Facebook, surf media, the WSL and the Great Lie!

It's a lie multiplier!

Yesterday it was revealed that Facebook had allegedly knowingly lied about the numbers of people watching videos on its platform for years. The Wall Street Journal uncovered that the possible malfeasance was much larger, and much greater, than previously reported.

And let us turn to Wired for a quick recap.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

But advertisers aren’t the only ones seething over the prospect of Facebook knowingly inflating its video viewership; members of the press are, too.

According to the complaint, which Facebook has dismissed as being “without merit,” the company may have been alerted to the analytics error as early as 2015 by advertisers who reported seeing an unrealistic 100 percent average viewership rates on some videos. It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become snarkily known as the “pivot to video.”

Now, of course this relates to surfing because everything relates to surfing but also because just last year the World Surf League announced a partnership with Facebook that it called “groundbreaking.” The subsequent roll-out was marred with troubles and grumbles and odd explanations for the number of viewers that is still impossibly murky.

Beyond the World Surf League, the surf media, alongside the lame-stream media, began its almost exclusive relationship with Facebook years ago. It is difficult/impossible to grow any sort of audience without the publishing giant and “likes” and “shares” became the new currency, with certain properties better at juicing those “likes” and “shares” than others.

All publishing, it seems, geared itself solely toward attracting a mass audience, a completely oddly unrealistic audience in both size and scope and Facebook fed this beast.

So, who cares?

Well, I do because I hate bullshit and Facebook is bullshit. Oh I know it’s just a tool and railing against a tool is tool-like but I still don’t understand why everything has to be such bullshit?

So damned fake and fraudy.

Everything is so damned fake and fraudy. I know it has always been sort of this way, that surf magazines used to print way more than they could ever sell, burn the extras and claim massive subscription numbers but that seemed like real work. Like, going to a burn bin and catching physical things on fire.

Facebook has streamlined the fraud and maybe even convinced people that it’s real. Like, the World Surf League. Do you think the powers that be in Santa Monica’s gilded offices really believe that there are millions upon millions of potential surf fans because Facebook has taught them that millions upon millions of “likes” and “shares” are out there or do you think the powers are in on the game, juicing the “like” and “shares”, lying about engagement to advertisers just as Facebook lied to them?

A lie multiplier.

Hell if I know and hell if my caring about it will make any difference but since when did a few hundred thousand people really loving something and engaging with something become so… small? So… immaterial?

Gimme the hardened little core and fuck the potential trillions.

Ido Dar-el
Deaf, Jewish, big-wave stud Ido Dar-el chasing trinkets at Cloudbreak, Fiji. Ido says he'll "never forget the only time I actually heard a tube at Zicatela (Puerto Escondido) riding at full speed on a thick seven-six, a brown, dark, sand-sucking cave and the… kaboom… in my ears just before being spat out into the light. I had tears of joy. It was so emotional." | Photo: Scott Winer

Besieged: Do Israeli surfers have a little PR issue?

Are the most beautiful people on earth a little too feisty in the drink?

Yesterday, Nick Carroll, whom you know well, reported on the violence, real and implied, women face when they surf. The story comes just as Mark Thomson, a well-known inflatable mat-rider from Lennox Head, is due to face court for the alleged assault of eighties pro surfer Jodie Cooper.

In the piece, called The Feeling of Threat, and which you can read here, one woman described being turned on by an Israeli surfer.

An incident in Sri Lanka, when she confronted an Israeli man who’d dropped in on her, almost went very badly. The Israeli’s legrope was tangled around her arm, causing her a lot of pain. “I came up and lost it at him and he then started threatening to kill me… I was very angry at the time but his aggression and intentions were very visible and I really did get very scared for my well-being… I went in crying and had a huge purply, green and black bruise on the inside of my arm for months.”

Now, Israelis are pretty touchy about how they’re portrayed in the press. And you can get it.

For seventy years they’ve been held to a higher moral plane than their Middle Eastern neighbours, told to hold their arm while the Jew-haters plot their annihilation and so on.

So when they hear one of their brothers is behaving poorly, it shakes ’em up. An ol pal of mine, the Deaf-Big-Wave-Riding-Jew Ido Dar-el, whom I profiled here, wrote to Nick Carroll directly (via FB):

I was in tears of anger and shame reading this caption.
Many israeli surfers dont have proper etiquette in the worlds line up,similiar to brazilians we come from over crowded impatient scene in beachbreaks.i have done several articles and posts in the israeli media educating the proper way of line up and crowds universally.
We have a booming surfing and sup scene of women here.
I dont recall anyone threathening a woman in surfing in israel.since its a small country and uncool behave that way.
I apologize from the depth of my heart in the name of all cool exprienced israeli surfers for that incident.
Im going to publish this screen shot in every fb surfing israeli page.
No way it could be performed again.

Of course, Israeli surfers do have an image problem. Great on land, feisty as hell in the water. Most surfs over there in the Holy Land, and I love the joint, I’d swing in with a headache from all the hassling.

I ain’t sure whether its that genetic thing of having to fight for everything they’ve got and, who knows, a katyusha might land on their heads any second so y’might as well grab every wave that comes, or that they’re at that same point on the surf culture evolution table Brazilians were ten years ago, Australians thirty.

Another question: why do we mention the nationality in the first place?

Because of that preconceived notion?

Day 2, MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro: “While tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas!”

So we're back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use. Portugal.

Ten years at Peniche. A decade at Supertubos. Despite the mostly crap surf it won’t cross Sophies desk marked Not to Renew. Rip Curl, the only remaining surf industry sponsor and power bloc and the main resistance to ZoSea’s 2012 hostile takeover, discovered the only successful, sustainable pro surfing business model in existence, namely the Bells model, and transferred it seamlessly to Portugal.

