Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why Oh Why ( number 2 in a slowing growing series)

...do people use Facebook? In two separate developments in recent days, Facebook has announced plans to charge people who send messages to certain members of the celebrity class (and all of the money will be retained by Facebook, not distributed to those who are making this revenue stream possible), and to provide their own operating system for mobile phones which will be constantly logged in and displaying adverts.

Given that most Facebook users are children this is desperately sad. The peer pressures to be on Facebook are immense, and growing as some websites require a Facebook login for access, never mind the ludicrous and evil association that classifies all your casual contacts, and indeed the relentless advertisers in the background, as "friends" with contributions that are to be "liked". And who knows what data is being collected to hand over to advertisers each time a user connects with a real friend or makes a posting?

Brand advertising is relentlessly pernicious. I have from time to time on this blog pointed out particularly irritating examples. Happiness is not about buying things, or choosing to consume one branded good over another. Indeed, although the foundation of classical economics, itself the root of modern day market theory, is built on the idea of choice, the idea that choice = happiness is utterly unproven. It is just something that has been asserted and then succeeding generations of economists have taken it for granted. I think there are real studies of consumer behaviour that suggest that the profusion of brands and choice, typified by modern supermarkets, bewilders and distresses. And if there aren't, then there ought to be.

So anything that "delivers" (their word, not mine) even more advertising to the most vulnerable in our society is to be utterly deplored. This website was supposed to be about students keeping in touch with each other not a goldmine for commercial interests.

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