Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance, I think they’re calling our names. Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will. — Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced?
I suspect you’ve heard of Meta, but if you haven’t, it has nothing to do with DC superheroes. Less than nothing, when you think about it. “Meta” is the incredibly stupid and highly misleading name that Facebook and Instagram owner “Mort” Zuckerberg gave to his company in late 2021.
Meta is an evil corporation. They follow you wherever you go on line. When you use their stuff, they record where you are, who you are, where you go, what you like, who you like, what you buy, when you’re not home, when you are home, your credit card numbers, your phone numbers and your email addresses and those of your friends. If you masturbate, they know which is your favored hand and if you do not, they’ve got pills and ointments to sell you. I do not know if they have recorded the date and time of your last bowel movement, but I have asked. These bastards have more on each of us than the FBI ever had on John Gotti.
Now Zuck has figured out a way to screw us out of another $150 or so a year, thrusting his grimy waxed paw so deep into our pockets he now has an imprint of our car keys. It is quite impressive that he has chosen to follow the lead of the biggest, most obnoxious and cheesiest hustler who does not yet hold elective office. Then again, who among us would be surprised to discover Elon Musk and George Santos are, were, or soon will be the same person?
Musk started an uproar when he started charging Twitter twits a monthly fee for “certifying” their accounts. That means that if you want to masquerade as another person real or fictitious, you’re going to have to do an end-run around Twitter’s blue checkmark and, admittedly, that takes a tiny modicum of skill. You know, the type you are likely to find in 12 year-olds but not 62 year-olds. Well, at least not yet.
There was a loud and lengthy brouhaha against Musk’s money grabbing hustle, and I understand all that cost him a decent number of subscribers. However, that number may have been eclipsed by all the Trumpsters, Proud Goys, MAGAts, Oaf Keepers, Christian nationalists, bigots and Great American Assholes who have been attracted to this con artist like flies to shit.
Yes, folks, according to the New York Times (and there goes my horde of right-wing readers), Zuck is about to charge around $150 a year for you to have the same sort of “certified account” on Facebook and Instagram that Musk sells as his protection racket. It will start in Australia and New Zealand this week and make it to the States in the next several weeks.
Facebook alone attracts two billion users every day (source). That means if the three people next to you in line at the gas station toilets are not using Facebook today, then you must be. Let’s say that merely 25% decide to pay for a service that Zuck says “subscribers will receive ‘extra protection against accounts claiming to be you.” Hold that thought for a second.
Meta will only allow you to use the name given on your official form of government identification. Perhaps if you cannot get ahold of him directly, you should try searching for “Mortimer Zuckerman.” If you’re lucky, you’ll get a picture of a mouse. Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, are you comfortable with giving Zuck your drivers’ license information? I wouldn’t do that even if you put a gun to a puppy’s head.
But let’s get back to our math quiz. If 25% of two billion people give Meta $150 a year for this annoying and misleading “service,” then Meta will bring in $75,000,000,000.00 each year for this service which, as noted, is dubious at best. Even if only one out of ten current subscribers buys into this hustle, that’s $30,000,000,000.00 a year that Zuck could pocket and/or dump into his black hole of a “Metaverse,” or, as it is more commonly known in the Gold Mind, “Gulag Zuckerberg.”
The New York Times piece also states that Meta “has lately been cutting costs and hunting for new income streams,” so whatever services you receive from them at this time is about to get shittier and even more annoying.
I know this seems like a weird thing to say on an internet site, an even weirder thing to say from a guy who’s been working on internet stuff for a living (“if you call this living…”) for about 18 years, and it’s a “hey is that your horse barn on fire” snotty rejoinder at best, but I’ve been rethinking this whole internet thing quite a lot lately. Can we get the genie back in the bottle? Maybe in your metaverse, but probably not in Mort Zuckerberg’s.
Full disclosure: I am on Facebook. At least I was at the time of this writing. We’ll see how long it takes for Zuck to toss me out of his cheese factory.