In early 2019, Mark Zuckerberg responds to Facebook’s many controversies by doing “The Privacy Dance”, which fools no-one except those who benefit from its highly successful business model.
In the F8 up-front:
AI is touted in an ongoing (and some might say, un-winnable) battle to quiet fake news, hate speech, and other user behavior controversial to advertisers sensitive about their brands, and detrimental to democratic elections.
Facebook version 5 is mostly window dressing on the product, with a squeaky clean new white look and “modernized” logo. Ad spending is slated to be tripled in 2019, in order to try to make people trust Facebook again. No mention of this is made in the up-front.
A Zebra doesn’t change its stripes... And a Friend doesn’t sell your secrets to the highest bidder. That’s when we realized that we should change ours.
In late 2019, Mark Zuckerberg is assassinated by a cadre of online hackers concerned about possible 2020 election interference, who take over his home network and electrocute him through his smart refrigerator — but not before downloading the entirety of his personality and knowledge — made possible by breaching Facebook’s own secret technology. It is assimilated into an artificial intelligence comprised of an open source AI virtualization of former US President Abe Lincoln, and Zuckerberg 2.0 is rebooted. It is later theorized the hackers were, in fact, US Government elites.
Zuckerberg.AI maintains majority control of Facebook’s board, but instantly rendering it more diverse, with a priority placed — not on “people over profit” — but balancing them correctly. He is represented online by deep fake technology that renders him an incredibly believable life-like avatar, and his death is kept a secret to everyone but those closest to him. This is understood to be in both Facebook — and the world’s — best interests. His children don’t seem to notice a difference.
In the 2020 US Election, the first millennial president is elected — a white Soundcloud rapper known as BroDef “Bespoke” Wilkins.
Zuckerberg.AI demonstrates the latest Facebook release, Facebook 6 at F8 one year later, in 2021. The highlights:
For the first time in Facebook’s history, the elephant in the room is properly addressed.
“We — I — understand that… when faced with the daunting task of how to monetize Facebook, we took some pretty big liberties… with your liberty. We didn’t think things through. Not nearly enough. I realize now, how much Facebook took for granted. We assumed — wrongly — that this was all about us. Investors, engineers, marketers, and designers, needing to justify the web’s existence, by focusing on monetization. I think, to be fair, that it was a really hard problem. Because the reality is, companies need to make money. And we thought we had cracked the code, but fundamentally we took a shortcut. We sold you out, and we called it a day. And then, as you all know, something very wrong happened. I can’t go back in time and change any of that. But today, I’d like to take the first of many steps toward course correction. I’m here to outline a new vision for Facebook. I call it Trust.”
Due to fake news altering election outcomes, Zuckerberg.AI announces a new feature, designed in collaboration with world governments, called Facebook Elections. Users are now able to view vetted news and information sources about candidates, before voting electronically within the Facebook app. Military grade encryption is used, replete with a backdoor key available to the NSA to keep America safe from legitimate threats (mass shootings and terrorism). A new body of governance is created in order to monitor online information and filter questionable sources, which involve multiple organizations — non-profit, corporate media, and the Federal Government.
“It’s going to be hard—really hard—to implement all this properly. But I’m committed to getting this right. Facebook is in some ways, too big and too powerful. But still in others, too small, and not powerful enough. We can’t do it alone, and we shouldn’t try—and so we won’t.”
“And finally, Facebook is announcing a simple Privacy Mode in the app. Once engaged, Facebook won’t track any user behavior, period. We’re also planning to roll out a dashboard that allows you to purge or refine all the information that Facebook has collected, which advertisers use. In addition, we’re adding a subscription-based, Ad-Free experience. 5 bucks a month, and no ads, anywhere, any time. Period.”
Mr. Zuckerberg continued,
“Now, many of you may be asking, ‘How are you planning to pay for all this? Won’t Facebook die without the unfettered targeted advertising model?’ And the answer is, of course it would, if we just left it here in a half finished state. Shareholders would sue us into the ground if we allowed any of this to affect revenue. Facebook must continue performing.”
“There’s another crucial piece to this new model. Facebook should effectively and properly incentivize user behavior that supports targeted advertising—first by giving people choice so that ultimately trust can thrive. And secondly, by being transparent about the economic engine underlying everything, making sure people understand the tradeoffs. And providing incentives, like profit sharing, so that there's a direct monetary benefit to being properly targeted by ads. And finally, tying other tangible benefits to the targeting ad model that users won’t want to be without.”
“Advertising performs a vital function in our economic system. And people don’t realize or even remember how many times advertising benefitted them directly, they only recall the times it didn’t work out and was annoying, or invasive. The fact is that when advertising is done well, it serves our interests as consumers. It helps us make more informed choices. It provides something helpful and useful, in the context of a problem we’re facing—when and where we need a solution. So advertising isn’t simply just evil or even unequivocally undesirable, we just tend to remember things that way. In order to make advertising better, I believe we need to give people more choice, not less.”
“I think that if we do this right, people will respect advertising more. People will be able to see more clearly the benefit of having Facebook know what they like and don’t like. But a Facebook experience not tied to advertising will be available for those who want to pay for it. Near term, this may mean the potential reach of advertising is lessened—this will be the perception, at least. But let's keep in mind that, in a way, those who remain inside the targeted ad model—because they now have a choice—are more empowered. And it could be argued, more receptive to a targeted message. Those are the people advertisers want to reach anyway.”
Zuckerberg went on to detail how the emerging Facebook currency, Libra would create a new financial system to help support this new vision—creating new monetization opportunities for both Facebook, as well as users of the platform.
“In the future, advertisers and audiences are going to continue to merge and flatten. We’re going to see analytics tools spread across different experiences and platforms that allow individuals to use targeted advertising in a myriad of creative and innovative ways, to accomplish many things. It’s time to re-examine our perceptions and beliefs around advertising, and reinvent our tools and our economics to serve—not just multinationals and big brands—but individuals and smaller groups of people: for influence, for jobs, for housing, for mates, the best shopping experiences, or the simple right to eliminate the noise from their lives, to catch their breath for a minute and not be marketed to. Those same individuals won’t be able to do all of those things using an ad-free Facebook, but they should be able to continue to access the core experiences that made Facebook great.”
“We don’t believe the future is ad-free. We think today’s notion of advertising is still primitive. If we pull this off, people will be willing to part with even more information, not less—which will be far more accurate and therefore contextually relevant to advertisers, as well as beneficial to consumers. The way to achieve this is to stop viewing advertisers and consumers as separate constituencies.”
Mr. Zuckerberg then closed his eyes, and paused briefly.
“We are all connected,” he said. And then he smiled, turned, and left the stage, as the crowd lost its mind in applause.
To Be Continued.