Imagine There’s No Facebook

Ad in New York Times earlier this year.

By Amy Peikoff and Benjamin Chayes
(title in header here was as originally submitted to Fox Business)

Facebook was offline long enough on Monday for people to speculate, not only about what had incapacitated the social media behemoth, but also about life post-Facebook. For some that meant shopping for a competitor: Our company, Parler was one of them and experienced a surge of traffic.   

But we suspect others used the downtime to ponder the outage – also affecting Instagram and WhatsApp – coinciding with whistleblower Frances Haugen’s revelations appearing on front pages worldwide. Those revelations were the subject of yet another congressional hearing Tuesday, with Haugen repeatedly urging privacy-preserving congressional oversight for the platform’s “engagement-based ranking” algorithms, and explaining that, ironically, such oversight – which she assumes would yield more purely chronological feeds – would also be in Facebook’s long-term self-interest. 

Just as unconfirmed rumors have suggested for years, it appears that Facebook’s business model actually does depend upon amplifying conflict and divisiveness. According to Haugen, the company’s algorithms operate by stirring strong feelings – usually negative – about the content in users’ feeds. 

Read more at Fox Business


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This Week in Flattening the CronyCare Curve

Merck’s new antiviral: is there a conflict of interest? Norway and Singapore choose to live life as normal, even with the virus as endemic. Texas legislators are trying to protect Texans from Biden’s proposed vaccine mandates. And more!


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“Flattening the CronyCare Curve,” TODAY at 12 p.m. ET

Going live today on my YouTube Channel here.

UPDATE: The recording of today’s show is available here:

We’ll discuss our Real Clear Policy piece, the interview with Professor Mattias Desmet from last Saturday (see below), and more. Hope you can join us!

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