Facebook Will Now More Formally Consider How Its Products Might Ruin Our Lives

Illustration for article titled Facebook Will Now More Formally Consider How Its Products Might Ruin Our Lives
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Facebook screwed over most of its users, and people are now waking up to the notion that the social network may not have had their best interests in mind after all. But Facebook’s chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer, assured the Financial Times that the company will now do more to identify the possible downsides of its products before it rolls them out.

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“We have changed our approach and are being much more diligent about trying to understand upfront all the misuse and bad uses cases,” Schroepfer told FT on Thursday. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also doubled down on the company’s commitment to protecting its users, noting that it will invest more in safety and security measures. “We underinvested and I take responsibility for that,” she told FT.

It is not entirely clear what changes Schroepfer meant, and we have reached out to Facebook for more context on what it plans to do differently ahead of future product launches. We’ll update when we hear back.

Schroepfer’s comments that it would now better identify possible threats speaks volumes to an ethos widely held in Silicon Valley—to “move fast and break things,” as was Facebook’s motto, a sentiment that arguably got us all into this mess in the first place.

In response to a tweet from the New York Times’ Mike Isaac, Facebook’s VP of consumer hardware, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, clarified that the company has “been doing threat modeling for all our products before launch for a while but have developed a more rigorous/formal approach.” Boz gained notoriety last month after the leak of a 2016 internal memo of his in which he reasoned that death and terrorism were acceptable consequences to site growth. Boz has since said that he didn’t agree with his own memo as he was writing it and that it was a misguided provocation.

It is inarguably a good thing that Facebook is apparently taking future threats to its users more seriously, and premeditatively. If only the 14-year-old company had realized it without having first enabled massive invasions of privacy on billions of people.

DISCUSSION

paulvance01
PV

“We’ve changed our approach” — yeah, the fuckers are just promising to hide it better. Sharing and selling your user data is their BUSINESS MODEL; its not a bug, its a feature. Google and others do this too. They just hide it better.

And its amazing to see how many people actually do not care. I had someone say: “I don’t care as long as they can’t steal my credit card” (A good hacker can dig up you, your friends, and nail down enough information to open a dozen credit cards under your name and attached to your credit all with a little social engineering) then said “Or show up at my door.” And those hackers can nail down where you live by correlating facebook and google metrics to identify IP addresses you’ve used and the physical location of your front door and place of work by proxy. If they can track you online, they can track you in the real world. Period. And then the next defense for those two things are: “Oh, but why would anyone do that to me?” Because you exist bub. That’s why. It could be done almost as easily to me, even without me using facebook in a decade. But I’ve never really tried to hide my identity - I just use a different name when I write and a nickname when I play games. *shrug* I still know I can be easily found, because the internet is forever if you know where to look.

But what makes Facebook a horror is the fact its a nexus and their mission statement is to identify you uniquely in the world and connect you to everyone you know or could know. And that is where their profit model comes into conflict with social responsibility. And since its their profit model, no matter what they say it will not change, or their own investors will destroy the company. The dollar above all else, that’s who they are.

As I have said I will dance upon their ashes when they finally burn to the ground. And while I have some sympathy for the people who will be destroyed by this, I have more sympathy for those who would be harmed if nothing changed.