The Problem with Facebook and the Monetisation of Socialisation

Facebook is keeping things from you.  Every day you increase the pages and friends you like this means the amount of posts that appear in you timeline will gradually increase overtime.  Because you will be unable to see all the content unless you are all day, Facebook has developed advanced filtering systems to distribute posts in your Newsfeed that are “relevant” to you.  This is  done through a complex algorithm called EdgeRank which uses thousands of variables to rank Facebook friends and Pages on your Newsfeed.  The problem with this is that one strong factor that influences the EdgeRank is your level of agreement towards your friend or Page you liked, this is measured mainly by your interaction with Likes, clicks, comments and share.  Since normally you do not Like, click or share content you disagree with Facebook assumes this is content you do not want to see in your Newsfeed, therefore it will become an echo chamber of self affirming views, with things you already think and believe.  But this is just part of the problem, because the remaining posts and content hidden from you must now pay to reach you. S4FDDS857CPS

Post reach and EdgeRank

Haven’t you asked yourself, why x-friend or y-Page is not appearing anymore in your timeline?  Well the main reason is because the EdgeRank algorithm has decided to bury their content from your timeline in order to give space to content you are more likely to engage with.  The reason is because the post will reach only users who are more likely to engage with it, which is usually less than 30% of you fan base.  With EdgeRank Facebook has automatically reduced the organic reach of every Page by using strong filters that distribute content based on fan potential engagement.  The problem with this is that unless you pay through Facebook Ads or Post Boost you wont be able to reach the remaining 70% of your fan base at all.

EdgeRank and the Monetized Socialization Business Model

The EdgeRank algorithm allowed the establishment of a competitive model within Facebook, where Friends and Fan Pages struggle to create frequent and engaging content to avoid being buried into oblivion.  This is the foundation of Facebook’s business model which works by monetising the socialisation of Pages and Users through Post Boosts and Facebook Ads.  Unlike Twitter and Youtube, where users and content creators distribute their content for free and equally throughout the social network Facebook has restricted the social reach of user content by creating a business model that forces them to pay to increase their reach.

In Youtube for example the incentives of users, content creators and advertisers are aligned.  Content creators get paid for content by the advertisers who want to reach the most amount of users and users get their digital oxytocin* hit by watching fun videos, its a win-win situation.  While on Facebook Fan Page owners have no way to monetise their content and the only one who make money from the platform is Mark Zuckerberg.  Advertisers make money indirectly, but content creators’ only reward is having “engaging” content, a bunch of likes, comments and shares.

Pros and Cons Facebook’s EdgeRank

Pros

  • New users have a legitimate shortcut to increase engagement and fan base rapidly
  • Page owners who have abandoned their Pages for long periods of time can reactivate their reach by boosting posts
  • The EdgeRank algorithm can actually filter a lot of irrelevant content that could potentially flood your Newsfeed
  • Reduced CPM price by actually providing engaging Pages a cheaper cost per reach.

Cons

  • Unfair competitive model. Page owners with advertising budget will always have the edge over Pages that don’t pay
  • The EdgeRank algorithm isn’t perfect and could vanish content from your NewsFeed that could actually be interesting to you
  • Facebook Ads and Post Boosts have become a great shortcut for advertisers on Facebook who are invading users’ NewsFeed with commercial content without having their consent
  • Facebook ultimately decides what you should see or not

Do you want Facebook to decide what you see?

The question is, do you really want Facebook to decide what you see or not?  This is basically EdgeRank’s task is to learn about what you like and love and distribute it in your timeline.  This can actually convert your NewsFeed into an echo chamber of self assuring views and thoughts by only showing you things that you agree with.  EdgeRank’s t. But do you only want to see all the time things that you potentially like and love? This is actually a moral issue since Facebook is assuming the role of judge of your taste and opinions. Hmmm??

This is an interesting video by Veritassium which explains the problem with Facebook really well

*About Digital Oxytocin. What is your incentive when using Facebook? Some study out there by CalTech California Institute of Technology discovered that using Social Media stimulates the release of oxytocin, a special molecule that makes us feel trusted.  Social Media is basically an unlimited source of oxytocin, where you can find readily available trust 24/7, and you keep come back every time for more.  Scientifically this is a way to demonstrate a strong biological incentive that drives people into using Social Media, and specially Facebook which is the most widely used social network which the study concluded is the Social Network that stimulates more oxytocin release.

