Cory Doctorow: Scammers sell social media banning services to griefers and charge victims hundreds of times more to get un-banned. Also: Facebook’s official disinformation research portal is a bad joke, especially compared with the independent Ad Obervatory, which the company wants to destroy.

Cory Doctorow: Pro-abortion activists, anti-vaxers, drone delivery crashes, and Facebook’s war on accountability

Pluralistic: The new generation of pro-abortion activists is “militant, organized and unapologetic.”

Also:

  • What’s behind the Republican turnabout and support of vaccination? It’s “cooling the mark”—a con artist’s technique for keeping the grift going. “When Ron DeSantis says ‘the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,’ he’s shifting the blame from his cohort of cynical disinfo peddlers to other marks, and opening space for a mark to go and get vaccinated at last.” Republicans have spent years lying to their supporters, and are now blaming supporters for believing their lies.
  • Amazon’s drone delivery business is imploding, and was never serious to begin with. [T]ech companies promise to deliver impossible things in order to cultivate an air of mystical capability that’s invoked to mask real-world awfulness.” In Amazon’s case, the awfulness is labor abuses, including that its automated warehouse are more dangerous to workers than other warehouses. And “Uber promises self-driving cars to distract us from its exploitative labor practices.” (My $0.02: We saw this with Facebook’s recent metaverse initiative, which I don’t need a crystal ball to predict is not going anywhere.)
  • Facebook is escalating its “war on accountability,” cutting off access to a research application that tracked spread of disinformation on the service.

The Facebook metaverse initiative is going nowhere.

Facebook doesn’t innovate user experience. Facebook buys companies that innovate user experience.

Also, people aren’t interested in using virtual reality. People just like to talk about it.

The Facebook emperor’s new clothes

Cory Doctorow: Facebook’s alternative facts — After a company called CrowdTangle helped journalists discover that Facebook is a far-right echo-chamber whose US users tend to be angry old conservatives — a group that advertisers do not love — Facebook bought CrowdTangle and neutered it.

This is part of a larger gaslighting strategy, in which the rich and powerful substitute wishful thinking for reality, and it’s far from unique to Facebook. Previous examples include climate denialism. Donald Trump has built his life on wishful thinking and gaslighting, most recently in the Big Lie, early denial of the pandemic, and his overall “alternatives facts” strategy.

And wishful thinking by the rich and powerful isn’t new. Consider “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Trump to sue Facebook, Twitter CEOs over being banned from their platforms

NBCNews:

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is filing a class-action lawsuit against tech giants Facebook and Twitter — along with their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey — because of bans imposed on him and others.

“We’re demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, a stop to the blacklisting, vanishing and canceling,” Trump said at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, adding that “we are asking the court to impose punitive damages.”

He spoke from behind a lectern bedecked with an insignia designed to look like the presidential seal and in front of a backdrop reminiscent of a White House portico.

Trump argued that the suspension of his social media accounts amounts to an infringement on the First Amendment’s guarantee that speech won’t be curtailed by the government.

Fundamental to that case is his relatively novel contention that the major tech firms function as arms of the federal government rather than as private companies.

“novel” = “completely bonkers.”

Republicans support freedom of speech so long as you exercise that freedom in ways they approve.

From couch potatoes to smartphone zombies

The failure of Donald Trump’s blog is symptomatic of the death of the Internet as a “lean in” medium.

Internet visionaries of the 1990s through early 2010s distinguished the Internet from TV. TV was a “lean back” medium, where passive couch potatoes took whatever the three networks gave them. On blogs, Web 2.0, and forums, engaged people “leaned in,” sought information, and engaged in discussion.

But social media algorithms killed that. Now, we take whatever Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram algorithms feed us. Not even Trump’s fanatical followers can be moved to follow him when the algorithms aren’t magnifying his message.

However, Cory Doctorow notes the paradox that the algorithms can bring like-minded people together, and many will get up out of their chairs and get things done, either in BLM protests or in the January 6 insurrection.

Like Cory, I wish social media would just go the fuck away. But I am also aware of that Facebook in particular – which I hate more than all the other social media – is also the one I love the most, because it has brought me together with friends that I would not have connected with you any other channel.

On Wired, Philip M. Napoli says leaned-back couch potatoes have become hunched-over smartphone zombies.

The failure of Trump’s blog tells us that even the kind of impassioned political extremists that form the core of Trump’s base of support are so entrenched in their passive, social-media-dependent mode of media consumption that a traditional blog, absent accompanying social media accounts to generate algorithmic amplification, is incapable of gaining a fraction of the online engagement that a single tweet could achieve. Not even the most public of public figures can break free from the platform dependency that largely dictates the distribution of audience attention online. If Trump’s blog can’t gain traction without direct access to the audience aggregation and amplification tools of social media, then perhaps nothing can.

The failure of Donald Trump’s blog is, then, yet another indication of the massive power that the platform giants hold over the content that we consume. But it’s a reminder that we bear responsibility for voluntarily ceding this power to them, and enthusiastically embracing the push model of the web over the pull. Ultimately, we may look back at the failure of Trump’s blog as the final, definitive nail in the coffin of the original model of the web and the notion of the “active” internet user.