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It’s OK to depart Fb

The slow-motion privateness prepare wreck that's Fb has many customers, maybe you, desirous about leaving or not less than altering the best way...

 

The slow-motion privateness prepare wreck that’s Fb has many customers, maybe you, desirous about leaving or not less than altering the best way you employ the social community. Luckily for everybody however Mark Zuckerberg, it’s not practically has onerous to depart because it as soon as was. The principle factor to recollect is that social media is so that you can use, and never vice versa.

Social media has now turn into such an bizarre a part of fashionable life that, relatively than have it outline our interactions, we will select how we interact with it. That’s nice! It implies that everyone seems to be free to design their very own expertise, taking from it what they want as a substitute of taking part to an extent dictated by social norms or the progress of expertise.

Right here’s why now’s a greater time than ever to take management of your social media expertise. I’m going to concentrate on Fb, however a lot of that is relevant to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and different networks as properly.

Stalled innovation means a steady product

The Facebooks of 2005, 2010, and 2015 had been very various things and existed in very totally different environments. Amongst different issues over that eventful ten-year interval, cellular and glued broadband exploded in capabilities and recognition; the fashionable world of web-native platforms matured and have become safe and dependable; telephones went from dumb to sensible to, for a lot of, their major laptop; and internet-based corporations like Google, Fb, and Amazon graduated from area of interest gamers to embrace and dominate the world at giant.

It’s been a transformative interval for many causes and in plenty of methods. And services which were there the entire time have been remodeled nearly constantly. You’d in all probability be shocked at what they appeared like and the way restricted they weren’t way back. Many issues we take without any consideration right now on-line had been invented and popularized simply within the final decade.

However the previous couple of years have seen drastically diminished returns. The place Fb used so as to add options usually that made you depend on it increasingly more, now it’s desperately working to seek out methods to maintain folks on-line. Why is that?

Nicely, we simply type of reached the restrict of what a platform like Fb can or ought to do, that’s all! Nothing mistaken with that.

It’s like enhancing a automotive — regardless of what number of options you add or engines you swap in, it’ll at all times be a automotive. Automobiles are helpful issues, and so is Fb. However a automotive isn’t a truck, or a motorbike, or an apple, and Fb isn’t (for instance) a broadcast medium, a spot for constructing sturdy connections, or a VR platform (as onerous as they’re attempting).

The issues that Fb does properly and that now we have all discovered so helpful — sharing information and pictures with associates, organizing occasions, getting and staying in touch with folks — haven’t modified significantly in a very long time. And because the novelty has worn off these issues, we naturally interact in them much less often and in ways in which make extra sense to us.

Fb has turn into the platform it was supposed to be all alongside, with its personal strengths and weaknesses, and its failure to advance past that isn’t a foul factor. In reality, I believe stability is an effective factor. As soon as you recognize what one thing is and can be, you may make an knowledgeable selection about it.

The downsides have turn into apparent

Each expertise has its naysayers, and social media was no exception — I used to be and to some extent stay one myself. However through the years of modifications these platforms have gone by way of, some fears had been proven to be unfounded or old style.

The concept that folks would stop interacting within the “actual world” and stay of their gadgets has performed out in a different way from how we anticipated, absolutely; attempting to instruct the subsequent technology on the right method to talk with one another has by no means labored out properly for the olds. And in the event you informed somebody in 2007 that international election interference could be as a lot a fear for Fb as oversharing and privateness issues, you is likely to be met with incredulous appears to be like.

Different downsides had been for probably the most half unexpected. The event of the bubble or echo chamber, as an example, would have been troublesome to foretell when our social media programs weren’t additionally our news-gathering programs. And the phenomenon of seeing solely the highlights of others’ lives posted on-line, resulting in self worth points in those that view them with envy, is an attention-grabbing however unhappy improvement.

Whether or not some danger inherent to social media was predicted or not, or confirmed or not, folks now take such dangers significantly. The concepts that one can spend an excessive amount of time on social networks, or endure deleterious results from them, or really feel actual ache or turmoil due to interactions on them are accepted (although sadly not at all times with out query).

Taking the downsides of one thing as significantly because the upsides is one other indicator of the maturity of that factor, not less than by way of how society interacts with it. When the hype cycle winds down, life like judgment takes its place and the total complexities of a relationship just like the one between folks and social media might be examined with out interference.

