Facebook's new ads aren't as friendly as they seem

Technically Incorrect: In new emotive ads, Facebook claims to be the home of all that is good and open. But is it?

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


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Facebook. The only place where friendship is real. Facebook/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Facebook loves to give the impression that it's somehow a little better than the grubby old Web.

Where on the Web all human detritus and ill-spirit is splayed out for public consumption, Facebook ensures that truly despicable material is removed to keep the atmosphere clean.

Yes, material such as pictures of mothers breastfeeding.

Now the company is further peddling its friendly image with new ads that are supposed to make you melt like a teen's heart at the sight of Bieber.

One begins: "It's that point at which someone became more than just another someone..." The point at which you became Facebook friends and spent the rest of your lives wondering who each other was, perhaps.

No, of course the ad doesn't say that. It continues: "When a friendship became official..."

It's true that there's something of an announcement involved when you have a new Facebook friend. The true meaning of that announcement: "Hey, I have another friend. See, I'm great. See, I'm lovable."

"It wasn't just a friend request," insists the Facebook voiceover. "You were looking for an accomplice." How very true. That person, too, can boast they are now more lovable.

And so this is a celebration of the friend request, the moment when something (or, more often, nothing) began.

The second ad has, if anything, a more insidious flavor. It tells the story of two 11-year-olds -- Erika and Esmeralda. They built a robot arm "without the Internet."

It's not that the Internet wouldn't have helped them. But they are in a far-off land where access isn't so easy.

So Facebook almost plaintively declares: "The more we connect, the better it gets." What we see at the end is " Internet.org." This is Mark Zuckerberg's attempt to ensure that the whole world gets Internet access.

Zuckerberg insisted recently that his life's work isn't always about making more money. He has much higher goals.

Oddly enough, Internet.org doesn't offer free access to the Internet. It gives you a limited sort of free Internet.

You can have Facebook -- and some other Facebook-approved sites -- for free. But if you want to, you know, exercise a little freedom and search (the whole of) the Internet that will cost you money.

It's an interesting view of that much-lauded concept known as net neutrality. I think of it as net-net neutrality.

Net-net, Facebook wants to be the Internet. (And here's some research that suggests, in some countries, believe that already.) In as friendly way as possible, you understand.