The Collateral Damage of Facebook Flops

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns . Facebook acts like a little kid who falls in lo...

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.

Facebook acts like a little kid who falls in love with a new Lego set but then gets bored. It is up to users and business partners to pick up the damage.

Six years ago, Facebook said its next big thing was bots in its Messenger app that send text messages to help people order flowers or figure out which pair of jeans to buy. This idea isn’t a dud, but I guess a Messenger bot isn’t picking your pants.

The company also got hot and then cold over a feature that allowed people live from their phones, and on a TV-like video hub called Facebook Watch. Monday, Facebook threw in the towel on its planned digital currency, a project that has forced financial and government establishments to react, but it was half-baked from the start.

Experimentation and failure can be healthy. For Facebook and other corporate giants, short-lived flops or quirks don’t usually hurt much. (The company renamed itself Meta, but I’m sticking with Facebook.)

But for the rest of us, Facebook’s stumbles may linger. Ask any business partner who has reshaped their customer service teams for Messenger bots, or spent their limited resources making videos for Facebook Watch, only for Facebook’s zeal to fade.

This pain could be the inevitable cost of invention. But especially now – like Facebook is betting the company on a more immersive future of the internet, called the metaverse – it’s worth asking what we gain and lose when companies with the power and influence of Facebook persuade the world to follow them into a future that never comes.

In a way, it’s adorable how often Facebook gets excited about a new idea and then — well, switches to another shiny object. Live video and Facebook Watch still exist. They just aren’t the top priorities they once were.

Other Big Tech companies are losing interest in the things they once loved. (Heck, we all do that.) But maybe no other company has the combination of Facebook sprawl and his willingness to declare THIS IS GOING TO BE HUGE, to persuade people to come for a ride, and then… to shrug his shoulders.

That’s good, at least for Facebook. But there can be a collective cost when businesses and institutions respond to Facebook’s unpromising ideas.

The Federal Reserve does not have infinite time and resources to study what turned out to be the Betamax of cryptocurrency. News outlets, government institutions, and most businesses have limited resources — imagine what else they could have done if they hadn’t addressed Facebook’s latest obsession.

Even for Facebook, could the staff and energy it devotes to the metaverse be better spent making sure its apps don’t work? spread election disinformation Where allow authoritarian governments to abuse it?

I don’t know if there is a solution to the collateral damage of Facebook’s whims. Perhaps to begin with, it would be helpful for Facebook to present its new projects as hypotheses to be tested, rather than firm and permanent statements of its priorities.

Facebook’s fixation on the metaverse is different from his previous short-lived projects. For one thing, Facebook isn’t alone on the train trying to pull us toward a more immersive internet that further blurs the lines between digital life and reality. And at least for now, this change of course is a riskier bet for Facebook than for the company’s users or business partners.

But I can also understand Facebook’s tendency to believe – however briefly – that it can integrate its visions into our reality. That’s the power of Big Tech.

Apple and Google technology efficiently dictate how a business reaches potential customers online. When Amazon made fast shipping free, Americans came to expect it from everyone. America’s internet is turning into QVC because the tech giants want it that way.

We live in the world of Big Tech. Sometimes that brings us handy maps on our phones and online spaces for neighbors to congregate. The flip side is that when tech giants like Facebook give up on their dreams, everyone has to pick up the pieces.

  • A big month for video game mergers: Sony spends $3.6 billion buy Bungie, the company behind the Halo video game franchise. It comes after Microsoft spent $70 billion to buy Activision, and after Zynga, which makes Words With Friends, was bought for $11 billion.

    Semi-bound? The New York Times buys Wordlethe online word game that has gone viral.

  • Many businesses to be a gateway to government services: Bloomberg News tells us About, a company whose software the IRS will start using for facial recognition scans to prove the identity of Americans. Bloomberg also reports that it seems increasingly likely that exaggerated a claim that the company uncovered $400 billion in theft from state unemployment insurance programs. (Subscription may be required.)

  • “Everyone in New York bets on sports” because a host of new online betting sites sprung up after the state legalized the activity, writes New York magazine’s Intelligencer. My colleague Kurt Streeter has a related column on the grief of sports betting addicts.

“It’s like bread and butter, you know? It’s like a Thomas English muffin with jam. Spreads well. I wish more blizzards would hear again Andy the snow plow driver from Massachusetts.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The Collateral Damage of Facebook Flops
The Collateral Damage of Facebook Flops
Newsrust - US Top News
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