Thursday, 2 February 2012


You are the product

The letter from the CEO accompanying Facebook's IPO filing is fascinating.

Its opening paragraph is astonishing:

Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.

The sentiment is hammered home time and time again, and it's almost believable. Until you remember to qualify the company's lofty goals about wanting to connect everyone; it's only interested in connecting Facebook users with other Facebook users, not outcasts like me.

Make no mistake: Facebook users aren't customers. They are the product. The customers are the advertisers and consumers of Facebook's vast store of information about its users.

The CEO tells how Facebook will lead to a world of "better products", by which he means ones that only work on Facebook. He says the site will facilitate interactions with not just people, but also businesses and Government. It will make those structures accountable.

But who is holding Facebook to account?

Facebook could have authentically delivered on the opening paragraph. It could have converted to membership-based co-operative, a not-for-profit organisation or defined an open, interoperable architecture. I'm saddened to have read nothing along those lines. Instead I just read about a closed world and making money.

I'm not on Facebook. I don't think I ever will be. I am more than a product.

Posted by pab at 21:23 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!