[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

It doesn’t seem to be working, anecdotally. Facebook is hemorrhaging users and those who no longer use the platform have a REALLY high level of hostility for Facebook and the no holds barred savagery it encourages.

NYT wrote:

Zuckerberg personally took responsibility for Russian interference on the site during the 2016 presidential election

Saying you'll take responsibility for something and actually taking responsibility for it are two wildly different things, and he absolutely has not done the latter.

Well, if your platform is too pervasive to moderate, then the platform needs to be made less pervasive. I mean that is essentially the argument when they say they aren't responsible for the damaging content on their platform. That they aren't the "arbiter of truth". They are admitting that their moderation is either intentionally and/or inherently inadequate. The "arbiter of truth" comment belies that it is intentional.

Neo-Nazis are still on Facebook. And they’re making money

It’s the premier martial arts group in Europe for right-wing extremists. German authorities have twice banned their signature tournament. But Kampf der Nibelungen, or Battle of the Nibelungs, still thrives on Facebook, where organizers maintain multiple pages, as well as on Instagram and YouTube, which they use to spread their ideology, draw in recruits and make money through ticket sales and branded merchandise.

The Battle of the Nibelungs — a reference to a classic heroic epic much loved by the Nazis — is one of dozens of far-right groups that continue to leverage mainstream social media for profit, despite Facebook’s and other platforms’ repeated pledges to purge themselves of extremism.

All told, there are at least 54 Facebook profiles belonging to 39 entities that the German government and civil society groups have flagged as extremist, according to research shared with The Associated Press by the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit policy and advocacy group formed to combat extremism. The groups have nearly 268,000 subscribers and friends on Facebook alone.

CEP also found 39 related Instagram profiles, 16 Twitter profiles and 34 YouTube channels, which have gotten over 9.5 million views. Nearly 60% of the profiles were explicitly aimed at making money, displaying prominent links to online shops or photos promoting merchandise.

Click on the big blue “view shop” button on the Erik & Sons Facebook page and you can buy a T-shirt that says, “My favorite color is white,” for 20 euros ($23). Deutsches Warenhaus offers “Refugees not welcome” stickers for just 2.50 euros ($3) and Aryan Brotherhood tube scarves with skull faces for 5.88 euros ($7). The Facebook feed of OPOS Records promotes new music and merchandise, including “True Aggression,” “Pride & Dignity,” and “One Family” T-shirts. The brand, which stands for “One People One Struggle,” also links to its online shop from Twitter and Instagram.

The people and organizations in CEP’s dataset are a who’s who of Germany’s far-right music and combat sports scenes. “They are the ones who build the infrastructure where people meet, make money, enjoy music and recruit,” said Alexander Ritzmann, the lead researcher on the project. “It’s most likely not the guys I’ve highlighted who will commit violent crimes. They’re too smart. They build the narratives and foster the activities of this milieu where violence then appears.”

CEP said it focused on groups that want to overthrow liberal democratic institutions and norms such as freedom of the press, protection of minorities and universal human dignity, and believe that the white race is under siege and needs to be preserved, with violence if necessary. None has been banned, but almost all have been described in German intelligence reports as extremist, CEP said.

On Facebook the groups seem harmless. They avoid blatant violations of platform rules, such as using hate speech or posting swastikas, which is generally illegal in Germany.

By carefully toeing the line of propriety, these key architects of Germany’s far-right use the power of mainstream social media to promote festivals, fashion brands, music labels and mixed martial arts tournaments that can generate millions in sales and connect like-minded thinkers from around the world.

But simply cutting off such groups could have unintended, damaging consequences.

“We don’t want to head down a path where we are telling sites they should remove people based on who they are but not what they do on the site,” said David Greene, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

Giving platforms wide latitude to sanction organizations deemed undesirable could give repressive governments leverage to eliminate their critics. “That can have really serious human rights concerns,” he said. “The history of content moderation has shown us that it’s almost always to the disadvantage of marginalized and powerless people.”

