We need to talk about Facebook. Five years ago most people used it
to look for bikini pics… among the holiday snaps posted by Bianca
van Wageningen’s mum from school. Well, this may be
a bit too close to home. Anyway, my point is Facebook has grown
quite a lot since, just like Bianca’s mum. Facebook is booming, with 1 billion
logging on to its social network daily. Its quarterly figures show this. In the first three months of 2016,
its user base grew to over 1.6 billion. So that’s 1.6 billion users worldwide,
ten million in our country alone. Which means everyone, except
infants, geriatrics and people saying: ‘I don’t use Facebook, I prefer
to have tea with friends in the city.’ Everyone else.
But Facebook is huge. It brings a great deal of responsibility
toward all its users: You, me and Ronnie Ruysdael.
Here he is. King of the Conga. The only man in the country
who can lick his sideburns. Wonderful clip. Just blew me away.
Facebook wasn’t amused, however. They found the clip offensive.
Not for the music, strangely enough… but because of this shot. This bit of cleavage made Facebook
decide to take the whole video offline. What the fuck, Facebook.
You don’t mess with Ronnie Ruysdael. He is the King of the Conga.
Everyone follows in his footsteps. But I’m really upset by this.
Plus, I just don’t get it. Why is Facebook doing this?
I’d love to ask a Facebook person: Why did Ronnie Ruysdael’s clip
have to go offline? Ronnie is not the only one. That would
be awkward for the King of the Conga. Facebook has been known
to censor posts before. Facebook censors one
of the most iconic photos in history. The face of the Vietnam war,
because it shows nudity. Even this picture of a statue of a mermaid
is offensive, Facebook people say. Oh Ariel, is that Sebastian in your pants,
or are you happy to see me? These are statues,
but Facebook even censors ideas. Dutch MP Keklic Yücel’s
Facebook account was removed… after she had criticised the curtailing
of press freedom in Turkey. Facebook decided to eliminate
the entire account of this Dutch MP… for ‘shocking’ lines like: ‘Freedom of
speech must never come under pressure.’ Edgy shit, right?
How bold can a person be? Rather ironic, a call for freedom of
speech being censored, don’t you think? Like: ‘I’m dead against hitting people
in the face. Hear what I’m saying?’ ‘Catch my drift?’ I fail to see why Facebook
should have removed this post. So here is another question
I’d like to put to Facebook: Why do you people censor
a plea for freedom of speech? Sure, Facebook is a commercial company.
They decide what’s acceptable or not. But remember that Facebook is
the world’s biggest information pusher… and a major news source. They’re taking all our jobs. I have
a 21-year-old boy in foster care. He loves to work but can’t find a job. While these people are all promised
a job. What’s going on? Who says they’ll get a job?
-It were on Facebook, you know. Sure, this is just one lady
and an eyeliner… but it does tell us exactly
what’s happening today. In the US, Facebook is already
the most popular political news source. While 36% of Dutch people
use it as a news source. For those under 35…
I used to be in that age group too. …it’s as high as 45%.
Newspaper sales are plummeting… and Facebook’s boss Mark Zuckerberg
wants a monopoly on news. Monopoly on news.
It’s the creepiest word combination… since Knevel and Van den Brink. He may actually succeed,
because never before in history… did one company dominate
news distribution like Facebook does. And they like to censor posts.
They decide which news you cannot read… but also which news you can,
like reading a news website. The news and messages shown are
the product of a self-learning algorithm… an equation with thousands of variables. Sunday with Lubach. Sounds chill,
but how does it affect me? Glad you asked. It means that
if you like all your ex-wife’s pics… because you’re over her,
you’ll get to see more of her posts. And fast scrolling through the pics
of the cat that debunks 9/11 theories… means you won’t see them anymore. It’s the same with news posts.
Clicking on Jesse Klaver items a lot… means you’ll read more and more
about Obama… I mean, Jesse Klaver. What you’ll get is
digital compartmentalisation. We’ll only see news
that confirms our world image. ‘It were on Facebook, you know.’ You may think: Arjen, the internet
is more than just Facebook. Well, Facebook is about
to change all that. Facebook wants the world
to use Facebook to go online. In the US they’re offering free internet,
and here is another plan: ‘Facebook wants drones with
wireless internet to fly over Africa.’ They’re supposed to compete
with Google’s air balloons… and with The Correspondent’s
Wi-Fi submarines. Compare it to McDonald’s
building lots of motorways… where cars first
have to go through a McDrive. It sounds like the best idea ever,
and actually, it is. Facebook wants total control
over what we read… and consequently, over what we know.
My final question to Facebook: Doesn’t one company monopolising
all news sound a bit scary? I have a nice list of questions.
I could add maybe one more: ‘Hey man, how are you doing?’
It’s just the right thing to do, I think. I now have these questions,
so I decided to call Facebook. But there is no Facebook phone number
or e-mail address to be found anywhere. There is a Support Inbox, where
you can ask the community questions… but the most common question is:
‘How do I contact Facebook?’ Facebook is just not cooperating. Looking up Phone Number plus Facebook
results in an obscure website telling you: After months of search I found
the Dutch Facebook helpdesk number. Well, that’s great,
so I decided to call that number. Thanks for calling
Facebook Marketing Solutions. He’s Belgian.
-If this is your first ad… and you want to know more about
meeting business targets, press 1. Else press 2.
-Right, 2 it is. This is the Facebook
Marketing Solutions team. This phone number
is for new advertisers. For all other questions
go to www.facebook.com/help. But I’ve just been there.
