Facebook Fables

Milwaukee       It has finally come to the point where it is impossible to believe anything that Facebook says.  Yes, I know the goalpost keeps moving, but this is ridiculous!

Take today for example.

An analysis in the New York Times compared the number of fake accounts that Facebook claims to have closed in the last 12-months is over 2 billion accounts at the clip of 7 million per day. The Times was doing simple addition from the regular transparency reports that Facebook has been posting recently as their credibility crashed faster than a website.  They also claim that they have a couple of billion “active” users.  Something is wrong with the math here, brothers and sisters.

They also reported that Facebook was telling its investors that there was no appreciable difference in the number of fake accounts that it was deep sixing.  How could that jibe with the reports of having closed billions of accounts?  They also claimed that they can catch these fakers within seconds of their establishing a new account, but on the other hand they want to not move too fast, they claim, because it might be a real person.  See what I mean about fables?  You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth and have any credibility.

A former classmate of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, is also reportedly monitoring them closely.  He might have a bit of a chip on his shoulder since he was behind an early iteration of the Face, before Zuckerberg took it all and ran.  Regardless, he argues that the number of duplicate accounts may be at the same level as fake accounts, casting even more shade over Facebook’s claims of billions of active users.  Yes, the rules say no double-dipping of accounts, but who among us doesn’t know folks with more than one account?  He may be wrong on his speculation about the scale of the problem, but he’s definitely right that there’s a lot of dupes out there.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s #2 honcho, was claiming at the same time to investors that despite all of their troubles, they were making goo-gobs of money still.  She also claimed that they could make significant investments in security, and it would not curtail profits. If so, why haven’t they done so before this?   Is this another Facebook fable?

Zuckerberg also recently claimed that Facebook users really and truly wanted ads on their Facebook pages.  Researchers writing in the op-ed section of the Times also called that balderdash, and you know in your heart that they are right.  There’s no one anywhere who is just dying to see an ad anywhere, including on Facebook.  Let’s list this as another big Facebook whooper!

Who can believe anything that any of these Facebook folks say anymore?  Come forward and identify yourself if you do.  There’s a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that’s just waiting for your name on it.

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Please enjoy Vicky Emerson’s The Reckoning. Thanks to KABF.

And Fine Mess by Interpol

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How Do Make Specialized Healthcare Accessible and Affordable?

Frederick G. Banting and Charles Best who discovered Insulin

New Orleans    In this brave new world of medicine involving stem cells and gene therapy, all of which were almost unimaginable in the past, we still are hitting our heads against the wall at the inability to craft a solution to the old problem in the United States of equal access and affordability.  Doctors are estimating the price tags on some of these treatments could hit up to $1 million in our current system.  Lacking universal health care in the United States that spells death and disaster for many families in the 99%.

When the FDA approves a treatment, especially if it is the only one likely to be effective, similar to the sickle-cell disease effecting so many in lower income, minority neighborhoods, government and private health care insurers face an moral obligation to provide the coverage and pay the bill.  We’ve been seeing too many stories of pharmaceutical companies jacking up the bill for rare medicines with limited manufacturing capabilities and forcing insurers to pay or families to do without.  Insurers, drug companies, and even government health officials since the Affordable Care Act fights have danced around so-called “death panels” or anything that might seem to impose price ceilings or the rationing of care, leaving us sucking air for a solution.

Michael Sherman, the chief medical officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Massachusetts, has made the case in Scientific American that under the existing regime something that might work would be a value-based agreement between institutions, drug companies, and insurers for new drugs.  The essence of the agreement is that if it works, they get paid their demand price, and if it doesn’t work, they are paid a substantially lowered price.  Sherman wonders if such agreements might work for gene therapies as well.

It seems a stretch.  Yes, making the companies prove their mettle is appealing, but it doesn’t deal with the issue that companies are setting exorbitant prices for any and all drugs in the first place in the US, the likes of which we see nowhere else in the world.  For example, the inventors of insulin donated the patent, rather than enriching themselves, but drug makers now charge $200 to $300 a vial for this lifesaver, many decades after its discovery.  It is hard to imagine gene therapies that depend on doctors, drug companies, hospitals, and insurers at this point would be able to come to a reasonable agreement that would make such treatment affordable to all.  I would have more hope for Congress!

Like it or not, it is hard to avoid the root question even as many speculate on how far they can climb out on the branches before falling:  we need universal health care protection for all Americans!  Without it, specialized drugs and path-breaking gene treatments, will make hospitals the new playgrounds of the rich, while the rest of us suffer and die.

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