Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Online Advertising’s ‘Willful Enshittening’

Dan Sinker, Esquire:

As far as major corporations go, Facebook isn’t alone in being shitty, of course. But they’re very, very good at it. So good, in fact, that the biggest companies in the world have worked overtime to enshitten themselves to keep up. The reason why YouTube is suggesting you watch WarGamer69’s treatise on the white race when all you were looking for was a new pie recipe? Because Facebook gobbled up video views when they introduced autoplay a few years ago, forcing YouTube to build their own autoplaying feed that’s been totally corrupted by the far right. When Facebook introduced Instant Articles and threatened to take traffic off the greater web and keep it all inside Facebook, Google countered with a technology that basically created a second internet for mobile devices and is part of the reason that your Google search results suck now. That, of course, came after Google tried to out-Facebook Facebook with the disastrous Google+ which is being shut down due to a massive data breach—which, come to think of it, is about the most Facebook thing they could have done. Credit to Twitter for not trying to out-Facebook Facebook, but mostly because they’ve been busy stomping on their own dick while Nazis flooded the platform.

And what greater purpose was all this willful enshittening for? To show you ads. You know how at the end of the day all nuclear power does is boil water? All of the advanced technology that’s been developed over the last decade has ultimately been about being better at advertising than the other guy. We literally broke most of the actual world and almost the entire damn Internet so that a crappy ad for something you’re probably not buying could follow you around the web that much better.

See also, of course, the second half of Maciej Cegłowski’s talk on the website obesity crisis.