Review of the documentary The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer is a documentary film that narrates the genocide of millions of communists, intellectuals and ethnic Chinese in the Sukarno regime in Indonesia in 1965-66. The film is narrated first hand by the perpetrators of the massacres, gangsters and paramilitaries who rose to power with the task of exterminating communists in Indonesia and every suspicious element that threatened the regime. The extermination was systematic, done in a ruthlessly and sadistically manner taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, which is estimated amounted to around a million murders.

The Act of Killing official trailer

The movie is starred by Anwar Congo a paramilitary member of the Pancasila political party. He was one of the most ruthless executioners during the killings claiming to have killed more than a 1,000 people by his own hand. In the movie Cong depicts his various methods of killing like, beating, beheading, running people over with a car, throwing people over a bridge, stabbing, and his favourite strangulating with a wire. Although there is no use of archive footage of the killings the depictions are so graphic that can upset anyone with their sadistic and bloody nature.

Is this movie for real?

It is hard to believe that human beings can go so far in terms of violence, cruelty and blood-thirst. Most of the murder descriptions where narrated so naturally that it is testimony of the strong justification these people had behind that lead them to commit them. The perpetrators and the political regime in Indonesia in the 60’s and still today, firmly believe that communism is evil and that it has to be exterminated by all means. The Indonesian government ever since has been focusing in propaganda demonising everything that can be against the regime’s ideology and values. This has perpetuated a dominant political class that has maintained its power through violence and intimidation. After seeing this documentary my conclusion is that there is no democracy in Indonesia since 1965 and that the ruling class only method of maintaining it’s power is through violence. They have completely destroyed the intelectual class and opposition through political prosecution, using the media as a weapon to demonise them and exclude them from society. The dominant class has maintained its power by the use of brute force and the support of paramilitary groups, gangsters and criminals willing to do whatever it takes to be on power. The Pancasila movement which is the equivalent of the SA in Nazi Germany firmly believes that communism is completely against freedom and that it needs to be exterminated as well as Chinese the same way Jewish were persecuted in WWII. The Pancasila has gained its power through the support of criminal organisations which are the groups that control the population in depth, since they are members of society.

A state of anarchy

“Thugs want freedom to do things, even if they’re wrong, but if we know how to work with them, all we have to do is direct them”

Syamsul Arifin, Governor of Northern Sumatra

It is thought in Indonesia that the word ‘gangster’ comes from the English “fee men” which is a completely false believe. In one of the scenes the Governor of North Sumatra, one of the most important leading authorities in Indonesia affirms the importance of gangsters in Indonesia’s stability.

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Jusuf Kalla in a Pancasila Movement Meeting

Below is part of a speech given by Jusuf Kalla in the film, Kalla is ex-vice-president of Indonesia during a Pancasilla meeting and this is what he had to say about gangsters.

“Gangsters are people who work outside the system not for the government. The word ‘gangster’ means free men. This nation needs ‘free men’! If everyone worked for the government we’d be a nation of bureaucrats. We’d get nothing done. We need gangsters to get things done. Free, private men that get things done.We need gangsters who are willing to take risks in business. Use their muscles! Muscles aren’t for beating people up, although beating people up is sometimes needed ”

Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President of Indonensia (2004-2009)

This is a testimony of the current anarchy present in Indonesia where high government officials praise criminal organisations as necessaries for society to run properly. From this perspective normal citizens have very little guarantees to their rights since outside of the law organisations have been allowed to enforce their power freely. This is a clear sign of a state of total anarchy where the government has allied with criminal organisations outside the law to enforce and perpetuate its power.

If you can’t with your enemy join them

In developing nations creating a state of military and police authority to control society can be very difficult, that is why in many developing nation regimes governments have been overthrown by relatively small rebel groups, such as it happened in Indonesia in Sukarno’s government, and has happened in hundreds of nations. The lack of economic resources, technology and military development makes the state vulnerable from crime and corruption, therefore criminal organisations can easily gain power and control of society. In Indonesia it seems that the government has decided not to fight criminal organisations, but to use them as an ally to maintain its power and in return the government has allowed this criminal organisations to maintain a level of control and power in society. These criminal organisations have risen as paramilitary group in parallel to the Indonesian military and police, and the government has figured out a way to make them work together. The problem with this is that paramilitaries operate outside the law, permitting them to commit abuse, which is seen in the movie when a paramilitary leader goes to a local market and asks the shop owners for money.

