How Facebook has changed over the years and Why we feel bad about it

It’s used to be friends and family-centric and now it’s not.

People were happy in the days when Facebook was only available for college students. It allowed me to connect with my old school friends and some distant family members.

Since I’m using it a lot over the years, so it’s part of my daily routine to see what my high school friends, college buddies, and family members are up to. It highlights the birthday events of my friends, and some of its posts brought gloomy news of the death of friends. Due to all these reasons, I love how Facebook makes me feel connected, even to those who are thousands of miles away from me.

The problem started when Facebook has moved to support “Pages” of independent businesses. It turned into a mess by entering into the world of advertising.

Many of you will agree with my point because now it has become less of a joy and more of a headache to use. Well, it’s kind of frustrating too, because just like Twitter and Instagram, it’s one of the most powerful tools of our generation.

Frankly, we’re also kind of addicted to it. Hence, we can’t delete it or throw it from our lives, no matter if it stole our data even the private data then shares this data with advertisement companies to earn revenue.

How Facebook makes money?

Being a public company, Facebook has to make money, I understand this. Well, it was free and still, it is free, (apart from the fact, declares that there would be paid version of Facebook in the future. However, there will always be a free version of Facebook available for users, he added).

When it became a public company, apparently Facebook needed to show its investors that it had a revenue stream and that it was a profitable company. To get cash, they need some products to sell ultimately they needed to figure out what it could sell. Of course, the answer to this question is “advertisements”.

The fact is Facebook knows everything about its users, and when we talk about everything it means “Everything”. It knows your birthday, where you live, your interests and who we’re friends with. Ultimately, Facebook can use that information to target advertisements at users. This information could be very valuable for anyone interested in buying space on the social network. Let suppose if you 17 and Ford knows that you’re are looking for a new car, that’s incredibly valuable information for the company.

These ads and recommendations are making Facebook’s service more and more like a jumbled mess.

I’m a big fan of the clothing brand Khaadi. I love cricket. I also like Nixon watches and I travel several times per year. Facebook should know all of those facts and the company is aware of these facts because I’ve published several posts on each topic. However, instead of recommending all related above-mentioned categories,  I’m treated to advertisements for iOS applications I’m not interested in, even I’ve never heard them before or I’m told that my friend likes MasterCard, Nestle, and Dell corp.

Does Facebook think that I’m going to go open up a MasterCard account just because of my friends “Like” the page? Am I going to go buy a water bottle of Nestle? Well, I know that visual cues may somehow sneak into my brain and push me to lean towards buying Nestle the next time I’m choosing between Nestle and Aquafina at the store, but I’m sick of seeing the information I don’t care about.

There must be a solution to that, I hope so Facebook knows that solution because millions of users including me still like using Facebook and, even though I’m writing this article, I probably won’t delete my account anytime soon.

Moreover, I’d like to see the company innovate on the advertising front, instead of implementing the same strategy websites have used for years. I appreciate location-based ads as they could be very valuable. Anyone would love to know if there is a sale on Khaadi or sphere in their city. It would be ok for me if its notification alerted me on my phone.

How it keeps growing?

According to Facebook, the company has around 2 billion monthly active users. Well, that’s incredible, and the growth is not going to slow down. However, Facebook needs to understand that when a product or service takes off on its tracks and stops being enjoyable, users are going to ultimately walk away.

On the other hand, many people around the globe deleted their Facebook accounts in the wake of revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s questionable use of personal data from over 50 million Facebook users to support the Trump campaign and many just think that it’s time to give up on social media.

Apart from that, we have also witnessed lots of cases regarding data theft, trolling, harassment, the proliferation of fake news, conspiracy theories, and Russian bots.

It is fact that Social media companies have never been transparent about what they’re up to with users’ data.

Although we are not clear about the exact use of our data once it’s gathered, however, we should not trust companies until we’re convinced we should. As currently neither regulations nor third-party institutions exist to confirm that social media companies are trustworthy.

The design of social media platforms like Facebook is to manipulate users’ behavior with a wide array of edge elements and interaction strategies, such as nudges and taming routines and habits, to keep users’ attention.

We can’t deny the fact that over time network effect has made Facebook not just more valuable, but also harder to leave.

Face can reduce all this garbage and frustrating events as it has the technical know-how to give users more control over their private data, but has chosen not to and shouldn’t be surprising. Since the current model of Facebook is revenue-based, and company would do anything to earn the revenue.

Here the real societal problem might be Facebook’s business model. It makes money by bumping users to provide their data to third parties then using that data in ways well beyond what users may expect. However, Facebook is doing all this without even understanding the potential consequences.

We know that leaving Facebook is simply not possible anyway. However, as individuals and society as a whole, we need to better understand the role of social media in our lives and politics. Everyone must think of that “Is it possible or worthwhile to trust Facebook?