Facebook bans Burma military

Originally published at: Facebook bans Burma military | Boing Boing


The essential challenge in understanding Facebook is to forget the “nerdy robot boy” story that media still paints Zuckerberg et al with and see it for what it is: a nearly-trillion dollar corporation that graphs minds, relationships and societies so that it may split them like atoms and sell the energy released.





I doubt whether this will bring the military to its knees.


Insert something here about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and sired a whole race of horses and now horses rule us all forever…


It feels significant that we can only talk about Facebook’s true agenda in these sort of dire yet completely nebulous terms.

In the 20th century you had the chemical industry inflicting monstrous collateral damage with new technology. Companies were polluting the shit out of the environment, and getting away with it because they were generating a ton of money for a handful of killer perverts. But the thing with the chemical industry was, if you asked “why would a society let this happen to itself”, there was an answer to that question. No one could justify Bhopal, but everyone benefits from sewage treatment, affordable food, synthetic fibers, cars, etc. Whole categories of job exist because of the chemical industry.

But we still don’t know, at that kind of broad scale, what the point of the social media industry is supposed to be. The early-Wired-magazine hype predicted that mountains of data would turn out to be a goldmine somehow, and that remains an article of faith with VCs who move around hundreds of billions of dollars in its name, but the valuable application has yet to materialise. All anyone can point to is “better-targeted ads”, and it’s debatable whether that is a good thing, or even true. And in any case, advertising doesn’t add value to the economy – at best it just makes a tiny part of it more efficient.

People were pretty steamed about Love Canal – with good reason – and that was a byproduct of making dyes and batteries and bleach and stuff everyone uses every day. Facebook is doing a series of psychic Love Canals on the brain of every aunt and uncle on Earth, and no one even knows why there is a Facebook. I suspect that in the final accounting, we will find that Facebook’s amazing graph never had any more intrinsic value than a warehouse of rotting tulip bulbs.


Now how am I gonna keep up with what the Burma military has been up to since high school?


Facebook has also facilitated the suppression of political opposition and independent media in Cambodia.


Social media created a rentier class in advertising. The previous decentralization of advertising revenue across media markets mitigated the social harms of advertising and the perverse incentives that advertising generates. But now it’s all centralized in two or three companies, which directs the social harms of advertising at whatever they are focused on. That the targeting is pseudoscientific (or at least inaccurate) doesn’t mean the collateral damage isn’t happening. If anything, the lack of precise methods or predictable results means that bad outcomes are harder for outsiders to detect and easier for insiders to deny.


Wonder will Facebook do the same for every military that will depose and imprison the civilian leadership?

Such as?

Say Pakistan.

It’s all negative externalities, and economists have a term for this particular form of the problem- concentrated benefit with diffuse costs.

The benefits of the chemical industry (or Facebook) are obvious and easy to point to- synthetic fibers and seeing pictures of your grandkids, respectively. The costs (degradation of the environment and undermining trust in institutions, respectively) are slow and hard to see until damage is massive and too late to fix.

Unfortunately the prognosis is not good. Humanity has basically a 0% success rate with fixing Concentrated Benefit/Diffuse Cost issues before its too late.

Climate change is another perfect example.


Whether it’s coups
or genocide
Facebook is
late to decide.

Burma Shave

How about expand on that? How is FBook’s hypocrisy in this case surprising at all and how is Pakistan the same as Burma in this case?

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