Google’s One-Time ‘Chief Technology Advocate’ on Making Facebook Likable

The superficial (though global and important) issue is that FB allowed its partners/customers to access/copy/appropriate the personally identifiable information (PII) of 70+ million people.

The secondary issue is that one of the thousands of these PII recipients [that is, Cambridge Analytica] passed the data to those who could weaponize it and use to against America

.. This is the drama of the moment, the ideas of “rogue application of data”, “improper handoff of data”, and “unintended usage against FB policy which therefore need to be strengthened.” You’ll hear noise about this when Mark Zuckerberg is questioned by Congress.

.. There may be grave penalties, but no matter what they are, they cannot undo what has already happened—the harm, the threats, the future uses of that PII.

.. The idea of “as before, but better,” which is MZ’s road show theme, could only work in a world where nobody who decides understands the core issues. Sheryl Sandberg’s sudden disappearance makes me wonder if perhaps this very issue is why

.. The new way—the Google / Overture / Amazon way—is for them to pay attention to what the user searches for (“how to stop neighbor’s leaf-blower noise”) AND to learn what advertisers care about (“I want leaf-blower-noise haters to see this ad”)—and then do a kind of dating service where the right kind of users see the right kind of ads.

In this model, perfected by Google, there is a very strict hygiene in place: the user’s behavior and interest is held in secret by Google and the advertiser never has a hint of it. All that happens is that the right ad is inserted in the right person’s webpage.

.. the advertiser has NO IDEA who cares about leaf-blower noise. All they know is that someone who Google thought would care about it, was shown an ad for it and then clicked on it

.. However that date works out, NO USER INFORMATION LEAVES GOOGLE.

.. The newer way, the one that propelled FB and MZ to wealth, is totally different.

.. This list is golden. It is more valuable to me than just having Google do an anonymous introduction. It means that I “own you” and can send you leaf blower ads, quiet lawn mower ads when I expand my product line, and so on. It means that I learn about you, and as has been clearly reported, I can know about your age, eating habits, travel schedule, phone and text use, the same for your kids, your neighbors, other leaf-blower antagonists, and so on.

.. This is marketing nirvana. It has made FB endlessly wealthy. It has nothing to do with any other web advertising company. The closest peers would be credit scoring companies, because their customers also get “the report on the specific user” rather than an “anonymous introduction to certain users.”


.. There are just two choices:

a. FB stays in its send-your-PII-to-their-customers business, and then must be regulated and the customers validated precisely as AXCIOM and EXPERIAN in the credit world or doctors and hospitals in the HIPPA healthcare world; or,

b. FB joins Google and ALL OTHER WEB ADVERTISERS in keeping PII private, never letting it out, and anonymously connecting advertisers with its users for their mutual benefit.

I don’t get a vote, but I like (b) and see that as the right path for civil society. There is no way that choice (a) is not a loathsome and destructive force in all things—in my personal opinion it seems that making people’s pillow-talk into a marketing weapon is indeed a form of evil.

This is why I never use Facebook; I know how the sausage is made.