German authorities banned the Battle of the Nibelungs event in 2019, on the grounds that it was not actually about sports, but instead was grooming fighters with combat skills for political struggle.

In 2020, as the coronavirus raged, organizers planned to stream the event online — using Instagram, among other places, to promote the webcast. A few weeks before the planned event, however, over a hundred black-clad police in balaclavas broke up a gathering at a motorcycle club in Magdeburg, where fights were being filmed for the broadcast, and hauled off the boxing ring, according to local media reports.

The Battle of the Nibelungs is a “central point of contact” for right-wing extremists, according to German government intelligence reports. The organization has been explicit about its political goals — namely to fight against the “rotting” liberal democratic order — and has drawn adherents from across Europe as well as the United States.

Members of a California white supremacist street fighting club called the Rise Above Movement, and its founder, Robert Rundo, have attended the Nibelungs tournament. In 2018 at least four Rise Above members were arrested on rioting charges for taking their combat training to the streets at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A number of Battle of Nibelungs alums have landed in prison, including for manslaughter, assault and attacks on migrants.

National Socialism Today, which describes itself as a “magazine by nationalists for nationalists” has praised Battle of the Nibelungs and other groups for fostering a will to fight and motivating “activists to improve their readiness for combat.”

But there are no references to professionalized, anti-government violence on the group’s social media feeds. Instead, it’s positioned as a health-conscious lifestyle brand, which sells branded tea mugs and shoulder bags.

“Exploring nature. Enjoying home!” gushes one Facebook post above a photo of a musclebound guy on a mountaintop wearing Resistend-branded sportswear, one of the Nibelung tournament’s sponsors. All the men in the photos are pumped and white, and they are portrayed enjoying wholesome activities such as long runs and alpine treks.

Elsewhere on Facebook, Thorsten Heise – who has been convicted of incitement to hatred and called “one of the most prominent German neo-Nazis” by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the German state of Thuringia — also maintains multiple pages.

Frank Kraemer, who the German government has described as a “right-wing extremist musician,” uses his Facebook page to direct people to his blog and his Sonnenkreuz online store, which sells white nationalist and coronavirus conspiracy books as well as sports nutrition products and “vaccine rebel” T-shirts for girls.

Battle of the Nibelungs declined to comment. Resistend, Heise and Kraemer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Facebook told AP it employs 350 people whose primary job is to counter terrorism and organized hate, and that it is investigating the pages and accounts flagged in this reporting.

“We ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission, or are engaged in violence,” said a company spokesperson, who added that Facebook had banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations, including groups and individuals in Germany. The spokesperson said the company had removed over 6 million pieces of content tied to organized hate globally between April and June and is working to move even faster.

Google said it has no interest in giving visibility to hateful content on YouTube and was looking into the accounts identified in this reporting. The company said it worked with dozens of experts to update its policies on supremacist content in 2019, resulting in a five-fold spike in the number of channels and videos removed.

Twitter says it’s committed to ensuring that public conversation is “safe and healthy” on its platform and that it doesn’t tolerate violent extremist groups. “Threatening or promoting violent extremism is against our rules,” a spokesperson told AP, but did not comment on the specific accounts flagged in this reporting.

Google's comments are especially laughable, since the only reason Atomwaffen doesn't have a YT page anymore is because they weren't smart enough to do the dosie-do around YT's worthless content rules.

I stg, nothing fills me with more rage than when YT does it's "Check out these black voices!" bullsh*t. It's like a bar that is constantly frequented by neo-nazis inviting you to come to their Black History Month celebration and just ignore those other guys, cuz they can't really do anything about it.

So apparently as much as we like to disparage facebook in America, we have the "good" facebook. The majority of the moderators are here in part due to regulations. In foreign countries, the level of moderation is far less in quantity and quality. And apparently like 90% of facebook's traffic is outside the US.

