The Altamont of freemium

It’s one story of many finals. The end of unregulated, unsupervised content platforms. The end of personal data as an in fact unregulated currency. The end of no-limits online advertising. The end of the golden decade of Facebook. The end of unlimited believe in big tech of the 2000’s. 2018 means the end for freemium as we knew it. Internet use does change massively as a result. Just some content feels fine. Chronicles and fascinating case study of history making events.

(Please note: This is not necessarily a true 20+ minutes read. There is a lot of annex, as there is an ever growing, continually updated list of 2018 troubles in the Social Media & Freemium World at the end of this post. Proving my point, day after day …)

Freemium disrupted global culture as much as Rock’n’Roll — probably way more. And while physical abuse forced music to change its business ways 50 years ago, 2018 will go down in history as the year data abuse ended freemium in its original form. From unbound innovation to regulated commodity. A watershed moment, happening as we speak.

Freemium was the invention of a concept high up on the ladder of groundbreaking innovations. Right on eye level with changes like the invention of film or the creation of public broadcasting. Even the name was excellent if you look at it from a marketing standpoint. From the consumer standpoint, however, it would have been more honest to call it instead lureium. Or maybe baitium. As with everything in life, there is no free lunch in the worlds of data and tech as well. So, from minute one of the freemium model being applied to business concepts, the only goal was to make consumers swallow the bait, log on to a platform or service and then start paying. Sometimes paying with currency. However, mostly paying by providing marketable data generated by the customer’s actions.

Z on TV. Live. In April 2018. Freemium social media under fire. (Photo: © 2018 Sascha Seifert)

A compelling new business model was created resulting in entirely new approaches to marketing software and all sorts of entertainment content. Rather sooner than later build around further specialised aspects like big data or data mining, platform- or app- economy. Everything united by the freemium model aimed preferably towards generating a customer base as fast and wide and deep as possible. From Facebook to Google, from YouTube to Twitter, from Angy Birds to the App stores. The rise of all these powerful forces at the lightspeed they happened in becoming relevant parts of our day to day lives were only possible thanks to the far and wide acceptance of the freemium concept to play now and pay later.

That’s why freemium as a term stands for much more than just a business model of the digital world. It became the driver behind many vital innovations we take for granted already (e.g. social media, free of money charge search engines, free of money charge phone apps, free of money charge software). Moreover, it has shaped the landscapes of media consumption and media production with that (Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.)

Around somehow since the early days of B2C software, freemiums claim to fame mostly happened with the rise of the internet as everyone’s platform to do everything online. Ultimately, the phenomenon was the relevant cultural innovation of the last circa twenty years. It was — and still is — the Rock’n’Roll of the late 1990ies until and into the early mid-2000s. Similarities are striking: Rock’n’Roll and freemium both where eventually enabled by technology. Both phenomena also were rooted in concepts and ideas of changing the ways of the world. Both created a massive economic impact as well, helped creating new business models not known before otherwise. Also, both seem to have their watershed moment where they got forced to switch from innovation to commodity by forces outside of their inner circle.

As, with everything so far happening in 2018 around Tech and Data to put more regulation above creativity, freedom and “anything goes”, is history repeating. Like effectively Altamont ended the innocent, blooming counterculture Hippie dream of peace and love for everyone around in 1969, Cambridge Analytica and a couple of other incidents (see list below) will make 2018 be the year to go down in history as the end of freemium. Also, with that, ending the wide acceptance of the so far innocent self-description of vast parts of the tech industry to be “free of charge” businesses, claiming kind of prankish to be of service to all people without ever presenting a bill to the customers.

The Altamont festival. It was presented as the “Woodstock of the West”. However, the rock concert in Altamont/California on December 6, 1969, ended in a bloodbath instead of being another celebration of peace and love. An audience of approximately 300,000 people had gathered to celebrate a free concert with every name relevant in late 1960ies US-Rock-n-Roll on the billing. Including the Rolling Stones as headliners. However, the great idea of having another massive free concert in the US turned sour quickly with many people dying on the Altamont Speedway that day. Some were ultimately passing away from drug-related incidents. However, what created the public tipping point where those who got killed by brutal force executed thru those officially responsible for security during the concert: the back then already — and until today! — notorious Rocker Gang Hells Angels.