Between the soundness of social media’s capabilities and the realism with which these capabilities at the moment are being thought-about, selection is now not arbitrary or absolute. Your engagement just isn’t being decided by them any extra.

Social media has turn into a wealthy set of non-public selections

Your expertise might differ from mine right here, however I really feel that in these days of innovation amongst social networks your participation was extra of a binary. You had been both on otherwise you had been off.

The way in which they had been advancing and altering outlined the way you engaged with them by including and opting you into options, or altering layouts and algorithms. It was onerous to essentially select interact in any significant manner when the sands had been shifting underneath your ft (or relatively, fingertips). Each few months introduced new options and toys and apps, and also you type of needed to be there, utilizing them as proscribed, or danger being left behind. So folks both stored up or voluntarily stayed off.

Now all that has modified. The bottom guidelines are set, and have been for lengthy sufficient that there isn’t a danger that in the event you left for just a few months and are available again, issues could be drastically totally different.

As social networks have turn into steady instruments utilized by billions, any mixture or fashion of engagement with them has turn into inherently legitimate.

Your selection to have interaction with Fb or Instagram doesn’t boil down to easily whether or not you might be on it or not any extra, and the acceptance of social media as a platform for expression and creation in addition to socializing implies that nonetheless you employ it or current on it’s pure and now not (for probably the most half) topic to judgment.

That extends from selecting to make it an indispensable instrument in your on a regular basis life to quitting and never participating in any respect. There’s now not an expectation that the previous is how an individual should use social media, and there’s no longer a stigma to the latter of disconnectedness or Luddism.

You and I are totally different folks. We stay somewhere else, learn totally different books, take pleasure in totally different music. We drive totally different vehicles, choose totally different eating places, like totally different drinks. Why ought to we be the identical in something as advanced as how we use and current ourselves on social media?

It’s analogous, once more, to a automotive: you’ll be able to personal one and use it every single day for a commute, or use it hardly ever, or not have one in any respect — who would decide you? It has nothing to do with what vehicles are or aren’t, and every thing to do with what an individual needs or wants within the circumstances of their very own life.

For example, I made the selection to take away Fb from my cellphone over a yr in the past. I’m happier and fewer distracted, and interact with it intentionally, on my phrases, relatively than it reaching out and fascinating me. However I’ve associates who keep and derive nice worth from their unfastened community of scattered acquaintances, and benefit from the immediacy of figuring out and interacting with them on the size of minutes or seconds. And I’ve associates who’ve by no means been drawn to the platform within the first place, content material to pick from the myriad different methods to remain in contact.

These are all completely good methods to make use of Fb! But just a few years in the past the zeitgeist round social media and its exaggerated function in on a regular basis life — ensuing from novelty for probably the most half — meant that to have interaction solely sporadically could be harder, and to disengage fully could be to overlook out on an amazing deal (or concern that sufficient that quitting grew to become fraught with nervousness). Individuals could be shocked that you just weren’t on Fb and surprise how you bought by.

Strive it and be delighted

Social networks are right here to enhance your life the identical manner that vehicles, keyboards, search engines like google and yahoo, cameras, espresso makers, and every thing else are: by providing you with the facility to do one thing. However these networks and the businesses behind them had been additionally exerting energy over you and over society basically, the best way (for instance) vehicles and automotive makers exerted energy over society within the ’50s and ’60s, favoring highways over public transportation.

Some folks and a few locations, greater than others, are nonetheless topic to the affect of automotive makers — ever strive getting round L.A. with out one? And the identical goes for social media — ever strive planning a birthday celebration with out it? However the previous couple of years have helped weaken that affect and permit us to make significant selections for ourselves.

The networks aren’t going wherever, so you’ll be able to go away and are available again. Social media doesn’t management your presence.

It isn’t all or nothing, so you’ll be able to interact at 100 p.c, or zero, or wherever in between. Social media doesn’t determine how you employ it.

You received’t miss something necessary, since you determine what’s necessary to you. Social media doesn’t share your priorities.

Your folks received’t thoughts, as a result of they know totally different folks want various things. Social media doesn’t care about you.

