Does anyone even want to hear why I think FB and Google ruined the Internet?

Monday, September 21, 2020 9:34 PM
Jeff's avatar

Twenty years is a long time to do anything, and while I enjoy writing the code and arguing with the anti-nerd-nerds here, I'm kind of disheartened with how things have turned out. There was an article in the New York Times today about how Google's acquisition of DoubleClick was pivotal in making them the almost-monopoly that they are, and it got me to thinking about how much things have changed, and not really for the better. The wild west days of the Internet were definitely better.

I famously (infamously?) had a T-1 to my house for about two years to run the site, and I always cared about it being fast. Today I only spend about $200 per month (for speed and redundancy), but the ad revenue barely covers the cost. Ad revenue has decreased every year since that Google acquisition, and at this point I have only one back up to serve ads when Google can't. I fully expect that one to fold eventually as well, at which point I'll be paying for the site out-of-pocket unless I dumb it down to slow. Club memberships dropped in half because of the cancelled events, and I'm not going to ask people to sign up in double-digit unemployment.

Then on the traffic side, half of it is drive-by, just people landing here based on random things they Googled. Facebook owns everything, and people literally confuse the Internet with Google and Facebook (my kid doesn't quite get the difference either). Countless ephemeral pages come and go with strangers yelling at each other and few people go to the niche sites like this one anymore. It's like if there's not an app on their phone or a hashtag on social media, they don't even know how to find things like this.

Meh, I just need to rant. I miss the days of privately owned sites that didn't have to depend on the duopoly. There used to be such great stuff out there for my various interests, and now there isn't. It feels like there's a disincentive to make things. The Internet is no longer the platform.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Monday, September 21, 2020 11:31 PM
Vater's avatar

I feel you. I miss sites like this too, and for some of my niche hobbies, I still find a bit more value in them even though similar Facebook groups are more active. I hate Facebook for so many reasons (including everything the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma covers), but I won’t quit it because it’s my connection to everyone I know, especially now when I barely physically go anywhere.

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Monday, September 21, 2020 11:51 PM
Jeff's avatar

Same. I've thought about building my own social network and charging twenty bucks a year for it, so people are customers not product. Unfortunately most people are willing to just sell their virtual soul for something "free." Everything is disposable, including their own privacy.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 6:16 AM

Something about people having to pay $20 to be your friend seems weird.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 7:59 AM

Facebook was my only (easy) connection to many friends and family members and I held my nose and stuck with it for a while. But after Yet Another Privacy Abuse (I think it was this one) I finally dumped it. I might miss it once in a while when I realize I didn’t get some bit of family news but I’m a lot happier without it.

I never got started using Instagram or WhatsApp, and don’t plan to get started.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:02 AM
Jeff's avatar

Shades said:

Something about people having to pay $20 to be your friend seems weird.

That line of thinking is exactly the problem. That's like saying that paying for cell phone service is paying for friends. Services on the Internet have a cost associated with them, and if you don't pay for them with your own money, you pay for them with the information dossier you're building with the service to make money off of you.

Some asshole stole some of my video that I shot for another project and had hundreds of thousands of views. I had to threaten to sue them to get them to pay up or take it down (they paid up, by the way). Even the people who do manage to make a little money think that nothing has value on the Internet. That's why Google and Facebook own most of it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:20 AM

I really want to quit Facebook, the value is still losing more by the day as it becomes more ad and algorithm. To the point when I go on: I just feel dirty and depressed.

But as a mid late thirty something with no kids, my generation is just beyond the more archaic forms of communication and predate the other apps (which are probably equally bad). I feel that if I stopped using the Facebook, I would lose all informed link and ease of connectivity to my geographically diverse peers beyond a half dozen people. The only people I know that successfully don’t use it never started.

I’m trying to cut down on the time, while finding I actually need more time on the app to get the same level of information that was previously more readily displayed.

Then there’s a whole other issue how the algorithm drives news (Liberal get skewed if untrue liberal, Conservative gets skewed if untrue conservative). I feel that people use the feed (and I’m guilty of this too) as their primary if only source of information gathering and filtering. Which is how we are entrenched in a narrative 2 truths and the other side is wrong. It’s beyond single source, but everything you read is curated based to that first thing couple things you selected to read out of interest...

EDIT: I would pay for social networking without ads, I love paying for Spotify without ads. (I don't have the same file ownership beef issue). But the former only works if everyone signs on. Whoever can build that network against the power of free Facebook is a marketing genuis.

