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Former Facebook Employee Questions the Social Media Life 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the none-of-us-are-as-lame-as-all-of-us dept.
stevegee58 writes "The Washington Post published an interesting article about Facebook's employee #51, Katherine Losse. As an English major from Johns Hopkins, Losse wasn't the typical Facebook employee. But after starting in customer service, she later became Mark Zuckerberg's personal ghostwriter, penning blog posts in his name. The article traces Losse's growing disillusionment with social networking in general and Facebook in particular. After cashing out some FB stock, Losse resigned and moved to a rural West Texas town to get away from technology and focus on writing."
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Former Facebook Employee Questions the Social Media Life

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  • Sounds like (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sulphur (1548251) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:54PM (#40889183)

    A total Losse for the big Z.

    • Re:Sounds like (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:11PM (#40889293) Homepage Journal

      well, she cashed out and is now social networking in the "big boys" social network: the media.
      which she as a writer is going to have to do a lot...

      anyhow, her complaints about the online life are not actually facebook specific. people lived that "i'm in a car" online life long before facebook, I remember reading a bit after middle '90s on irc a from a dude "I'm bicycling". and well, that's how our irc chat life went back then but he was one of the very few who had a company paying for gsm data(and a communicator to use that).

      It's not about facebook or "social media", it's about being online and sharing what you do, for some people it's security, for some it's just about sharing, taking part. what it makes harder to do is re-inventing yourself on weekly basis, since everybodys a celebrity and the track record is there, but only sort of since there's 900 million so nobodys really a celebrity in the whole context.

      • Re:Sounds like (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:59PM (#40889603)

        Well, and it's easy to look down your nose at the masses when you've already made a boatload of cash and can afford a nice, remote place somewhere to just go unplug, ruminate, and write. :p

        I'd like to move to a tropical island and do heady things. But as it turns out, I'm here in my condo, bs'ing about the mars lander on facebook, waiting for monday morning.

        • Read page 2 of tfa if you have the time

          There is a mention of "Dark Profiles", and I quote:

          "... a team of Facebook engineers was developing what they called dark profiles - "pages for people who had not signed up for the service but who had been identified in posts by Facebook users. The dark profiles were not to be visible to ordinary users, Losse said, but if the person eventually signed up, Facebook would activate those latent links to other users."

          • Re:Dark Profiles (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:12PM (#40890971)
            Dark profiles indeed. Go to Yahoo. Make sure you have Noscript turned on. Let's say you for some insane reason want to leave a comment.

            Try to do it without Facebook getting and tracking it. No membership required.

            People who think that Apple, Google or Microsoft are evil ought to check out how FB is tracking everyone. It's not just Yahoo, they are just folks I am familiar with.

          • "... a team of Facebook engineers was developing what they called dark profiles - "pages for people who had not signed up for the service but who had been identified in posts by Facebook users. The dark profiles were not to be visible to ordinary users, Losse said, but if the person eventually signed up, Facebook would activate those latent links to other users."

            LinkedIn did a form of this, apparently just storing invites to my email address from members even though I wasn't a member. After some time, I reg

            • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

              It's creepy no matter who is behind it

              If I am not a member of a certain organization there are 3 possibilities:

              A. I do not know of the existence organization

              B. I knew of that organization and decided not to join

              C. I applied to join, but that organization decided not to accept me as a member

              In the case of option C, since I was the one who took the initiative in applying to join that group (but being rejected) I am in no position to complain if that group keeps a profile of me in their blacklist (or something

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          Well, and it's easy to look down your nose at the masses when you've already made a boatload of cash and can afford a nice, remote place somewhere to just go unplug, ruminate, and write. :p

          I'd like to move to a tropical island and do heady things. But as it turns out, I'm here in my condo, bs'ing about the mars lander on facebook, waiting for monday morning.

          Its the Z man effect.

        • Your post made me sad.

      • Re:Sounds like (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bhcompy (1877290) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @07:19PM (#40890095)
        The more connected I'm forced to be, the more disconnected I wish I was. My job at a technology company forces me to be connected 24/7 for various reason. Sooner or later I'm going to retire very early and move to some small town in the Sierra Nevadas. I've come to learn that I hate the privacy walls that are being torn down by both business and government on the internet, and as it evolves past the Old West in to East Berlin, I hate the whole thing more and more.
        • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

          I had a job where I had to be available on-call all the time, and I ended up opening the notebook and working at home as much as from home. Coding during the day, paperwork like responding to e-mails in the evening.

