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The Facebook Dilemma

Over the weekend I just finished watching this insightful exploration into the 'Facebook Dilemma' - It is a fascinating doco put together by PBS Frontline exploring the questions that many of us have asked about Facebook and the misalignment of their ethics.

The doco explores the questions that most of us developing social media have to ask at some time - what is being sold, and to whom do we sell it? What level of transparency do I hold with my users? How important is it to make money? What am I prepared to compromise in my quest for cash?

I think the biggest challenge within Big Tech is that they actually have three sets of customers - First Customers are the people who use their software, Second Customers are the People who advertise, (Second Customers pay to access First Customers). But most important of all are the Third Customers - the Shareholders, and this is where it all seems to go terribly wrong - when the companies bow to a board of directors and the stockmarket, they often turn their back on first and second customers - a public listing seems to launch the quest for endless profit growth, profits before people, history has shown us time and again that there isn't much that they won't do to get there.

Personally I see a huge opportunity for community run social media - if I publish great content, that attracts attention page views = ad revenue = I get paid, not just a token payment, but a fair share of the dividends.

ย I know that it's been discussed before, and I think that it is timely for something like this to fly. ย Social Media of the people, for the people, by the people - with a clear charter and a run as a not for profit, all profits returned to the users. True Social Democracy on the web.

There are 2 hours screentime here - but it's well worth watching - it digs deep into a lot of the issues, there is a second part - I've linked it in the comments.

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    • One of the main reasons we never looked for external investment is the desire to stay independent from those โ€œthird customersโ€. Itโ€™s hard, but are trying to make it work.ย 

      Indeed, having a bunch of shareholders pushing money-agenda as the main cause is terrible. Yet, in Facebook case I think the situation is fundamentally different, in a bad way...

      Mark Z owns majority of voting shares. In effect heโ€™s not required to even listen to othervsharehokders opinion. He also has plenty of money for personal needs. In effect, all the decisions he makes could be entirely governed by ethical values. Instead, most decisions are driven by desire to grow revenue at all costs. He is in a special situation where he doesnโ€™t have to suffer a CEO dilemma, but that doesnโ€™t seem to make any difference.ย 

      As the prominence of Facebook fades we are looking forward to completely disregarding it as a significant reference.ย 

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      • The kids of 2030 will be like Facewhat??? Whats that..? There's parts of it that I love - so many people congregating around ideas and conversations is ย incredibly powerful, potentially wonderful, worldย changing, something that we all dreamt of for so long. But the powers that be ie. Mark Z have proven unequivocally that they cannot be trusted - so we need to make ourselves the 'new powers that be.' Hopefully working together as a synchronous collective - bring on the Data Transfer Project!

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        • I like to read you guys, bad people can not write this kind of thing, I'm glad to be among you.

          He is in a special situation where he doesnโ€™t have to suffer a CEO dilemma, but that doesnโ€™t seem to make any difference.

          It is the proof that mass money rotten any person whatever his rank, it drives crazy. You can observe this everywhere, whatever the field, including sport. I think you're well aware of that, since you've tried to protect yourself from it, great, but how much do you have the strength to resist? Few that's why the world goes so bad. Let's be the yellow vests of the web, this is our only hope ;-)

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        • That is why we decided that Educated Singles should have a transparent business model from day one.ย 

          1. No free profiles.

          2. No advertising

          3. No external access to the member base

          Having no free profiles have a number of advantages. We avoid fake profiles and our revenue stream is directly linked to customer satisfaction, and we have no problem living up to the EU data protection rules because we donรธt share anything at all.

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          • EducatedSingles - in the long term it will no doubt prove to be the best solution.

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            • It will! if your revenue is based on affiliate clicks, advertising etc. you are disconnected from what should be your focus namely making your customers happy. Today, thanks to the facebook scandals, there is an understanding that if something is free then you are the product. I don't want to be a product.

              That is why i hope that we will get the pay before join feature back in UNA like we had it in dolphin.

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            • It's a bit late to comment here, but I'd like to mention that I am working on just this: "Social Media of the people, for the people, by the people - with a clear charter and a run as a not for profit, all profits returned to the users."
              I call it RoundOF and I build it on UNA. See paragraph "Ownership" in the Terms of Use.

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