Facebook Can Be A War Zone

Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year old tech billionaire, who created Facebook 13 years ago, never could have predicted that a New York real estate developer and TV personality, would have such a dramatic impact on his business. I am a frequent user on Facebook. I can attest that the social media platform can be a war zone when people start discussing Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

It gets so rough at times that people leave Facebook for weeks or months. They just don’t want to see folks, who they considered good friends for many years, make certain remarks with which they vehemently disagree. Facebook can be a totally exasperating experience. You log in to wish someone a happy birthday, and you end up in a heated debate with another person over a Trump remark or policy.

Meanwhile Wall Street is blaming the fact that users are spending less time on Facebook because they are “consuming information rather than interacting with their friends and family members online.” Zuckerberg now promises that Facebook users will see more posts from family and friends and fewer from businesses and publishers. “Facebook is prioritizing news articles that it determines are trustworthy, informative and local, with the help of users.”

Trying to defend the amount of time users spend on Facebook, Zuckerberg also said, “So let me be clear: Helping people connect is more important than maximizing time they spend on Facebook.” It was reported that the company reduced time spent on its social media platform by roughly 50 million hours every day, or 5 percent, in the final quarter of 2017.

Facebook has 2.13 billion monthly active users worldwide, an increase of 14 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. However, the tech firm saw its daily active users in the United States and Canada drop from 185 million to 184 million from the third to fourth quarter.

I researched a lot of stories to see if Zuckerberg ever admitted that the current administration could be having a negative impact on his creation. The closest I got was this Zuckerberg statement: “2017 was also a hard year. The world feels anxious and divided and that’s played out on Facebook.”

I guess that’s a start.

One Year And 14 Days Ago

I just don’t know how Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has been able to function this year. One year  and 14 days days ago, her husband, David Goldberg, then CEO of Survey Monkey, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The world was in shock, at least I was.

Sheryl and David were the golden couple of the tech industry, or even the world. All eyes were on them. They were happy, prosperous, and cutting edge. Stories about them always talked about their devotion to each other, their children, their extended families and friends. 

I always wondered how this powerful couple managed to be so creative and productive in the business world and yet lead a relatively normal life. I obsessively read every story about them. I couldn’t get enough until that dreadful, awful day when David died.  

I recently read several stories in Mashable that Sheryl was going to address the graduating class of 2016 at the University of California at Berkeley this past weekend.  She finally opened up about how she was able to function this past year while staying completely active in one of the most successful tech companies. 

This was the first time she publicly spoke about the tragedy.”There are three P’s—personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence—that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship,” she said.

The entire speech appears on the YouTube video above. Sheryl appears at the 1:18.54 mark.


Pressing Facebook’s Buttons 

I always thought it was peculiar when a friend, or family member, announced on Facebook, that his or her father died. What was more shocking was when the sorrowful post received 100 “likes.”

I could never figure out if that meant Facebook members were happy that the father died or they just wanted to acknowledge the post. Of course, I knew that it meant “acknowledgement,” but it still disturbed me. 

Voila! Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg must have sensed my frustration. In a recent meeting, he admitted the company was working on a way for Facebook users to show “empathy” when it was inappropriate to “Like.”

Zuckerberg said they were not going to produce a “Dislike” button because he was not interested in turning Facebook into a platform “where people voted up or down.”

Therefore, Facebook is contemplating a “Sorry” button because they feel it’s more appropriate. Nothing has been finalized.

Watch the video to hear Zuckerberg talk about the possibilities.

Facebook Friends Hear From Sheryl Sandberg 

I was stunned tonight when I saw a post from Sheryl Sandberg on my Facebook feed. I can only assume that everyone got it. Over hundred thousand people instantly commented on her post wishing her nothing but the best. 

The post is so sad to read even though it is a beautiful tribute to her husband, Dave Goldberg. The world has changed. Sheryl decided to share her emotions publicly on social media. Years ago, we all privately mourned. Maybe it’s better just to belt it out.

In any case, it is heartbreaking.


Social Media Networks For Nepal

   Our visit to Nepal a few years ago. Photos by Eliot Hess.  

There are many people who question the impact of social media on today’s society. Some people feel it’s done more harm than good.

I’m not one of those people. I’ve seen how social media has helped the lonely become a part of a community, helped others build new relationships, re-established old ones, and come to the aid of millions in time of need. 

