social commentary

Veterans for Trump waited months for Facebook to help after their page was hijacked by a North Macedonian businessman

In case there’s a pay wall in the way of the article: Essentially a Facebook page started by patriotic veterans in the USA was taken over by some business guy in Macedonia and it took months for the Americans to get Facebook, an American company, to hear their plea for help.

It’s interesting that even in this era of heightened awareness of foreign disinformation efforts to meddle with US politics it took months for these people to get Facebook’s attention – and that only really happened after they said they’d buy advertising.

I’ve read in other places about how hard it is to get the attention of a human being at Amazon or YouTube. Even after your Amazon marketplace business has been hijacked or scuppered by bad actors you have to spend thousands of dollars and months of time to ‘correct’ the situation with Amazon.

It appears that these digital Titans are loathe to employ real humans to do customer service and support because that would bite into their profits too much. So they appear to think they can get away with automation as much as possible. And there’s a never ending series of tales of woe that result from this no matter if it’s customer, vendor or employee relations involved.

social commentary tech gripes

Daring or Dangerous?

This is the last lost draft I’m dredging up to publish. (it’s not that old)

I’ve been involved with computers for a long time. And have picked up a lot of bits of knowledge about a lot of things along the way. Human psychology seems to pervade most industries and affect how they work – computers are similar in that every industry that adopts them changes forever in ways incomprehensible to those who were in it before.

I’ve been in the position of deciding whether or not I wanted to allow public postings on sites I manage and am therefore legally responsible for. And I’ve watched as sites such as Napster, YouTube, and Facebook took decisions opposite to what I’d make regarding open-ness and allowing the public to decide on the content.

It appears that the credo of ‘move fast and break things’ that Facebook had works to grow your business enormously. Leaving the inevitable work to rein in rampant abuse to a time down the road when you’re better equipped financially and experiential-ly to deal with it.

It also appears that the problem with (not) actually doing it that way is also a human psychology one – by the time you’re in a position to need to do something about it you’re focused on other things like growth, marketing, trying to please the investors, trying to appear your best for your IPO.

So the hard work on these issues that needs to get done gets short shrift.

Being tech companies they all seem to think that they can throw tech resources at it to manage the problem better. Better Data to make Better Decisions and Plans. Meaning more code to monitor and analyze human / system interactions. And lately that means an AI.

If you become embroiled in a dispute on YouTube or Amazon you find yourself in a system that doesn’t appear to care that you’re an honest producer / seller / broker because you almost never get to hear from a human. The system can be gamed by those who know how its done and that can be painful for those victims who don’t.

For some reason they seem to be averse to actually deploying more people to handling people problems. Possibly because they are technology oriented rather than people oriented. Even the vanguard ‘social network’ Facebook appears to be using humans in ways that make them appear like replaceable modules. By that I mean they took a while to get around to deploying more humans to monitor content and then didn’t back those staff up with proper support for when they suffered repercussions from what they were exposed to in their jobs.

This article in the Verge “Prime and Punishment” shows how the online marketplace that is Amazon has evolved into a nasty jungle rife with dirty dealing denizens if you’re a seller.

Rivals can engage in dirty tricks, various versions of identity theft of your trademark, product or company name and it can cost you lots of time, money and anguish to fix something that a half hour conversation with a human being could solve.

Considering that this anguish might entail a number of people who work for you losing their jobs and you losing your company this behaviour is problematic at best and dangerous at worst.

If this was a government people could petition to get things changed. They could express their displeasure at the voting booths. Politicians would be bending over backwards to let voters know that they will not stand for this and will do their best to fix it.

Because it’s a commercial concern there’s not much that can be done. You can bitch and complain to Amazon but until a human being hears your plea nothing will get done. Just having reached a human is still not enough to get things changed however. To do that you’d have to get someone high up, like Jeff Bezos, to make changes happen. From everything I’ve heard about Jeff he’s not all that inclined to get involved with human beings with problems. And that’s not likely to change until something comes along that does listen to humans and threatens Amazon’s monopolistic position in the online marketplace.

So don’t hold your breath . . . until that happens you have to daring to bet your future on the dangerous marketplace that Amazon has become. And if you’re thinking of ever running for public office you have to be wary of being daring in your public postings and comments because those have a dangerous way of coming home to roost later on when you least expect them.


If Software Breaks And No One Notices … Does It Hurt?

I had occasion to go back to look at pages from last Feb on my news site. Found the pages ok but there were no embedded videos … and there should have been a few.

So I checked and sure enough there were the embed shortcodes. I’m using JWPlayer but the older version 5. They’ve moved on to a different pricing model and to follow them I’d need to be generating revenue from my site and that’s not happening right now.

I use this plugin because (1) it streams RTMP from Amazon’s CloudFront and (2) I have a paid license for this version. I also like being able to put an internal playlist into the embedded player. I’ve been using it since before I moved to WordPress from DotNetNuke.

And it allows me to do all of that. Or at least it did the last time I looked. But it is not showing anything at all now … argh!

Just what I need.

A few quick checks and it looks a bit more than I can fix now. And official support for this version of the player is terminated so I’m back to shopping around. And there are a number of Amazon Web Services oriented alternative with cheaper pricing than JWPlayer is at right now.

S3Bubble is one. It integrates quite well with S3 so you can browse your S3 buckets for media right in the plug-in. Another one I’m looking at is S3 Media Maestro. It’s more economical but doesn’t give you the same S3 browsing ability. You have to copy and paste media file URLs. It’s more economical. But if I ever get helpers S3Bubble would be easier I think.