Facebook took our election ad money then bulk-deleted our pages

152 points4
Syonyk3 hours ago

Why bother serving pages when the ad money ends?

Facebook runs on one simple principle: "What's Good for Zuck is Good for Zuck." More yacht-feet. More... actually, I've no idea what he actually cares about, beyond more ZuckBucks.

Everything else is secondary to, and subservient to that. Big conspiracy? "We are so, so sorry that you caught us doing that, because if you think we're evil, you might view fewer ads by spending less time engaged in the site. We promise to tell you that we're going to do the work to learn how to get caught less often doing that thing you found us doing."

Facebook isn't your friend. They're not your companion in your quest to... whatever. They are purely interested in how much money you can bring them, either directly through ad spend, or indirectly through being super engaging such that other people spend more time on Facebook viewing ads. Anything else you think of them is simply wrong.

3gg3 hours ago

Simple truths. If we just took for-profit corporations for what they are, things would be easier to comprehend.

As far as I understand it, Facebook is a private, not public, space, and they can technically delete anything they want on their own platform. The big mistake is for us to pretend that they are a public space and that they owe us some kind of fairness and equal treatment. Why do we expect this? The sole reason for their existence is profit, they owe us nothing. Rather than taking the platform for granted as the new norm of social and political life, I think we would all be better off destroying it and creating a true, public cyberspace in its place.

Facebook does not need to be fixed, it just needs to be destroyed.

whoknowswhat112 hours ago

Facebook exists to make money.

They took your money while you were willing to spend it and showed your ads, and blasted you when you ran out? Sounds like a way to make money.

And if you are not paying to use facebook you are the product. Do people not understand this?

Facebook IS NOT your friend. Engagement drives clicks, "engagement" comes from trash content / click bait / outrage cycles. Does this sound healthy? No

If you are trying to make the world a better place in almost any way - facebook is probably not the healthy partner in this!

unishark45 minutes ago

I see the same engagement issues everywhere on the internet, including this site where discussions constantly veer off into the same old fights. I realize it's tempting to focus more blame and hate on facebook (I don't like it either, and Zuckerberg especially seems like a first-rate snake). But this idea that they "infect people with mind-viruses", or whatever, is just too reductionist and misses how they actually operate, which is simply "fill a need people have so those people will use the product and you can sell ads". It just happens to be a baser need we'd rather people not go fill. I have read that in the past everyone just drank alcohol constantly to escape, so maybe it's progress.

As for this person's specific complaint of hypocrisy or whatever, I don't actually think the imposition of "silicon valley values" or whatever into their operation is at all beneficial to IT companies' finances. I'd place it under the category of hackers, who are abusing/corrupting the automated moderation systems and forcing the company to waste money trying to actually be fair and not alienate half their potential customers, not earn more money by it.

legulere3 hours ago

It’s not that simple, behind the company are people. While earning money might be probably the biggest goal there are a lot of other goals by the people working there. Workers act on their beliefs up to a certain point (because they have a lot of discretion about things that don’t hurt the bottom line), managers often want to feel in power, Mark Zuckerberg wants to be like a roman emperor.

jand2 hours ago

> It’s not that simple, behind the company are people.

I get your sentiment, really. But where is the tipping point? When does it become the responsibility of an employee to quit? Which atrocity has to be committed after which i cannot claim personal innocence as an employee? (in a general sense, not only facebook)

stadium2 hours ago

> I think we would all be better off destroying it and creating a true, public cyberspace in its place.

It lives on money and attention. How do you propose cutting off one or both until it can no longer survive?

seibelj2 hours ago

In America we have a concept known as “the rule of law”. An independent judiciary prevents mob justice from simply seizing wealth from people and private entities. We even prevent the government from doing so (at least theoretically).

To see a counter-example, look at China. Their system is completely opaque and politicians can easily stymie even the strongest business entities. The judiciary is not independent but subject to the latest dictator’s whims.

If you are reading this and live in a Western country, feel appreciative that simple solutions are not applied quickly to complex problems.

Syonyk2 hours ago

> In America we have a concept known as “the rule of law”.

We do. And in America, that set of laws includes things like "Thou Shalt Not Buy Up All Thine Competitors Into One Giant Monopoly."

Unfortunately, the groups in charge of enforcing those laws have been asleep at the wheel for the last 20 years or so. Were they working, Facebook wouldn't have reasonably been allowed to buy up nearly as many successful competitors as they've been allowed to, and wouldn't have nearly the stranglehold on "social" that they do.

Same goes for Google and Amazon as well - I don't pick on Facebook alone here, except for the fact that they're the topic of discussion in this thread.

seibelj2 hours ago
matheusmoreira38 minutes ago

> In America we have a concept known as “the rule of law”.

Paid for by corporations who spend lots of money lobbying the government.

kumarvvr42 minutes ago

This is so true. We are living through an era of massive, global, black-box corporations, with ability to directly feed into the brains of its users.

The kind dystopian stories talk about.

Yet, we struggle to regulate them in archaic laws pertaining to old school monopolies.

The Standard Oil of yesterday, is nothing compared to the FB of today.

There needs to be a revision of laws and regulatory compliances regarding these companies. And, I really think, they should happen at an international level.

I mean, probably a 100 engineers who work on algorithms have control over billions of views and what is shown to whom. A small change in a couple of numbers probably changes how much of "counter-point" articles I see on my feed.

That is the definition of monopoly. Not, hurr durr, everyone is free to start a social network.

