How to bring down the Facebook.
While I feel the last threads of rebellion against the status quo petrifying from lack of use as I settle in to my third decade, there is one that has been stirred awake in recent times. What would it take to stop the biggest status quo: Facebook? Is that even possible? I am sure I am not the only one who has had cognitive dissonance with the app, who avoided creating a profile until the self-righteous glow became impractical to navigate a modern social life with. Even the annoying Farmville requests, getting a bit creepy face recognition and so much envy were no match for the voyeuristic entertainment, nostalgia and instant gramming of my artistic brilliance. It felt like a vice, but the price was right, and hey what’s the harm aside from shattering the illusion of being a rebel?
Ahh, the simpler times of the first decade of Facebook. Fast forward to today and the allegations against this omnipresent giant deciding the fate of the land of the free and others through use of highly sophisticated data targeting, unethical editorial policies and relationships as well as a casual attitude to tax bills, should be leaving a corpse of an app in its wake, right? If those scandals don’t make you question the reasons why Facebook should be curtailed in some way, well I’m sorry, we can’t be friends anymore.
Sorry, harsh I know. I won’t try and convince you of the why, but maybe my (imaginary) friend Scott Galloway can. His points on the four horsemen of the digital age (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple) having way too much power, therefore actually making them against the free market principles that most marketers hold dear, can’t be beat. Basically, the failure of democracy: kind of a deal breaker.
So the WHY is fairly straightforward, and has precedent. But the HOW is much more complex and difficult and annoying but let’s start that conversation with Facebook. The value in the company is the targeted advertising it can serve based on user supplied data. The benefit to providing that data is the insight users get into other people they know. So, what if users were convinced of the positive benefits of misinforming the platform? If we started to like, share and comment on things that were so far removed from the selves we portray online to our friends, what would happen? With an offline caveat, you could still be the person you wish your friends, relatives and employers to think you are, but Facebook would sell your data based on your lies. If your associates were also convinced, you would not believe what they shared and therefore the enjoyment in seeing their lives becomes slightly tainted. Resulting in more focus on actual people you interact with offline having more meaning, like an inside joke that bonds. Did you really share that? Nah mate, that was a fake one. Result, Facebook feed discredited, unless you really know someone.
Could this behaviour continue off app, in the wider web, so your retargeted ads to your fee also become even less converting? That one is a bit trickier as it gets in the way of the purpose of the internet for many, i.e reading and buying things you actually want and agree with, but maybe a stricter cookie law will take care of that, or a well made case for making your feed more interesting by sending you random store and news retargets. This fake following and liking could also work on Instagram. Would it be more or less interesting if a lot of influencers were only followed because you and your friends didn’t actually like them or the products they endorsed and hoped they failed? Is it even possible for the credibility of influencers to be questioned?
Now, sadly, the most unbelievable part of this fantasy. Who would benefit from the user experience and advertising decline of Facebook? And if only there were some media outlets left that reached different demographics in large amounts in creative ways that this sponsor could somehow convince it was in their interest to discredit Facebook. If only there were other mediums for behaviour change available other than social. Seriously, in 5 or 10 years that may be a question, and then it’s too late.
Even more seriously, is the idea of an campaign sponsored by traditional media that planted the seed of a what could be actually a fun way to change Facebook, by seeing how weird you can make it, actually that far fetched? With most of the other causes spoken for, I really think that this is a cause a brand could align themselves with for shareholder benefit. Would consumers respect that a brand was not only standing up for them, for democracy even, but understanding their love/hate relationship with bloody Facebook?
It’s a bit boring to simply ask to delete Facebook. It serves too many functional and emotional purposes to win over the private moment of triumphant deletion. But take a cynical and humour loving population that has heard the rumours of a dodgy company with a non-likeable CEO and give them a way to take back just a little bit of power from him, not to mention trick the people you know follow you but you don’t really like? I think at the very least it would cause Facebook to take out a few more ads on the streets and keep some other media in business for a bit longer.