You Can't See Me!: the Antisocial Behavior of Facebook, Inc.

*fittedwearer's note: Most of the point of this post is to remind people that the (undermyfitted...) Facebook fanpage still exists. Please be so reminded, follow the instructions below, and tell a friend. Aight, let's do it.

This isn't the first or the last time you'll hear me say that social networking is a unique concept in human history. If you want to hear me go on and on about the effects of it on 3D society and the folk who inhabit it, there are plenty of other posts here to fit the bill. However, today I'm focusing more on the workings of one of the friendsites, Facebook, to be specific.

Love it or hate it, social media is the newest frontier of human interaction, and one that makes it possible to maintain everyday connections which one couldn't (or wouldn't) using other forms of communication. You're not going to call all of your college buddies every day, but you can tag them in a status and make them feel special. You might only see your cousin in real life once a year, but you can talk like they live next door thanks to this new extension of real life.You might not have any real friends, but you might have thousands of followers. Indeed, social networks like Facebook make it possible to interact with more people on a larger scale than ever before...at least, that's what it did before.

Lately you may have noticed it seems like you only see updates from about 25% of your friends, and the rest are just networking ghosts who exist only in the same way that dark matter does...something has to fill in the gap between what you can see and what's actually out there. Sure, in recent times we could explain this rather easily as a few people talking too damn much and monopolizing the news feed, but this is something different. It's not your imagination, you are actually hearing from less of your friends and fanpages. The Facebook system is broken...and they broke it.

See, what's being done now is that Facebook has decided it's not making enough money from the advertisers it plasters all over the page (admittedly a necessary evil, "free" doesn't pay any of the bills) and wants to squeeze further profit out of you...by having you pay for access to all your friends. I'll repeat that. Facebook's new business model of social networking is to make sure the social aspect of their site is not working.

You may have noticed a new button called "promote" right next to the familiar "like" and "comment" functions. Click it, and you'll see that you can pay a fee (ranging from $7 for a standard status to $20 for a fanpage post, to more for more advanced "promotion") to make sure everyone who has signed up to see the content by having you as a friend or subscribing to the fanpage actually sees it.

I'm not sure exactly who the hell is going to do all that besides large companies like Coke and Sprint (who can afford better advertisement anyway), but apparently Facebook has decided that a good way to sustain and grow their business is to not give the people who made it what it is the functionality they come to the site for. Seems fucking retarded to me, but apparently the board of investors who now control Facebook have deemed it sapient business strategy.

Scrap the unmatched market share, lack of legitimate competition, unlimited legitimate advertisement revenue potential, and the free publicity it gets from all of society because it's become a legitimate facet of life in some circles...now Facebook decides which of your friends you'll be sharing with unless you're willing to pay. Unlike with most posts, I really don't have any solutions for this. I'm just as dependent on it for networking, light socialization and advertising as anybody else...so until I find a suitable alternative, I guess I'll still be on there.

However, that's exactly the point I'm trying to make...I wasn't looking for an alternative before. I'd imagine there are plenty of other folk doing so now too, and even more once word of the subtle bait-and-switch spreads. Facebook touts itself as "free, and always will be", but intentionally limiting the reach of sharing with one's friends isn't "free networking" any more than having your web connection slowed down by the provider after a certain amount of use is "unlimited internet". When a social media site gets anti-social, it kind of defeats the purpose of it existing. After that happens, it usually doesn't for too long...isn't that right, Myspace?

1 comment:

Toni said...

I cant agree more.