The Commercial Reality


“What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company.

I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads.

I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them.

Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook.

Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.”

Read more here: You Are The Product.

I decided, finally, to delete every single Facebook login or associated account that I have with that service and business. In the past I justified my decision to keep an account around so that I could have access to Facebook’s API and developer services… but at this point in time I really don’t feel that I ever want to build anything connected with that service… ever again.

I might lose some opportunities for growth or marketing but I’m not sure I’m losing as much as I once believed. It’s time for a new type and class of social network and Facebook cannot and will not be it. They’ve gone too far down this path and it is impossible for them to change.