2018. Fifty years later. Given, that urban legends tell that nowadays entrepreneurs are the new rock stars, therefore it is no wonder that one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our times had to bite the bullet in this year’s recent social data Altamont-style chain of events around the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The only difference: The spirits that Zuckerberg cited have been a bunch of white colour tech rebels with an unfortunate attitude towards behaviour around data handling. Digital instead of analogue. Computers instead of motorcycles. Probably (maybe?) laptops instead of Harleys.

Looking west: A great American garage as seen from PCH in Malibu, CA, in April 2018. Really standing on the “end of Western civilization”? (Photo: © 2018 Sascha Seifert)

Cambridge Analytica (here, further on = CA) served as the silver bullet in a standoff brewing for a long while already between the sometimes monstrous appearing Silicon Valley Big Shot companies (e.g. in Europe, Facebook was nicknamed Data Kraken long ago) on one hand and a sometimes rather strange partnership of convenience between uneven brothers and sisters recruited out of privacy groups, concerned politicians, citizen initiatives or representatives of any imaginable industry beyond Tech.

Since the CA scandal opened pandora’s box, the public has started getting educated. Like never before people question how the economics work for services they use on their computers or their phones day in day out. All of the sudden people talked about their Facebook settings like they talk about their pay-checks: In a “this is relevant” way. It must have been the same thing in 1969 when more and more people all of a sudden realised that psychedelic drugs can be dangerous and that it’s not useful to gather in big groups without decent folks taking care of those who need protection.

However, 1969^ wasn’t just an end. It was a great beginning also. As — and this is the good news here — in hindsight it only just marked the beginning of the global boom for Rock-n-Roll lifestyle and culture. Including everything significant that happened since with recorded music and live music and Stars and Fandom etc.^^

My guess is, the same should be true for the data-driven freemium industry. Just with more equal firepower on both sides of the frontlines between companies and customers. So, in a way it’s sad, the days of free love come to an end. In another way, it probably has to happen to make sure the Zuckerbergs of the world don’t bet the global farm of trust on an algorithm that just came to them written on a digital paper plane sailing by the desktop window.

Amusing side note on all this: No matter how hard freemium tried to take it all. It never succeeded in that. Think Apple. Think Netflix. Even more, especially Netflix probably only could prosper that high and that fast because it created a clear anti-freemium approach with its service from the second one which says: “Good quality against good money.” It looks like something is right with the good old model of simply selling things or services against money, converting (digital) goods into cash.

Moreover, there is Apple. The companies extensive services unit comes into focus more and more, maybe pushing Apple across the one Trillion USD valuation threshold pretty soon ^^^. Also, all this, by applying data protection norms being commendable based on what we know today.

That the fact of being a Rockstar isn’t enough in itself might be something Apples Tim Cook seems to have understood a long time ago already. Maybe it was the most relevant piece of wisdom he learned from Steve Jobs, another Hippie-become-Business Icon who was inspired big time by the 1960ies West Coast Hippy Counterculture. Jobs, on the other hand, might have learned it from role models like Mick Jagger, whose Rolling Stones not only headlined Altamont and helped to hire the wrong folk to keep peace on the festival grounds. But Jagger also became a famously smart and sharp business person over time as well. So, there might be far more to it then meets the eye when in 2018 Cook says “I wouldn’t be in this situation” to answer a question what he would do with the problems Zuckerberg is facing today. Word.

Whats goes thru the wires? What’s supposed to be private? What’s supposed to be public domain? (Photo: © 2018 Sascha Seifert)

The similarities between Altamont and what is happening in the Freemium space right now mean a couple of things IMHO:

Innocence has left this game for good. 
But the show off and on Social Media will go on no matter what. 
The operational framework will change substantially but giving people what the want is a good business. 
Has always been. Will always be.

Does such understanding matter? Sure. A least if you are reading this as a person who wants to make a living in the content and media industries.

