The Feature Creeps - tracking big tech's small changes and their effects

(I was hoping to make this a Category but I think only Admins can create categories.)

Like when YouTube introduced Autoplaying the next video… or when Facebook replaced messaging with a whole app … things designed to increase stickiness and make them money but that have real consequences in our lives or society.

Has Twitter recently changed their notification to be more like Linkedin’s? I’ve noticed that I get notifications that have nothing to do with my activity.

@Alex I noticed this as well. Is there any way to figure out how to tell Twitter made changes?

@Ladymead - i’m not sure. But if they have made the change without making it obvious to the user, I wonder if a goal of this movement should be to demand that the user is provided notice/gives consent (as it exploits our time).


@Alex. Agreed. Is there more information on the Center for Humane Tech’s goals? I’m wondering why Facebook and Twitter are being challenged but Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung are ok? I would like to better understand the differentiation.

With Samsung Apple and Microsoft, we can be the customer, not the product. They don’t rely so heavily on advertising models which allows them to truly serve people, as opposed to companies that profit the more time they take from us.


I find the “sign in through [Facebook / Google+]” feature on websites to be extremely disconcerting. It’s become more and more common, and I have to search closely for the “other” option where I create a login.


A big feature creep and failure for human tech was the elimination of the down vote. There was a time when people could upvote as well as down vote articles, but now usually only the upvote button is available and works. The original intent of eliminating the down vote started by groups like TED talks was to keep conversations positive, but the emergent behavior was exactly the opposite. without the ability to down vote comments or content the trolls ran crazy and were indistinguishable from good content. When you can upvote a troll but not down vote a troll then a troll will happily piss off half the people to make the other half upvote.

I talked to the User Experience Design people at TED Talks about this, and they made the understandable, but short sighted argument that eliminating the downvote would cause people to be more positive and cause negative people to go away. I think it did that in the short term, but not in the long run.

@Max. Thanks for the explanation. Any good resources you recommended on this subject? I’ve browsed through the reading list, however, I was wondering if there was something in particular that would be good to look at. Thank you!

Joe, you can create categories, it’s just hard to find the link. From the Categories page, there’s a dropdown in the upper right with one options: “New Category”.

There’s a bit of a tradeoff in cat creation: the more there are, the longer it takes to scroll to find what you want for a new thread. Unless you expect a topic to have many posts each week, better to use a tag (the lower-right text field when creating a topic).

I am not 100% sure yet… but it may be that the Yahoo Mail app made an improvement for the better in how they send notifications when you have been inactive on your phone for a while: As soon as you touch the phone screen, and not before (in realtime or at random).

But while that would be an improvement… the activity tracking would not be.

I could have posted this on Identifying dark patterns on the web as well, but here is better.

This is not a small feature creep however, but a widely used common and accepted practice, that is nonetheless a great problem to transparency on the internet. It stimulates unethical and even outright immoral uses, both by companies, as well as in political realms.

I am talking about Dark Posts and they are described in the article below, though it is not only Facebook using them. Dark Posts are supported by many platforms!

What are Facebook Dark Posts?

In a reaction to The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine:

““Dark Posts” are unpublished page posts. They used to be called “dark posts” officially, but now they’re just called “unpublished posts”. I guess now we know why the name changed.”

article link | see also: Dark Posts and Facebook’s deals with the devil

Dark posts are official statements by brands or politicians that appear to be publicly available, but in fact they do not appear on the public feed of the brand at all, but are only displayed to a targeted group of people (using ad targeting mechanisms). Sometimes they are only available for a limited time and then fully disappear, making it a great tool to influence public opinion without harming brand image or reputation!