Facebook is like North Korea, says ex-Facebooker

Facebook is like North Korea, says ex-Facebooker


Technically Incorrect: In his new book, former Facebook product manager Antonio García Martinez says Facebook management got upset if women’s skirts were too short.


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Tech Culture

    Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


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    Kim Jong-zuck?


    James Martin/CNET


    Many younger types imagine Facebook as a nirvana where you skateboard down corridors, code all night long and wait for the money to start rolling in.


    Antonio García Martinez thinks it’s a little more like North Korea.


    The former (and fired) Facebook product manager today released a book called “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley.”


    A snippet or two had already dribbled out: Martinez describing CEO Mark Zuckerberg as having a near-psychopathic stare, for example.



    But now several publications have offered excerpts and interviews with the author that describe Facebook as, oh, let’s leave it to his own words.


    “We had slogans on the walls, we were all wearing a uniform,” he told CBS This Morning. “It all felt very North Korean or Cuban, almost. And so in that moment, I just realized…the motive force in history, which is one egomaniac’s twitchy drive and then the common man’s desire to be part of a compelling story — which is what we were, we just were bit players in Zuckerberg’s story.”


    I fancy skateboards are in shorter supply in Kim Jong-un’s fiefdom. I also fancy that even gray T-shirts with discreet logos would be frowned upon.


    Still, Martinez, who worked for the company between 2011 and 2013, wants to draw your attention to the similarities between Facebook and repressive regimes.


    In excerpts published by the Daily Mail, he writes that the company has a KGB-like security force called the Sec that monitors employees’ actions.


    He writes that if you incurred Zuckerberg’s wrath, it wouldn’t go well: “Fuck with Facebook, and security guards would be hustling you out the door like a rowdy drunk at a late-night Taco Bell.'”


    He claims HR gave lectures to people about allegedly distracting clothing and mentions a “male HR authority” who “did in fact pull aside female employees and read them the riot act. One such example happened in (advertising) when an intern who looked about 16 [came] in regularly in booty shorts.”


    Facebook politely declined to comment. I understand, however, that the company feels the distracting-clothing accusation is a mere tissue of bilge. It seems, stunningly, that Martinez may not have been the most popular employee ever to have worked there.


    A clue to parts of his character might lie in his level of kindness toward women. “Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit,” he writes in one of the Daily Mail excerpts.


    Martinez told CBS This Morning he believes that Silicon Valley isn’t a meritocracy, but more a place where connections and random luck drive people to riches.


    More Technically Incorrect



    Not content with comparing Facebook to North Korea, he also compared it to the Roman Empire. They did, at least, seem to have some fun in the latter.


    You might think that this book is merely a disgruntled former employee — albeit one with a sailboat that he’s currently working on — emitting the contents of his spleen.



    However, The New York Times describes the book as “an irresistible and indispensable 360-degree guide to the new technology establishment.”


    When you run a quasimonopoly — one with significant global political power — you might lose a little of your self-awareness.


    Might a book like this make Facebook management think twice? I have my doubts.


    Driver Of Self-Driving Tesla Was Watching Harry Potter At Moment Of Death


    Tyler Durden's picture


    by Tyler Durden


    In what turned out to be a case of morbid irony, last night we reported that Josh Brown, the 40 year old (non) driver of the Tesla which fatally crashed into a truck on May 7 in Florida while in self-driving mode when the car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, had as recently as a month earlier praised his “Tessy’s” autopilot feature in a YouTube clip.


    Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn’t watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the “immediately take over” warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.


    He was so enamored with the feature, in fact, that as AP reported overnight, he was watching TV at the moment of the deadly crash.


    Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”


    “It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, only heard it.


    Frank Baressi, 62, was the driver of the truck that was hit by a Tesla that

    Joshua D. Brown was operating in self-driving mode.


    As AP adds, the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that it found an aftermarket digital video disc (DVD) player in the wreckage of the car.  “There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle,” said Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol in a telephone interview with Reuters.


    Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.


    According to preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway where there was no traffic light, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Brown died at the scene of the crash, which occurred May 7 in Williston, Florida, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. The city is southwest of Gainesville.


    By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told The Associated Press. The driver was pronounced dead, “Signal 7” in the local firefighters’ jargon, and they respectfully covered the wreckage and waited for crash investigators to arrive.


    The Tesla death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease the way onto the nation’s roads for self-driving cars, an anticipated sea-change in driving where Tesla has been on the leading edge. Self-driving cars have been expected to be a boon to safety because they’ll eliminate human errors. Human error is responsible for about 94 percent of crashes. 


    This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. In November, for instance, Toyota had to recall 31,000 full-sized Lexus and Toyota cars because the automatic braking system radar mistook steel joints or plates in the road for an object ahead and put on the brakes. Also last fall, Ford recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.


    The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car’s way, said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Systems like Tesla’s, which rely heavily on cameras, “aren’t sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light,” he said. Harley called the death unfortunate, but said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.


    Others were more direct: Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the accident is a huge blow to Tesla’s reputation. “They have been touting their safety and they have been touting their advanced technology,” he said. “This situation flies in the face of both.”


    Brauer said Tesla will have to repair the damage in two ways. First, the company needs to make sure its customers understand that autopilot is meant to assist drivers, not to fully take over for them. Second, the company should update the cars’ software so autopilot will turn off if it senses the driver’s hands aren’t on the wheel for a certain period of time. Mercedes-Benz’s driver assist system is among those that require drivers’ hands to be on the wheel.