Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You Will Be Assimilated

Since the rise of Google+, I've been growing increasingly suspicious of Facebook. When it was no longer the only option available for a site of its kind that actually worked well and was popular enough to talk to people on it, it became possible to see past its ugly facade.

People wonder how it makes money. Or, they used to. I think at this point, it's glaringly obvious by their less-than-subtle advertisements posted everywhere, taking up half a screen on a mobile device before you scroll away. But the advertising space is pointless without the actual product of Facebook: us. You might have seen the image going around of the pigs who love their sheltered home and their free food, making it clear: when you're not paying for a product, you are the product.

Facebook has, since entering the stock market, gone through a number of changes. Specifically, I've noticed over the past month or so, it's seeking to get to know its users a little better. Have you seen the new "how your feeling" aspect of status updates? How about films and books popping up with the question to add them to your lists?

Effectively, this is adding to the information Facebook has to point ads more directly at us. The feelings less so, less obviously at least. But the books? The films? The music? It creates a database of what you like that isn't a like page. It allows Facebook to figure out what sort of person you are, what you might like, and with that information they point advertisements at you in the hopes that you click on them. You click, they get paid, they win. You've just been sold to an advertiser.

Between the feelings and the lists, it's clear what's happening: Facebook are becoming the Borg, and we will be assimilated.

(Now that this has degenerated into nerd humour, I think we should finish here... Beware of Facebook!)

1 comment:

Rebecca Woodhead said...

Lol! That's been the case since day one. If you're not paying for a thing, you're the product being sold. However, if you look at the ad functions in FB and look at the ones they've added in the last few weeks, it's pretty amazing how much info they have on you.

Bear in mind that Google is the daddy of this. You can't escape. What you can do, though, is earn a lot of money because of it, and use that to pay your bills while you write books. Oh, and don't forget that The British Library now owns all your status updates, so make them good. Don't get mad ... get ingenious.