Give it a shot. Choose up your cellphone proper now and delete Fb. Why not? Absolutely the worst that may occur is you obtain it once more tomorrow and also you’re again the place you began. But it surely may be, because it was for me and has been for many individuals I’ve recognized, like shrugging off a weight you didn’t even notice you had been bearing. Strive it.

What we are able to be taught from the three,500 Russian Fb advertisements meant to fire up U.S. politics

 

On Thursday, Democrats on the Home Intelligence Committee launched a large new trove of Russian government-funded Fb political advertisements focused at American voters. Whereas we’d seen a cross part of the advertisements earlier than via prior releases from the committee, the breadth of ideological manipulation is on full show throughout the greater than three,500 newly launched advertisements — and that doesn’t even depend nonetheless unreleased unpaid content material that shared the identical divisive goals.

After viewing the advertisements, which stretch from 2015 to late 2017, some clear developments emerged.

Russia centered on black People

Many, many of those advertisements focused black People. From the pretty giant pattern of advertisements that we reviewed, black People have been clearly of specific curiosity, probably in an effort to escalate latent racial tensions.

Many of those advertisements appeared as memorials for black People killed by cops. Others merely meant to fire up black satisfaction, like one that includes an Angela Davis quote. One advert posted by “Black Issues” was focused at Ferguson, Missouri residents in June 2015 and solely featured the lyrics to Tupac’s “California Love.” Round this time, many advertisements focused black Fb customers in Baltimore and the St. Louis space.

Some Instagram advertisements focused black voters fascinated by black energy, Malcolm X, and the brand new Black Panther social gathering utilizing Fb profile data. Within the days main as much as November eight, 2016 different advertisements particularly focused black People with anti-Clinton messaging.

Not all posts have been divisive (although most have been)

Whereas most advertisements performed into apparent ideological agendas, these posts have been often punctuated by extra impartial content material. The much less controversial or call-to-action type posts have been probably designed to buffer the politically divisive content material, serving to to construct out and develop an account over time.

For accounts that grew over the course of a number of years, some “impartial” posts have been probably helpful for making them seem authentic and construct belief amongst followers. Some posts focusing on LGBT customers and different identity-based teams simply shared optimistic messages particular to these communities.

Adverts focused media customers and geographic areas

Some advertisements we got here throughout focused Buzzfeed readers, although they have been inexplicably extra meme-oriented and never political in nature. Others centered on Fb customers that loved the Huffington Put up’s Black Voices part or Sean Hannity.

Many advertisements focusing on black voters focused main U.S. cities with giant black populations (Baltimore and New Orleans, for instance). Different geo-centric advertisements tapped into Texas satisfaction and referred to as on Texans to secede.

Conservatives have been focused on many points

We already knew this from the advert previews, however the brand new assortment of advertisements makes it clear that conservative People throughout quite a few curiosity teams have been often focused. This focusing on targeting stirring up patriotic and generally nationalist sentiment with anti-Clinton, gun rights, anti-immigrant and spiritual stances. Some custom-made accounts spoke on to veterans and conservative Christians. Libertarians have been additionally individually focused.

Occasions rallied competing causes

Among the many Russian-bought advertisements, event-based posts grew to become pretty frequent in 2016. The day after the election, an occasion referred to as for an anti-Trump rally in Union Sq. at the same time as one other advert referred to as for Trump supporters to rally exterior Trump tower. In one other occasion, the advertisements promoted each a pro-Beyoncé and anti-Beyoncé occasion in New York Metropolis.

Candidate advertisements have been principally pro-Trump, anti-Clinton

In line with the intelligence group’s evaluation of Russia’s intentions through the 2016 U.S. election, among the many candidates, posts slamming Hillary Clinton appeared to prevail. Professional-Trump advertisements have been pretty widespread, although different advertisements stirred up anti-Trump sentiment too. Few advertisements appeared to oppose Bernie Sanders and a few rallied assist for Sanders even after Clinton had gained the nomination. One advert in August 2016 from account Williams&Kalvin denounced each presidential candidates and doubtlessly in an effort to discourage turnout amongst black voters. On this case and others, posts referred to as for voters to disregard the election outright.

