For every new release, change, fix and massive overhaul that Facebook drops on its users every now and then, there is often some sort of uproar, complaint or concern that users have about the social networking site. More often than not, that uproar winds up being something along the lines of, “these new changes suck!!” or, “deactivating my account today following Timeline” but never have any of Facebook’s significant updates resulted in a mass exodus of millions of its users. For the most part, people just like to talk.
And then there are the intelligent, practical concerns of some journalists and tech pundits. Concerns about Facebook’s seemingly lax individual privacy practices, their advertising and monetization model being too invasive (and creepy) and the fact that Facebook is everywhere at all times.
With Facebook Actions, Has Facebook Gone Too Far?
And with the recent introduction of Facebook Actions, Facebook’s efforts in implementing some sort of Facebook interaction throughout every thread of our online experience has taken just one significant step further. With Facebook Actions, users will be able to indicate whether or not, for example, they ‘want’ or ‘own’ an article of clothing, if they have ‘read’ or ‘listened’ to an article or song, or if they have ‘watched’ a particular video or movie.
Essentially, through Facebook Actions, Facebook, and thus advertisers, will be able to develop a better, more accurate sense of how individuals are interacting with particular content and pages. Instead of simply having users ‘like’ an individual page, developers can now implement far more telling actions into their pages that show them, specifically, how users may be interacting with that content and those pages.
But throughout all of this, some have suggested that maybe Facebook has, finally, gone too far. That with Facebook’s increasing insight into individual actions, they have taken one more step closer towards the inevitable Orwellian future that many Facebook critics fear. By being able to get a more specific sense of individual actions, ads will follow us around, Facebook will watch us in our living rooms, and the government will have unlimited access all of our information. If we leave our house, they’ll know why because of Facebook Actions.
And to that, I say fooey.
But Isn’t This is What We Signed Up For?
For one, Facebook is the place that we, as a whole, have chosen to be our online information database. We could have chosen MySpace and Friendster or one of the other tens and possibly hundreds of different alternatives but, overwhelmingly, we chose Facebook. Facebook thrives on information and this is what we signed up for after all. The pictures, information and content that we have chosen to share through Facebook are, for all intents and purposes, now owned by Facebook.
But again, we gave Facebook this responsibility. When we flocked to Facebook in the millions, freely sharing with it our locations, personal interests and people that inspire us, we increasingly turned to it as the center of all things Internet. With that huge influx of information that we started to supply it, Facebook has brought it upon itself to sort and translate that information into something that benefits both itself and its advertisers.
Facebook Actions are simply the next step in helping to more accurately quantify that information with the end goal being that Facebook (obviously) wants to provide advertisers with a much stronger (and more specific) sense of how people are interacting with their brands.
Information Is Power
People are, justifiably so, scared of Facebook. Facebook has a massive amount of information on just about anyone that actively supplies their personal information to the massive social networking website. The solution? Stop supplying that information to Facebook. The reason why Facebook knows so much about its users is because people give Facebook that information.
Facebook shouldn’t be afraid of quantifying and sorting the information that its users supply into more meaningful, useful information for itself and its advertisers. By doing so, it can then provide its users with advertisements that are more relevant to their interests and therefore engaging.
That’s why I feel that Facebook hasn’t gone far enough. For Facebook, information is their number one resource; it’s not clients, or ad revenue, but information.
And to better serve us Facebook needs to find more creative and inventive ways of using our information — the information that we willingly surrendered to it — to provide us with a more fine-tuned, unique experience. One that isn’t full of useless, obnoxious ads that we typically ignore, ala Google Adwords or normal print advertisements. Instead, we should be compelled by what already interests us to seek new experiences that fall in line with those interests.
Facebook should be able to predict what we’re thinking and what we might be interested in, and tell us what to like.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester social media company based in NY specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.