So we are just the tip of the misinformation iceberg in the US. And we wonder why the world is a pro authoritarian wreck? Its us versus them, constantly at each others throats.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying Zuckerberg is responsible for wars past, present and future.

I'm trying to figure out how to format this question I have about internet culture, fandom, and essentializing/fetishizing homosexual men, but I can't figure out how to do it. :lol

Well at least for a while the internet gets a break.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all down today.

US-east-1 go down again?

Facebook is ‘biased against facts’, says Nobel prize winner

The campaigning Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, who was last week awarded the Nobel peace prize, has launched a stinging attack on Facebook, accusing the social media firm of being a threat to democracy that was “biased against facts” and failed to prevent the spread of disinformation.

She said its algorithms “prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts”.

Ressa, who co-founded the news website Rappler, won the Nobel prize on Friday for her work to “safeguard freedom of expression”, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

Ressa said Facebook had become the world’s largest distributor of news, “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism … If you have no facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have a democracy.”

Ressa’s rebuke came days after former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen claimed the company placed profits over people. UK politicians are also raising concerns about Facebook’s ability to protect children from harmful content, with one senior Tory MP accusing it of deploying a “ridiculous scouts-honour system” for verifying the age of its users.

There are now cross-party calls for action from Facebook and the government in the wake of Haugen’s explosive testimony, in which she accused the firm of steering young users towards damaging content. She also suggested that the minimum age for social media accounts should be raised from 13 to 17.

Julian Knight, Tory chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, called on Facebook to demonstrate that it was capable of enforcing even its existing rules. “It’s less about the minimum age, more about the way social media companies police this at present,” he said. “They rely on a ridiculous scouts-honour system when actually we need them to actively pursue proper, regulated, robust age assurance. Time is long past that they took responsibility.”

It makes me wonder if Zuckerberg is just a classic narcissist who only cares about himself or if he’s also an accelerationist.

RawkGWJ wrote:

It makes me wonder if Zuckerberg is just a classic narcissist who only cares about himself or if he’s also an accelerationist.

People who are currently atop the hierarchy tend not to want to burn down that hierarchy.

I don't think he wants to burn it down, but he's making a lot of money off keeping things smoldering. Plus he keeps buying more and more of Hawaii.

Yeah, I read that earlier today. Crazy.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Yeah, I read that earlier today. Crazy.

Woah. If that’s true…

I am sympathetic, at least, to his statements about Russia. I think it's much easier to believe it was the megalomaniacal web-weaving of the Arch-Supervillain Putin than to understand that the calls have been coming from inside the house for decades now.

For my money, Russia was definitely involved, but they only needed to put their fingers on the scale in a few places. We did all the heavy lifting ourselves.

*Taps the title of the thread*

In June, the UK tabloid the Mirror published a story about a TikTok video that discussed “the four biggest dating app red flags,” according to a creator named @sydneyplus, who said she worked at a dating site. Said red flags include standing in front of a fancy car (likely not their own), describing oneself as an “entrepreneur,” or being weirdly obsessed with their mom. The article is a typical hastily written web post capitalizing on trending content in order to drive pageviews, and was later picked up by the New York Post. The only problem was that @sydneyplus doesn’t work at a dating site, because @sydneyplus doesn’t really exist.

“Sydney,” a broke, blonde 20-something who lives on her sister’s couch and works in customer service at a dating site, is the invention of a team of writers, one actress, and a technology/entertainment/media company called FourFront. Co-founded by a former screenwriter named Ilan Benjamin, the company has so far launched 22 “stories,” or character arcs, eight of them ongoing since the spring. Sydney’s “story,” for example, was that she found out that her sister’s fiancé was cheating, while Ollie, a trans man, discovers that his father also transitioned.

“We’re basically creating an MCU-style universe of characters on TikTok,” says Benjamin. “Some succeed, some fail — it’s the TV pilot season model where we only invest in those that get traction and audiences love.” The company says it’s raised $1.5 million in seed funding so far.


So Quibi, but only through TikTok?

They have quite a ways to go before they burn $1.75 billion like Quibi did, though.

Where Facts Were No Match for Fear

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — In the summer of 2020, as pandemic shutdowns closed businesses and racial justice protests erupted on American streets, Rae Grulkowski, a 56-year-old businesswoman who had never been involved in politics but was alarmed about what was happening to the country, found a way to make a difference.

The connection to the turbulence of national politics might not have been immediately clear.

Ms. Grulkowski had just heard about a years-in-the-making effort to designate her corner of central Montana a national heritage area, celebrating its role in the story of the American West. A small pot of federal matching money was there for the taking, to help draw more visitors and preserve underfunded local tourist attractions.

Ms. Grulkowski set about blowing up that effort with everything she had.

She collected addresses from a list of voters and spent $1,300 sending a packet denouncing the proposed heritage area to 1,498 farmers and ranchers. She told them the designation would forbid landowners to build sheds, drill wells or use fertilizers and pesticides. It would alter water rights, give tourists access to private property, create a new taxation district and prohibit new septic systems and burials on private land, she said.

None of this was true.

Yet it soon became accepted as truth by enough people to persuade Montana’s leading Republican figures and conservative organizations, including the Farm Bureau, Gov. Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines, to oppose the proposal and enact a state law forbidding the federal government to create any heritage area in Montana. It is a ban that the state has no authority to enforce.

Which is how a humble bid for a small serving of Washington pork by a group of local civic boosters became yet another nasty skirmish in the bitter nationwide struggle between the forces of fact and fantasy.

From her point of view, the tale of Ms. Grulkowski’s one-woman crusade is a stirring reminder of the power of political activism. “I thought, ‘Here’s the world going crazy,’” she said, explaining her motivation.

From the vantage point of informed democratic decision making, it’s a haunting tale about how a sustained political campaign can succeed despite — or perhaps as a result of — being divorced from reality.

“Misinformation is the new playbook,” Bob Kelly, the mayor of Great Falls, said. “You don’t like something? Create alternative facts and figures as a way to undermine reality.”

The dispute has split communities, become a wedge issue in this fall’s political campaigns and left proponents of the heritage area flummoxed at their collective inability to refute falsehoods once they have become accepted wisdom.

“We’ve run into the uneducable,” Ellen Sievert, a retired historic preservation officer for Great Falls and surrounding Cascade County, said. “I don’t know how we get through that.”

Most of the heritage area’s key supporters are Democrats, and virtually all of its opponents are Republicans. But partisanship doesn’t explain everyone’s positions.

Steve Taylor, a former mayor of Neihart (pop. 43) whose family owns a car dealership in Great Falls, is a conservative who voted for Donald J. Trump twice, though he said he has regretted those votes since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Fellow Republicans, he said, have painted the heritage area as a liberal plot.

“They make it a political thing because if you have a Democrat involved, then they are all against it,” he said. “It’s so hard to build something and so easy to tear it down. It’s maddening. It’s so easy to destroy something with untruths.”

Congress and President Ronald Reagan created National Heritage Areas in the 1980s as a partnership between the National Park Service and local boosters, who are required to match federal investment with funds raised locally. The 55 existing heritage areas, in 34 states, recognize, among other histories, metropolitan Detroit’s automotive background, Utah’s Mormon pioneers and Tennessee’s part in the Civil War. They collectively receive about $21 million annually — a pittance in the park service’s $3.5 billion budget — and have no impact on private property rights, a finding confirmed in a 2004 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The proposal for the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area, encompassing most of two central Montana counties that are together roughly the size of Connecticut, was the brainchild of Jane Weber, a U.S. Forest Service retiree who spent a decade on the Cascade County Commission.

Beginning in 2013, Ms. Weber teamed up with local preservationists, formed a nonprofit, enlisted local businesses and raised $50,000 for a required feasibility study. In 2014, the Great Falls City Commission included the heritage area as part of its official growth policy.

