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Free Me From Facebook Tiny House Hell

They aren't tiny! They aren't houses!

A small white paper house in tall green grass
Oleksandr P

I’m having a problem. Maybe you’re having it too: you log on to Facebook to remember a friend’s birthday or buy a used office chair, and every other post is not from someone you know, but instead some page you never followed or group you never joined, showing you its shitty nonsense. You block it and keep scrolling, only for a practically identical post to pop up again. For me, these posts are tiny houses. I cannot escape the tiny houses, except when the posts show me things they call tiny houses that aren’t tiny houses at all.

My best guess for how the tiny houses found me is that a few months ago I followed a Facebook ad to a site about a solar-powered fifth wheel camper. This was simple curiosity about its price (more money than I have), but I guess it told the Facebook robot-gods that I’m interested in weird things to live in. Though this is true, Facebook seems to have run this thesis through its algorithmic meat-grinder and decided that since I wanted to look at but not buy a camper, I must want to look at but not buy a tiny house. 

For a while, the houses were actually tiny, and they were actually houses. I’d get these unasked-for intrusions into my timeline of she-sheds and shipping container homes and I’d go “meh,” and keep scrolling. Sometimes I’d block the groups these images came from, only for the same group to pop back up a few scrolls later, bringing me another tiny house the way my cat used to constantly bring me dead birds. I was annoyed but thought, OK, I’ll briefly look at a variety of tiny houses, whatever.

The images started following a similar construction, like the one below: a long shot of some skinny space with a couch and a TV, and some stairs leading to some kind of loft space over a kitchen. I’d get these in different colors, or with different TVs, or with different couches, or with different kinds of stairs. I figured whatever content mill was making them was just tweaking their AI prompt to generate an endless stream of semi-identical rooms.

A tiny house from Facebook: a skinny blue room with a white couch on the right and a tv on the left. Stairs lead up to a loft with a bed, beneath skylights and over a small kitchen.

But then the tiny houses took a turn. They stopped being tiny, and they stopped being houses. Rather than iterating on the core quality of the tiny house–a house that is tiny–the persistent demons behind these images zoomed in on the bed-over-something idea. As long as a bed is on top of something, that makes it a tiny house, whether that structure is in a regular house or a palatial apartment.

Then, Facebook started showing me things that aren’t even remotely tiny houses. Sometimes it’s floor plans for apartments twice the size of the one I currently live in. Sometimes it’s just regular old multi-level houses. Last night, a group I’ve blocked about 50 times showed me a whole-ass apartment building.

I block these images, but I always hesitate to go further and report them because I worry some actual human content moderator will have to deal with what is ultimately a minor, pedantic annoyance. Sure, the sheer volume of these posts makes my Facebook basically unusable, but that feels way less urgent than some of the really bad things out there on the site. 

I recently made the mistake of going to some of these groups’ pages to try to understand who they are, finding words clearly written by actual humans like “an official Facebook page for providing our fans with the best internet content” and “One Day Maybe You Will Have a Tiny House” and a comment with a human name praising the group as “A page where I found really useful information. There is a lot of content on the website. I enjoy spending time on this page.” There is no useful information on this page and I do not enjoy spending time on it, buddy, but I recognize that by engaging with it, even in hatred, Facebook will turn my engagement around on me to show me more of these monstrosities. I am trapped in a hell house of tiny houses, each less tiny and house-like than the last.

The internet is full of AI crap, and we all know it’s just going to get worse. AI has come for obituaries and actual art and people’s jobs, so I guess I can’t be surprised it’s come for the place where I see pictures of my nieces and nephews and find out that a guy I met once ten years ago is subletting his apartment. The tiny houses come at me in a firehose, paused only by Doctor Who memes I don’t understand and comic strips where the dialogue has been replaced with vaguely Christian content and, once in a blue moon, a real human I actually know. If this is all a scheme to get me to buy the solar camper and flee to the woods where Facebook cannot find me, it’s working.

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