Facebook's response to Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’.

Facebook has published its official response to Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’ documentary.


Have you seen the documentary on Netflix? What do you think about it?

And, does this response from Facebook look like an answer to anything?

  1. 4

    Zuck told his team to come up with a 10 pointer against Netflix's The Social Dilemma,
    They could only come up with 7

    1. 4

      They didn't have the attention span for it..

  2. 3

    Facebook's response looks like what professionals would say. Valid responses, to be sure, but it holds a position that is difficult to defend in the face of facts that are not in dispute, namely:

    1. Facebook has a direct financial incentive to keep users on-screen, for as long and as cheaply as possible.
    2. Facebook is an ad-supported platform, therefore it must collect, package, organize and render useful the data it collects for the benefit of its clients: the advertisers. Of course it doesn't sell data, because it profits much more deeply from renting intermittent access to it instead.
    3. Facebook openly admits working with mental health professionals, expert firms and academics from all over the world. Why spend valuable resources hiring these people if they're not there to solve identified problems in the first place? McDonald's hires dietary professionals because it is incentivized to decrease its nefarious effects on its clients. Companies that are legitimately doing good for their clients don't need to hire experts to reduce the negatives. I have yet to see a non-profit planting trees looking to hire experts to help them "continue to plant trees responsibly".

    I always question responses from people who are financially or politically incentivized to defend their positions.

    I'm not claiming Facebook is as harmful as portrayed in the movie. I'm merely stating that they have a clear, publicly-known financial incentive to disarm those statements.

    To put it simply: Incentives drive behavior.

    This famous quote from Upton Sinclair comes to mind:

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

    1. 2

      Ha! Hadn't heard that quote, it's perfect.

  3. 2

    I was fascinated to see that FB felt it had to respond. Did the movie impact their business that much? Did Zuck or Sandberg send down an order from on high because dinner parties were getting awkward?

    I don't think it needs to be repeated that there are two sides to every story. That's understood. What's striking to me is how weak this list of defenses is. #2 is, quite literally, "number two" in my opinion 😆 Seems like a half-hearted response, honestly.

    Maybe it's just there so that when the media asks about the film, FB execs can just refer people to the written post and dodge answering questions.

  4. 2

    Not sure why they felt they needed to send the response. I think this is great marketing for the documentary and many more people will hear about it and watch it now thanks to this.

  5. 1

    Facebook didn’t really do anything factual to refute The Social Dilemma’s claims… one thing I think we should understand is that people who are entirely unaware will receive this very differently than those who have been aware about this stuff for years.

    Something I’ve noticed is that deniers/skeptics of those critical of businesses like Google/Facebook/Amazon/etc. who make their billions based on our data/information/behaviors is that they often try to discredit people with the “tin foil” hat argument.

    The issue is that despite the awareness raised, people are so quick to outrage and so quick to forget.

    You feel like you’re finally gonna ditch FB/Instagram/Twitter, but oh, that’s where you chat with your broader family. And Twitter has the tech scene. And IG has the models you wanna look at. (My friend, who cares about privacy, actually told me this is the only reason he still has IG.)

    So I get it.

    The thing that’s really frustrating for me personally is that there are alternatives that exist. I don’t think anyone is debating the efficacy of these tools, it’s just that they do not work in our interests. They work exactly against our interests.

    There are alternatives. I wish I could just copy/paste my Twitter network into Mastodon. I’d love to reconnect with people who have Facebook on MeWe. I’d like to continue using an Instagram-like service like PixelFed, where we each own our data and don’t live on platforms that have an unethical business model.

    At the end of the day, that’s what this is. But because there’s no way to coordinate mass migrations off these platforms.

    I guarantee you that if we had collective will, and everyone shifted off these platforms, we’d see change in how these companies operate real quick.

    The solution itself is quite simple, it’s just not easy to coordinate this type of collective will. Which really sucks, because I think a lot of people would actually prefer these platforms over mainstream ones.

    Mastodon, for example, has a 500 character limit instead of 280. On PixelFed, you can hide your followers/following if you want. Etc. And being open source, you can build tools around them that you might not otherwise be able to build.

    I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post on The Social Dilemma, for anyone interested: https://www.hiramnunez.com/post/the-social-dilemma-what-it-is-how-we-got-here-and-what-we-can-do-about-it

    1. 1

      In general, I agree with your observations and the need for a collective will to disrupt the current status quo.

      However, I would wager that to attain such a collective will we would need a platform with equivalent mind share to bring awareness to these alternatives.

