This BBC documentary looks at how Facebook plans to turn it’s 900 million users into billions and billions of dollars.
Emily Maitlis looks at the Facebook story, one that most of us are pretty familiar with ever since they made a movie about it (genius marketing strategy!) reports on its challenge – to build its advertising business from the personal information its users provide, without losing their trust.
There’s a particularly hairy moment, finally, when Emily is interviewing Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP Public Policy – where she rather eloquently points out the dubious ethic whereby Facebook will use the fact that you clicked “like” on a product to then use your name and image to advertise said product. Schrage is struck dumb for a moment; it was like his brain crashed – he was so obviously programmed to believe what he was doing was “right” when it’s morality was questioned directly to him it just didn’t “compute”. And perhaps it is the single-minded belief in the “good” of Facebook by Zuckerberg and his colleagues that is both it’s strength and it’s weakness.
The documentary was made and screened in the UK ahead of the Facebook float on the stock market and begins to pose the question about how much is it really worth and, more importantly, how does it make money without, by virtue of the fact it’s making money, lose the very thing (the trust of it’s users) that allows it to make money.
As a MetaFilter user, blue_beetle, accurately observed “if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”. While he/she was referring changes being made at social aggregation news site Digg; the sentiment is one of much wisdom that applies more broadly, and certainly is a fitting Facebook status update.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: INSIDE FACEBOOK
Makes it’s NZ TV premiere on Sky TV’s BBC Knowledge – Wednesday 29 August, 8.30pm