The proposal would take in four National Historic Landmarks: Lewis and Clark’s portage route around Great Falls; Fort Benton, a pioneer town along the Missouri River that was the last stop for steamships heading west from St. Louis in the 1800s; the First Peoples Buffalo Jump, a steep cliff over which Blackfoot hunters herded buffalo to their deaths; and the home and studio of C.M. Russell, the turn-of-the-century “cowboy artist” whose paintings of the American West shaped the popular image of frontier life.

The park service requires demonstrations of public support, which Ms. Weber and her allies solicited. For six years, the process went on largely undisturbed. Ms. Weber hosted dozens of public meetings and was a regular on local radio stations. Opponents made scarcely a peep.

Then the 2020 political season arrived.

With the coronavirus ravaging the economy and protests lighting up her computer screen, Ms. Grulkowski said, she walked into a local Republican Party office one day and asked what she could do to help. Someone told her to attend a meeting. So she did.

There, she heard a presentation by Jeni Dodd, a former reporter for The Great Falls Tribune, who was running in a Republican primary for the Montana State Senate. Ms. Dodd had latched on to the heritage area as a waste of public money and a thicket of conflicts of interest for board members and elected officials. She wrote essays in local weeklies and started a Facebook group calling the proposal a “Big Sky Boondoggle.” It didn’t get much traction.

But Ms. Grulkowski’s interest was piqued.

At the time, she was becoming engrossed in the online world of far-right media. From her home on 34 acres in Stockett, a farming community of 157 people south of Great Falls, she watched videos from outlets like His Glory TV, where hosts refer to President Biden as “the so-called president.” She subscribed to the Telegram messaging channel of Seth Keshel, a prolific disinformation spreader.

And she came across a vein of conspiratorial accusations that national heritage areas were a kind of Trojan horse that could open the door to future federal land grabs.

When Ms. Grulkowski, who owns a septic cleaning company, tried using Ms. Dodd’s group to push the idea that Montanans’ property rights were at risk, Ms. Dodd kicked her out for promoting lies.

“I’m not happy with people saying it will seize your property, because that is disingenuous,” Ms. Dodd said. “I said to her, ‘I think you need to be careful about the message. It isn’t actually the way that it works, what you’re saying.’”

But Ms. Grulkowski plowed ahead.

One of her letters reached Ed Bandel, the local board member for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, a powerful lobbying force. Mr. Bandel, who grows wheat and peas for energy bars on 3,000 acres, persuaded the farm bureau to oppose the heritage area and enlisted other agriculture groups to follow suit.

The bureau printed thousands of 4-by-6-inch cards saying “Just Say No!” and listing Ms. Grulkowski’s Facebook group and other opponents, including realtors, home builders, grain growers, stock growers and wool growers. Mr. Bandel, his son and Ms. Grulkowski left the cards on tables at supportive restaurants.

By May, their campaign had reached the state capital, where Mr. Gianforte signed the bill barring any national heritage area in Montana after it passed on a near-party-line vote. A heritage area, the bill’s text asserted, would “interfere with state and private property rights.”

In two hours of talking at his farm, Mr. Bandel could offer no evidence to back up that claim. He said he distrusted assurances that there were no such designs. “They say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to do it right. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you. I think Adolf Hitler said that, too, didn’t he?” Mr. Bandel said. “The fear of the unknown is a huge fear.”

Mr. Bandel said he trusted Ms. Grulkowski with the details.

But when pressed, Ms. Grulkowski, too, was unable to identify a single instance of a property owner’s being adversely affected by a heritage area. “It’s not that there are a lot of specific instances,” she said. “There’s a lot of very wide open things that could happen.”

That somewhat amorphous fear was more the point.

Outside of a poultry coop, as her chickens and ducks squawked, Ms. Grulkowski ticked through the falsehoods she had read online and accepted as truths in the past year: The Covid vaccine is more dangerous than the coronavirus. Global child-trafficking rings control the political system. Black Lives Matter was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The United Nations is plotting to control world population and seize private land. Mr. Trump was the rightful winner of last year’s election. Even in Cascade County, where Mr. Trump won 59 percent of the vote, Ms. Grulkowski argued that 3,000 illegal votes were cast.

