Back in the 60's and 70's a lot of young people got around
the country by hitchhiking. For a
long time, that was considered a cheap way of getting around the country, but
in the mid 70's some people started requiring hitchhikers to pony up some of
the expense. There was a popular
bumper sticker that spelled it out.
"Gas, grass or ass. No one rides for free."
This week there has been a controversy simmering over
content you post on your personal Facebook pages becomes the property of
Facebook. That includes the
pictures of your kids and vacations, your essays (notes), and the information
you share about yourself. Lot's of
people are pissed off about this and are considering quitting Facebook, but
they can no longer pull the content out of the Facebook servers.
The concern has to do with not only content ownership, but
privacy issues. Over the past two
decades, we've gotten kinda used to the idea that the stuff on the Internet was
free to us, except when it came to our own stuff. I'm here to tell you today is: that time has passed.
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and all the other social media
stuff started with the idea that they could make money by selling advertising,
primarily, and by providing large blocks of data about users to companies for
marketing purposes. Two things
have made all that wash away in the economic flood.
First, internet advertising doesn't work the way everyone
thought it would. Not enough
people are clicking through on the ads and buying stuff, so companies are
cutting back on their web advertising.
Second, Supreme Court rulings regarding privacy that stem from the Bush
wiretapping programs (that automatically reviewed telephone calls from
suspected terrorists to private citizens in the US) stopped the sharing of the
REAL valuable information about social media users.
The only way Facebook can share that data is by getting
implicit approval from the users to share that information, so they have
changed their rules to say, anything you put on our servers is ours to do with
as we wish. That way, Facebook can
start a revenue stream not only by selling the information, but now they can
sell the content. They can gather
the best of what you share to your friends and sell it to others.
Now you may say that is wrong. Your stuff is your stuff, you say. Well, there is a simple way to take care of that.
The next step is for these social media platforms to charge
a fee for you to store your private stuff on their servers. They can't use it, but you have to pay
for the right to keep your stuff there.
Let's say both of these are unacceptable to you and you
decide to quit the platforms. That's
fine, too. By stepping out of the
picture altogether, you now provide more valuable data to the platform. Advertisers, content customers, and
data miners now know who is more likely to participate in the Internet
Let's say you still want to be able to see stuff on the
platform, but not share your content.
Get ready to pay for that right, too.
For social media---any media for that matter---to survive,
there has to be someone to pay the bill.
It has to come from advertisers (who are less willing to advertise) data
miners (who want more accurate information), the sale of cost-free content
(that's New Tech Press, BTW) or from subscription (that's you).
the bumper sticker said: Gas,
grass or ass. No one rides for
free. Not any more.