Look at what happened in Rock’n’Roll from the 70ies on. It’s not that the musically most talented became the most successful. Or even managed to survive at least. Let alone the ones closest to the original gospel of the 60ies.

Instead, over time, the winners continuously where those, who managed to combine the original 60ies value proposition with professionally executed businesses, that were able to put up the greatest show on earth again and again. That’s why the majority of folk today is open to pay hundreds of Dollars, Euros, Coins to see certain bands playing live. Again. And again. In many ways, Woodstock and Altamont where the first Stadium Rock shows in human history. And Stadium Rock was the thing that really got the $$$s rolling.

From a strict business POV, a great result for a concept that started out originally as a free(mium) concert idea, isn’t it?

How free is free? — As the most of us are members and logged into the page nonstop, some might have forgotten this already? But Facebooks login page still says the service is “free”. — Your thoughts on this in less then 7 words … :-) (Screenshot from the official Facebook Login page as of June 2018)

The Altamont of freemium — list of 2018 events

Note: This list gets updated continually at its bottom.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. I’m just highlighting what I consider the most relevant events over time related to my writing.

While, at first sight, many aspects listed below might look like merely being European issues at first glance, the respective impact on the globally acting platforms is something they will not be able to shake off quickly. As Europe still is a significant continent to make money and after all an essential territory for Western World opinion, politics and economic connections. In other words: Just stopping service in Europa for Facebook and others could only be the very last resort. However, even then …

· Signs of things to come — or self-fulfilling prophecy? 
In Januar 2018, The Economist publishes a piece openly discussing potential need for regulations on Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft.

“How to tame the tech titans?” — As shown to me by a tech titan … (Screenshot)

· Just five days later, on January 25, 2018, at DLD in Munich, Germany, Scott Galloway predicts an upcoming break up of big tech.

· Building up through the month of March and climaxing into April. the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal shakes all mayor Facebook markets — which basically is the Western World.

As a result, Zuckerberg publicly apologises for Facebooks mistakes in dealing with basically everything related to it.

The possible connections of the election of US president Donald Trump with the ways Facebook makes money are publicly debated as part of the CA debate once more.

· As a result of the CA scandal, on April 11, 2018, Zuckerberg had to testify before US Congress about what his company does around data protection and where it failed it so far.

· As a result of the CA scandal, on May 22, 2018, Zuckerberg had to testify before European Union lawmakers about what his company does around data protection and where it failed it so far.

· On May 25, 2018, the European Union activates its new GDPR (General Data Protection Law). Though widely criticised for its vagueness in many parts up to sheer dysfunctionality for certain parts of online business activity, the law is valid all across the European Union for now. Despite most legal counsels expecting the real show is playing out over time only, within the first 24 hours of its legal force, the GDPR was used already by a bunch of activists to sue Google and Facebook over various data breaches and other things.

· In a case brought to EU Court of Justice (ECJ) from courts within Germany, the EuGh decided that owners of Facebook pages are at least co-responsible for the content shown on there.

· The Vienna Commercial Court ruled that YouTube is not a neutral intermediary, but jointly responsible for the content transported to viewers via its platform.

· And then, there is then there is the Blockchain with all its promises of crypto and decentralisation and the possibilities to eventually eliminate the middlemen. Also, who would care about freemium offers anymore if everything you sign up for would be available upfront in a publicly accessible file? If buying doesn’t seem to be about a pig in a poke anymore, there would be no need to “test” free offerings anymore, right?

UPDATE, June 22, 2018:
The EU’s Legal Affairs Committee voted in favour of a legislation called the Copyright Directive. Two groundbreaking aspects included here: 1) “Link tax”. A plan of mandatory compensation (“licensing”) to be paid by platforms for linking to stories published by third parties. B) “Upload filter” — A plan of mandatory upload filtering for every piece of content uploaded within the EU. (Well, so far we have seen on FB how well that works, right? But that’s another story …)

UPDATE, June 27, 2018:
The quake that initiated the Tsunami in Winter hits shore (not for the first time) in Summer (again): “Silicon Valley executives are meeting for half a day tomorrow in San Francisco to discuss consumer privacy, and people are kind of freaking out about it” reports Mashable.

