Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Facebook Wants to be the Barrel -- and We're the Fish

By Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D.

Steve Cheney’s post How Facebook is Killing Your Authenticity makes this interesting comment about Facebook:

Facebook is no longer a social network. They stopped being one long before the movie. Facebook is really a huge broadcast platform. Everything that happens between its walls is one degree away from being public, one massive auditorium filled with everyone you’ve ever met, most of whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in years.

I agree with the “huge broadcast platform” comment. But it’s not all Facebook’s fault.

Advertisers have lusted after the ability to fine-tune advertising messages since before I was born. Along comes Facebook with its offer of access to personal and social information. It’s no surprise that many advertisers bypass the “community” nature of social media and social networking technologies. Engaging with multiple communities takes time and money. For many it’s easier to fall back on the controllable broadcast advertising model: deal primarily with one-way communications that efficiently focus on purchasing.

How is this different from how Google serves us ads? As I suggested in It’s not true that “Google Doesn’t Do Social” I’m not so sure. Much of what Google picks up from our online searching and communication behavior is to a great extent “social” since it concerns how we communicate and interact with other people. We just don’t see how Google works as much as we see how Facebook works.

Does this mean, as Cheney suggests, that Facebook is really kiling “authenticity”? Not necessarily. I’m less concerned about authenticity that I am about Facebook’s being closed off from the rest of the web and search engine indexing robots. That doesn’t necessarily kill authenticity. But it it does hurt your ability to manage your own messaging, just as it assumes you only benefit by communicating with people you know.

That might be OK when you’re a kid. But in the real world it’s unwise to put all your communication eggs into one basket. Or barrel.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald

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