And by subscribers, we mean “people in Australia who interact with those people in Australia.” If we didn’t already know, we can now hazard a guess that 17 million of them are FB users.
But let’s be honest with each other here, and admit that there’s a bit of a disconnect between how Facebook is purported to be useful and how it’s actually being used. While it’s well-known that everyone likes photos of animals, everyone else is looking for the next rise in property speculation, and every single person loves private jokes, it does appear that Facebook can really brighten up a boring day.
On Feb. 6, for example, the site was attacked by a coordinated hack, or distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), that overloaded its bandwidth, largely on Australian shores. Some clever users set up multiple accounts and became the servers administrators, generating a good deal of traffic. Facebook was able to recover, even bigger than usual, and even more reasonable numbers of people are apparently still partaking.
Then there are people who fall into the spivs and creepers category. The astute people at Ballarat Police Station in Victoria just know how to cut through the nonsense to help people down the slippery slope into extra-legal behaviour. The police released a series of Facebook posts with articles that originated elsewhere and then checked out whether the post contained anything likely to cause “a bit of concern to a member of the public.”
I’m not going to dignify this by mentioning any of the articles here, but there are always some people who, if they think they’re in Facebook hot water, will post some seemingly harmless comments. That’s one of the reasons Facebook has said they’re preparing to patent ways to tackle fake news, and unfortunately we’re starting to see this tech ready to be used.
Either way, the above snippet does present a fairly accurate look at what happens on the site when you’re trying to get away with illegal behaviour.
While Facebook’s nature may seem to highlight its potential for doing good, they’re also understood to have the potential to do harm. In 2018, Facebook hosted what could be seen as a dystopian nightmare: a manifesto from a group of researchers who suggested there could be more positive uses for social media than just “saying nice things about our pets or eating chicken wings” (that would be ).
While Facebook has specifically partnered with third-party fact-checking organisations, as usual, to employ their services, they have still faced accusations of taking credit for some fact checks’ contents, and claiming to be behind findings not backed by the fact-checking organisation.
You may well ask: why would someone on average disagree with facts that have been scientifically proven, when a small percentage can so easily be persuaded to an anti-fact?
While 99.6 percent of the world’s population wouldn’t choose to cast an opinion on any one factoid, we know that some people, on a daily basis, strongly disagree with truth.
This schism has helped paint the industry as corrupt, but I can’t help but enjoy a post with a bunch of people talking about truth and why they want to know the truth. If we aren’t disagreeing on the facts, what we are discussing is the fact that we each feel strongly enough about the truth that we wouldn’t hesitate to follow through on those feelings in a number of ways, and that can be reflected in our communications.
It’s often said that Facebook has given us Facebook, which has given us Facebook users, but I strongly argue that it has also given us space to make some of the most complicated choices of our lives. Between love, hate, or safe interactions, it’s a place where we can change minds and even imagine entirely new and amazing lives.
Facebook and all the data that goes with it is certainly going to be scrutinised like it never has before, but I imagine that Facebook will only grow more interesting as the government imposes more regulation and bans. In the meantime, we’ll continue to wonder how the company makes its money from our own data, and what they are (or aren’t) doing to actually help us.