Currently, there is no other company arousing as much public interest as Facebook. It seems everybody is talking about the networking service. The world is obsessed with facebook. Around 741 million people all over the world use the social network, in Canada alone more than 16 million people are active users, very actively indeed as users spend 15 percent of their time online in Mark Zuckerberg‘s network (Statistics 2011: CheckFacebook.com and DigalBuzz). This is more than on any other website, and Facebook virtually monopolises young people’s social lives on the net.
Despite the rather obscure use of their users’ privacy, most users upload more and more photos, disclose the changes of their where-abouts, or post messages. Basically every change facebook introduces, entails criticism of their data security. However, this never changes anything. For example, if 1000 users delete their accounts in protest, there will surely be 100,000 new ones to join the network. Facebook has long reached the critical mass of users.
At the latest since Facebook’s introduction of automatic information sharing, many users have grown skeptical of the site. The most recent changes have not been made for the network’s users but the advertising industry. Facebook is becoming a platform for the media to publish their contents. Newspapers such as “The Guardian” display news items on the site, services such as “Spotify” present their music, and “Netflix” and others show their films.
However, the creation of the media platform is only the primary stage of the website’s project plan. The critical factor of Facebook’s strategy is that the network receives structured, machine-readable data of their users’ preferences – i. e. exact data in real-time as the users generate the information themselves: With the newly generated “ticker”, users will soon have the possibility to let their friends know about the books they have read, the movies they have watched, or the apps they have come across. The information transfer of having read an article of having heard a particular song happens automatically. After having activated the automatic transfer once, it is no longer necessary for users to trigger it.
Facebook’s new version, called “Timeline“ is meant to be a chronological timeline of your life. It saves practically everything the site users do. In this context, the slogan “the net never forgets” becomes obvious. Facebook believes that recommendations from friends are much more valuable than any advertisement. Automating the recommendations cuts out any coincidence, irrespective of whether the users carry on to consciously click the “like”-button to express their recommendations. If more activities such as buying or searching are registered automatically, Facebook will have a great volume of structured, machine-readable information about people’s preferences that we can barely imagine. This information is worth billions of dollars.
Effectively, this means Zuckerberg’s focus was not on Facebook’s users, but his intention was rather the creation of the perfect advertising system. Facebook intends and will have to make money with the network, after all Martin Zuckerberg will go public with Facebook next year. For my part, I am very keen to see whether Zuckerberg will succeed in maintaining the users and their largest possible benefit on the one hand and the site’s long-term profitability on the other. The network’s growth rate still shows a favourable outcome…
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