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Exclusive Penny Post interview with Facebook reveals new reputation-saving features from 1 April

In an exclusive interview with Penny Post, Facebook has today announced that it’s introducing two new features with immediate effect. Both of these will, as spokesperson Janus Pointetete confirmed, “perform a robust pre-despatch flight check” on all posts or comments, protecting the sender in a way never before deemed possible.

“Our algorithms are now able to detect subtle changes in the way a person interfaces with the Facebook community at different times,” Mr Pointetete explained. “Stress, intoxication and tiredness, for example, all leave distinct fingerprints in the form of typing errors and word choice.”

He also announced that any corrections or revisions are recorded, so that Facebook knows what you’ve typed even before you click ‘post’. “We call this a ‘soft send’. Our systems can measure the number and nature of amendments, read the text and check the time and day and so come to a conclusion about the sender’s state of mind.”

His next admission may be a surprise to many: all smartphones have touch-sensitive screens. “That’s right,” he said. “They can detect up to 16 levels of contact. We can tell how firmly and clearly any part of the screen is hit which, coupled with an analysis of the number of errors and corrections – and the final message – can tell us a lot about the sender’s condition.”

One of the easiest things to spot is intoxication. “There are four tell-tale signs that someone has over-indulged,” Pointetete continued. “We measure these and compare them with other posts or comments sent by millions – actually hundreds of millions – of other people, and by the sender at other times, to build up an increasingly accurate predictive model.” We asked if he could reveal what any of these tell-tale signs are. “You’re joking, right?” he replied.

As a result, from now on anything you try to post which infringes Facebook’s ever-changing intoxication standards will be met with the following message:

You’re pissed

Your message has been parked. It will be available for review in 23 minutes.
Any amendments may be subject to a similar condition. Thank you for using Facebook.

“Our research has shown that, each day, over two million relationships suffer what we term ‘serious reputational or functional jeopardy’ as a result of comments or posts being sent by people who were in no condition to do so,” Pointete said. “These might be to your best friend, your MP, your husband, the manager of your football team or a business colleague. Facebook has decided that this is another aspect of people’s lives which it can beneficially control.”

Pointetete also explained why 23 minutes was chosen as the review period. “There are three emotions which follow the sending of an inappropriate comment,” he explained. “These are Elation, Denial and Regret, EDR as we call it. Our research shows that within 23 minutes most people would pay sometimes quite large sums of money to have their message cancelled. We’re just anticipating the passage of time: playing God, if you will.”

He also revealed that Facebook would be soon be introducing a chargeable extension to the service. “You’ll get the first five on us,” he said. “After that, if you want to continue sending messages that might trigger EDR you will have to pay to have the service continued.” He refused to be drawn on how much this might cost but hinted that it would be linked to Facebook’s assessment of how damaging each message might be if not intercepted. I suggested that this amounted to a form of blackmail. “You used that word, not me,” he replied.      

The other feature, as Pointetete explains, is part of the company’s drive “to put the ‘face’ back into ‘Facebook’.” According to a recent report, over half Facebook users no longer interact with people in ‘meaningful, inter-personal face-to face situations.’ Recent hearings in both the US senate and the UK parliament have expressed alarm at this development and threatened ‘serious action’ if the issue were not redressed. There was particular concern that, as Senator Lucille Banter put it, “much digital interface displays cowardice, often substance-dependant, with users hiding behind a device to insult people physically distant from them.”

As a result, any ‘send’ may, at Facebook’s sole discretion, result in the following message:

You’re going to have to say this to the person yourself

Your message has been parked. It will be available for review in 23 minutes.
Any amendments may be subject to a similar condition. Thank you for using Facebook.

Pointetete was, however, quick to play down suggestions that the social-media giant was responding to pressure. “Fines don’t bother us,” he said. “And what else can they do? If it wasn’t for Facebook none of these politicians would even be able to know what was going on in the world, still less organise a congressional hearing.”

Pointetete stressed that Facebook could also help locate the recipient in “his or her current geo-spatial reality.” How so? “Obviously, we have everyone’s address, or pretty much everyone’s. We also know where most of the population of the world is at a given time, what their mood is, where they are and what they’re doing. Subscribers to our premium SnooperPlus service will be able to pinpoint the location and condition of their target in order to deliver their message in person at the most expeditious moment.”

So, what else does Facebook have in store for its users? “Obviously we’re not going to announce anything before it’s ready to be be rolled out, probably hours before,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean to say that a number of things are not being developed using live data. After all, we know more about most people than they know themselves. We see it as our duty, our mission – indeed, our destiny – to exploit this.”

 

Brian Quinn

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