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Facebook's current state of decomposition

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It’s Time For A New Widely Viewed Facebook Content Report!

Dang, it seems like Facebook’s Widely Viewed Content Report for Q4 of 2021 was just yesterday. If you aren’t familiar with these reports, they’re put out by Facebook’s Transparency center and they usually contain some incredibly bizarre thing that the company hopes no one notices. Like how one of the most viewed pages of 2021 was a dropshipping scam page or that the most popular page of last winter was connected to a Sri Lankan content farm. I’ve previously compared the current state of Facebook to the rotting carcass of a beached whale — dead, but too big to do anything with, and has thus become a huge thriving biome for various parasites. So let’s dive into the report and see what level of decomposition we’re currently at!

There are a couple big changes with this report. The first is that they’re changing the way they tally what counts as most viewed. Probably because the past reports have included wildly inauthentic domains and pages. Though, hilariously, with this new methodology, a bunch of new inauthentic pages and domains are now counted as most viewed. The other new addition is that for pages and posts on this report that have been banned or deleted by Facebook, there is now an explanation. But we’ll get all of that in a sec.

In terms of domains, it’s about the same as it was a few months ago. The majority of posts on Facebook in the US do not contain a link to an outside website, but of those that do, the majority of the links are from YouTube, TikTok, and GoFundMe. One interesting takeaway though is that onlyinyourstate.com is the sixth most viewed domain on US Facebook. It’s essentially a travel guide broken down into various states. The articles appear to be genuine and written by humans, which was a surprise.

Under Facebook’s new methodology for determining what’s the most viewed content on their platform, the top two most widely viewed links both came from the same website, a viral content farm called nayenews24.info (screenshot above). Facebook, unlike in previous reports though, provided a nice explanation for why the links were now blocked, writing, “The people behind this link's domain, nayenews24[.]info, used spam tactics to mislead people and drive them to their website. Content with links to this domain can no longer be created on Facebook.”

The site is your basic Facebook-optimized publisher, but from what I can tell after a bit of poking around, it’s part of a larger operation being run out of Vietnam. I found a bunch of near-identical websites all with the same layout and same (fake) authors pumping viral news content. Most of the recent stuff is about the Depp v. Heard trial.

The third most viewed link on Facebook is a now-private YouTube video, but from what I can tell it was an upload of the commercial announcing Eminem was playing the Super Bowl. And the fourth most viewed link is to a YouTube video titled, “IMG 8238,” which is a recording of a nurse testifying before Sen. Ron Johnson during his antivax-tinged “Second Opinion” panel from January, claiming that the hospitals in New York were using COVID-19 protocols to conduct human experiments on patients. The video has a “False information” fact checking flag on it, but it was also shared half a million time after being posted by Ted Nugent.

The most viewed Facebook page was LADBible Australia. Fair enough. And the most viewed post was this video of a woman pushing another woman at a Vikings game. Interestingly, it’s an Instagram Reel that was shared over to Facebook. Also, the list of most viewed posts this time around has a lot more videos in it. Which seems to line up with the company’s re-pivot to video, which was announced in February.

The fact that this report dropped the same week as the newest missive from Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs for Meta, which outlines the company’s roadmap for building the metaverse, feels important. Facebook, as a product, is over. Meta knows it. Facebook’s creators know it. Possibly even Facebook’s users. But no one has anywhere else to really go. Meta seems to want to migrate their users from Facebook to Horizon, their metaverse platform, because that would feel like a win, an upgrade. But we’re still years, if not decades out, from the immersive VR-powered internet they’re dreaming of, if it’s even possible to gain mass adoption at all. For instance, do we really expect older users to wear a VR headset to follow online updates from their grandkids or read the news?

And so, we’re left with the whale carcass. It’s full of scams and misinformation and weirdly sexual and violent viral videos, but for many users in the US, it’s the only place to go. Facebook wanted to eat the whole internet. It almost succeeded. And now we all, including Facebook itself, have to sit here and wait for it to fully and completely rot away until we can build something new and, hopefully, better.

