Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@ddmcd.com) consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management. Follow him on Google+. He publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain and volunteers with the Alexandria Film Festival. He is also on Linkedin. To subscribe to emailed updates about additions to this web site click here.

Can Facebook REALLY be Fixed?

By Dennis D. McDonald

Is it possible to "fix" Facebook without a change to its fundamental business model? I don't think so.

Trevor Clawson provides a good rundown of what's facing Facebook in his article Facebook Under Fire from Users and Advertisers. How can Trust be Regained? but I don't think he hits on the real solution.

What is needed is a profound and fundamental improvement in how open and transparent Facebook is about what it does with user generated data, coupled with an appropriate level of user control. This solution would require information being made available in near-real-time to users about who is buying their data and how the data are being used. 

I do not believe that Facebook or the advertisers and others it sells its data to will ever be able to accommodate such a level of "open data" and user control. Otherwise, commercial use of the web would resolve to the same "filter bubble" insularity that has created widespread self-selecting tolerance of "news" sources such as Fox and Breitbart.

Facebook cutting back on the sharing of data with third parties isn't enough. That doesn't tell people how their data are being used now and that is the knowledge that people need to make an informed decision about what data uses they authorize.

People have been complaining about this lack of transparency and user control for years. Even I was writing about it as far back as 2008 during my gung-ho social media phase.

Back then I thought that, once people understood how valuable their personal data really was, their and their systems' behaviors would have to change. But since then, the buying and selling of user data has become an integral part of the value -- and damage -- we experience from our web-dependence as, for example,  "relevant" ads follow us from web site to web site.

Were we actually able to control and fine tune how our data are used and receive monetary compensation for this usage the web as we know it would probably collapse.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. This article has also been published by aNewDomain as Can Facebook Be Fixed? Not With The Business Model It Has Now.

Addendum: For a very different corporate perspective on some of these same issues, see what Apple's Tim Cook said earlier this week in Jonny Evans' 16 seriously important things Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

 

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