Economist – Shared Article ‘Unmarked’

A popular refrain is that “the user is the product” when speaking of networks like Facebook and this refrain should not be valid. The user should be seen as the primary investor. We invest our time, we invest our social network and we invest our attention. We invest anything from minutes a day to hours a week and days per year. In such an environment the primary focus should be the value that Facebook provides to its users.

The Economist | Unmarked

As a follow up to Zuckerberg speaking to Congress “Over the course of his testimony, as the Facebook boss apologised for the leakage of data on 87m users to a political-campaign firm, his company’s shares rose by 5.7% and his own net worth by $3.2bn.” When normal companies have data breaches their value usually goes down and people walk away. In the case of Facebook, they are too endemic to contemporary culture to suffer much. We use Facebook for authentication, we use Facebook to stay connected with people who are not social media mobile.  If we want to preserve connections with friends spending less time on Facebook would result in knowing less about those we worked or went to uni with. It would also mean less sharing of images, videos and informal conversation. They have a monopoly which I hope will break. 

The “silo” that people have often complained about could become worse rather than better. “…the risk is that Facebook will throw up walls: its decision to kick third-party data-brokers off the platform has the convenient effect of both protecting users’ data and entrenching its power as a source of those data.” We are not a commodity. Facebook should not see its users as data but rather as communities. It should focus its efforts on encouraging community leaders, i.e sports organisers, event organisers and other people to interact with their users to create personal relationships that encourage people to spend time with each other offline.

In the early days of twitter, facebook and seesmic people spent so much time on networks that groups formed offline and then met in the physical world, in meat-space as it was called. Instead of looking at big data, at algorithms Facebook and twitter should focus on helping people find people with similar interests and passions. 

We should be in a reality where the more time you spend on a social network, the more personal connections you establish and as a result of this enrich your life.

Neither Facebook nor congress showed any interest in this. If we’re seen as users and data then what reason do we have to continue using Facebook? If we’re just entering data for marketers and shareholders to acquire wealth then we might as well blog, we might as well jump off of the platform. 

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