          Add in a healthy dose of berating idiots on slashdot and browsing other negligibly informational news aggregator sites, and I did maybe 9 hours of work a day. But I felt tethered.

          I switched jobs, and the expectation to be ever present is gone. We have great user sign-off and the infrastructure

        • by neyla (2455118)

          How does that work ? I mean, I know worker-protections are low in some jurisdictions, but unless you worked in Zimbabwe, surely there are -some- limits ?

          If there's a demand for being connected, that'd be -worktime- in my jurisdiction, sure it might be what is known as "on call" i.e. you're not actively doing any work, and probably even at home, but you are available in case something -does- happen, and such forced availability is rewarded with a minimum of 20% of your regular pay.

          Thus being available for a

          • by Synn (6288)

            If he's in the US(like me) you don't get paid anything for being on call. It's just expected of you and if you don't like it, quit.

            I've been slowly moving my way out of IT because of this.

            • by swalve (1980968)
              It's just whiners who don't have the stones to stand up for themselves. No pay, no work. If that's not your personal policy, then no law is going to help you.
              • by BVis (267028)

                "Do it or you're fired." Conversely, no work, no pay. No health insurance, either. You either eat the shit you're given, die of cancer, or go bankrupt paying for treatment for same. If you don't like it, well, we're at 8%+ unemployment, there are 10 people who could do your job waiting for you to quit. If my choices are either compromising my principles, or losing my house, guess which one I'm going to pick.

          • by bhcompy (1877290)
            California has various exemptions from overtime pay laws. I fall under the "computer professional" exemption.
  • Fakebook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:57PM (#40889223) Homepage Journal

    I knew that FB had fake accounts, but apparently it also has fake Zuckerberg and more importantly a fake market valuation and probably a fake business model.

    • Re:Fakebook (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kittenman (971447) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:34PM (#40889435)
      Now c'mon. You didn't really expect the big "Z" to enter his own blogs? I mean, I'm not even the big "K" - I'm actually an offshore ghost writer for Kittenman who lives somewhere in South Korea.
    • Re:Fakebook (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:39PM (#40889465)

      You may be dismayed to learn this, but nearly every large company has fake communications from its CEO. You don't think the Delta CEO personally pens the "from the CEO" letter at the front of each month's in-flight magazine, do you? He may read it and suggest (or even make) changes, but I am pretty sure he isn't writing the draft.

    • by antdude (79039)

      Funny. I had a fake account, but I was kicked off after about three weeks from using it. :(

      It's scary that Facebook find suggested friends pretty good. I am trying to figure how it knows that. I assume it is tags, texts mentioning my name, my e-mail address, etc.

      • by fbjon (692006)
        I don't think it's anything special. Make a list of people who have friends in common with you, and sort it by the number of such connections. Keep adding new ones at the top, pushing the older ones that you've ignored so far further down. Seems about the right level of accuracy from what I've seen.
    • by Life2Short (593815) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @07:35PM (#40890195)

      It's a lot worse than you think! FTFA:

      "Celebrities had found Marfa too. The town's beloved food truck, the Food Shark, has nearly 1,700 'Likes' on its Facebook page -- including ones from luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Tammy Wynette, and Willie Nelson."

      According to Wikipedia Tammy Wynette died in 1998. Facebook was launched in February 2004.

      • by sartin (238198)

        The town's beloved food truck, the Food Shark, has nearly 1,700 'Likes' [...] According to Wikipedia Tammy Wynette died in 1998. Facebook was launched in February 2004.

        The Food Shark is that good. Went there on Spring Break this year while visiting Guadalupe Mountains, Davis Mountains, and Big Bend. Best meal we had all week.

    • Apparently, they have fake security too! From TFA:

      In her first days, she was given a master password that she said allowed her to see any information users typed into their Facebook pages. ,,, In one exchange, she noticed the man's password, "Ilovejason," and was startled by the painful irony.

  • by evanism (600676) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:06PM (#40889267) Journal

    What a horror. She saw the light, as did I.

    After 17 years of building, learning and promoting I now realise just how awful it has now become. I have left the industry entirely.

    Facebook is not a product of Zuckerberg, but a reflection of the inevitability that horrendous and highly penetrative technological processes will have on our lives.

    People haven't asked for Big Brother, they demanded him.

    • by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:46PM (#40889503) Homepage

      I'd follow her example... if only I had company stock to turn into cash. Unfortunately I'm one of the tech people who got tired of the web without first getting rich from it.

      • by IANAAC (692242)

        I'd follow her example... if only I had company stock to turn into cash. Unfortunately I'm one of the tech people who got tired of the web without first getting rich from it.