“We didn’t believe in any of that stuff until last July,” Ms. Grulkowski said. “Then we stumbled on something on the internet, and we watched it, and it took us two days to get over that. And it had to do with the child trafficking that leads to everything. It just didn’t seem right, and that was just over the top. And then we started seeing things that are lining up with that everywhere.”

One thing Ms. Grulkowski does not do — because she refuses to pay — is read The Great Falls Tribune, the local daily. It’s not what it once was, with just eight journalists, down from 45 in 2000, said Richard Ecke, who spent 38 years at the paper before the owner, Gannett, laid him off as opinion editor in 2016. He is vice chairman of the proposed heritage area’s board.

In the paper’s place, information and misinformation about the heritage area spread on Facebook and in local outlets that parroted Ms. Grulkowski. Last winter, a glossy magazine distributed to Montana farmers put the subject on its cover, headlined “Intrusive Raid on Private Property Rights.”

Ms. Grulkowski badgered supporters of the heritage area to withdraw financial backing. She raised the money to plaster the “Just Say No!” message on billboards along Interstate 15 and on Highway 87 into Fort Benton, and on bus-stop benches in Great Falls.

Three of the heritage area’s board members quit in frustration. Ms. Weber herself resigned from the Cascade County Commission last December after her fellow commissioners voted to oppose the heritage area.

“It’s very easy to take fear and mistrust and make it work for you. It’s very hard to fight back against all of that,” Ms. Weber said. “It’s kind of like trying to convince someone to get vaccinated.”

The issue is now roiling November’s municipal elections in Great Falls.

“It’s a legitimate concern anytime you have anybody telling you a possibility of someone telling you: You can do this or you can do that with your own property,” Fred Burow, an auctioneer challenging Mr. Kelly for the mayoralty, said.

Ms. Grulkowski now has ambitions beyond Montana. She wants to push Congress not to renew heritage areas that already exist.

Buoyed by the trust her neighbors have placed in her, she has begun campaigning for Ms. Weber’s old seat on the county commission, in part to avenge the way she feels: mistreated by those in power.

She doesn’t feel she’s been told the whole truth.

YouTube’s Filter Bubble Problem is Worse for Fox News Viewers

New TTP research shows how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm locks users into ideological echo chambers. It’s more intense for people who watch Fox News.

YouTube’s recommendation algorithm pushes users into ideological filter bubbles that are stronger for viewers of right-wing content, according to new research by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) that highlights how the platform drives political polarization.

Over hundreds of clicks and views, TTP researchers found that the YouTube algorithm creates a feedback loop for users who dabble in Fox News or MSNBC content, serving up the same ideological flavor of videos over and over again.

But the investigation also found that YouTube’s filter bubbles are more robust for viewers of Fox News content, keeping them in an endless cycle of like-minded videos even as users who started with MSNBC content eventually broke free.

Another alarming finding: When researchers showed an interest in militant movements, YouTube suggested videos with titles like “5 Steps to Organizing a Successful Militia” and “So You Want to Start a Militia?” The platform also recommended videos about weapons, ammunition, and tactical gear to the militia-curious viewer.

The results highlight YouTube’s role in keeping people in political echo chambers and reinforcing extremist views and behavior. Google’s YouTube often escapes the scrutiny focused on its tech peers Facebook and Twitter, but as TTP’s research demonstrates, the video giant is helping to fuel political polarization—one of the key issues now confronting Big Tech.

Here are the key takeaways from the research:

- YouTube pushes users into filter bubbles that dramatically change the news results they see based on the ideological orientation of the content they have already viewed.

- These filter bubbles appear to be more robust for right-leaning content. YouTube fed Fox News viewers an endless stream of right-wing content, whereas MSNBC viewers eventually broke out of their left-leaning filter bubble.

