Tag Archives: Facebook

Tech Giants’ Core Strategies

The Verge makes an interesting point about Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda: for the most part, Microsoft doesn’t care what hardware you run their stuff on, they just want you to buy the software. So it’s less likely to be about trying to gain Xbox exclusives and more likely to be about getting more games for Game Pass.

It reminds me of a blog post I read a few years back comparing the core businesses of various major tech players:

  • Apple sells hardware, and their software and media stores are a way to give you something to do with the hardware.
  • Microsoft sells software, and the hardware is to give you something to run their software on.
  • Google sells ads on services, and their hardware, operating systems, and software (Android, Pixel, Chromebooks, Chrome, etc. ) are there to connect you to their services.
  • Amazon sells stuff, and their hardware is a way to sell you virtual (and sometimes physical) stuff.

That’s why, for instance, you can run Gmail on anything, and Microsoft Office on almost anything, but iTunes, the main Apple program that actually runs on a non-Apple system, is designed primarily to hook you up with an iPhone (previously an iPod). And it’s why you can read Kindle eBooks on a Kindle device, or a Kindle app on an Android or iOS device, and they make it really easy to buy e-books from them, but really inconvenient to import anything from another eBook store.

Facebook is similar to Google in that their core strategy is a service with ads, and their apps and (when they branch out into it with things like Portal) hardware are ways to keep you using their services. Heck, they’re even tying the Oculus headsets to Facebook accounts now.

The post predates the rise of smart speakers and doorbells…but remember how the Echo was originally mostly a way to voice-order things through Amazon? Or Amazon Key, whose primary purpose was to allow delivery services to drop off packages inside your house so you wouldn’t have to worry about porch pirates?

Plus of course everyone wants to sell you subscriptions now!

And yet…it still fits remarkably well.

Facebook: Promoting Lies for Cash

Facebook still insists it’s totally OK for them to help politicians lie to you for $$$.

Not just misleading ads, or controversial opinions, or varying interpretations, but outright lies. Totally fine with it!

Facebook says they don’t want to be in the business of fact-checking, but they have policies against false commercial advertising. Truth in advertising is critical because commerce requires trust and informed choices.

SO. DOES. DEMOCRACY.

It’s even more important in politics.

Facebook Page Flagged for… domain_placeholder.com? Probably not!

“Your Page was flagged because your post(s) linked to domain_placeholder.com.” — an email I got last night.

Um…yeah. Sure. That’s not a valid domain name.

The message showed up less than an hour after I logged into Facebook for the first time in weeks, and it does appear to actually be from Facebook and not a phish.

But I don’t see any indication in Facebook’s website that the page in question has been flagged for anything, much less “sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically.” (In other words, selling links. Which I don’t do anyway.) I haven’t clicked on the tracked links just in case it is a phish, but there’s a link to submit an appeal that goes to a non-tracked Facebook Help page…which is a 404.

Searching for domain_placeholder.com on Facebook and Twitter turned up other people reacting to similar messages they got last night…and nothing older.

I’m confident it’s bogus, and I suspect it was sent out accidentally. Maybe someone at Facebook is testing a new email template, and accidentally sent it to a real subset of users on a real mail server.

Update (4/18): The Facebook Help page linked in the message now contains the following statement:

No action required

You may have received an email that we sent out in error, and your Page may not have violated the Pages Policy on restrictions around sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically. Please ignore the email you received on 04/15/2019.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

So it looks like it was what I expected: a test message sent out by mistake.

Update (4/19): Four days later, Facebook finally sent me a follow-up email saying, “We sent you an email by mistake.”

Facebook-Forced “Business Pages”

Anyone familiar with what Facebook Pages considers to be a “business?”

Facebook decided to group my “business pages” (two blogs, neither of which is a business, one of which I had already marked for deletion a few days ago) into a “business account.” I thought maybe they’d flattened their definitions, but another page (for a long-defunct user group that I also marked for deletion this week) didn’t get lumped into it.

“Help” hasn’t been terribly helpful.

Knowing Facebook, I half-suspect it’s some weird “Oh noes, he’s deleting pages because he thinks he doesn’t have the tools he needs! Let’s change his settings so he’ll see that we do offer the tools!” I deleted the pages because they’ve been inactive for years, not because I don’t have advertising tools for them.

I don’t need a “Facebook business account,” but I’m reluctant to delete it unless I can be sure I won’t lose access to the active blog’s page. And again, “Help” has been spectacularly unhelpful.

Mixed Feelings: Facebook Has Shut Down (Some) Auto-Posting

I have mixed feelings on Facebook closing down automated posts to personal* profiles. It might cut down on spam, and it will lead to better descriptions on link posts, but it also locks you further into their silo.

You can still write elsewhere and link back to it on Facebook, but you can’t use WordPress Publicize or IFTTT to post it, or Buffer to schedule it. You have to do it manually, which adds more friction, and you can’t time-shift it. I used to spread out look-at-this-cool-link posts using Buffer, and queue them up from Pocket while offline, but I can’t do that anymore.

If you want your Facebook audience to see your words or photos, it nudges you to maybe just post on Facebook to begin with (never mind that you want its main home to be somewhere you have more control). And it’s another way for them to get you back onto the site so they can try to keep you there for another 15 minutes, see some more ads, and generate more value content for Facebook.

Then again, I can’t help looking at it in terms of the debate over cross-posting from Twitter to Mastodon. There’s an argument that if you’re not actually on the platform, you’re not contributing to it. And while that debate tends to focus on auto-posts from a specific mismatched (and hostile) community, I think it’s fair to consider the broader context that if you’re not at least following up, you’re not really participating. (I’m especially guilty of that with my cross-posts to Tumblr.)

Though I suppose it matters more to a smaller community like the Fediverse than to something as massive as Facebook.

*Pages and groups can still accept automatic posts through the API, but those supposedly represent a business, or an organization, or a public persona rather than a “real” person.

Expanded from a Mastodon post on Wandering.Shop.