Whereas efforts just like the Trustworthy Adverts Act are mounting to fight foreign-paid social media affect in U.S. politics, the scope and number of at this time’s Home Intel launch makes it clear that People could be nicely served to pause earlier than partaking with provocative, partisan ideological content material on social platforms — at the least when it comes from unknown sources.

The psychological impression of an $11 Fb subscription

 

Would being requested to pay Fb to take away advertisements make you recognize their worth or resent them much more? As Fb considers providing an ad-free subscription possibility, there are deeper questions than how a lot cash it may earn. Fb has the chance to allow us to determine how we compensate it for social networking. However alternative doesn’t all the time make folks completely happy.

In February I explored the concept of how Fb may disarm knowledge privateness backlash and increase well-being by letting us pay a month-to-month subscription price as an alternative of promoting our consideration to advertisers. The large takeaways had been:

  • Mark Zuckerberg insists that Fb will stay free to everybody, together with those that can’t afford a month-to-month price, so subscriptions can be an opt-in different to advertisements slightly than a substitute that forces everybody to pay
  • Partially decoupling the enterprise mannequin from maximizing your complete time spent on Fb may let it really prioritize time nicely spent as a result of it wouldn’t must sacrifice advert income
  • The month-to-month subscription worth would wish to offset Fb’s advert earnings. Within the US & Canada Fb earned $ 19.9 billion in 2017 from 239 million customers. Which means the typical consumer there must pay $ 7 monthly

Nonetheless, my evaluation uncared for a number of the psychological fallout of telling folks they solely get to ditch advertisements if they’ll afford it, the lack of ubiquitous attain for advertisers, and the fact of which customers would cough up the money. Although however, I additionally uncared for the epiphany a price ticket may produce for customers indignant about focused promoting.

What’s Finest For Everybody

This dialog is related as a result of Zuckerberg was requested twice by congress about Fb doubtlessly providing subscriptions. Zuckerberg endorsed the deserves of ad-supported apps, however by no means dominated out letting customers purchase a premium model. “We don’t supply an possibility right now for folks to pay to not present advertisements” Zuckerberg mentioned, later elaborating that “General, I believe that the advertisements expertise goes to be one of the best one. I believe typically, folks like not having to pay for a service. Lots of people can’t afford to pay for a service around the globe, and this aligns with our mission one of the best.”

However that phrase ‘right now’ gave a glimmer of hope that we’d be capable of pay sooner or later.

Fb CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies throughout a US Home Committee on Power and Commerce listening to about Fb on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018. (Photograph: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Photographs)

What would we be paying for past eradicating advertisements, although?. Fb already lets customers involved about their privateness choose out of some advert concentrating on, simply not seeing advertisements as an entire. Zuckerberg’s stumping without spending a dime Web providers make it appear unlikely that Fb would construct beneficial options and reserve them for subscribers

Spotify solely lets paid customers play any music they need on-demand, whereas ad-supported customers are caught on shuffle. LinkedIn solely lets paid customers message anybody they need and seem as a ‘featured applicant’ to hirers, whereas ad-supported customers can solely message their connections. Netflix solely lets paid customers…use it in any respect.

However Fb views social networking as a human proper, and would possible need to give all customers any additional options it developed like Information Feed filters to weed out politics or child pics. Fb additionally most likely wouldn’t promote options that break privateness like how LinkedIn subscribers can see who visited their profiles. In reality, I wouldn’t wager on Fb providing any important premium-only options past eradicating advertisements. That might make it a tricky promote.

In the meantime, advertisers attempting to achieve each member of a demographic may not desire a means for folks to pay to opt-out of advertisements. In the event that they’re attempting to advertise a brand new film, a restaurant chain, or an election marketing campaign, they’d need as sturdy of penetration amongst their target market as they’ll get. A subscription mannequin punches holes within the ubiquity of Fb advertisements that drive companies to the app.

Resentment Vs Appreciation

However the largest challenge is that Fb is simply actually good at monetizing with advertisements. For by no means charging customers, it earns a ton of cash. $ 40 billion in 2017. Convincing folks to pay extra with their wallets than their eyeballs could also be troublesome. And those who need to pay are most likely price way more than the typical.

