Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Facebook isn't the bad guy. Facebook makes the world (and our lives) better.

I know, this isn't the received wisdom. We're supposed to believe that Facebook is some sort of evil wall garden created to harvest our 'data' so it can make millions from 'selling that 'data'. I have to be honest here, I think that this is nonsense. For all that we should have protections from abuse, stalkers and so forth, the reality is that we get a huge social benefit from the existence of Facebook (otherwise we wouldn't all - or lots of us - be using it). Here's Alex Tabbarok with the basis for this, seemingly unpopular, opinion:
What could be more ours than our friends? Yet I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, most of whom I don’t know well and have never met. But my Facebook friends are friends. We share common interests and, most of the time, I’m happy to see what they are thinking and doing and I’m pleased when they show interest in what I’m up to. If, before Facebook existed, I had been asked to list “my friends,” I would have had a hard time naming ten friends, let alone hundreds. My Facebook friends didn’t exist before Facebook. My Facebook friendships are not simply my data—they are a unique co-creation of myself, my friends, and, yes, Facebook.
So when some self-appointed and probably self-important person tells you that Facebook should 'pay' to use you 'data' tell them (because this is true) that Facebook have paid us. They paid us by providing us with Facebook, with its social interaction, jokes, daft quizzes, community forums and cat videos. It brilliant. As Alex concluded: "Facebook hasn’t taken our data—they have created it."

And one last point, one I've being making since my direct marketing days back in the 1990s: commercial organisations want information about us (data if you insist) for one reason alone - to sell us stuff. We should be a lot more worried about why government seems to want loads of information about us - they don't want to sell us stuff, they want to control us.



Anonymous said...

All fine and dandy until that same data starts to be used for political purposes, which then puts it in the hands of governmental, or potentially governmental, entities to be used for whatever nefarious and covert purposes they derive.

I choose not to have a Tesco Clubcard because I choose not to offer Tesco (and its 'friends') the opportunity to analyse my lifestyle and thus pitch at me. I also choose not to use Facebook, never have, never will, because it was always obvious that the data-set would become attractive and thus be used for purposes that I may dislike.

But at least I've made my choices, so freedom is protected - those who made different choices should question not only Facebook and Tesco etc., but also their own naïve gullibility.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous[0] is correct about loyalty cards. An interesting article about what can be done with loyalty card data:
Note: I find this sort of thing interesting rather than sinister and for a full disclaimer, I work in analytics. I still won't touch Facebook though.