I’ve mentioned before that I’m not too fond of hedonistic capitalism (aka modern capitalism or colloquially just capitalism). There have been various reasons in the past but I just came into conflict with another – Censorship.
When you are running a business, like say Facebook, you will be confronted with two realizations. The first is that you likely want to maximize your income. The second is that to do this you will need to appeal to the broadest possible audience. The problem with this is that the broader the audience the weaker their combined character. Each demographic in your total population is like another piece of machinery being attached to the original core. With each new layer of complexity you must reduce the number of things your machine can do because you must make sure all the constituent parts don’t break trying to interact with your goal.
In the case of Facebook this means that they must be very hard on content. Anything that could offend is fair game for blocking or banning. The people who produce this content are going to be less common but the people who would react to this content will be more common. This gives little incentive to protect speech in any way. Let’s look a bit at the numbers.
The majority of Facebook users are women: 57% to 43% male. This means that if you say anything that would otherwise be harmless to males but might offend women you are more likely to be reported. This also means that Facebook might be (and is) more harsh on content that offends women. Next we look at age. The majority of people using Facebook are over the age of 45. This means that any content that would not offend 0-44 year olds but would offend 45+ year olds is going to be more harshly punished.
Speaking from professional experience in the matter, the ARPU for older people is amazingly high and this means Facebook is going to be extremely militant when dealing with people who offended them. Young people are nice to marketers because they see them as easier to manipulate but they are a matter of quantity over quality (speaking from the business side).
Generally speaking people are more likely to be offended if they are less intelligent. That might be the most offensive thing I’ve ever written on this website not because it is rude but because it targets the people most likely to be offended thus making it the most offensive. That’s a bit of an ouroboros if I’ve ever seen one. Considering the likely age of users on Facebook this kind of educational background is not very promising.
75% of Facebook users have no degree of any kind. With nearly half of them being old enough to have lived when degrees actually meant something. So more often than not you are dealing with people who are likely to be on a hair trigger (in theory). With that in mind how many people are on Facebook? The data shows that 845 million people are actively using Facebook. How many of those 845 would Facebook be looking to lose if they allowed content that offended people in each of the categories mentioned.
Female? : 481.65 Million People
45+?: 388.7 Million People
No Degree?: 642.2 Million People
Naturally they are going to be more critical of content that offends people with limited world knowledge (again presuming that these are people 4+ decades old, college used to be a major source of advanced education and not a job training factory). Anything that is sexual in nature, secular, or politically insensitive is going to get butchered if it gets front page attention.
How many people would you offend if you said something “rude” in relation to Female 45+ with no Degree? Assuming I’m not about to make an ass out of myself (which is what assuming does I’m told) the math should be 57% * 46% * 75% which leaves us with 19.6%.
19.6% of 845 Million is 165.62 Million.
Can you think of a life that is completely populated with nothing but comments that would appease 165.62 million people of varying religious backgrounds, upbringings, and countless other factors not included above? What kind of foggy water nonsense that provides no sort of intellectual tingle you’d need to dredge up from the anus of dullness?
I’m not sure that even Mr. Rogers could provide consistent content that is that mundane and soulless.
And herein lies another problem I have with capitalism.
When you want to maximize your profits you must sacrifice something. Something I personally find very important. You must sacrifice your integrity. You must bow down to the lowest common denominator of your constituents and you must give them the world. Because if you don’t someone else will.
Full Disclosure: I said something today that got a lot of traction and could offend sensitive older women. I’ve been banned from posting on pages until further notice. Which anecdotally suggests I’m not totally full of shit with the above commentary.