Facebook Hired a Team to Remind the World That It Is Run by Humans


Poke it to see if it has a pulse

W0rds can be slippery things.

For years, observers have theorized that leading “social network” Facebook actually makes us more antisocial. There are studies about it, Infographics discuss it. Even a short film was made about it.

And now, there’s this: Facebook would like to inform users they care, so they hired a team just to confirm it.

According to Pando Daily (via Business Insider), Facebook will no longer refer to the 1.2 billion people that use the service users. They are now…equally exciting pause…people. 

The company has also hired an “empathy team” to help workers “understand what it’s actually like to be a user, or a business paying for advertising.”

The news comes after it was revealed that Facebook manipulated some people’s News Feeds to determine the effect it might have on their emotions — without their informed consent, or even a notification telling them they were participating in a psychological experiment — for “research.”

I’m sure there is someone inside the well-guarded fortress at Menlo Park, Calif. who understands what it means to be a “Facebook user,” which by current measures is a 62-year-old retiree who is equally fond of cats and embroidered pillows.

Speaking at The Atlantic’s Navigate technology conference Wednesday, Facebook’s director of product design, Martha Gould Stewart, revealed how Facebook has even redesigned all its internal dashboards, which used to say things like “daily average users,” but now read “daily average people.”

Gould Stewart explained why: “As somebody once said: It’s kind of arrogant to think the only reason people exist is to use what you built. They actually have lives, like, outside the experience they have using your product, and so the first step of designing in a human-centered way is to recognize that they’re humans.”

Will these “users” appreciate being called “people,” or should Facebook just go the honest route and relabel its dashboards to read “daily average revenue streams?”