Readers should take a look at a very interesting piece about FACEBOOK by Charles Peterson that appears in the current issue of THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS (I’m writing this on 2.12.2010).
(You’ll find it on the NYRB site –if you don’t already have a subscription– probably the best way you can spend a few bucks on reading material these days. I wish I could afford it. I’ve had to leave all my subscriptions go. I get my NYRB passed on by a good friend. Also –for my Staten Island fiscally challenged pals, the reading rack at EVERYTHING GOES cafe now features the latest copy of NYRB –thank you thank you to the enlightened soul who donated that NYRB subscription to ETG!)
The Charles Peterson piece gives a lot of background on the Harvard origins of FB, and affords quite a look at its “creator” Mark Zuckerberg; it makes a very class-conscious comparison of FB with My Space; and it explores a few interesting issues, such as the privacy issue.
Peterson –who deserves a lot of credit for this piece (which is actually a review of a new book about Facebook, which also sounds worth a look–) has some provocative observations about the future of Facebook in the world of Politics and Advertizing……AS YOU WILL SEE FROM THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT:
[Charles Peterson, writing in the current New York Review of Books]:
“The more disturbing aspect of Facebook’s involvement with advertising can be seen in the site’s plans to generate revenue. Rather than charging businesses for “fan pages,” Facebook sells advertising that then appears elsewhere on the site, as a way for businesses to build brands and solicit more “fans.” Because of its unparalleled demographic information, Facebook can sell ads that will appeal only to carpenters in one small town in Vermont, or to graduates of the Harvard Business School, or to residents of Manhattan who list “opera” as an interest. The site could also provide the most highly targeted political ads in history. Google can sell ads that will appear in a particular locality, as Scott Brown showed by buying up much of the online ad space for Massachusetts during the final days of his successful bid for the Senate. With Facebook Connect, it may be possible to show ads specifically targeted to Massachusetts residents who use words such as “Irish,” “Italian,” or “black” in their profiles, or who list their religion as Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. So far, however, advertising has only provided enough revenue for the site to barely break even, and many believe the site can only claim to be profitable because of creative accounting.
Facebook Connect, if it becomes widely used across the Internet, would enable Facebook to sell ads not just on its own pages but elsewhere as well. Google makes its largest profits through “search advertising,” where a query for “insurance” will result in ads for companies such as Geico or Allstate. But Google has never been as successful at “display advertising,” the name for the ads that show up beside everything online—from party photos to news stories—where it’s not clear what, if anything, users want to buy. Facebook, with much more precise information about its members, will likely be able to sell far more effective display advertising than Google. Whether members will be disturbed by this expansion of targeted ads—a person who lists her religion as “Jewish” may see Jewish-themed advertising not just in Commentary magazine but on every Web site she visits—and whether ever more targeted advertising will turn members off the site—does listing a love for the Marquis de Sade mean you want ads for leather?—remains to be seen.
If Facebook Connect spreads through the rest of the Internet, it will begin to produce even more radical effects. Google, the dominant force on the Web for the past decade, explicitly stated its goal at the company’s founding: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” But there are some things that many would rather not make universally accessible—and not just books under copyright. Facebook, with the private information of over 350 million members, now constitutes what Wired magazine has called a “second Internet.” By encouraging members to bring their Facebook settings with them onto the rest of the Web, Zuckerberg hopes to take this new Internet, with its pretensions to privacy, and place it at the foundation of the old one.”
[END OF my Peterson/NYRB excerpt]
Food for thought, eh?
NOW I see the wisdom of my Facebook Profile information, where I gave as my Religion STAND-UP COMITY (let them start advertizing to all those S-UP C. folk who come to my church service –always on Tuesday evenings at 11.17pm for the 4-minute hilarious-but-well-behaved service–needless to say.)
NOT to mention my political views: Facebook Friends know that I founded the CAVEAT PRE-EMPTOR Party last year!
[By the way, your Church & Party DUES are DUE.]
[ And ….a Caveat!: FACEBOOK knows where you are. So don’t make me come over there!]