Facebook added nothing to my life - indeed it actually harmed some relationships since I figured people didn't need to communicate directly with me if they could follow my public feed.
Twitter became a vector for me to bitch about the world to no one in particular. Try as I might, I usually ended up sending out a stream of negativity which the world certainly does not need more of and it does nothing good for me personally.
I'm considering ditching LinkedIn, but that seems to be taboo - HR drones seem to expect a LinkedIn profile and get suspicious if there isn't one (this isn't a good trend IMO).
Since terminating many of the "social" media services in my life, I've felt better about how I present myself to the world. I no longer fret about that last tweet I sent out, or feel a need to check on my "feeds". That said, it does leave me looking at my smart phone and wondering what the hell to do with it.
a) this isn't true.
b) The whole HR drones thing is pretty lame. "Hey I assume I'm way smarter than everyone in this field because I said so".
is that right?
Nothing I've built or worked on (gdgt, Engadget, etc.) has ever collected or used user data or social information in any untoward way. You'd be right to assume there have been opportunities to do so, but that's simply not the kind of business I'm interested in being in.
What motivates this sort of attack, anyway? Jealousy? A sense of justice?
These are relevant questions.
You sound like you know what you're talking about, but everything you just said is based on a presupposed conclusion, hedged by the word "arguably".
In an attempt to get off on the right foot, I do not think that you have, or ever had, the same product as Facebook. Facebook's product is a straight social media business. However, if advertising was your primary source of income, you were in the same business: selling advertising. I will also grant that because of their product model, there is an implicit level of trust that is easily violated. This implicit trust is not as big of an issue for content companies, because the reader isn't trusting you with the gory details of their life on a day-to-day basis.
I learned enough in my time as a direct marketer to know that advertisers don't buy advertising on impulse. They buy it based on some criteria. That criteria can be really simple, like vertical alignment, or it can be more subtle. Vertical alignment is simple: E.g., I'm selling phones, so I want to advertise on a gadget website. Easy, but you can't build a business on easy alone.
A more subtle case is when an advertiser wants to target a demographic. Anyone with advertising inventory must go through some effort to identify who their inventory is comprised of. You're selling views, but views by whom? That is the question that advertisers must answer before they can buy, except in simplistic cases mentioned above.
This means that anyone in the business of advertising must have some means of identifying their readership. This is the same kind of private information that people fear Facebook is building and leveraging. The more targeted this information, the higher the premium one can charge to advertisers. The difference is that Facebook's product is a funnel for the information that drives their business.
As usual, matters are not black & white, but business like the ones you founded are on the same spectrum as companies like Facebook. I know that can be hard to see from the inside. You're looking around you, and you're feeling out the context. You're probably thinking, there's no way my business is in any way similar to what Facebook is doing. From a product perspective, I'd agree, but from a business perspective, it's not all that dissimilar.
EDIT: My post didn't even touch on the topic of list sharing and marketing "partners", because I don't want to be accusatory. I have no idea if you ever engaged in those practices, and they're becoming less common, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
I don't mean to levy an accusation here. It's just worth pointing out that using subscriber/visitor data as a profit center isn't uncommon. If you didn't engage in that practice, then I'll take you at your word. I'm sorry that my original language was accusatory. I didn't intend it that way.
They collect and market user information in an almost identical way to Facebook.
(in aggregate via statistical models + advertising to identified segments)
You may feel there is some kind of moral difference between the two, but in terms of information gathered and analyzed, there really is not.
I think the biggest catharsis that needs to happen this coming year is for people to realize how free services actually work.
Putting privacy concerns aside, which don't affect me personally, Facebook is a utility that is providing more value to me now than it did in college.
I beg to differ.
Just because they have some of your information is no reason to let them get anymore. You gave Facebook your personal information? Fine, you fucked up, live and learn - but have the sense to delete your account now and stop giving them more. They're only getting better at collecting and using private data.
Do this for a bit, then close the account.
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