Best Of The Web
“Ten years ago, close observers of Facebook noticed a change in the one-line mission statement that the company circulated on campus and beyond. The network, which had previously limited its scope to the local sphere—“the people around you,” in the language of a tagline the previous year—abruptly moved to reach its arms around the planet. “Facebook gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” the new version said. The scaling up was considerable, a bit like the difference between hosting thirty people for Thanksgiving dinner and trying to feed turkey to the whole world. But for a good long while its promise seemed possible. In 2011, Facebook, along with other social networks, became an enabling technology of the Arab Spring. By 2013, four years after the wider mission statement circulated, the platform’s monthly active users had more than quadrupled. At some point, it was discovered that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman and C.E.O., was going around with the “open and connected” phrase emblazoned on the inside of his hoodie, and who could blame him for that quiet mark of pride? It is one thing to talk about openness and connection, another to make real strides in bringing the world close.
That era, and that dream, just ended. For months, there have been rumors of Facebook preparing a major “pivot” toward messenger services. On Wednesday, in a blog post, Zuckerberg officially called the turn. “I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure,” he wrote. Facebook, from now on, will begin moving away from the sorts of functions that most everyday users associate with it: publishing widely shared posts and visibly cementing contact with friends, passing acquaintances, chatty academics, classmates not contacted in twenty years, and weirdos with a point of view—connections that Zuckerberg cast as the domain of “public social networks.” Instead, he explained in his announcement, the company would present a “simpler platform” oriented toward sharing information privately with designated recipients. “Facebook and Instagram have helped people connect with friends, communities, and interests in the digital equivalent of a town square,” he wrote. “But people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”
The turn marks the company’s largest mission change in a decade, strategically on scale with I.B.M. announcing, in 2005, that it would stop selling personal computers. But the Facebook shift is far more influential, because, unlike I.B.M.’s home tech, the network has been used by sixty-eight per cent of adults in the United States. Zuckerberg envisioned bringing Facebook’s messaging service together with those of Instagram and WhatsApp, which it also owns, creating a single point-to-point communications network largely hidden from public view. Under this new model, the value and defining use of Facebook would be the online infrastructure that it has assembled, not the stage that it provides. Zuckerberg emphasized the new “private” platform’s potential for commerce. “You can imagine many simple experiences,” he wrote. “A person discovers a business on Instagram and easily transitions to their preferred messaging app for secure payments and customer support.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The results were surprising. The center-right coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remained in power against the opposition Labor party, which had led in every poll for years."
"Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry..."
"I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews."
"Kids are exposed to plenty of controversial social issues on a daily basis. And if parents don’t want their kids to watch “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” they can turn off the TV."
"Are public-school teachers really underpaid? It’s a claim often made during teacher pay disputes, but the same data and statistical methods that produce the “teacher salary gap” lead to some ridiculous conclusions..."
"Tech companies are getting into the business of making cities. We need to stop Silicon Valley social engineering before things get even worse."
"Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life: Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government."
"“What name . . . shall we give to the darkness of hell...?” The question of how we can name a place such as this is at the center of scholar Scott G. Bruce’s new anthology The Penguin Book of Hell."
"She had all six of her kids — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins!) in her 10-seater van. To get the kids a quick snack, Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Café."
"Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now when eating at home."
"If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground?"
"While American Jewish women face attacks on our freedom and rising anti-Semitism, abortion opponents are appropriating Jewish history in order to push an agenda that hurts women."