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Pop Loser No. 100: The One That Comes After 99


Pop Loser

February 16 · Issue #100 · View online

A newsletter of innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair collected and written by @poploser.

Just before the new year, I wrote a thing about Facebook (which you likely saw in such newsletters as this one and probably just this one) and it was fine. Not especially good, certainly not great, but definitely fine. And that was after an editor saved me from an awful second draft. The thing I hadn’t anticipated going in is how hard Facebook is to write about because there’s too much. Facebook is impossibly large and sprawling and influential and trying to pin down something as broad as “Is it good?” is nearly impossible, or at least requires someone smarter than me to distill it to 1,500 words. 
Wired‘s deep dive into the last couple years at Facebook, from roughly the time the trending topics controversy began to Zuck’s recent New Year’s resolution, is 10,000 words, so it’s much better.  
By now, the story of Facebook’s all-consuming growth is practically the creation myth of our information era. What began as a way to connect with your friends at Harvard became a way to connect with people at other elite schools, then at all schools, and then everywhere. After that, your Facebook login became a way to log on to other internet sites. Its Messenger app started competing with email and texting. It became the place where you told people you were safe after an earthquake. In some countries like the Philippines, it effectively is the internet.
But I also agree there’s a strange optimism to the tone of the piece—like Facebook is really out there doing its best to make the world a better place. It’s especially naive now that we know Facebook self-funded the research suggesting their Messenger Kids app is really good for children and that they are patenting an algorithm that can identify social class, which it is assumed will be added to the many ways advertisers can slice and dice their targets. 
Hey, 100 is a big round number. It sure is. And I wish I’d thought of something special to do for it, but I didn’t. Anyway, thanks for hanging around and be sure to tell your friends.

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