The Real Problem of Facebook

There was a time when Facebook added value to my life. It was winter in Mumbai, and I was sitting behind a computer at home. Afer ignoring a few invites to join this new social media platform I finally changed my mind and created a Facebook profile. I saw photos passing by, parties and events that I had attended.  Had messages from people I had met a few months earlier. I was amazed at the ease with which I could maintain contact with them and follow their lives.

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That amazement about the power of Facebook and other social media has reduced. What value do they add?

We read weekly reports about the use of our data and how they earn billions from it. About how we are trapped by advertisements and fake news and how they are hijacked. How hate – which was hidden for a long time – seems to have found a visible place. About how badly employees are treated at Facebook.

What is at the core here is how technology is often no longer used to add value to our lives, but as something that our brains misuse to make a profit.

The value of social media

But what value do social media actually add to our lives? The newsfeed from Facebook has changed from a way of tracking how your friends are doing, to a list of viral movies and clickbait articles. I still scroll through it, but notice that it becomes increasingly more fatiguing and more mind-numbing.

Yet millions of people – including me – continue to do so every day. Facebook is arranged in such a way that I can not actually stop it. After years of analyzing our behavior, Facebook knows precisely which content makes people click, like and watch.

And although we think we are on social media to view photos of our friends and read news articles, we are especially stimulated by things that do not deserve beauty: viral nonsense, addictive games, attention, likes of others.


Add value to addiction

We love the dopamine shots that we get from them , which means we have a low resistance against the purposeless use of Facebook and other social media and tech apps. And that has changed the way companies trade online.

The question is often no longer: how do we add value to the lives of our users?

The question is: how do we make our users as addicted as possible?

Not only Facebook suffers from this, but the whole tech industry is obsessed with it. There is often no longer a question of the quality of the product, but of tricks to ensure that people follow, like, buy, etcetera. Silicon Valley and its international startup clones find ways to get people hooked to social media. Instead of creating growth, one wants to hack growth.

It is a focus on short-term gains. Not on long-term value.

And when that focus does not change, we get into big problems.

The question is: how do we make our users as addicted as possible?

Phase 1

The first phase will be that people become more and more addicted to useless technology. In fact, we have been in that phase for a while.

Phase 2

The next phase will be that certain companies, media, political parties, marketing agencies and other organizations try to abuse that technology. That phase has already started for a while.

Phase 3

The result may be – the final phase – that people will turn away from the world created online for them. That they will turn away from the companies, the apps, the organizations and the technologies that add no value to their lives, but only parasitize on their short-term impulses. People are gradually realizing that they are being fooled.

Honest communication

If companies and organizations are no longer concerned about delivering value, their right to exist is called into question. This applies to tech companies that are addicted to making their users addicted. This applies to politicians who use Cambridge Analytica-like services to change audience behaviour. Also, marketing and communication professionals who opt for tactics that exploit human nature, rather than for communication that is real and fair.

And that also applies to giants like Facebook. The real problem of Zuckerberg is to answer the question: how do we ensure that we become valuable to our users?

It is a question that communication professionals also have to deal with. Otherwise, they are not a solution to the problem, but a part of it.

About the author


Vikram is a Digital Media Strategy Consultant who helps small business owners grow their
business. He is passionate about blogging, digital marketing, and emerging technologies.

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