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A Real Good Video

The State Of Crypto

Andreessen Horowitz has put out a 2022 “State Of Crypto” report, which is, honestly, not a bad look at the crypto landscape at the moment. It’s also probably a good thing they released it now and not, say, a month ago when it looked like things were maybe turning around for the market. Obviously, Andreessen Horowitz are extremely pro-crypto, so their takeaways in their report should be taken with a grain of salt, but there were a few interesting observations in this that I wanted to highlight:

  • NFT marketplace OpenSea has a much much lower take rate than any app store or platform at the moment. Now, obviously, comparing an NFT marketplace to something like Apple’s App Store is not really a great 1:1, but it’s also not totally different either.

  • Following that, NFT creators on average are making more money from NFTs than creators using Spotify or YouTube. Once again, a monkey JPG auction isn’t really the same as a streaming platform for videos or music, but I think the fact Andreessen Horowitz’s team is thinking about those thing as being similar is interesting.

  • And one last tidbit is that 49% of crypto wallet activity is related to gaming and 20% of NFT sales last year were gaming-related assets, which is much higher than I expected actually.

Finally, Shanghai residents are using NFTs to combat censorship and minting photo and video evidence of the city’s harsh COVID lockdown. It’s a fascinating example of how the permanent recordkeeping granted by a blockchain can also be useful for preserving sensitive historical data.

Azov Battalion GIF Stickers Ended Up On Instagram

I came across this on Reddit. Users reported that the Azov-themed stickers were only on Instagram for about an hour before they were taken down. I tried to recreate the search this morning and two “Save Mariupol” stickers popped up when I searched “Azov”. Which is still not great. Incidentally, though, if you go directly to Giphy and search “Azov,” you end up with more results for GIFs, but ones that are less obviously connected to the wider pro-Ukrainian movement.

If you’re out of the loop on why it would be bad to have Azov-themed stickers on Instagram, the Azov Battalion is far-right volunteer paramilitary organization in Ukraine. They also keep getting photographed wearing neo-Nazi iconography, which has been used by Russia defenders on both the international right and international left as evidence that Putin’s claims about “de-nazifying” Ukraine are legitimate. Making things worse, English-speaking news outlets like the Telegraph literally this week, keep doing weird profiles of the battalion. All that said, I do think it’s very bizarre that Americans, in particular, are pretending to have a hard time understanding that just because a country has a fully radicalized militia that has infiltrated a section of its armed forces it does not mean it deserves to be invaded by another country and have all its major cities bombed.

Everyone Has Lost Their Minds

This stream was on the front page of Twitch yesterday. If your brain won’t let you process what’s going on here, this is a VTuber named NagamiMugi who is streaming the Depp v. Heard trial. As I wrote recently in a piece for Polygon, the trial has become a big “meta” for Twitch streamers. Every time I think that we’ve reached the maximum level of grossness for how people are treating this very sad defamation case, it just seems to get worse.

In fact, Input Mag has a piece about the world of YouTube lawyers dolling out daily commentary on the trial. No fucking thanks! And, possibly even worse than VTubers and YouTube lawyers, the Duolingo Owl has apparently been sharing trial clips over on its TikTok account for some reason. We live in hell.

A Good Tweet About The Economy

Elise Stefanik Learns An Important Lesson About Domain Names

I figured this was sort of common knowledge for all politicians, but I guess Rep. Elise Stefanik forgot. It’s really important to buy as many variations of your campaign website’s URL as possible. Because if you don’t someone could very easily buy it and, in Stefanik’s case, use it as a way to remind everyone that you’ve been pushing white nationalist conspiracy theories for a while.

The elisestefanik2022.com website was created by South Park writer Toby Morton. According to his Twitter account, Morton plans on buying more URLs related to the Trump wing Republicans. The one he spun up for Lauren Boebart is extremely brutal. Though, the funniest thing is that if you click on the for CongressmanGaetz.com link on Stefanik’s website it just redirects to the Wikipedia page for sex trafficking lol.

I Don’t Like The Way This Video Makes Me Feel

And, yet, I can’t stop thinking about it.

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Some Stray Links

P.S. here’s a good meme about crypto.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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