UPDATE, June 29, 2018:
GDPR goes California. — California! As in “Home of Google and Facebook and … California” — An Initiative known as #AB375 passes off the Assembly Floor with bipartisan support and got signed into law by Gov. Brown on 28th of June, 2018. More on this in a piece on The Verge here: “California lawmakers passed one of the toughest data privacy laws in the United States today, as they faced pressure from an even stronger ballot measure in the state. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is set to dramatically change how businesses handle data in the most populous state.”

UPDATE, July 18, 2018
Can’t kill them? Eat them! :-) The “Our services against your data”-deal-proposal between a company and its clients takes another hit. The European Union regulators today has hit Alphabet, owner and mothership of Google, with a record 4.34 billion Euro (ca. $5 billion) antitrust fine for what they see as abuse of the market dominance of the companies Android mobile OS.
It did not take long for Google CEO Sundar Picha to connect the dots and raise questions about for how long the company would remain able to provide Android free of charge, in case Alphabets appeal of the ruling might eventually end in vain. “So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model,” says Pichai according to writing by The Verve.

UPDATE, July 24, 2018
“Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report” is the headline of a report by the British House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. I guess it’s safe to say it does not find many nice words about the role of big tech and social media in society so far. One line of the summary reads: “We are faced with a crisis concerning the use of data, the manipulation of our data, and the targeting of pernicious views.” If you speak German, you can read a good summary from on this here.

UPDATE, July 26/27, 2018
Wall Street punishes Facebook for reporting on stagnating core user growth and a couple of other missed key metrics during Q2/2018 with the biggest slide in stock price since the companies IPO. In the end a result caused by everything that has happen Facebook related in the previous months so far (as listed above). (While, for sure, from a strict entrepreneurial perspective the decline in value was utter nonsense. Ben Thompson talks about this in a great piece here. Saying all that, the contradiction between the POVs just shows once more how relevant it is for Facebook to get its house in order rather yesterday then tomorrow. When bad scandals happen to otherwise good companies …)

UPDATE, August 7, 2018
Facebook — as well as YouTube and Apple Podcast— ban Alex Jones and his InfoWars Content from their platforms. A massive hit for his outreach on “Free of charge” channels. A massive hit for his media penetration. Another step in the process of the end of freemium as we know it.

Yes, it’s not the first time, content providers get kicked off one (or all) of these platforms. The difference here is that this time it is a) content from a source tolerated for a long time before despite its extremly polarizing subject matter and b) content clearly related to almost entirely politically motivated POVs. So, finally, Silicon Valley operated platforms start to signal, beyond words, with their actions as well, to not be interested any longer in providing their platform services to any form of opinion no matter how outlandish it might be. Maybe, one day, they even will require a clear differentiation between opinion, promotion and news, based on facts. Maybe. One day.

UPDATE No. II, August 7, 2018
“You live freely if you haven’t a reputation to lose.” they say. Doesn’t work for Facebook. Locked between public scepticism and revenge by the same press, Zuckerberg kind of cheated out of their own ad revenues, every move the company makes, creates headlines and more bad press. Like the WSJ reporting on August 6, 2018, that “Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers”, a report re-published many times around the globe within hours. No matter, that being able to communicate via Facebook could be an interesting value proposition for banks and customers alike, as so many of us have the application open constantly on our machines, Facebook found itself in Defense mode within hours after the story broke. Sure. “A liar will not be believed even when he speaks the truth” is something they also say out there. And yes, unfortunately there is a lot of reason to not fully trust Facebook these days. So, not matter what the real intention behind Facebooks talks with banks might have been, Facebook kind of retreated. Essentially claiming, not to execute any direct monetisation from the data coming out of such connections. Which reads to me: essentially giving up on its core business proposition for this niche. At least for now. “We’re not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences — not for advertising or anything else." said Elisabeth Diana, a Facebook spokeswoman to Ars Technica.

UPDATE August 27, 2018
In Germany at least, Facebook has a busy summer advertising its efforts to restore faith in its community. “City lights” outdoor campaigns. Ads within the Social Network. Within the broader context, some texts read involuntarily funny. Unfortunately.

