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<nettime> Facebook’s perfect spam laboratory
Felix Stalder on Tue, 15 Jan 2013 12:12:46 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Facebook’s perfect spam laboratory

I must admit, I'm thinking about joining Facebook. It's such a
giant social experiment. The main direction seems to be to totally
obliterate the difference between advertisement and virtually all
other forms of speech.

In many ways, it has already achieved this, but only on a social
level, turning everyone into avid self-promoters, collecting friends
and likes, and more or less subtlety suggesting that everyone should
think with every post "is this really the image of myself I want to

Now, of course, pressure to monetize this new type of advertising
is mounting. There are shareholders to feed. One way to do so is to
enable paying customers to bypass personal filters and enter people's
private spaces directly. At this point, two price points have been
suggested. $ 1 for normal people's private space, $100 for Marc
Zuckerberg's. But if you accept the idea of price differentiation
here, there is no reason why this could not be done more fine grained.
Indeed, this can be done with infinite granularity and, of course,
based on real-time algorithms.

So, while now, everyone has a dynamic friend count, it's not far
fetched that sooner or later, this will be accompanied by a price tag
for personal communication. It's kind of like a inverted speakers fee
for everyone. Yet another form of democratization by media. Athens, we
are coming.


Friday, Jan 11, 2013 10:20 PM CET

Facebook’s perfect spam laboratory
What's really behind the company's scheme to charge $100 for the right to message CEO Mark Zuckerberg
By Andrew Leonard


Every day has its own Facebook outrage story. Friday’s entry:
Mashable’s discovery that the social media network was offering users
the opportunity to send a direct message to Mark Zuckerberg’s inbox
for the low, low price of $100.

Actually sounds pretty steep, no? Certainly a far cry from December’s
Facebook announcement that it was testing out a much more inexpensive
system that would charge only $1 to make sure your message got
through, instead of being relegated to Facebook’s mostly hidden
“Other” inbox.

So what is it? A buck or a Benjamin? Or do “famous” people simply
command higher price points? The Week got Facebook to shed some light:

    In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson says, “We are testing
some extreme price points to see what works to filter spam.” In
other words, the fee is an attempt to discourage people from sending
annoying messages to people they don’t know.

Facebook’s explanation might seem reassuring on the surface, but is
actually cause for alarm.

Yes, spam would not exist in its present form if marketers were
charged for every email they vomited out into the void. So there’s no
question that Facebook’s plans to charge for unsolicited messages to
strangers will cut down on the vast majority of spam that Facebook
users receive in their inboxes.

But what Facebook wants to figure out is the exact intersection
point between how much spam we can bear and what people will pay to
send messages to strangers. Where’s the sweet spot that marks the
borderline between an avalanche of spam that might (gasp!) discourage
Facebook users to log in and a new revenue stream for Facebook?

Facebook conducts such envelope-pushing experiments all the time
on its millions of users. I once had a Facebook spokeperson tell
me confidently that the company would never follow the disastrous
path of MySpace, which overloaded itself with ads to the point of
forcing of mass user migration elsewhere, because Facebook’s constant
user testing and monitoring would give the company ample warning
whenever it was stuffing too much advertising crap into our news
feeds. Facebook’s always got its fingers on the volume knob, ready to
turn down the advertising flow whenever the golden goose is in danger
of premature mortality.

Of course, the worst aspect to Facebook’s strategy is that if
they execute it perfectly, they can raise the volume of spam and
advertising so slowly and smoothly that we never quite notice just how
much we’re being bludgeoned by marketing messages. In effect, Facebook
is training us to be good corporate citizens, using our own observed
behavior to perfect their revenue-generating governance


-|- http://felix.openflows.com ------------------------ books out now:
*|Cultures & Ethics of Sharing/Kulturen & Ethiken des Teilens UIP 2012
*|Vergessene Zukunft. Radikale Netzkulturen in Europa. transcript 2012
*|Deep Search. The Politics of Searching Beyond Google. Studienv. 2009
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions. Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society.Polity P. 2006
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed Futura / Revolver, 2005 |

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