        She didn't leave to just go somewhere and vegetate. She's concentrating on her writing. I presume she'll be getting paid for it, too.

        You know, you can start to focus on another passion/interest of yours while still working. If it becomes important enough, you'll eventually make an exit plan and figure out a way to live off it. You don't have to be rich to do it.

        • You know, you can start to focus on another passion/interest of yours while still working. If it becomes important enough, you'll eventually make an exit plan and figure out a way to live off it. You don't have to be rich to do it.

          This is exactly how I got my career off of the radio and onto the Internet in the 90s.(And recently I've begun thinking that I might well move it off of the Internet again in a few more years.)

        • by tverbeek (457094)

          Oh, I'm trying, spending time every day working on a graphic novel. But it'd be a hell of lot easier to build a creative career if I didn't have to spend 40-45 hours/week doing uninteresting crap instead, and had money to invest into it.

      • by Synn (6288)

        She didn't get rich, she just cashed in enough to live off it for a couple years in some middle of nowhere town.

        It'd not hard to follow her example. I'm living on a sailboat right now and saving up so I can take off for a year or so. Anyone can do it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:04PM (#40889643)

      Meh, people will adjust. They're in the honeymoon phase now like I was back in the early 80's with BBS's. I remember back in those days spending entire days doing nothing but dialing BBS after BBS just to converse with people and check out what's new. After a few years I realized how much time I was wasting doing nothing productive.

      I mean it wasn't all wasted time. I met many friends that became friends in real life. I even met several girlfriends this way (there actually were quite a few normal girls on BBS's even in the 80's, especially the younger/teen set like I was).

      When the Internet got popular I noticed new geeks going through the same phases. Now it's being repeated with everyone else (ie. mainstream "normal" people). I think most people will figure it out eventually. They may even temporarily reject technology like this woman is doing. I firmly believe they will eventually reintegrate technology into their lives except with a more controlled attitude. Technology is too beneficial to completely reject.

      • In the 90's I was hitting the BBSs hard. I racked up a $400 phone bill one month calling Cincinnati and California--I lived in the countryside east of Cincinnati. I'll never forget my mom bursting through my bedroom door with the phone bill in her hand. We lost the phone for a while, and I, the fix for my new addiction. Good times.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:17PM (#40889323) Homepage
    It sounds like she thought this was something of meaning but, imo, it's not. It's not even really social. From what I can see, it doesn't matter how many "friends" people have. They often don't chat to each other. They talk about themselves and hopefully get a lot of people telling them how awesome they are. That's probably because most people don't have real friends on facebook. It's a list of people that decided to friend them for no good reason or because they met once or twice. It's impossible to have 500 actual friends.

    So most interactions on facebook aren't really socialising. That patting each other on the back (or blowing each other depending on how far you take it) and to be honest I think the days of geocities were more social. People made websites with interesting content that would spark conversation even if were just between you and the author via email. I'd genuoinely say the vast majority of content I see people posting on FB is no interesting, it's not remotely deep or thoughtful. it's shit like announcements that someone likes amazon. Well good for you, you're like 99% of the population.

    I don't really like having an account which is reflected in the fact I don't use my own name or talk about myself. It's there basically to keep in touch with some people which unfortuantely think there is no other way to keep in contact on the internet and since they're family it's a bit more awkward to tell them to suck it up and use email like a normal person. Though I feel that day coming up pretty soon.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      From what I can see, it doesn't matter how many "friends" people have.

      It doesn't, it matters what quality their friends are.

      I don't really like having an account which is reflected in the fact I don't use my own name or talk about myself. It's there basically to keep in touch with some people which unfortuantely think there is no other way to keep in contact on the internet and since they're family it's a bit more awkward to tell them to suck it up and use email like a normal person.

      So in summary, you use facebook as a social network, for socializing.

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        So in summary, you use facebook as a social network, for socializing.

        Yes, but you see, he's better than all the other lowly facebook users, as everyone else just made a list of 500 people they met once or twice and don't it use properly. He's the worst kind of "I don't even own a TV" snob - the type who does actually watch TV.

        • Speaking of which I don't watch TV but I do own a TV. it certainly the most affordable 40 inch monitor and why would I want to game on a tiny ass 20 inch screen just to have a "true" monitor?

