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Why Facebook changes matter more than we think. Part II

Why Facebook changes matter more than we think. Part II

Annette Markham


To continue the point I was making in my last post, I see this Facebook Timeline video (and the rest of the recent FB changes) as a wake up call of sorts.

With the Timeline feature, Facebook is promoting itself not just as a contemporary tool we choose for this moment in time, but one we will naturally rely on throughout our lives to trace, document, edit, filter, and pass along our personal histories. What a clever rhetorical frame.

It’s not just a clever frame, but a slightly frightening one, if we don’t pay attention to the ways this company could weave a dense web of control over its 750 million users. If Timeline was simply streamlining the practice of dragging out family photo albums for sharing, that would be one thing. But it’s far more interwoven into everyday practice. Potentially, Facebook has the power to not just facilitate what we do, but define what should be the way we document the narratives and critical moments of our lives.

I can’t help but begin to consider how much my next 20 years (or more) of social activity and memory-making could be shaped by this interface, which is owned and controlled externally and connected to sophisticated target marketing. I’m beginning to think about the concept of “Corporate Colonization” much more concretely.

I’m wondering when they’ll start charging money. After we get totally dependent, I’m sure.

2 replies on “Why Facebook changes matter more than we think. Part II”

I concur, but I don’t think Facebook will ever charge us money; with the amount of historical data (thank to the desire to have a fuller Timeline) and micro-level consumption and quantitative data (thanks to the new apps which draw in TV consumption, or restaurant choices, or movies choices, or sporting preferences), Facebook will be able to ‘sell’ us as richer and richer datasets to advertisers. That’s where their money lies; we’re the product that FB keeps making more enticing for the advertisers, their real customers. Of course, the increasing side-line in Facebook Credit as a virtual currency within games – and more – the revenue stream is just getting bigger and bigger. All of which fits rather nicely under your term of corporate colonization, I think!

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