Google and Facebook have taken major roles in helping people across the world connect after the tragedy from the Nepal earthquake. Both are offering services that connect family and friends in the United States with the people of Nepal.

Facebook has introduced the Safety Check, a feature that allows Americans to find out  If their loved ones are okay.  All the survivors have to do is report in. Google resurfaced its Person Finder to help locate missing family and friends. Their Internet tools work faster than traditional methods (waiting for embassies to report who survived).  

It’s comforting to know that the big social networking companies have taken an active role in using their core competencies to benefit others. It’s always so rewarding to watch successful companies giveback and show us how their skill sets make all the difference in the world.  



Technology Kills 

My friend’s father, a big time judge, died when he couldn’t get his iPhone to work. He mastered the iPad, but at 87, for some reason, his new iPhone was giving him trouble. He tried to work it for days. One night he told his wife, “I will never get this thing.” He had his dinner, went to sleep and never got up.

When I heard this story I thought to myself, “I can totally relate.” Not that I think I’m going to die, but I actually felt the Judge’s exasperation. We all get challenged by technology from time to time. If the Internet goes down, or I lost my passwords, or even if I can’t check-out of an online store, I get so frustrated. The out-of-control sensation really makes you feel like you are on the outside, looking in. You feel totally disconnected. I wonder if the judge felt so overwhelmed that he just gave up? 

I just wanted to share that story with you. Don’t give up. Call on someone to help you, I do that everyday.

News not to miss.

GoPro’s CEO makes $284 million a year. That’s four times as much money as Apple’s Tim Cook. Click here for the Mashable story. 

The Whitney Museum moved downtown in NYC. The video illustrations in the NY Times are cutting edge. Click here.

How Meryl Streep is Using Her Own Money to Combat Ageism and Sexism in Hollywood. A Vanity Fair exclusive. Click here

Largest Picasso painting in the world is getting a new New York City home. Nothing is forever. For the Mashable story, click here.

On a personal note.

Introducing the other H in HWH PR. Stanley Hochstadt, a prince of a man. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other, but I still feel close to him. I just became friends with him and his wife Sandy on Facebook. Thank you social media. 

  Sandy and Stanley Hochstadt 


 Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime? 

Image from Nerdwallet.com
I’m curious what you all think about Facebook getting into the money business? I’m not sure I totally understand why Facebook friends would want to send money to each other. 
Facebook announced earlier this week that users of its messenger app would be able to attach their debit cards to the service. That means that Facebook friends would be able to transfer money to each other with a simple click. 
I know that Facebook has grander plans than just providing a friendly money exchange program. Speculation is that Facebook wants to be a big player in the e-commerce business. Analysts would love to see Facebook users buy products directly from advertisers. 
Despite my less than enthusiastic feelings about Facebook’s new program, I’m sure it will be successful. Facebook’s Messenger app is one of the largest platforms in the world. They have more than 500 million monthly users.

Facebook Founder Speaks Chinese

This may have been all over the mainstream press the other day, but I just wanted to point out that I find it pretty amazing that a successful person like Mark Zuckerberg just keeps accomplishing new challenges all the time. If I were him, I would probably be sitting on a lounge chair on some beach somewhere, watching the world go by.

The Facebook founder surprised a audience of students at Tsinghua University in Beijing earlier this week by speaking to them in Mandarin Chinese. The video above captures that moment.

His first words were, “I’m very glad to be in Beijing. I love this city. My Chinese is really a mess, but I study using Chinese every day.”

Nevertheless, he still managed to speak for a half hour on what Facebook is doing in China. I wonder what Zuckerberg’s true motivation was to learn a very difficult language. He’s married to a Chinese woman, Priscilla Chan, who was there to guide him all the way. Or, will there be some major growth spurts for Facebook in the Chinese market. We are just seeing the first signs now. Maybe, we all should be learning the language.

Facebook Is Not A Law Enforcement Issue

You are not going to believe this. The
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recently reported that local area residents call 911 when their Facebook doesn’t work.

While this is pretty funny, it’s also very sad. So many of us are addicted to social media. The minute it doesn’t work, we impulsively call the cops.
Facebook reported that “nervous residents feared that they were permanently cut off from the world of pictures of friends and their meals. They had been choking 911 and the regular police number.”

I also guess that Facebook is, for many folks, their connection to the outside world. Without it, they panic. I know many of my friends are Facebook voyeurs. They never post. They just snoop.

Okay by me.