And we all know how Zuck bootlicked Trump when it came to the threat of breaking up facebook.

asdfasgasdgasdg2 hours ago

To avoid bad experiences and press like this? It's not like it costs a whole lot to host these pages that Facebook is going to make more money by deleting them.

Syonyk2 hours ago

> To avoid bad experiences and press like this?

What bad press?

A handful of nerds on some nerd news site, most of which probably don't use Facebook anyway, are whining about how terrible Facebook is.

They can point to it in their aggregate "extremist election manipulation content removed" numbers, reasonable or not, and claim they're Doing Something(TM). It doesn't matter if it was extremist, manipulation, or not. If their systems count it that way, it counts.

And if it is a really big deal, and upsets enough people, then some humans see it through Twitter, CNN, somewhere, reinstate the pages, claim it was "an algorithm malfunction that they're very sorry about" or something (you've seen the chorus before endlessly), and everyone takes their word and goes on with life.

As long as the people addicted to Facebook stay on Facebook, they quite literally can do no wrong. I've attempted to have a conversation with an older relative about it recently, who was banned from Facebook ("for nothing I did!"), created a new account, has found it hard to re-friend people ("They think I'm a hacker or something!"), and yet will not consider the concept that Facebook is more harm than good. "But how will I keep up with my high school friends?" This, from someone who has been out of high school for many, many decades...

I can't claim to do the math on their actions, but presumably they can - and as long as nobody cares (and, quite frankly, topping HN still counts as "nobody cares" globally), they'll keep doing that which they're doing.

ipaddr2 hours ago

Many people on this site work for facebook.

Syonyk2 hours ago

Then they're welcome to defend the actions of their employer.

Or to add this to the rather long list of "Uncomfortable things that we have to ignore to keep working here for a large salary." Everyone has their price.

na852 hours ago

Shame on those people.

onethought3 hours ago

Couldn’t you replace Facebook in your statement with any for profit company? Isn’t that the game we all subscribe to?

Or are there virtuous for profit companies?

3gg3 hours ago

Some are more ethical than others, so I don't think that generalization holds in practical terms. Corporations that draw their revenue from surveillance, however, are off to a bad start on the spectrum of ethics.

warglebargle2 hours ago

say what you want about the tenets of elon musk, but at least it’s an ethos

jrm42 hours ago

I'm sorry, am I supposed to feel bad about this or something?

It just feels like we should all be well past naively thinking that Facebook is something like a "fair and balanced social media platform in which advertising dollars spent equals decent reach, and now buyers and sellers are happy!"

This silly little complaint exemplifies "tip of the iceberg."

supermatt37 minutes ago

I am not sure what a "page" means in this sense.

Does the page "belong" to the ad campaign, or does it "belong" to the user/company?

If it is the former, then I can understand why facebook would close it when the ad campaign is over. If it is the latter, then it should not be tied to the campaign, and should not be closed when the campaign is over.

In the latter case, if I set up a page about a product/service and decided to pay for some advertising to drive traffic to that page, I wouldnt expect my page to be deleted after the ad spend is discontinued. In fact, I would argue that the ad spend in that case was a waste of money - all the users that I have driven to my page, are no longer able to access that page. As an individual, I would likely seek recompense through the courts in that case. T&Cs don't give you immunity from being a dick - at least in the EU. Not sure what the situation is for companies.

croes2 hours ago

If you want your webpage in the internet host it by yourself. All pages on Facebook don't belong to you but Facebook.

You can still use FB ads but don't use it like webhoster.

65102 hours ago

I'm not trying to rationalize trial by robot but its odd to think what you posted on the page it self had anything to do with it. It was more likely the sum of your entire online activity.

Syonyk2 hours ago

Facebook: "Hey, web devs, put our like button on every page! Just host the image from our servers, run a bit of our Javascript hosted from our servers. We're not doing anything with it, just a convenient and fast hosting arrangement for you!"

Investors: "... so, how, exactly, are you planning to make money again?"

Facebook: "Well, we could... collect data from the like buttons scattered across the internet, and aggregate user behavior across a huge swath of internet, build shadow profiles, and figure out what people like... and sell ads! Yeah, let's do that!"

I mean, at least they never had "Don't be Evil" as a motto or something. It's entirely consistent with their character.

rambambram2 hours ago

Exactly. And everybody who - willingly and knowingly - put that 'Like'-button on their website is an accomplice. An accomplice in violating human rights, that is. I wrote a small piece about that not so long ago.

soheil3 hours ago

There seems to be a fundamental problem with outsourcing your content moderation. If one of your rather semi-highly trusted mods strongly dislikes what others are saying and your policy is on the vague side the mods could take down content primarily just because they don't like it as seems to be in this case. Not a huge issue if you're FB and as long as the masses don't find out about most of the deleted content, a real issue for the society.

malloreon1 hour ago

Everyone on this page spends a lotta words saying Facebook is evil while ignoring that 40,000 employees work hard every day to make it that evil.

Facebook doesn’t exist in its current form without their tireless efforts.

mgraczyk2 hours ago

I can't say for sure, but my take is that this is what happened.

The article claims that Facebook deleted the pages once they stopped paying for ads. That's probably not what happened.

Instead, this coincided with the election ending. It's more likely that facebook waited to delete the pages until after the election.

Just a guess, I'd say I'm 70% sure this is the explanation.

throwawaysea2 hours ago

Doesn’t leaning on the scales in this manner (banning users or pages or other content) constitute election interference? Removing content from the digital public square (which I feel Facebook constitutes is the same as donating to whatever the opposite side is.

croes2 hours ago

It happened after the election.