it cannot show them to others on your behalf.

I think Facebook should start:

  1. Programmatically look to see if these statuses are posted by a user.
  2. Disable access to photos and status updates for any user who has posted it and not allow them to make new ones.
  3. Let them see the posts of others who have not posted it.
  4. Highlight to the user that no one can see their stuff due to having that post. Give them the option of deleting the post to restore access.

My guess is if Facebook did this, then these posts would disappear from Facebook pretty quickly.

Friend Request Hoax

A legitimate message expressing concern about your impersonation account would:

  1. Ask if you created another account.
  2. Provide the address to the new account so you can go to the profile, click the three dots on the cover photo, select Report, and follow the instructions for impersonation.

Instead, the hot hoax right now says:

Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.

Let’s break this down.

First, we have the preying on a fear we all have about our Facebook accounts getting hacked. Worse, this “hacker” is now going after friends.

But, the recommendation makes no sense at all. “Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too…

Forwarding the message to others is how chainletters operate. You are being played by forwarding it. You are spreading fear. You are not helping.

18th Anniversary of Blogging

Here is my first blog post from 18 years ago, which makes it as old as a legal adult. Wow…

Two Footballs

I got started at a place called Diaryland. A friend, Lacey, had started using it. Back in those days, I was up for trying pretty much anything geeky friends were doing. Blogging was a natural place for me to go.

Diaryland became Pitas and the site there was the first Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric. As other platforms became available, I tried them all:

My activity is far less now than it was back in 2000, but as I understand, most people active back then primarily post on Facebook or Twitter.

Likelihood to read a tweetstorm

I’ve noticed something weird about my reading habits. I think only read maybe 1 on 25 tweetstorms authored by someone I follow. I will read about 1 in 5 retweeted by someone I follow.

Tweets appear with most recent at the top and oldest at the bottom. So, when I encounter a tweetstorm in my feed, the natural inclination is to scroll to the end and read them in reverse order. It is an unnatural threading.

When someone retweets a tweetstorm, it is just the one tweet with a notation that there is more in the thread. So, I click the tweet, it opens a page with the tweets in order where I can read them in order. It feels natural.

I guess I could click the last tweet from those I follow, get taken to the end and scroll back up to the top. That would put things in the right order.

Lying to Big Data

The reaction people have towards social media companies is to lie. This amuses me because self-reporting is well known as the worst data. The data scientists expect people to lie.[1] Which is why they ignore what you say about yourself and focus on your behavior.

So, you need to start having intentionally deceptive behavior. The problem is: if people like you all deceive in the same patterns, then the data points to the same place anyway. You have to deceive in novel ways others like you would never think of doing.

Good luck with that.

1. Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) is about how as a data scientist for OKCupid, a dating website, he cannot depend on the honesty of people. He has data on what they say and compares it to what they do.

Unsticky Likes

Like Stamp 1
Credit: Joy Powers

Of late, I have been featured in some posts that generate many comments on Facebook. Naturally, I like these comments.

So when a new one comes in and old ones I thought I previously liked no longer show them being liked, it was noticeable. Over the past few months, I have seen the behavior over and over.

My primary hunch is that I am just a bad person and did not actually like them as I thought. Human memory is fallible. It is easily feasible that I in seeing them not liked assumed that I would have taken action to like them. The memory of having done so could actually be the recollection of doing so with others conflated to this incident.

Hypothetically, it is possible that I like a post and the action never gets updated in the database without telling me it failed. If the UI is designed to show the like whether or not the database took it, then I could see it liked and when I return later to see it not liked. Maybe because these posts have such a large dataset collected into a single place I more easily notice when this happens. It would be disturbing if we go to all the trouble of responding and others are never getting that feedback.

WP Maintenance Nightmare

Discovered this blog was showing:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

Any time it upgrades, this gets thrown up during the process. However, it goes away once the process is completed. It showing is not an error so much as a notification and should as it says go away in a minute. The problem is that if the upgrade hangs, it does not go away.

To manually fix it, go to the directory on the server with the files and remove the .maintenance file. (I rename them to .maintenance_YYYYMMDD so as to track how often they happen.)

I noticed that a particular plugin stated it needed an update. Even better, that plugin was set to automatically update, which suggested it was the cause. Kicking off the update hung the site again. Deleting the plugin also failed.

Eventually, I found myself looking at the wp-content/upgrade folder and noticed there was a folder named for the plugin that was the only content of the folder. I renamed that folder to prepend the name with zzz- and tried the upgrade again. The upgrade worked this time.

My guess is something was bad with the contents of the downloaded plugin upgrade temporary folder, but instead of deleting the contents of the folder as the first step the upgrade process, it just used the existing folder and hit the error each time until I removed it. Weird.