Just wanted to bring your attention to one of the articles the NYT published this week regarding the internal Facebook emails released by the UK.
Find the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/technology/facebook-emails-privacy-data.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&fbclid=IwAR0UdDnZaJ65zejZtQ7tDUEUT6fGwFX8ojThJyyq9gBfTyyMaY5I6KQSXlk
In addition to discussing work-arounds for collecting data without notifying users, they have also engaged in some very interesting business practices when it comes to outlasting their competition. In our class, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the many ethical questions regarding Facebook’s privacy policies. Reading a bit more about the large-scale ways that Facebook dominates was a useful perspective that has been partially absent from our conversations. In short, Facebook has been making decisions about how to interact with other app start-ups based on their potential to keep their place in the market cornered. For example, one of the reasons the video-app, Vine, was so successful was their link to Facebook. You’d sign up for Vine and it would suggest other Vine users to connect with based on your Facebook contacts. Upon realizing that they were the fuel to another company’s success, they not only restricted this connection, but also released Instagram video (Facebook has owned Insta since 2010). This example would suggest that Facebook is interested in being self-contained to maintain dominance, but this isn’t quite true. Ultimately, Facebook decided to grant free reign of other apps on the Facebook platform, as long as those apps send the data they’ve collected back to Facebook.
So where does this leave us? In the social media space, Facebook users are merely a product sold to companies seeking data. But other, smaller, companies are also part of that product and are also being sold by FB. Upon thinking more about Facebook’s aggressive business practices, I’m finding that they’ve become so unimaginably powerful that in a world separated by businesses and people, Facebook’s scale is so big that apps, companies, and people are all just ant-sized products. I’m left wondering what this means about Social Media Economics (if that isn’t already a term, it should be). Is this a whole new layer of our “consumer-based” system? Or does Facebook, perhaps, take the place of a meta-power that had already existed?