Left: “On a daily basis, we take down millions of fake accounts with the help of advanced technology and a team of experts. For an advanced better Facebook.” — The ad itself says: “F stands for friends instead of Fake Accounts”. Right: “Now, our newsfeed shows you more of your friends and family again. For an advanced better Facebook.” — The ad itself says: “F stands for friends, of whom we show you more posts in your newsfeed again.” — Below to the right it says “For a better Facebook” — there is also the domain , which is even accesible from outside the platform. (both Screenshots from my iP8+ from within the Facebook App.)
“strong limitations for Apps” — “For us, the F stands for your freedom to decide what Apps are able to know about you. Beyond that, we find and block Apps, using Data the wrong way.” (“City lights” outdoor poster, seen at a public transport station in Stuttgart, Germany in August 2018)

“But that was yesterday, I had the world in my hands” (Foreigner)

Nowadays, law makers want to know beforehand what to expect from platforms in upcoming elections. There seems to be concern about the upcoming US Midterms 2018. Larry Page himself had to travel to Washington in the first week of September to answer questions regarding his companies role in this election. To send his CLO instead was not accepted. He was not alone: “The committee invited Page to join Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to discuss how the social media platforms plan to fend off foreign meddling ahead of the November midterm elections” as the Deadline Hollywood reports. Sandberg is quoted by CNBC to have said “We know we can’t stop interference by ourselves” during the hearings.

“But it’s not the end of my world,
just a slight change of plans. 
That was yesterday,
but today life goes on. 
No more hiding in yesterday,
’cause yesterday’s gone, — ooooh!” (cont. of Foreigner Lyrics for “Yesterday”)

The End of “Wild West Social Media” is near, according to an announcement by US senator Mark Warner (Dem). (Details via Link)

In Europe, a documentary feature called “The Cleaners” makes people talk about the people in 3rd World countries hired by Silicon Valley companies to browse their Social Networks & Web-Content to keep it “clean” of whatever their policies demand. Beside a film festival run, theatrical releases and TV broadcasting, the film is shown to MPs of the European Parliament, as well as at the Brussels dependance of the UN — United Nations. The announcement for the UN screenings reads (not full text): “To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Regional Information Centre and Human Rights Regional Office for Europe present: 
Enter the shadow industry of digital cleaning to meet five “digital scavengers”. Their job, like thousands of others outsourced by Silicone Valley, is to delete “inappropriate” content off the internet.”
A Filmtrailer is available here.

Screenshot for the event at the United Nations dependance in Brussels on September, 12, 2018.

The article, almost everyone in media seems to read (and share on Social Media) these days: The New Yorker published a piece called “Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? — Zuckerberg is at the center of a debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders.”
The piece does not contain groundbreaking news, but sums up the debate pretty well. And: Certainly another piece of the puzzle. And a bit of a headache for Zuckerberg.

Like everything debated online ( = in 2018: everything debated at all), the debate about the new EU Copyright Directive and the comments about todays EU parliament morning decision seem to know just too polarities: “Everything is great” and “Now, thats the end of EVERYTHING”. The directive was originally rejected by MEPs in July 2018, following criticism of two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed only as the “link tax” and “upload filter” by critics. (Reality is a bit more subtle, but thats — again-another post.) So today the directive passed the house happened. One step of three to put this into law on a European level. And after that, national law makers have to translate it into local law. However, the Elcetronic Frontier Foundations knows already “EU’s Copyright Filters Will Make it Trivial For Anyone to Censor the Internet”. Meanwhile, the IMPALA (Independent Music Companies Association) says about the same thing: “EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT GIVES THE THUMBS UP ON COPYRIGHT REFORM — GREAT RESULT FOR EUROPE’S CREATORS”

As usual, once there is a lot of noise from those representing just one aspect of a story, the truth might rather to be found in the middle grounds. The Verge tries to stay calm, just talking about what happened, closing with what matters the most in regard to my post here: “…exactly how the legislation will be interpreted will be up to individual nations, but the shift in the balance of power is clear: the web’s biggest tech companies are losing their grip on the internet.” Stay tuned.