-It will answer lots of questions. Thanks for calling. They just hang up on you. This was getting me nowhere. But enlisting the services of the Lubach
support team got me some results. The Facebook PR in the Low Countries
is managed by a third party… called 7N60 Communicatie. Here is their website telling us
Facebook is among their clients. Finally I can ask my question.
So what kind of company is it? Welcome to 7N60 Communicatie,
pronounced as 7-N-60 Communicatie. A communication agency explaining
how to pronounce its name. Not good. They should have added a footnote: The dashes in the name should not
be pronounced: 7 dash N dash 67. Simply pronounce it
the way it is written. So much for the homepage,
let’s see what’s next. I love it. Here we have
the Weesp-based 7N60 team. Hans, Damaris and Charlie,
the office dog. The entire Facebook communication
for the Low Countries, 15 million users… is managed by two people
and a golden retriever. It may not sound like much,
but the atmosphere is great. Their website looks inviting enough:
‘You can always drop in for a coffee. Or join us for lunch on Friday to enjoy
fried kipper or a shrimp croquette. Order before noon and you’ll be alright.
Or drop in for lunch any other day.’ A suggestion to Weesp locals:
Wanna lunch for free? Just call 7N60 before noon
and tell them you’d like a fried kipper. Don’t forget. It sounded like fun,
so I decided to give them a call too. Not the most accessible
communication agency. I’d hoped you would return my call.
You, or maybe Hans… or Charlie, the dog on your website. Tomorrow we’ll be there for lunch
with the whole editing staff. Twenty kippers, 16 shrimp croquettes.
See you tomorrow. Apparently it’s not just possible
to put a few simple questions… to the country’s biggest media company.
Competitors do it too, don’t they? I thought I’d just check. Hi Pieter, I mean Mr Klein.
Arjen Lubach speaking. From Sunday with Lubach.
-Hello, Mr Lubach. This may be a strange question,
but what would you say… if I invited you to come by
in our studio next season… to give full account about
RLT Nieuws’ choices and vision? Yes sure, I’d love to.
-Okay. Talk about your role
in the Dutch media landscape. I’d very much like
to tell you more about it. Now for the bad news.
This was purely hypothetical. Yes, I’d love to do that.
-Give account? Sure. Of course, it’s part and parcel
of what we do here. Well, I’m not sure.
It’s a bit complicated. I’m a very busy man
and this will take time obviously. You’re in Hilversum, I suppose?
-No, Amsterdam. Amsterdam? No, I’m afraid
that’s going to take too much time. All those big Dutch media are bending
over backwards to report to my desk… except Barneveld Today obviously,
I get that totally. But why can’t Facebook do this?
I don’t even get to talk to them. Anyway, after a couple of days
me and the Lubach support team… on a 7N60 subsidiary website
managed to find a PDF file… about advertising on Instagram,
with a phone number… of a person who manages
local Facebook communications. So, off to the pub I went to get wasted…
No, of course not. I made a call. Hello, (…) speaking.
-Hello, is this (…)? Hi (…), it’s Arjen Lubach
from Sunday with Lubach. You’re the person in charge
of the Low Countries Facebook PR? We’d like to invite the Facebook CEO
for a chat on our show. Who is the CEO of Facebook
for the Netherlands? It depends on what you want to talk about. The head of advertising affairs
is Arno Lubrun. And who has final responsibility
for your policies? Mark Zuckerberg.
-Mark Zuckerberg, right. I see. Can you give me
his cell phone number? Who might be able to say something
about my timeline maybe… or the feeds and the news
I’m being offered by Facebook? We have no Dutch-speaking person
who would be able to tell you something… about news feeds. We couldn’t help but notice
that the more traditional, mainstream… older media all have faces
that will give account. And that are willing to talk to us,
while with Facebook we don’t feel… there is anyone who is prepared
to discuss their policies. Like a big oompa loompa who decides
what you see or don’t see, you mean? It’s simply an algorithm that does this. Have you ever met the person
who designed the algorithm? Or the department running the show?
-You’re thinking in oompa loompa terms. Ever heard of Bureau 67?
-Yes, that’s our former agency. It doesn’t work any more?
-No, it doesn’t. I read on the internet that
they’re still managing the Facebook PR. I’ll give them a call. Thanks.
-I’ve been trying to call them all day. So you think
there is not a Dutch-speaking person… or an American person who can come
to our show and explain the algorithm… and why particular choices are made?
-No. No. Right, that’s clear then.
I’m not going to talk to an oompa loompa. Other companies call them employees,
but there you have it. So Facebook is hiding
behind some American algorithm. Facebook Benelux does have a CEO,
one Arno Lubrun… but he’s only there for the advertisers,
not the users. Come to think of it…
Arno Lubrun, Arjen Lubach… It’s a name I invented back in 2005
when creating a fake profile. And now this fake profile has moved up
the ranks to become Facebook CEO? This algorithm has gone crazy. Anyway, Facebook is not going
to explain what they’re doing. The biggest media company ever,
defining our view of the world. And they only want more. One company
having so much power is scary enough… but they just cannot be contacted.
It’s one-way traffic. So I’d love to see some Facebook person
at the Sunday with Lubach desk… answer these four questions.
What’s the big deal after all? You can help. This image is
on the Sunday with Lubach website… and on our Facebook page. Hey Facebook.
Arjen has questions about your vision. So we’d like to talk to one
of your oompa loompas at the studio. Face to Facebook, right?
Just ask WhatsApp what his number is. Take responsibility
and come to our studio. Help me with my quest
by sharing and posting this picture… on your Facebook wall, and who knows
somebody might come to the studio. I’ll welcome them with fried kippers
and shrimp croquettes.