Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Monday, 16 May 2011 09:40

The fundamental problem with Facebook's business model

By

Facebook's ongoing reluctance to tighten the privacy and security of its users reveals the fundamental problem with its business model.  In order to maintain business relationships with the 'corporates' (who pay the bills), the users must be delivered on a platter.

In the eyes of Facebook, a 'user' is simply the unit of currency used to trade with the companies who provide the income stream.  The more 'users' delivered to the client, the more Facebook received.  Not a single user contributes a single cent to Facebook's huge data centre start-up and running costs.

Of course this is a simplistic summary of the state of affairs, but it usefully serves to identify the major players and what their motivations are.

If I were so kind as to want to invest in Facebook as part of some commercial arrangement, I would clearly want something in return.  Just about the only thing Facebook has to give in return is access to its users.  And the more users are able to hide themselves and their 'attributes,' the less value they have in the transaction.

Let's counter this with an observation of the very separate discussion between Facebook and the users.  Quite successfully, Facebook has told everyone to detail their lives in amazing detail.  More, to link with the people close to themselves - whether these links are personal, professional or social connections. 

What is kept (somewhat) out of sight is that the most attractive part of this mesh of interactions is the mesh itself - generally referred to as a "social graph."  Just ask Google.

In order to create a social graph, it is imperative that users are both encouraged to and freely able to link to each other.  No pesky privacy or security here!

And here's the issue, as Sophos' Paul Ducklin notes when observing each incremental change in privacy. 


Mostly we find that in conjunction with a tightening of security or privacy, Facebook manages to find two or three ways to open things up elsewhere.

For instance, there is the current dispute involving the use of the names and images of under-aged children in advertising.  Facebook would argue that it was in keeping with its (rapidly evolving / changing) terms-of-service, but it would seem state lawmakers would prefer to believe their own laws take precedence.

Also, as Ducklin observes, ""We want Facebook and its hundreds of millions of users to remember that we're not against the world's biggest social network.  When Facebook takes positive steps towards better security we're happy to say so, as we're doing now. But there's much more they could be doing, so we all need to maintain pressure on Facebook to keep on improving."

Unfortunately, the steps being taken in this instance are unrelated to Facebook's income stream.  Admirable of course, but not really addressing the core dichotomy.

I guess this boils down to the expectation that the Internet is free.  As a user, I pay my ISP for access, why should I have to pay again?  Crashing up against this whole problem is the fact that those who provide content also need to be paid.  But by whom?

And of course, we must in closing return to the title of this piece.  The business model requires that Facebook continue to exploit the users in order to encourage those who would actually give money to Facebook.  There's the problem.


Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

Now’s the Time for 400G Migration

The optical fibre community is anxiously awaiting the benefits that 400G capacity per wavelength will bring to existing and future fibre optic networks.

Nearly every business wants to leverage the latest in digital offerings to remain competitive in their respective markets and to provide support for fast and ever-increasing demands for data capacity. 400G is the answer.

Initial challenges are associated with supporting such project and upgrades to fulfil the promise of higher-capacity transport.

The foundation of optical networking infrastructure includes coherent optical transceivers and digital signal processing (DSP), mux/demux, ROADM, and optical amplifiers, all of which must be able to support 400G capacity.

With today’s proprietary power-hungry and high cost transceivers and DSP, how is migration to 400G networks going to be a viable option?

PacketLight's next-generation standardised solutions may be the answer. Click below to read the full article.

CLICK HERE!

WEBINAR PROMOTION ON ITWIRE: It's all about webinars

These days our customers Advertising & Marketing campaigns are mainly focussed on webinars.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 2 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site itwire.com and prominent Newsletter promotion https://www.itwire.com/itwire-update.html and Promotional News & Editorial.

This coupled with the new capabilities 5G brings opens up huge opportunities for both network operators and enterprise organisations.

We have a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you.

MORE INFO HERE!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments