Facebook’s proposed pay-to-play changes are the kind of tone-deaf move that will hasten its own demise.
I am pretty much post-Facebook at this point. My relationship with the anti-social network has always been tenuous. As a member of the initial libertarian vanguard that promoted Ron Paul in 2008 I saw Facebook for what it was then, a biased platform for Mark Zuckerberg’s political agenda.
Facebook Pages have always been a source of contention for the company. They want businesses and groups on those Pages but they don’t want the wrong people to use them well. Back during the Ron Paul Revolution Facebook was changing the rules almost daily about how a page could interact with your personal feed to stifle people’s ability to organize and spread wrongthink.
When I saw that happening I realized where it was headed. Any notions I had of using it to build my personal brand ended there. It became immediately obvious that if the wrong people gained success they would change the rules to kill that success.
If you manage a Page on Facebook today you know how cumbersome it is. There’s no simple way to cross post from your personal feed to your page feed without engaging going through a bunch of silly hoops.
You can thank us libertarians for that.
Well, fast forward to today and now Pages are in the cross-hairs again. Facebook is considering segregating off all Page traffic onto a different feed, fundamentally altering how billions of people interact with them.
They are doing this 1) for money, by forcing page owners to pay to be in users’ main feed. And 2) to destroy the traffic of those who, again, are the wrong people who say/think the wrong things.
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and the rest of the internet 2.0 crowd are all about making you the product.
Fast forward to today and this behavior is everywhere.
The New Gatekeepers
Companies like Google, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook are all run by emotionally-stunted, malformed trolls. And, like all trolls once they know they have power they use it. These companies are all reflections of the personalities of the people who built them into their current forms.
There is a fundamental lust to rule over others inherent in the structure of these companies. And, in this libertarian’s mind, this lust to rule is a disease.
The more they reveal that lust to rule with demonetization schemes, shadow-banning (which has been around a lot longer than most people realize) and selective banning, the more people are turned off by them.
Moreover, the platforms quickly become the playgrounds for those that share that same lust to rule. Progressivism and cultural Marxism are the ideological safe-spaces of those with the most extreme form of this disease. So, it’s no surprise that those who run these companies will use their market power to leverage it to the hilt.
That’s where the impetus for Facebook’s new Pages rules come from. They still want your time and your data. After all, you are the product on these platforms. But, they want you in the “ghetto of low amplification” of your voice. Those who agree with them, of course, get preferred treatment.
Time is Money
Social media is time consuming. As a brand builder minimizing customer acquisition costs is the key to success. Constantly fighting an uphill battle against your communication platform is designed to stifle your growth.
And today they have tremendous power to separate you from your potential audience.
People like Jack Dorsey, Sergey Brin and Mark Creeypberg don’t want you to make money unless you toe their party line, and pay them for the privilege. That’s what they are saying when they demonetize your YouTube channel, lock you out of your Twitter account or, now, put your Page in a different feed.
That is fundamentally against the precepts of a free society. These are businesses built on publicly-funded infrastructure. They are both private companies and publicly-subsidized. They have share structures that preclude shareholder revolt. They are in bed with the government serving their interests and not yours.
And they are going for the Free Speech Jugular.
But for how long?
The Technology Curve
Technology is a fickle thing. It has a wicked depreciation curve. Customers are even more fickle. And the technology companies that currently circumscribe our lives will end up in the history books. The first one to die will be Facebook. Why?
Because it is the least useful to both users and advertisers.
Facebook is looking to stop the revolt by advertisers because it has the lowest Return on Investment for them. By cleaning out of your feed all those pesky things you like you’ll be annoyed constantly by the stuff you don’t.
Just like on every over-stuffed webpage currently being served by Google Adsense.
Moreover, you will have to completely relearn how to use Facebook.
This is moronic.
Facebook’s biggest demographic are people around my age, I’ll be 50 early next year. We laugh at stupid cat videos, discuss our back-pains and share pictures of our grandkids. Facebook is banking on us being too lazy to rebuild our digital lives on another platform rather than jump ship to a new one.
What they don’t realize is that what we’d rather do is just not log in at all and actually play with our grandkids. And the first company that makes it easy to migrate us from Facebook to the next cool thing will likely grab our attention.
Because we aren’t so sclerotic yet as to not be willing to change one last time.
Enter the Blockchain
And this is where the blockchain changes everything. The current internet is built on the same low penetration, shouting-style advertising that television and print media were built on. Most people spend their time online not wanting to be shouted at, but to meaningfully interact with, hopefully, useful information.
The problem is that the business model of these companies is built on not only their lust to rule but also their desire to seek rent. It’s still a middle-man-driven model where he who controls the means of distribution calls the tune.
But, what if we could fund all of our activity without having to pay Google an Facebook’s Troll Tax?
What if the blockchain can turn the value proposition around and turn the product (you) into the controller (Facebook)? Don’t think it’s possible? Then you haven’t been looking into the corners of the crypto-space.
A social media platform called Steemit already exists. It’s bandwidth and hosting costs are paid by the profits generated from the use of the blockchain that powers it. Content creators and curators are rewarded for their time and the whole thing is 1) free from censorship and 2) owned by the people who use it.
They are about to release a token platform called Smart Media Tokens for anyone to build a new social media network and power it from the Steem blockchain. All of that energy you currently spend posting your life on Facebook can be tokenized and freed from worrying about Mark Creepyberg pushing content you don’t want or simply taking away your voice.
So, while Facebook continues to try and lock you into a Faustian bargain with data siphoners, the next generation of internet applications is already waiting to leave it all behind.
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