Let’s have a look at the US & Canada market the place Fb earns essentially the most per consumer as a result of they’re wealthier and have extra disposable earnings than folks in different elements of the world, and due to this fact command increased advert charges. On common US and Canada customers earn Fb $ 7 monthly from advertisements. However these prepared and capable of pay are most likely richer than the typical consumer, so luxurious companies pay extra to promote to them, and doubtless spend extra time searching Fb than the typical consumer, so that they see extra of these advertisements.

Brace for sticker shock, as a result of for Fb to offset the advert income of those wealthy hardcore customers, it might need to cost extra like $ 11 to $ 14 monthly.

With no bonus options, that worth for one thing they’ll get without spending a dime may appear means too excessive. Many who may afford it nonetheless wouldn’t justify it, no matter how a lot time they spend on Fb in comparison with different media subscriptions they shell out for. Those that really can’t afford it’d all of the sudden really feel extra resentment in direction of the Fb advertisements they’ve been scrolling previous unperturbed for years. Each can be a reminder that they don’t have the money to flee Fb’s knowledge mines.

However maybe it’s simply as possible that individuals would really feel the precise reverse — that having to see these advertisements actually isn’t so dangerous when confronted with the choice of a steep subscription worth.

Individuals typically don’t see price in what they get without spending a dime. Being confronted with a price ticket may make them extra cognizant of the worth change they’re voluntarily coming into. Social networking prices cash to function, they usually must pay someway. Seeing advertisements retains Fb’s lights on, its labs filled with future merchandise, and its traders completely happy.

That’s why it may not matter if Fb can solely get four %, or 1 %, or zero.1 % of customers to pay. It may very well be price it for Fb to construct out a subscription choice to empower customers with a way of alternative and supply perspective on the worth they already obtain without spending a dime.

For extra large information about Fb, take a look at our latest protection:

Fb admits its information drama has ‘a couple of’ advertisers urgent pause

 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Fb’s Sheryl Sandberg disclosed the truth that ongoing privateness revelations round Cambridge Analytica have some advertisers skittish.

When requested about what number of advertisers had paused their advert spending, Sandberg would solely get as particular as saying that “a couple of” had executed so, leaving loads of room for interpretation. She informed Bloomberg that Fb was engaged in “reassuring conversations” with advertisers with considerations about information privateness.

The slight chill is only one extra approach that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is shifting Fb’s relationship to the advertisers on the core of the corporate’s enterprise mannequin.

Within the interview, Sandberg reiterated that Fb’s proactive measures round privateness and safety — like doubling its security and safety crew from 10,000 to 20,000 employees — will negatively have an effect on profitability within the brief to medium time period.

“We additionally didn’t construct our operations quick sufficient, and that’s on me,” Sandberg stated.

She admitted that Fb has traditionally addressed issues on the platform as remoted incidents, an strategy that allowed extra systemic points to stay unaddressed.

“What we didn’t do till not too long ago, and what we’re doing now, is simply take a broader view, seeking to be extra restrictive in methods information could possibly be misused,” Sandberg stated.

“That is going to be a protracted course of… we’re going to search out extra issues, we’re going to inform you about them, we’re going to close them down.”

Regulation might defend Fb, not punish it

 

You understand what tech startups hate? Sophisticated authorized compliance. The issue is, Fb isn’t a startup any extra, however its opponents are.

There have been loads of calls from congress and critics to control Fb following the election interference scandal and now the Cambridge Analytica debacle. The federal government might require intensive advertisements transparency reporting or knowledge privateness protections. That would price Fb some huge cash, decelerate its operations, or inhibit its skill to construct new merchandise.

However the hazard is that those self same necessities may very well be way more onerous for a tiny upstart firm to uphold. With out a lot money or sufficient workers, and with product-market match nonetheless to nail down, younger startups could be anchored by the burden of regulation. It might stop them from ever rising to change into a real different to Fb. Enterprise capitalists selecting whether or not to fund the following Fb killer would possibly take a look at the rules as too excessive of a worth of entry.

STANFORD, CA – JUNE 24: Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg (R) hugs U.S. President Barack Obama through the 2016 World Entrepeneurship Summit at Stanford College on June 24, 2016 in Stanford, California. President Obama joined Silicon Valley leaders on the ultimate day of the World Entrepreneurship Summit. (Picture by Justin Sullivan/Getty Pictures)

The dearth of viable alternate options has made the #DeleteFacebook motion toothless. The place are folks going to go? Instagram? WhatsApp? The federal government already missed its possibilities to cease Fb from buying these corporations which are large social networks in their very own proper.

