Facebook: Collective Naivete & No Alternative

What might be the most surprising, is the fact that there is such a fuss around Facebook.

“How can you make money if you do not pay users for your services?”, The 84-year-old Senator Hatch asked Zuckerberg. The question has gone around hundreds of times – including on Facebook – in the past few days. You see the incomprehension at Zuckerberg about this question. He is silent for a moment and then answers “Senator, we run ads.” Would the senator have understood this answer? We run ads. The senator would have to understand, surely a US senator. In America, resistance to sight and listening fees was unheard of anywhere in the world. Alternatively, cable subscriptions. Prefer free radio and television, that was the motto. We take the advertising messages for granted. It is the Facebook model “avant la lettre”.

Collectively naive

We are collectively naïve. The billions of users spend an hour a day on the Facebook platform on average, and no one, apparently, asks how the service is paid for in the air. Is it not even time that we realize that if a platform is offered for free, we have become the product ourselves? Every word we give away, every click we click that is the capture of the platform. Moreover, so we get very sophisticated advertisements on us. And not only advertisements (influence on buying behavior) but also messages, whether or not fake (influence on opinion, voting behavior).

Why do not we make BlockBook, a Facebook based on blockchain? Must be able to do it anyway. In fact, Socialx is already working. Financing should not be a problem. Facebook raised $ 40 billion in ad revenue in 2017. If each user spends € 15 a year, you have the same financial space as Facebook, without advertisers.

55 billion apps seem to be sent per day. If we are willing to pay one dollar cent for 5 apps, you also earn $ 40 billion.

270 billion emails are sent every day. If we ask a tenth of a cent per sent mail, there is a 100 billion pot to distribute. We can make some people happy about this, but you also build a nice threshold for spammers.

Two more thoughts, based on the Facebook surprise. The level of questioning by the US senators makes us think. But do not be mistaken. It is a daily occurrence in the Dutch business community if a management board has to present its annual plans to an average Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board also has the authority to appoint and dismiss members of the Management Board. My position: the level of the average Supervisory Board in the Netherlands to be able to assess whether the digital strategy of a Dutch company is right, is badly inadequate. It is dangerous.

No alternative

Second thought. The call from Lubach to say goodbye received much attention but very few followers. The reason: we can not do without, there is no alternative. We become socially displaced; society would be disrupted. It sounds heavy, but if tomorrow Facebook completely expands, there is really a problem in the world. Moreover, the problem is bigger than messages can no longer like or make appointments.

There is a parallel with banks. We can not live without it. Too big to fail.

First, look at the consumer bank. The bank makes payment transactions possible and also offers the possibility to save and issue loans. It can be agreed that only a fraction of the money saved can be lent. Fair interest rates are used. Every user pays a modest amount per month for the service, the platform.

It is not wrong, with such a bank.

There is no chance that it will go wrong as soon as a bank starts to speculate risky with the funds made available to it. Then it is no longer a utility bank.

Facebook as a “utility book” would not do any harm. It only goes wrong when Facebook is going to speculate with the behavior made available to it – compare it with the banks’ money. Will sell to unreliable parties. The content will interpret and censor. Opinions will influence. Elections will manipulate, whether or not via third parties. So that is what happened.

Butter with the fish

The moral: butter with the fish pays. It is completely reasonable to pay for Facebook, Google, music, film, bank transfers, everything we apparently want to use. In Technologyreview Mark Zuckerberg sighs that all the necessary security measures cost much money and are at the expense of profitability.

Ask money man, and go back to your original mission statement: “making the world more open and connected.” The new version became “bring the world closer together” last year. However, we do not want that at all, especially when it is being directed.

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