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A thin line between crime and justice

The Act of Killing focuses on a place in the world with a particular sense of injustice and violation to human rights. Many viewers including me might have changed the way they viewed Indonesia after watching the film. I can understand the situation and how society justifies violence as a way to ensure its interests. Violence regimes find their way to perpetuate and maintain their power. Genocide has always been a fundamental part of society, from the Alexandrian campaigns in Persia to the extermination of the American Indians in North America. From the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the killings of civilians in the Iraq War. Nobody has been trialled in the International Court of Justice for those genocides. The same as in the genocide in Indonesia, all the executioners are free and today are considered national heroes.

“‘War crimes’ are defined by the winners. I’m a winner. So I can make my own definition. I needn’t follow the international definitions.”

Adi Zulkadry, executioner in 1965

Fighting the machine in the Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is facing one of the worst crisis in history.  It is facing a battle between the logging, agricultural and cattle raising business and the people who want to preserve the rainforest from deforestation and destruction. This large ecosystem of forest, rivers, flora and fauna is being exploited for its natural resources in an unsustainable way that if not being stopped it could produce an irreversible damage to the world.  At current deforestation rate it is calculated that in the next two decades the Amazon rainforest will be reduced to 40%.

causes of amazon deforestation in brazil
Causes of deforestation in Brazil

The Brazilian government hasn’t been able to stop the devastation in the Amazon, and has left the natives with weak environmental protection laws and with very little police presence protection from the capitalist interests in the region.  Logging corporations and loggers who live from the exploitation of wood in the region have been slowly taking over territory in order to harvest wood and create grazing land for cattle. This has accelerated the erosion of the land, and the deforestation of a natural habitat that is destroying the amazonian ecosystem.  Natives interested in preserving this natural ecosystem have been left alone to face this hungry capitalist machine that has been gaining territory through bribes, government lobby, threats and violence.

The murder of Brazilian conservationist Zé Cláudio Ribeiro

One of the most notable cases of a loss battle in preserving the Amazon forest has been the violent murder of Zé Cláudio Ribeiro, a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clearcutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest.  Zé Cláudio was a lone warrior together with his wife that campaigned against corporations and loggers who were illegally trying to gain territory for exploitation.  These people who main interest was money, had absolutely no consideration towards the environment and were eager to do what ever it takes to expand their business, even if it meant killing other people that stood in front of them.  Zé Cláudio felt that doing justice was protecting the land and campaigning against illegal logging and deforestation.  From that moment both he and his wife started getting death threats, that materialised on may 23, 2011 when he was brutally murdered with his wife on his way home by two gunmen.

Zé Cláudio was a worthy representative of the native Brazilian community in the northern Amazon, he as a normal citizen did not understand violence.  His weapon was the sense of justice and preservation of the environment.  He did not have the ability to face violence or threats against his life, that is why he was murdered, because he was a good man, unable to protect himself from evil.  Currently in the Amazonian rainforest evil can only be fought with evil, because justice is too far away to protect the innocent.  Zé Cláudio was a victim of it, but left a great legacy and spiked global awareness on the Amazonian deforestation crisis.  His murder resonated worldwide and brought the attention of the world, which now understand how business works in the Amazon rainforest.  How money is the only priority, even if it means cutting down the last tree and destroying the future of Brazil and the world.

Shortly before Zé Cláudio was murdered he appeared in a TEDx Amazônia talk in Brazil, his speech was remarkable and inspirational. His most amazing quote:

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“The forest is twice as sustainable when standing up than when cut down, because when you cut it down you only have it once, but when you leave it standing you have it forever”

“The forest is twice as sustainable when standing up than when cut down, because when you cut it down you only have it once, but when you leave it standing you have it forever”  Zé Cláudio

This is the complete Zé Cláudio Ted Talk with English subtitles

Shortly after his murder Vice travelled to the state of Para in Brazil to document the aftermath of the tragedy interviewing his family, friends and other political activists.

Here is the complete documentary by Vice dedicated to Zé Cláudio, Murder in the Amazon

Permaculture by Masanobu Fukuoka

1998 documentary dedicated to the pioneer of natural farming permaculture Masanobu Fukuoka.  Fukuoka has advocated an entirely new way of farming and put it into practice.  Natural farming employs no plowing, no fertilizers, no pesticides and no weeding, all he does is plant many types of seeds in clay balls and just keep sowing them letting them follow the natural course of nature.  Natural farming is about doing nothing, or almost nothing and leave everything to nature.  Natural farming lets nature follow its course, seeds, weeds, insects and animals all cooperate in symbiosis to let the seed grow in the most natural and optimum environment for harvest.

His natural method of farming is described on his book “One Straw Revolution” which condenses all his farming methodology and philosophy.

Natural Farming Documentary