The one social networks to carve out communities since Fb’s rise did so largely by being fully completely different, just like the ephemeral Snapchat that purposefully doesn’t function an online identification platform, and the mostly-public Twitter that caters to thought leaders and celebrities greater than regular folks sharing their private lives. Blockchain-based decentralized social networks sound good however could also be not possible to spin up.

That’s left few locations for Fb haters emigrate. This would possibly clarify why regardless of having so many extra customers, #DeleteFacebook peaked final week at considerably fewer Twitter mentions than the large #DeleteUber marketing campaign from final January, based on monetary knowledge dashboard Sentieo. Lyft’s existence makes #DeleteUber a tenable stance, since you don’t have to vary your conduct sample, simply your model of selection.

If the federal government truly needs to guard the general public in opposition to Fb abusing its energy, it could have to go more durable than the Sincere Advertisements Act that will put political promoting on Web platforms underneath the identical scrutiny concerning disclosure of patrons as the foundations for TV and radio promoting. That’s mainly simply further paperwork for Fb. We’ve seen regulatory bills deter competitors amongst broadband web service suppliers and in different industries. Actual change would necessitate regulation that both creates alternate options to Fb or at the very least doesn’t inhibit their creation.

That would imply solely requiring sure transparency and privateness protections from apps over a sure measurement, like 200 million each day customers. This is able to put the cap a bit above Twitter and Snapchat’s measurement at present, giving them time to organize for compliance, whereas instantly regulating Fb, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Google’s social drawback little one YouTube.

Nonetheless, with Fb incomes billions in revenue per quarter and an enormous conflict chest constructed up, Mark Zuckerberg might successfully pay his means out of the issue. That’s why it makes good sense for him to have informed CNN “I’m undecided we shouldn’t be regulated” and that “There are issues like advert transparency regulation that I’d like to see.” Specific regulatory hurdles quantity to only tiny velocity bumps for Fb.

A way more consequential strategy could be to interrupt up Fb, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Fb is making an attempt to preempt these drastic measures with Zuckerberg’s latest apology tour and its buy of full-page advertisements in 9 newspapers at present claiming it understands its accountability.

Establishing them as actually unbiased corporations that compete would create significant alternate options to Fb. Instagram and WhatsApp must concern themselves with truly changing into sustainable companies. They’d all lose some economies of knowledge scale, forfeiting the power to share engineering, anti-spam, localization, advert gross sales, and different sources supply near Instagram informed me it gained by being acquired in 2012, and that Fb later utilized to WhatsApp too.

Each everlasting photograph sharing and messaging would change into two-horse races once more. That would result in the consumer-benefiting competitors and innovation the federal government hopes for from regulation.

But with sturdy regulation like dismantling Fb seeming past the resolve of congress, and weak regulation probably defending Fb, maybe it’s dropping the ethical excessive floor that will probably be Fb’s actual punishment.

Fb chief authorized officer Colin Stretch testifies earlier than congress concerning Russian election interference

We’ve already seen that first-time obtain charges aren’t plummeting for Fb, its App Retailer rating has truly elevated for the reason that Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and blue chip advertisers aren’t bailing, based on BuzzFeed. However Fb depends on the notion of its benevolent mission to recruit high expertise in Silicon Valley and past.

Techies take the job as a result of they get up every day believing that they’re having an enormous optimistic affect by connecting the world. These folks might have based or labored at a brand new startup the place they’d have discernible enter on the route of the product, and an opportunity to earn enormous return multiples on their inventory. Many have traditionally labored at Fb as a result of its advertisements say it’s the “Greatest place to construct and make an impression”.

But when staff begin to see that impression as unfavorable, they may not enlist. That is what might obtain that which surface-level regulation can’t. It’s maybe crucial repercussion of all of the backlash about faux information, election interference, well-being, and knowledge privateness: that dropping expertise might result in a slow-down of innovation at Fb that may  go away the door open for a brand new challenger.

For extra on Fb’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, learn our function items: