Rebuilding our tech stack for the new Facebook.com

From Facebook Engineering Blog:

When we thought about how we would build a new web app — one designed for today’s browsers, with the features people expect from Facebook — we realized that our existing tech stack wasn’t able to support the app-like feel and performance we needed. A complete rewrite is extremely rare, but in this case, since so much has changed on the web over the course of the past decade, we knew it was the only way we’d be able to achieve our goals for performance and sustainable future growth. Today, we’re sharing the lessons we’ve learned while rearchitecting Facebook.com, using React (a declarative JavaScript library for building user interfaces) and Relay (a GraphQL client for React).

Tons of great nuggets in here, and a lot that I can relate to in what’s we’ve been up to at my job.

Facebook reduced their CSS by 80%, added code splitting and added code budgets to help deliver what’s needed only when it’s needed. They also moved to GraphQL to modernize their data fetching.

It’s a shame Facebook makes products that are so terrible for society, because they really do build world-class software.

Google’s Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency

Wired writes about how Google’s Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency:

The thing is, though, even though it’s tempting to think of algorithms as the very definition of objective, they’re not. “It’s not really possible to have a completely neutral algorithm,” says Jonathan Bright, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute who studies elections. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Google or Facebook or anywhere else who’s trying to tweak an election. But it’s something these organizations have always struggled with.” Algorithms reflect the values and worldview of the programmers. That’s what an algorithm is, fundamentally. “Do they want to make a good effort to make sure they influence evenly across Democrats and Republicans? Or do they just let the algorithm take its course?” Bright asks.

Scary to think about the implications – intentional or not – of skewed search result data. Ultimately, people are building these algorithms and even if their intent is truly ‘good’, the possibility of pushing people one way or another is real. On a somewhat related note, there was a good Atlantic article last fall about a similar concern with Facebook.