The Interface

By Casey Newton

Kevin Systrom very nearly tells the truth



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October 15 · Issue #227 · View online
The Interface
The greatest mystery in all of social media is why Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Instagram. I understand that there are mysteries that are more consequential. I understand that there are mysteries that are more mysterious. But if you want to know where Facebook is going, and where Instagram is going, it seems to me that you would very much want to know exactly what happened on or around September 24th, when Systrom and Krieger hurriedly left.
Today we had a chance to see Systrom answer that question live. At a conference celebrating Wired‘s 25th birthday, Systrom took the stage with interviewer Lauren Goode to talk about what had happened, and what he plans next. He did not, sadly, tell us exactly what happened on September 24th. But Goode, who did an excellent job gently nudging Systrom toward telling the truth, kept pushing. And Systrom said this:
“When you leave anything, there are obviously reasons for leaving. No one ever leaves a job because everything’s awesome, right? Work’s hard.”
As for what wasn’t so awesome about life at Facebook, Systrom wouldn’t say. Instead, he talked about how unusual it was for him and Krieger to have stayed at Facebook so long after the acquisition, about how well positioned Instagram was to succeed in the future, and about how happy it would make him if it did. (“If this thing triples in size and becomes the most important thing in the world, that would be an awesome outcome for me, even if i’m not running it.”)
Systrom is extremely charming, and he practically glided through the interview, making the audience laugh more than any other presenter on stage Monday. He said he planned to pursue another company someday, probably with Krieger, but not on any particular time frame. Maybe it would be in social media, he suggested, or maybe space or music. (These last two examples seemed to be mostly rhetorical examples, but who knows.)
The mask slipped exactly once, in the most tantalizing way, when Goode asked him about his farewell blog post. She referred to it as his "exit statement,” which made him laugh. And then he described it this way: ““it was me writing very, very quickly.”
It was written very, very quickly, because something happened. I suspect we’ll know exactly what someday. (Good follow-up question for the Wall Street Journal, which is scheduled to have Systrom on stage in November: why were you writing so quickly?)
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos made a surprise appearance at the conference to talk about his space company, Blue Origin. But as is now fashionable for CEOs of non-social media companies, Bezos took time to criticize them for promoting tribalism.
"The internet in its current incarnation is a confirmation bias machine,” Bezos said. “If your news feed is showing you things, it’s showing you things that confirm your point of view. By and large, having a technology that increases confirmation bias probably isn’t good. It is going to lead to more tribalism.”
The silver lining, Bezos said, is that humans have always managed to correct themselves after unleashing terrible new technologies upon the world. “We don’t know the solutions to these problems yet, but we’ll figure them out,” he said. “I worry some of these technologies will be very useful for autocratic regimes to enforce their will. A lot of things are going to happen that we’re not going to like that come out of technology. But that’s not new. That’s always been the case. We’ll figure it out.”

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Myanmar’s Military Said to Be Behind Facebook Campaign That Fueled Genocide
An Open Letter to Microsoft: Don’t Bid on the US Military’s Project JEDI
A new project is trying to track hateful users’ activity on Twitter
From Memes to Infowars: How 75 Fascist Activists Were “Red-Pilled”
Facebook Purge: Here Is The List Of Pages Deleted By Facebook
Most Americans say they can’t distinguish a social media bot from a human
Goodbye Silicon Valley, Hello East Village
What I learned by bringing down
The Magic Leap Con
Houseparty adds Facemail, a way to send recorded video chats to friends
Twitter regret
And here is a very long thread from a guy who worked on Google+ who did not enjoy working on Google+. It has a strong start!
Now that Google+ has been shuttered, I should air my dirty laundry on how awful the project and exec team was.

I'm still pissed about the bait and switch they pulled by telling me I'd be working on Chrome, then putting me on this god forsaken piece of shit on day one.
And finally ...
Was Tony The Tiger Driven Off Twitter By Unbelievably Horny Furries?
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