- Fox News has a heavy presence in the recommended videos. YouTube’s algorithm even started showing the MSNBC viewer content from Fox after it ran out of left-leaning recommendations.

- YouTube recommended videos about militia organizing and tactical weapons to viewers who had previously showed an interest in militia movements.

- Google has shown it can tweak its algorithm to address issues like extremism, but has not taken such steps with YouTube.

Facebook’s lost generation - The world’s largest social network is internally grappling with an existential crisis: an aging user base

Earlier this year, a researcher at Facebook shared some alarming statistics with colleagues.

Teenage users of the Facebook app in the US had declined by 13 percent since 2019 and were projected to drop 45 percent over the next two years, driving an overall decline in daily users in the company’s most lucrative ad market. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 30 were expected to decline by 4 percent during the same timeframe. Making matters worse, the younger a user was, the less on average they regularly engaged with the app. The message was clear: Facebook was losing traction with younger generations fast.

The “aging up issue is real,” the researcher wrote in an internal memo. They predicted that, if “increasingly fewer teens are choosing Facebook as they grow older,” the company would face a more “severe” decline in young users than it already projected.

The findings, echoed by other internal documents and my conversations with current and former employees, show that Facebook sees its aging user base as an existential threat to the long-term health of its business and that it’s trying desperately to correct the problem with little indication that its strategy will work. If it doesn’t correct course, the 17-year-old social network could, for the first time, lose out on an entire generation. And while Instagram remains incredibly popular with teens, Facebook’s own data shows that they are starting to engage with the app less.

The internal documents are part of disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by legal counsel for Frances Haugen, an ex-Facebook employee turned prominent whistleblower. A consortium of news organizations, including The Verge, has obtained the redacted versions received by Congress. Some documents served as the basis for earlier reporting in The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook’s struggle to attract users under the age of 30 has been ongoing for years, dating back to as early as 2012. But according to the documents, the problem has grown more severe recently. And the stakes are high. While it famously started as a networking site for college students, employees have predicted that the aging up of the app’s audience — now nearly 2 billion daily users — has the potential to further alienate young people, cutting off future generations and putting a ceiling on future growth.

The problem explains why the company has taken such a keen interest in courting young people and even pre-teens to its main app and Instagram, spinning up dedicated youth teams to cater to them. In 2017, it debuted a standalone Messenger app for kids, and its plans for a version of Instagram for kids were recently shelved after lawmakers decried the initiative.

At the same time, a rising crop of younger social networks has continued growing in popularity with young people — a phenomenon Facebook has closely tracked with its own research. In an internal presentation earlier this year, employees estimated that teens spend 2–3x more time on TikTok than on Instagram and that Snapchat is the preferred method of communicating with best friends for young people.

“Our products are still widely used by teens, but we face tough competition from the likes of Snapchat and TikTok,” Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, said in response to questions about the documents cited in this story. “All social media companies want teens to use their services. We are no different.”

I know it's no different than many other similar companies, but goodness are those leaked slides grim.


They're f*cking changing the name to Meta.

I hate it. Never have I felt more ashamed to love Cyberpunk. I'm getting the sh*ttiest version of Snow Crash imaginable.

Well, MAGA was already taken, so...

And watch a good chunk of that presentation, I couldn't help thinking to myself "and how are you going to moderate this, the meta?"

fangblackbone wrote:

"and how are you going to moderate this, the meta?"

Several years too late, after a congressional investigation.

I enjoyed this quote from The Verge’s question/answer style article explaining the metaverse:


Or that.

Prederick wrote:


They're f*cking changing the name to Meta.

I hate it. Never have I felt more ashamed to love Cyberpunk. I'm getting the sh*ttiest version of Snow Crash imaginable.

If Facebook's changing its name to Meta, does that mean Twitter's the Stephen Jackson of social media?


Yes, I know it's actually spelled Metta.