          I never said that socialising on the internet is a bad thing. It's one of the main things to do on the internet. So it doesn't require a site specialising in socialising. My point is if all you do is advertise shit you like or where you are then you're not really socialising which, yes, is more or less what I am doin
      • Yep, that's what I said. For the time being. I've got it through most people's heads I don't want to and I'll eventually get the others to or ignore them.
    • It's not even really social.

      older, but always a good read:

      http://blog.pinboard.in/2011/11/the_social_graph_is_neither/ [pinboard.in]

      The social graph wants to turn us back into third graders, laboriously spelling out just who is our fifth-best-friend. But there's a reason we stopped doing that kind of thing in third grade!

      You might almost think that the whole scheme had been cooked up by a bunch of hyperintelligent but hopelessly socially naive people, and you would not be wrong. Asking computer nerds to design social so

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        I didn't bother to click the link, but i'll reply to what's there.

        • Computer nerds are not designing the social sites, they are implementing it for someone who intends to make money from it. Zuckerberg is an outlier, but he stole the idea, implementing a copy of something he was asked to develop.
        • The people reverse-engineering social interactions are not the computer nerds designing social sites (especially since computer nerds are not doing the designing)
        • Recommendations are not intended to be predictive. Ma
        • "In other words, the author does not seem to have a clue how to make a persuasive argument, and instead wants to flog a personal agenda's dead horse."

          In other words, you're not reypling to anything at all but your own strawman.

          "Providers who offer their services for free actually get something in return."

          No. It says what it says. You're not able to respond to it, so you say something that could be said about just about anything, to proudly state that this is nothing new.

          "In other words" my ass. Look up soph

        • by phiwum (319633)

          I didn't bother to click the link, but i'll reply to what's there.

          [...]

          In other words, the author does not seem to have a clue how to make a persuasive argument, and instead wants to flog a personal agenda's dead horse. Providers who offer their services for free actually get something in return. This is well known, redundant at this point, and poorly argued.

          It sure is easy to rebut an argument you haven't read.

          By the way, I'm not sure the interviewee offered an argument at all. She simply pointed out reasons to be concerned about social networks. I didn't see anything that looked like an attempt to persuade others that they should leave Facebook.

          But, never mind. You rebutted her argument brilliantly. Who needs to read the article?

    • "They often don't chat to each other. They talk about themselves and hopefully get a lot of people telling them how awesome they are "

      In other words, they behave pretty much the same way they do face to face.

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  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:26PM (#40889375)
    An underqualified English major pretending to be a douchebag.
    • Be fair. She's a perfectly qualified douchebag.

    • Excuse me, but this woman isn't a douchebag. It takes courage for someone who was so close to Mr. Zuckerberg and his inner circle at Facebook to stand up and ask some of the same serious questions that we outsiders have been shouting, mostly unheard, for years now. Frankly, having an account on Facebook, a website run by a company that's committed to ending all privacy, has always struck me as borderline crazy. Also, did you read the part about the "master password"? The one that allowed her to see everythi

  • by garcia (6573) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:28PM (#40889389) Homepage

    But her concerns continue to grow. When Zuckerberg, apparently sensing this, said to Losse, âoeI donâ(TM)t know if I trust you,â she decided she needed to either be entirely committed to Facebook or leave. She soon sold some of her vested stock. She wonâ(TM)t say how much; they provided enough of a financial boon for her to go a couple of years without a salary, though not enough to stop working altogether, as some former colleagues have.

    And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

    So, if I understand this correctly, she got rich and decided working wasn't for her and she wanted to chase every writer's dream to lock themselves away in some far off locale to write their lifetime novel?

    How is this news? Because it deals with the side of Facebook everyone knows about but ignores so they can post photos of their kids and let other people tell them how cute they are or is there something I missed in the last two pages?

    • And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

      Yet, a privacy freak like my self can read the entire article (all four "pages") without a problem.

      I use firefox with these add-ons:

      RefControl - normally set to spoof, for wapo I set it to always block the referrer.
      NoScript
      CS Lite - set to block all cookies

      There are more, but I think those three are sufficient to get past the wapo paywall.

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      And that's the end of the story because the Washington Post won't let me read the rest.

