27 September 2018

Wired: “Inside Facebook’s Two Years of Hell”

News outfits were spending millions to produce stories that Facebook was benefiting from, and Facebook, they felt, was giving too little back in return. Instant Articles, in particular, struck them as a Trojan horse. Publishers complained that they could make more money from stories that loaded on their own mobile web pages than on Facebook Instant. (They often did so, it turned out, in ways that short-changed advertisers, by sneaking in ads that readers were unlikely to see. Facebook didn’t let them get away with that.) Another seemingly irreconcilable difference: Outlets like Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal depended on paywalls to make money, but Instant Articles banned paywalls; Zuckerberg disapproved of them. After all, he would often ask, how exactly do walls and toll booths make the world more open and connected?

Nicholas Thompson & Fred Vogelstein

Throughout history, walls were not built primarily to keep good people in, but rather to keep bad people out. When your tear down defenses, you invite in all sorts of negative elements – and that’s precisely what’s happened (and is still happening) on Facebook. Having grown up during one of the most peaceful times in human history, in one of the places on Earth best sheltered against violence and strife, it’s no wonder Mark Zuckerberg has trouble understanding such threats.