Facebook is, at its heart, a digital launchpad that, as Rebecca MacKinnon points out on Slate.com, is a sphere "largely built, owned and operated by private companies."
Anyone in denial about Facebook's influence, indeed dominance of our means of communication, need only look at one simple fact: Pretend for a moment that Facebook were a country. It would have, based on the number of users, 800 million or so "residents," making it the third biggest country on the planet, just after India and China. In order to call proper attention to the worldwide scope of this new "country," MacKinnon suggests that we refer to it as "Facebookistan." One can only hope that both Sacha Baron Cohen and Michael Moore are planning films about this new destination.
But there is one quite disturbing aspect to this new place that so many people inhabit and to where so many businesses plan to move permanently. It is run by a management team on a new, 57-acre campus in Menlo Park, Calif., led by a guru who preaches re-engineering society by means of something called "radical transparency."
What this really means is that if you subscribe to Facebook, you are supporting the notion that we all would be better off if everyone on the planet were more transparent about what we do, what we think and who we are. In other words, the future of mankind is tied to the end of privacy.
It's easy to dismiss contemplation of a Facebook future in extreme terms. In fact, if the history of technological design is any indicator, Facebook's days might be numbered, since it has one significant business flaw. It manufactures nothing. It really creates nothing. All it really does is accumulate stuff that it can then sell...
...Facebook doesn't really sell you. It doesn't want you. It wants the data your personal or business existence generates. It sells data about you, and to push up its stock price, that data will have to vastly improve. Make no mistake, improvements are coming at a pace that makes Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock" seem like slow motion. As we speak, Facebook users are having their lives fed intravenously to advertisers seeking to pinpoint their messaging.
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