Congressional hearings have been called for Sept. 5th – CEO’s are to be brought forward – the results are expected to be the same, as always. i.e., “Gee golly whiz, it’s not anything we’re doing – it’s the algos!”
If you want a different result – you’re going to need to start asking different questions.
Here are a few that should be asked and answered in plain, understandable, jargon-free language:
First: This question never seems to be asked, but is probably the most important of all when the defense of “It’s the algorithms!” is used.
“Well then, let me ask you this way: who’s creating said “algos,” and more precisely, who’s signing off for their implementation, along with continuance, if not you? The reasoning is simple (enter name of figure-head here): Who’s in charge there if not the CEO? Or said differently: the CEO is the ultimate authority to a business. If they are not, then why are they paid (as well as demand) the highest wages or incentives? Take your time, and please answer the question thoughtfully and thoroughly.”
“Bots and/or algorithms are supposedly being purged by the millions as of today. Yet, is it not possible that many of these very “algos” parading as “users” not all that long ago may have been included into prior metrics which may have helped entice investors to either buy shares, or stay in shares? And of these “purged” which ones had been counted in prior disclosures? Have you adjusted your prior reports to reflect such? For with the technological precision your companies now seem to tout as selling points to advertisers, I’m sure these metrics are easily attainable. Fair assumption, is it not? And if not – why not?”
So what we’re all now supposed to take as “sincerity” is that all the “bad algos” or, a great preponderance of them, are now being purged. What creates a “bad?” What metric is used to calculate the algos that supposedly purge “bad” ones? Is it bots purging bots, people, both, and if both what’s the ratio? Did any of these “bad” provide any prior “click revenue?” If not, what is the metric to prove such? How is that verifiable or, is this a “take our word” type defense? I know to some there seems to be a lot of questions there, but as I’m sure you’re well aware and understand, it’s really just extrapolating on the same one. So take your time, but please, again, answer thoughtfully and thoroughly.”
How many times has a “purge” been shown to have mistakenly purged users incorrectly in previous attempts? And: Who or what makes these calls for correct or incorrect, and what are the remedies for wrong calls?
What metrics or persons are used to make those calls?
And last, but certainly not least, for this is the question that should make every CEO at this hearing very, very, very, (did I say, very?) nervous:
How many of these now documented users which seem to have brought forth very strong evidence of what is now being calling “shadow-banning” paid for ads or, what they call “reach” within a certain category that would seem to differ with your sales promotion for such reach when sold? In other words: Did someone pay to reach a certain segment of audience on your platform and did not receive said results because of the effect caused via shadow-banning? And most importantly: How can you prove, not assure, but prove with verifiable data that they, in fact, did or did not?
That is the, and by that, I mean just that – the – question that should send shivers down the backs of many a social media self-righteous CEO. It’s like the “tax evasion” issue and Al Capone – i.e., Just when you think you’re untouchable…
This is the reason why I’ve always cited from the outset the Steven Crowder vs. Facebook™ law suit. Regardless of how one feels about one party or the other, when it comes to business. (e.g., engaging in legal commerce where money for prescribed or recommended services were sold.) everything changes.
If Mr. Crowder was paying to reach a certain audience using metrics provided by Facebook to do just that – and – Facebook was simultaneously shadow banning any of that said audience concurrently? This is a class-action lawsuit Pandora’s Box that would go so viral it would make Pandora herself envious.
To reiterate what I’ve also said at the outset: These are private companies and as far as what they do for (or to) users when it comes to using their platforms for free – they are free to do as they see fit. (of course “fit” meaning acceptable, ethical, business practices)
But once one takes money for a said service – and there is proof – that said services were not delivered as described? That is known as “Bait and Switch” along with a whole host of other legalisms that are monetarily remedied (sometimes very monetarily) in a court of law.
You’ll know there’s real “blood in the water” when the most viral ad to be seen on both search or social goes something like this:
“Think you’ve been hurt by deceptive ad placements or audience reach incentives? Call the law offices of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe – now!”
© 2018 Mark St.Cyr