The battle over costumer/ data protection / privacy and the according use of certain (freemium) business models continues in Washington. Axios reports: “Witnesses from companies including Google, Apple and AT&T expressed reservations about some particularly strong steps lawmakers could take to ensure user data privacy during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.”

A previous report on this, also by Axios, framed it like this: “Google and other companies that collect user data are trying to shape any rules that lawmakers in the U.S. ultimately impose to be as accommodating of their businesses as possible.”

Another scandal around the use of personal data hits Facebook. This time it’s about targeted advertisement. EFF writes “Add “a phone number I never gave Facebook for targeted advertising” to the list of deceptive and invasive ways Facebook makes money off your personal information.”

On a lighter note, related to this, there was word in the social networks today that FB Bots would delete links to a The Guardian story about this scandal all over the FB network. The article can be found here.

Over the day FB explained this as true. Well — at least kind of … 😊

And, last but not least, just yesterday, 50 Mio FB User-Accounts got hacked. BI coverage here.

Nice week, hm? 😬

And, now, the G+-Files … :-) TechCrunch sums it up perfectly: “Google is about to have its Cambridge Analytica moment. A security bug allowed third-party developers to access Google+ user profile data since 2015 until Google discovered and patched it in March, but decided not to inform the world”

But the real crazy part comes here: “The company decided against informing the public because it would lead to “us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” according to an internal memo.”

Google announced to close G+ for consumers, right after news of the data scandal broke. Also part of this announcement is, that the company does change other data security settings towards stricter regulation and more user protection.

I think, the super embarrassing moment for Google in all this: Google only reacted after a WallStreet Story on the data breach came out. The company, riding on the back of content created by other people so often, gets hit by such content. You can’t make these things up …

What a year. Let’s see whats in store next … ;-)

The New York times reports from Asia: A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military.

The report ends with the words: >> “Facebook in Myanmar? I don’t like it,” said Oo Hla Saw, a legislator. “It’s been dangerous and harmful for our democratic transition.” <<

Nuff said.

Smartphone makers have to pay Google to use the Android OS on their devices sold within the EU. The move comes after Google got fined by EU regulators for breaking antitrust law (basically, mostly related to Google using its market dominance of its mobile software to hinder rivals in areas such as internet search.) Google is appealing this opinion in court, but says its complying “in the meantime” as Reuters reports.

Not mandatory on every Android OS smartphone in Europe anymore. At least for now. (Screenshot by author).

While it’s still not sure how it all plays out in the end, this is definitely another blow to the so far mostly taken for granted, but questionable for many reasons, freemium concept of “data in exchange for services”. As the EU ruling, that forced Google into this move, especially helps other makers of internet browsers with different business models and a more nuanced approach to privacy to establish a stronger foothold in the European part of the mobile market that is dominated by Android.

I like the fact that at the same time it opens the door for another obvious business model. Actually, for the oldest one there is: Currency against goods or services. Helps to make a living. Helps to protect data. Helps to keep markets open.

Remember: Googles “G+ scandal” incl. data leaks was just ten days ago from today …

In Germany, Facebook just started rolling out the “i” (information button) for political posts. A feature the company talked about since spring 2018. It remains unclear to me why it took the company such a long time from announcement to execution. Maybe the whole thing is more complex then they want us to believe. (Probably). Maybe they did not push enough for it (also possible).

Personally, I think, this is a great step forward. As the position within the page design is prominent enough to make people click on it but not annoyingly obvious. And, being born and raised German, and therefore used to very strict imprint rules for everything published, I think it is almost as good as the imprint rules that where implemented in Germany back in the days of printed news.

“To learn more, follow the i” :-) — … which brings you to the Wikipedia entry about the respective news page.

YouTube tries to sell me this … (When a company uses Freemium trying to convince me to make myself buying my account out of freemium … :-) )

Screenshot from my YouTube page.

“The End of Innocence”, next chapter. “France’s tax administrators will start searching through social media accounts in early 2019, a pilot project in the fight against tax avoidance, Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin told weekly business TV show Capital.” says Euronews. Other sources report the same.