The model rests on two key factors: a willing government ready to stump up cold hard cash to underwrite the event and a major population centre nearby with a chunk of fans who’ll populate the bleachers. S’why Bells and Portugal remain fully sponnoed up on nexts years schedule and Fiji is not. It’s why the USA with it’s potential mid-west millions of fans cheer Kanye and have no clue about Kelly.

Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.

Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. Puerto Rico always struck me as a perfect place to run a CT as a penultimate event. Warm water, consistent surf, easy access to US fans and eyeballs. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.

So we’re back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use.


European fickleness swamped the site this morning and Asst. Comish Trav “the angry inch” Logie put the event on hold, then again before finally running six heats in slow but shreddable rippy head-high surf. The mental key to success, according to three-time World Champion Mick Fanning, who mercifully stood in between Kaipo and Mel for a second night in a row was “being OK with being uncomfortable”. As a severely sleep-deprived surf writer about to hurtle up the highway there was solace to be found in his advice.

The day started with injury drama. 2015 World Champion Adriano De Souza inexplicably buckled over in pain negotiating the shorebreak. He gestured for help, face twisted in a grimace of pain before a shoed man in long trousers helped him to the beach. Knee strapped up he returned to the water, surfed a wave with no apparent ill effects before buckling over in pain a second time as he rode a left. Popped a ligament. That gave Joan Duru a walk through and set a tone for the day of backmarkers staring down CT extinction finally getting an even break. 



I thought an-in form Seabass would maul Wilko in junky beachbreak with air sections. That is how the heat progressed. Last stanza of the heat and Wilko needed a 5.43. A score that is everything and nothing. A position Wilko has been in all year long and been shanked. Four minutes to go Wilko diced a little right, threw down a nifty little whipped reverse and kicked out with a minor claim. Fanning was unconvinced he got the score, I wrote down, “Nope”.

Judges finally highballed him and he sneaks through. You could watch that heat on the analyser all day long and get a different result each viewing. Wilko didn’t seem too fazed. Maybe the post retirement prospect of hanging with Mick and Mason on the Search has kicked in.

Close to seven thousand people on Facebook live, more than the J-Bay Final, more than any heat in France, watched Jeremy Flores dispatch M-Feb back to the QS. It took the Quiksilver ads shown in France for me to finally appreciate the M-Feb style.

But in current incarnation he’s wounded gazelle on the savannah for any competent CT surfer. It’s incomprehensible to me why he didn’t back himself up on the QS like Kanoa and Colapinto.

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 2 (H7-12) Results:
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.83 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.50
Heat 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.83
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.50 def. Michael February (ZAF) 9.84
Heat 10: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.10 def. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.66
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.26 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.36
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.44 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.16

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 9: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)

Opinion: “Martin Potter is a man reborn! He knows professional surfing like few others, like no others!”

The '89 World Champ is in the best form!

If this is truly the ’89 World Champ Martin Potter’s retirement lap then he is making me teary-eye’d. Have you been watching his performance at the Male Rip Curl Pro Portugal?

Have you been at least listening? Rare bits of true, deep-baked, knowledge are being dropped every fourth heat, or so. Unfiltered gems that I’ve been wanting, that I’ve been waiting for, for years. He is a man reborn.

Martin Potter, who won a World Championship in ’89, knows professional surfing like few others, like no others even, having both won a World Championship in ’89 and sitting in the booth for the past goodness only knows how many years watching every turn, every stinking squirt off the top.

I’ve wanted insight, true insight not just throw away responses to Joe Turpel’s meaninglessness.

And Martin Potter (’89 W.C.) has delivered at the Mayo Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

For example, on the post-show today, speaking about the Patrick G. vs. Griffin C. heat, he dropped an absolute bomb. Pat G. had just completed an air that Griffin C. watched from the lineup and Potter, who clawed a World Championship from the maw of ’89, said, “He’s such a grommet he still likes watching good surfing.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and am still wondering about it. Is it true? Is watching good surfing an exercise for the young?

Is that part of the “grumpy local” phenomenon? That “grumpy locals” are old and can’t enjoy the spectacle anymore?

I would very much like to know more about all of this.

Mr.Smith, You're on dangerous ground here. You're causing a major disturbance on my time. Chas: Just explain to me what a thruster is again…

Confession: “I thought a ‘thruster’ was directly related to sex. I thought ‘goofy foot’ was harsh criticism!”

And other misconstrued surf flotsam…

When Steve Shearer’s peerless work first started appearing on BeachGrit I was overjoyed. Good writing is rare, good surf writing even more rare and great professional surf writing is non-existent.

I don’t count Nick Carroll here because he is a god moving amongst us and above criticism. Anyhow, Steve writes under the name Longtom here, as you well know, and when I first read it I thought, “Well look at that, Mr. Longtom. Really bragging about your ol’ Long Tom there, ain’t you.”

In my mind “Longtom” was somehow similar to “Longshanks” which, if Braveheart taught me anything other than the futility of fighting the system, meant “Long Dick.” But it totally didn’t did it? Shanks are legs.


So Edward Longshanks who had William Wallace gutted was probably only a tall man.

Which leads me directly to my point.

Surf lingo is a cultural phenomenon. It is born amongst barely literate surf youth before filtering into the still barely literate surf masses and you must catch it quick and discern its meaning even quicker from reference points alone. Maybe easier if you are born in coastal southern California or Sydney’s eastern beaches but when you’re a kid up in the mists of Oregon trying so so hard to figure this all out many many mistakes are made.

Have you ever been tripped up by surf lingo?

I’ll start. I thought Sex Wax was directly related to sex. I thought Billabong was pronounced “Bill-a-bonic.” I thought a “thruster” was directly related to sex. I thought “goofy foot” was harsh criticism.

Your turn.