      It seems there is a bug. I was able to get the other pages by requesting the ready-to-print version

  • and I wish Facebook an accelerated death as is certain as people grow more wise to their feeding of personal details to an ad making machine

    but in reality, Losse's words and opinion seem to have more to do with Losse's own life trajectory than with Facebook itself

    human beings are social animals. this has powered Facebook's growth. but the Internet is still young, and you can forgive the world for not understanding the nature of the beast it was feeding. as it dawns on them what Facebook really means to their lives and their society, they will continue to be just as social, but on sites that do not exist for the goal that Facebook does

    meanwhile, humans are not universally social, or social their entire lives. some are more introspective and seek a more monklike existence in order to plumb the depths of their spirit or their mind. this is 100% fine and I myself have this tendency. but i recognize that this tendency of mine, and as it exists also in Losse, is not an enemy of human sociability, nor should it be, nor should we evangelize that everyone should tune out and drop out, just like we should not evangelize that everyone should plug in and focus in

    to each their own. Losse is making the mistake of projecting her own life's trajectory on the story of Facebook and/ or social networking in general. don't make the same mistake as Losse. unless you yourself are equally interested in tuning out and dropping out. in which case, this is fine, power to you. i hope something constructive comes out of it, for Losse, and for you. now unplug the computer

    • by tooyoung (853621)

      and I wish Facebook an accelerated death as is certain as people grow more wise to their feeding of personal details to an ad making machine

      but in reality, Losse's words and opinion seem to have more to do with Losse's own life trajectory than with Facebook itself

      human beings are social animals. this has powered Facebook's growth. but the Internet is still young, and you can forgive the world for not understanding the nature of the beast it was feeding. as it dawns on them what Facebook really means t

  • by microcars (708223) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:49PM (#40889527) Homepage
    You get the full article, rather than 4 pages that eventually require you to "sign in" or "register", if you access the PRINT option.
    Link HERE [washingtonpost.com]
  • ...when she said she wanted to get away from technology. There is NOTHING in West Texas except a few tumbleweeds and reptiles.
  • blood money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slew (2918) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:55PM (#40889967)

    Although the title of the article made it seem like she walked away from social media in general, it seems to me that she merely walked away from fakebook (oops) because she didn't drink enough the Zuck's koolaid (claims that zuck said "I don't know if I trust you" to his supposed ghost writer)...

    I was once asked to ghost write (in a quasi-technical context), and I politely refused. Didn't cost me too many points with the CEO as there was plenty of other jobs to do in the company. I understand her position was not necessarily the same, but she took that new job and then apparently didn't like it and probably considered it blood money and needed to clean her soul of it.

    I submit that the most common outcome of selling your soul for blood money is usually the same for most people. It destroys you from inside until you walk. You usually never really have to take blood money, but the opportuntiy often comes up in a seductive way and challenges you in your weakest moment. The best thing to do is say no, but not everyone does. I'll wager that she didn't have to move in the the position that left her the most disillusioned, but it was likley a most seductive opportunity (to ghost write for the Zuck)...

    Hopefully the lesson about blood money doesn't get diluted by polluting it with the equally intriguing, but overdone story about the dangers in the vitualization of real social interaction and trusting your privacy to a bunch of 20-some frat boy wannabes...

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @07:36PM (#40890205)

    Cites "disillusionment"

    Stay tuned for more breaking details of this unique event.

    • by russotto (537200)
      She's 36, which makes her Generation X.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:28PM (#40890773)

      That girl really has no idea of how the world works for 99.999% of its population. She caught a lucky break doing an easy job and got stinking rich from it. Perhaps she should spend some time around Walmart cashiers until she realizes that most people just can't afford to be 'disillusioned' by their jobs.

    • The pampered generation was the one born in the very early 90s onwards; she was born in the mid-70s, and kids were still having 'traditional' childhoods for a good 15 years after that point.

      Also, most of the estimates I've seen place people in their mid-30s (ages 34-37, perhaps) either in the overlap between two generations, or outside of both. The childhood technological experiences of Generation X and Generation Y are drastically different thanks to the sudden rise of home computers, microwaves, VCRs, 1s

  • Marfa is where hipsters go to be alone.

    • by cellocgw (617879)

      Marfa is where hipsters go to be alone.
      So... she's a hipster because she quit Facebook before it was cool to do so?

  • ...after you have cashed in your stock and made a not insubstantial sum of money. I wonder how much effort, if any, she will put into combating the type of issues she is now decrying.
  • Electronic posts can't take the place of physical contacts and personal emotions, yet this isn't discussed, but most people recognize the need for social contacts.

  • by SlashDev (627697)
    Facebook like many websites social or otherwise, became famous out of necessity. The product it delivers is outstanding no doubt, if you haven't seen the movie you should, true it has many inaccuracies but it makes you realize what people are really after, online. The fakeness is a perception, the website is really massive and will only get bigger. JMHO.
  • From TFA (Page 2, 2'nd paragraph.):

    In one exchange, she noticed the man’s password, “Ilovejason,” and was startled by the painful irony.

    If she could see a users password, doesn't that mean that FB stores passwords in clear text? Or at least did so a few years ago. Is there any other explanation?

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