The more we learn about how Facebook operates and how much information it culls from unsuspecting users, the more I appreciate Apple’s antique but viable business strategy. For Facebook, as it is with Google, you’re a part of the product. You give up information in exchange for using a free application. Apple does business the old fashioned way. It makes a product that people buy so the company has an incentive to keep customers happy.
I like that approach.
Facebook and Google have gathered so much information about us that it can be used to manipulate us– affect our religious choices, impact our politics, and now tell the future. Our future. Funny thing. I didn’t hear anything about Facebook’s so-called Loyalty Prediction system in CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s answers to members of congress.
Did you notice Zuckerberg didn’t blink?
This Loyalty Prediction system has so much information about our habits and personal lives that it can predict– with a growing degree of accuracy– what we will do in the future. Wouldn’t an advertiser like to know you’re considering a competitive product?
How does that work?
Well, first, Facebook gathers information about us online– whether we use Facebook or not. Advertisers and websites share collected data behind the scenes. All those personality and health quizzes you took on Facebook? They all collect more data about you; data which is sifted, filtered, and mixed to determine not just what you are doing, but what you will do in the future.
Just as politicians and political parties can bombard your Facebook feed with information to incite your emotions to sway your thinking and feeling, advertisers can do the same to targeted audiences of Facebook users.
Isn’t this just the advertising business as usual?
Traditional advertising– whether TV ads, radio commercials, or print media– is designed to influence your thoughts about a particular product and often provides a call to action to try or buy or just consider. That kind of advertising– of the feel-good emotional variety or simple competitive comparison– is blatant and in your face direct.
Facebook’s methodology is insidious and mostly invisible as it preys upon your emotions in specific ways because Facebook knows what emotions will incite you to action (or, inaction, in the case of a competitor advertiser). Loyalty Prediction is another way to manipulate your emotions and psyche without you knowing what is going on.
Facebook is free but it comes with a cost. The company and its advertisers– via mountains of collecting data from across the internet– have developed highly refined methods to up user dopamine levels while sucking information from us that can be used to alter behaviors.
Why is that not illegal?
I have grown to appreciate Apple’s old fashioned, in-your-face business model. “Here’s what we make. If you like it, buy it.” Because if we don’t, we won’t. It’s an age old proposition. With Facebook, and to a different extent Google, we don’t know what they’re trying to do to us for gain and profit. Facebook has become so good at collecting and using private information that it can predict our future behavior and sell that to advertisers.
Why is that not illegal?