      I think herein lies the catch 22, how do we acquire such a platform that isn't primarily driven by profit, and which could allow for fair and unbiased information about alternatives.

      1. 1

        Not just awareness, but mass migration.

        Even with awareness, as many have pointed out, it’s easy to be outraged, but then forget or lose importance about the broader impact at hand. It’s easy to lose the bigger picture once you start scrolling once again.

        Plus, it’s where the eyeballs are (so marketers are there), and it’s where your family/friends/colleagues are.

        Regarding your last point--Platforms like Mastodon and PixelFed aren’t driven by profit. It’s decentralized, so you can even set up your own instance if you want. This becomes a technical barrier, so making sure that the onboarding process isn’t confusing to instead join other instances would be ideal.

  6. 1

    Facebook exists to support itself and make itself more profitable, and to minimize risk in both, and this is a statement of how it minimizes risk of liability.

    I came away with two things from "The Social Dilemma":

    Consumers aren't self educating. We don't live in a world of slow change, and we haven't lived in such a world in decades. I would feel sorry for parents of the young and gullible except that those parents should have been engaging their kids.

    Tools don't want to recognize they are tools. Most of the execs featured under the age of 50 (most of them) could explain how awful it was that they were doing. They just don't want to be perceived as awful or shallow after taking the paychecks and living the lifestyle.

  7. 4

    This comment was deleted a year ago.

    1. 1

      Good points, and sad but true about not rocking the salary boat. One of the tricky things about privacy is that the costs to the individual are not clear up front, and humans are very bad at managing long-term risks (see typical retirement savings). Your friends who don't care now might end up caring in 20 years time when they receive their health insurance bill or credit report.

  8. 4

    This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

    1. 2

      I disagree entirely.

      Human nature is one thing, but when you spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars or maybe even billions of dollars to exploit and manipulate those intricacies of human nature then yes - you can very much be held to account.

      1. 3

        Is there any media company that doesn't spend money to exploit and manipulate the intricacies of human nature? Even a good fiction book is rife with narrative hooks and cliffhangers designed to keep you turning the page and buying the next volumes.

        That's not to say everything is bad, or everything is equal. Rather, "exploiting human nature" alone isn't what's bad, despite the fact that the word "exploit" has a rather negative connotation.

        1. 4

          Has anyone done it to the extent / effectiveness / cultural detriment of Facebook though?

          I realise "detriment" is a trigger word as people will argue for positive elements, but the overall picture, to me (globally recognised mental health issues, globally recognised political issues, acknowledged election tampering, suicide glorification... the list goes on) is a starkly negative one.

          1. 1

            I don't think you're wrong. I'm not a Facebook fan myself. They did plenty of sociopathic and careless things in the past, so they can't complain about having to lie in a bed of their own making.

            But I also don't think they're super evil. Zuck is maturing a bit, and seems to care about some of the more important issues. I don't think it's an act. And there are plenty of organizations that are blatantly more malicious than Facebook ever was at its worst imo, but who get significantly less news coverage for whatever reason. Not as flashy as tech I guess.

            And it's hard for me to come to conclusions about the overall picture because, frankly, is anyone even attempting to paint an overall picture? Facebook is going to give you their self-serving lines, and the media is going to focus on the scary and flashy negative stories, as always.

            1. 1

              Have you read The history of the future?

              I found it both enlightening and a gripping read.

            2. 1

              Yeah I don't think you're wrong either. I guess we all need to make our own judgement based on the opposing factions you stated and our own observations.

              My own judgement is that Facebook should burn in hell.

              1. 1

                I guess we all need to make our own judgement based on the opposing factions you stated and our own observations.

                And it is takeaways like this that hint at a nuanced problem that has become more and more prevalent in my experiences.

                Not that it isn't completely acceptable to have such a parting conclusion to a healthy discussion or debate but I suspect more often than not what really underlies similar statements is more of "Let's agree to disagree". The constant barrage of information and opinions doesn't help either, making it all the bit harder for us to attain that shared collective of what's the most mutually beneficial way forward to solve these problems.

                I think that's what's dangerous, our current social dialogues are those of a perpetual state of limbo with non-action and an ever expanding roster of opposing viewpoints rather than a coalescing.

        2. 1

          This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

Trending on Indie Hackers
Link to your product & tell IH how you came up with your idea 77 comments Am I the only one not naturally inclined to posting online? 37 comments Ask me to review your product 28 comments Can you try my side project? I'm looking for some feedback 🙂 23 comments Copywriting Examples — The world's best copy. In one place. 12 comments What are your favourite podcasts? 8 comments