Facebook mission ‘requires that we make a lot of money’

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

Facebook boasts of the social benefits it offers through its social media software codes that are online, mainly being “connected” to family, friends, acquaintances – even strangers for that matter.

But secret, internal documents that have been revealed to the public show an overwhelming focus on making money, lots of money.

An email from one of its executives, Sam Lessin, to founder Mark Zuckerberg, specifically states, “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected and the only way we can do that is with the best people and the best infrastructure – which requires that we make a lot of money/be very profitable,” he wrote.

“My assertion is that for us to be very profitable over a long time, we have to be in businesses/have a business model where we get more profitable the bigger we are (a return on scale business). Conversely, we cannot be in a commodity business or ‘sell off’ our assets in a way that transfers wealth from ourselves to others.”

The 2012 comment came in an email from Lessin to Zuckerberg on the basic platform that company operates which essentially allows individuals to post their own stories online to share with others, and to read others’ postings too.

He describes the company charging developers for a variety of services, how users “will eventually appreciate things like ever better targeted ‘ads’ as a real benefit,” and more.

He explains one route to the cash is “having a powerful monopoly like a state dictate that you are the only way to do something.”

A second way is having proprietary expertise – or doing something no one else can, and a third way is making more money because you’re bigger than anyone else.

And he recommends a conclusion: “We need to focus on businesses where we are better/more profitable than everyone else because we are bigger than everyone else.”

He cuts to the chase with specifics: “There are two clear channels via which to monetize information (1) Advertizing/engagement & re-engagement (Information makes distribution more efficient/effectively ads a multiplier to our first return on scale business) (2) Merchandizing/customization (Information allows companies/people to do better things for their customers, on top of which they can scale revenue and profitability….”

The documents have been posted online by the U.K. Parliament after it obtained them last month from a company suing the social network.

A report at Business Insider said the documents are under seal in California but were published using parliamentary privilege in the U.K.

They also show, the report said, Facebook “whitelisting” firms in return for access to data and taking “aggressive positions” against rivals, such as Twitter’s defunct video app Vine.

Facebook responded that the papers are part of a “baseless” lawsuit and were “misleading” unless Facebook explained them further.

Damian Collins, a Conservative politician who is chairman of a parliamentary committee, prefaced the papers with a summary of what he sees as some of the most explosive revelations.

His concerns were over “whitelisting agreements” that gave companies including Netflix and Airbnb access to friends data after Facebook introduced new privacy policies in 2014-2015.

Collins said a recurring theme was an “idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the [app] developers’ relationship with Facebook.”

He also said the documents “show Facebook ‘taking aggressive positions against apps,’ Collins said. This included email evidence showing that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to deny access to data for the now-defunct Twitter video-looping app, Vine,’” the report said.

And, it said, “Facebook made it difficult for users to know about changes it made to its Android app because they were controversial. The changes enabled Facebook to collect a record of calls and texts sent by users.”

Collins obtained the documents from Ted Kramer, the founder of a software company called Six4Three, while Kramer was on business in the U.K. last month.

The company sued Facebook after Facebook changed its policies in 2015 and destroyed its business app, named Pikinis.

A California court order had placed the documents under seal, but the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee published them under U.K. parliamentary privilege, believing them to be in the public interest.

Collins explained in the Insider report, “There is considerable public interest in releasing these documents. They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.”

Collins also pointed out that Facebook used Onavo to conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers and apparently without their knowledge.

“They used this data to assess not just how many people had downloaded apps., but how often they used them. This knowledge helped them to decide which companies to acquire, and which to treat as a threat.”

In a Facebook change that let it collected calls and texts sent by users, Collins said, “To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade … ”

The BBC said the 250 pages of seized documents are marked “highly confidential.”

And it reported among the clearly supported conclusions were that Facebook refused to share data with some companies, causing them to fail, and there was considerable discussion of the financial value of providing access to friends’ data.

The correspondence includes emails between Facebook and several other tech firms, in which the social network appears to agree to add third-party apps to a “whitelist” of those given permission to access data about users’ friends.

The pages reveal at one point Zuckerberg made clear his intent to make lots of money:

“It’s not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale. I’m getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends’ data and potentially email addresses for mobile apps. I’m generally skeptical (sic) that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think… I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”

Facebook also is confronting headwinds right now over its participation in what has been described as the “Speech Code Cartel.”

WND CEO Joseph Farah has warned, “Has anyone seriously considered what the tyranny of these monopoly companies is doing to the ability of our citizens to govern themselves, protect their privacy and sustain institutions like free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion?

The concerns are about the literal monopoly of the major companies like Facebook and Google and Youtube, in combination with their lack of accountability.

“It has been nearly a decade since I have been blowing the whistle on Google – calling the company ‘evil,’ explaining that we were, consciously or unconsciously, ceding to it the most private information, allowing a mega-monopoly international conglomerate in bed with tyrannical regimes around the world to turn each of us into commodities,” Farah explained recently.

“But things have only gotten worse since then. It hit home with me when I saw the company I built from scratch more than 20 years ago, my life’s work, ravaged by the cartel’s wrecking ball – reduced in revenues by more than half in 18 months.”

He continued, “Backed into a corner, last January I went very public with how the cartel was attempting to exterminate the alternative independent media that sprung up in WND’s wake in the last 20 years. They are still determined to snuff us out, I believe, before the next presidential election year of 2020. The only people I could turn to were you – those who came to WND because you recognized what we were doing, what we were about and what our convictions are. And most of all, you recognized why it was necessary that this exercise in truth-seeking without fear or favor not be knocked off by a club of spoiled, soulless, pompous, greedy, presumptuous super-billionaires who sought to commit bloodless barbarism never imagined by the most diabolical totalitarian governments in history.

“I realize now the phrase ‘Speech Code Cartel’ doesn’t even come close to capturing the imminent danger this cabal poses to freedom.

“While the so-called ‘progressives’ carry on about their delusion of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, what’s really happening behind the curtain is the theft of our culture of independence, self-governance, individualism, liberty, privacy, sovereignty, Judeo-Christian morality and, yes, free elections.”

He said it is up to the American public to determine the result.

“For now, I will simply ask you, politely, but urgently, to help sustain us with your prayers and your financial support as we go toe-to-toe with this beast.”

He listed options:

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