Facebook Mood Manipulation: 10 Bigger Problems

Facebook's failure to communicate about its mood experiment is the least of the things Internet companies do to us.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

July 5, 2014

2 Min Read
(Source: <a href=https://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/309783238/in/photolist-tnHLj-hPWAKj-2kA6RL-4Dv1iz-7pEGM2-jL2W82-a85qEb-nEwgyE-P4kqG-awJqWs-2ARwkx-hMpT29-6Zkj5r-xdB28-hVC7Dg-kZxZDW-5LaXQX-8BDttX-dJw44-fNwGze-pLub9-7cAySa-sPYt1-n2wamg-agysmn-6eHoEL-33NNYT-39rbAL-4Jt9hd-affyTV-ae94yC-eucPxf-7gbX5R-mS1qp-iqtkn-8BNhUJ-7bNAB-fbm7pY-6BnbQM-4JoVAZ-cJo9p-6YTYbH-dQPor-4cSVCS-kCAgA-q6tJA-6Kr4JL-4zAh4P-4HsMyk-nYnwQ2" target="_blank">Kevin Trotman</a>)

carbon emissions from the data centers serving our social sharing obsession. According to Greenpeace, 2% of all global carbon emissions come from the IT industry. The cloud looks clean and pristine in IT-industry graphics, but it's still partially powered by coal. While many leading Internet companies have committed to powering their data centers with renewable energy, only Apple has made good on its promise to rely exclusively on clean power.

8. Labor exploitation
That's another term for crowdsourcing. People don't feel that they're working for Google or Facebook when they create or share links. But they are. Google, Facebook, and other social media services capture atomic units of creative work and derive value from them, usually without paying royalties for the work. And if virtual labor exploitation doesn't pique your ire, there's always the more traditional variety in Amazon warehouses and on Apple assembly lines.

9. Software patents
Several notable economists have called for the abolition of software patents. The late University of Chicago economist Gary Becker last year wrote, "Disputes over software patents are among the most common, expensive, and counterproductive. Their exclusion from the patent system would discourage some software innovations, but the saving from litigation costs over disputed patent rights would more than compensate the economy for that cost." Software patent litigation cost is estimated to cost over $11 billion annually. Though some technology companies have complained about software patents, they also file a lot of patents and participate in patent lawsuits against one another. They could effect change if they made it a priority. Meanwhile, we all bear the cost.

10. Executive compensation
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt received compensation amounting to more than $100 million in January. Former Yahoo executive Henrique de Castro received a severance package estimated to be more than $58 million after a mere 15 months of work at the company. Just another day in Silicon Valley, unless you happen to be a rank-and-file employee, in which case you might have had your wages suppressed while companies like Apple, Google, and Intel agreed not to recruit from one another. Corporate governance today exhibits the heedless excess that left Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette headless in 18th century France.

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About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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