The easier way would be not to: Why is there still no Facebook+ pay subscription with no ads or algorythm?... In the era of subscription services to everything. Although at this juncture after being puppeted for so long it would take a lot of brand forgiveness. But it would solve the user issue.

Last edited by Kstr 737, Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:03 AM
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:33 AM
Fun's avatar

For what it is worth, I have been using Coasterbuzz since inception, and never once have I thought that it was a great site because it was fast. Frankly I never even noticed. I'm sure that was the point, but perhaps it's not a need-to-have.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 10:12 AM
sirloindude's avatar

I joined the CBuzz club again a while back after years of lapsed membership knowing full well I wouldn’t get to go to an event even if there was one. It’s honestly worth it to me to have a corner of the internet where we can have discussion of the caliber we do here. It’s worth it to me just to keep it afloat, with events just being a bonus (though I would love if they returned in the coming years given how much fun I had at a BooBuzz years back).

I’ve pondered the merits of a subscription-based social network, and I am totally in favor of it. You’ll still get nut jobs, but cost is a good way to weed out a bunch of the the riffraff. Jeff, I genuinely think it’s something worth pursuing, and I’d be happy to support it. Social media has turned into what I view as one of the worst technological advancements of our time given how it’s been so corrupted, so it’d be nice to see something that redeems the concept.

Also, having read your blog, I like your music storage idea as well.

Last edited by sirloindude, Tuesday, September 22, 2020 10:12 AM

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:13 AM

Jeff, if there's ever a thought of shutting down this site because of cost, please let us know; I would gladly pony up. I hardly post here, but it's a safe space for me on the the internet that I would hate to see fail.


To being an "us" for once - instead of a "them".

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:18 AM
Jeff's avatar

I don't think I would shut it down. I mean, I've been doing it this long. There's a part of me that feels like Facebook backlash will reach a fever pitch or start to die out (kids certainly don't use it), and Google is about to get trust-busted and it's hard to say what will happen there. I think a swing back the other way is possible.

And thank you to the folks who bought a membership today. Not expected, but definitely appreciated.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:36 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I have also found myself getting more and more value out of Coasterbuzz these last few months. Not to say I didn't get value before, but having a place with a rational discussion about the pandemic where people were actually listening and capable of nuance and even changing their minds was such a gift compared to the name calling and idiocy of Facebook, let alone any public comment feed on a news site. When I spend more than 30 minutes a day anywhere near Facebook, I feel awful.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:37 AM

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:48 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

I quit scrolling my Facebook feed and participating in general. I am a member of a few local mountain biking groups that I keep up with but other than that I quit. I am quitting Reddit (in progress) and I quit Twitter two years ago. The cons outweigh the pros.

I just joined the CB club after too many years as a result of this post. Thanks Jeff and mods for creating a healthy space for discussion.

Last edited by eightdotthree, Tuesday, September 22, 2020 12:30 PM
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 12:26 PM

I find facebook too useful to quit but I've been thinking of streamlining how I use it so I either don't see so much in the feed or even thinking about just making a short list of pages and people to hit daily and not scroll the feed so regular.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 12:31 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Unfollow is a great tool. I’ve been able to keep people as my friends without having to see their posts. That’s helped a bit.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 12:40 PM

Unfollow helps a lot. I have some family members that I can't deal with on a daily basis but I still have a need to keep tabs on whether or not they're alive and occasionally pass along information.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 1:09 PM
Jeff's avatar

All of the racists in my family have long since unfriended me and stopped talking to me, so, yay?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 1:22 PM

Maybe Facebook has done the math on this but I think I would actually pay a reasonable amount for Facebook "Premier" that would just let me associate with my friends...and that is it. Get rid of the ads. Get rid of the algorithms. Just let me have the original FB back. I'm guessing they risk losing so much on ad revenue that they would have to charge me something outrageous that won't pay for.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 2:20 PM

It looks like FB generates about $25/year/user +/- in revenue. I don't know what they'd have to charge to justify a paid tier, but I assume it is some multiple of that.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/01/facebook-towers-over-rivals-in-the-...-user.html


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Tuesday, September 22, 2020 2:31 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I have installed a mod to Facebook (called Social Fixer) which filters out a bunch of sponsored content and a bunch of politics (and movie spoilers). It's made Facebook tolerable and net positive in short doses. It's still pretty awful if I find myself staring at it too much.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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