Excellent Wrap Up by of another excellent event: Salesforce founder Marc Benioff once again likens Facebook to cigarettes. I quote Axios
Kara Swisher challenged him on the contention, which he has made before. This time, though, an epic exchange ensued.

Swisher: That’s a strong comparison, cigarettes.
Benioff: Well, I think it’s the right comparison.
Swisher: Cigarettes kill you.
Benioff: Well, I think this is — the right comparison that we can see that, you know, Facebook can have very serious effects on society the same way that cigarettes can.”


No sex (yet), many lies, no videotapes (yet). The NYT today published a massive piece looking behind the curtain of Facebook’s defense mode 2018. Including many details on a lot of dirty laundry. The pice is especially no picnic for Zuckerberg and Sandberg. “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis” is no love letter. It’s rather something straight out of the “You can’t make that s**t up” dimension. Time for a sequel David Fincher! Here is your story.

If you are in a rush, Axios has an excellent overview about the NYT piece and the whole context its’ content: “Bruised Facebook moves to contain latest damage”

On other channels, on November 14, 2018, K. West tweeted this to this currently 28,8 Million followers globally:

Screenshot of Tweet.

In “Axios on HBO”, Apple CEO Tim Cook calls “new regulations “inevitable” for tech companies”. He added: “”I think the Congress and the administration at some point will pass something.”

Tumblr bans adult content from its platform. Another massive shift in the landscape of the Social Media Micro Blog landscape. The company itself calls it: “A better, more positiv Tumblr … Posts that contain adult content will no longer be allowed on Tumblr”. Tech Crunch says “this is undoubtedly going to be a pretty controversial decision for the company.”

UPDATE, APRIL, 26, 2019 — late addendum
“Sorry, can you hear me?” — In Januar 2019, Sheryl Sandberg did a little Euro Tour, among others, speaking at DLD and at a reception of German weekly Newspaper Die Zeit. She spoke about and around “What Kind Of Internet Do We Want?”, clearly trying to win back trust for Facebook. Did it work? No. Why didn’t it work? Her speeches turned out to be underwhelming. She basically said nothing relevant. Nothing new. Nothing substantial. My take: “Yes, we hear you, Sheryl. It’s just that we don’t hear anything that matters to us …”

UPDATE, APRIL, 26, 2019
Thunder from Down Under. In the wake of the March 15, 2019 Christchurch (NZ) Mosque Shooting, Australian lawmakers established tough new legislation to make sure Tech Giants — first of all Facebook, Google, Twitter — can be hold responsible for violent content published on their platforms. A starting point for sure at the begin of April 2019. However: “The lawmakers rushed so much that it’s not even clear if their government will be able to penalise tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, not based in their country.”

UPDATE, APRIL, 26, 2019
TED Vancouver 2019 of all conferences, so far a rather comfy place for at least friendly enthusiasm towards everything including the word Tech itself and ideas around it, opened with a talk by investigative Journalist Carole Cadwalladr, in which she “calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?” The talk is received very well and gathers 1,3 Mio. views within a week and is spread widely on Social Media across the globe.

Also at TED Vancouver 2019, Jack Dorsey was interviewed on stage. His lack of emotions and humanity during the whole appearance is criticised widely. “Dorsey … maintained a monotone, almost robotic voice throughout the session” writes Time Leberecht in Inc.

Another episode in the series called “The end of unregulated, unsupervised content platforms.”

^ Beyond what happened in 1969 that was relevant for the future development of music and entertainment, today the year ’69 is mostly remembered thanks to Bryan Adams famous song “Summer of ’69”. — Opening with the one iconic guitar riff that makes even the lamest karaoke bar go crazy :-)

^^ Need a couple of things that all happened after, that all happened “standing on the shoulders of the giants” of 1969? — Here you go: (Heavy) Metal, Punk rock, Stadium Rock, Electro, Krautrock, Indi Rock, Wave & Gothic, Rave, Techno, real World Tours, Grunge, Prog-Rock, Festivals as the weekenders as we know them today etc.

^^^ Indeed: In the first days of August 2018, Apple became the globes first Trillion Dollar Company.