Quids in for Dublin’s Facebookers

A recent Irish Times report by Mark Paul about salary levels at Facebook’s Dublin-based operation gives us a salutary lesson in how modern capitalism works. In 2017, Facebook employees received an average salary of €154,000, more than three times the average Irish industrial wage which stood that year at €46,000. The report showed how this was was made up:

The financial statements show that the 1,008 staff directly employed last year by Facebook Ireland each received an average salary of €95,766. Add in share payments, bonuses and so on, and the average pay packet of a Facebook Ireland staff member in 2017 was €154,000, up from about €140,000 in 2016 and €123,000 the year before.

Comparisons with one of the best-paid “indigenous” Irish companies, the electricity suppliers ESB, were almost as staggering. Its 7,790 staff last year were paid an average of only €77,000 in 2017, with another €7,000 or so pension payments. The AIB – one of the country’s pillar banks and the traditional provider of one of those much-coveted “jobs for life”, a post in banking – can’t even match that. Its 10,100 staff were paid average salaries of about €56,000 in 2017, almost €100,000 less than Facebook.

And, as if to rub salt into the wound, Facebook recently confirmed that it plans to move onto the plush D4 site in Ballsbridge, just vacated by AIB, where it will have space to expand its workforce up to 7,000.

Facebook might well be the market leader, but there is no doubt that the other internet giants with a presence in Dublin are also paying these high salaries to their core staff. No wonder, as Mark Paul says, that the rocketing cost of living in Dublin is creating pressure points all across those parts of the economy that don’t face Silicon Valley. Currently, there is building work going on all over the Irish capital, but how many of these homes are being constructed for hard-working families on normal wages has yet to be ascertained.

We’re all on WhatsApp now

News that the European team’s victory in the Ryder Cup was bolstered in part by their bonding in a WhatsApp group has resulted in another slew of publicity for everyone’s favourite messaging app. Even an old-fashioned blogger with an aversion to Facebook like me finds it a great tool. (I know that it is now owned by Facebook but I take all the reassurances that the social media behemoth can’t access its data at their word.)

What is even funnier is the news that a bunch of Scottish Conservatives opposed to the blatant leadership manouvering of professional buffoon and erstwhile UK Foreign Secretary are using the codename Operation Arse “so that we’d be clear who we were talking about.” Let’s hope that they have a WhatsApp group of the same name.

Why I’m not on Facebook


I bookmarked this 2016 article in the Washington Post98 personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you – sometime ago, after coming across it on John Naughton’s blog. As it still sums up exactly why I refuse to succumb to Facebook, I thought I would link to it now.

While you’re logged onto Facebook, for instance, the network can see virtually every other website you visit. Even when you’re logged off, Facebook knows much of your browsing: It’s alerted every time you load a page with a “Like” or “share” button, or an advertisement sourced from its Atlas network. Facebook also provides publishers with a piece of code, called Facebook Pixel, that they (and by extension, Facebook) can use to log their Facebook-using visitors.

Here are three more links to more recent material. I’m going to keep on adding to this post with links to other articles as and when I come across them. It should prove a useful aide memoire.

Article by Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo (another link from John Naughton).

the political momentum of the Russia probe seems to be on a collision course with Facebook’s longstanding presumption, myopia and generalized illusion that it is the custodian of a national (and international) community as opposed to – let’s get real – just a website. It feels like this might be a moment or maybe the moment when the truthiness of Facebook’s rights and privacy and community talk simply collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness.

 

You are the product, says John Lanchester in this piece from the London Review of Books.

What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality.

In this September 2017 article in the Guardian’s Long Read series, Franklin Foer tells us how Facebook wants to advance our individual ‘transparency’. No longer will we be able to have different images for the different groups with which we are involved.

Though Facebook will occasionally talk about the transparency of governments and corporations, what it really wants to advance is the transparency of individuals – or what it has called, at various moments, “radical transparency” or “ultimate transparency”. The theory holds that the sunshine of sharing our intimate details will disinfect the moral mess of our lives. With the looming threat that our embarrassing information will be broadcast, we’ll behave better. And perhaps the ubiquity of incriminating photos and damning revelations will prod us to become more tolerant of one another’s sins. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” Zuckerberg has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
The point is that Facebook has a strong, paternalistic view on what’s best for you, and it’s trying to transport you there. “To get people to this point where there’s more openness – that’s a big challenge. But I think we’ll do it,” Zuckerberg has said. He has reason to believe that he will achieve that goal. With its size, Facebook has amassed outsized powers. “In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company,” Zuckerberg has said. “We have this large community of people, and more than other technology companies we’re really setting policies.”