You Are The Product, Stupid!

There is this rant on social media about the platform user interface, privacy, and functionality changes on and off. Every time Twitter, Facebook and other social networks introduce something new to their design or functionality, the user base goes berserk. So it happened recently with the new Twitter profile page, or the changed Facebook timeline, or even with Condoleezza Rice starting work at Dropbox.

For them, you are not a “user”, you ARE the product, dear! Or more correctly – the content YOU create on their platform. So you are the product, and this product Facebook or Twitter sell to advertisers, not their platforms. So get over it and channel your disagreement towards making the content better!

I understand that this is frustrating, and it is getting on your nerves. Change always comes with a sort of unease, and it is straightforward to slide you down to that “hate” Twitter is notoriously famous for, or the Facebook post that will get tons of Likes and Shares. Your content is what makes the Internet progress. Your affiliations, desires, and shared previous experiences are the ones that drive the ads you see on your timeline, the suggestions on whom to friend or follow, and size of the pictures of cute kittens you see. And this pays the bills, the future redesign and the number of new functionality you have requested or you have never thought you needed.

Don’t get mad at Twitter, for changing their layout and looking more like Facebook! They need to serve you ads to make money. Feeding you with the right ads requires them to 1) have a bigger canvas, 2) know more about what moves you and 3) offer you an easier way to use the platform and spend as much more time as possible on it.

Don’t be angry with Facebook to enlarge the pictures displayed in your timeline or have that awkwardly big font! For years you have shared photos of yourself and your escapades. You have interacted less with text-based posts and focused more on the graphic ones (video included). So Facebook decided to give it a try to make that wordy status update more visible. Maybe you would like it better that way. Maybe you would start reading the ad text as well…

Don’t attack Dropbox for choosing to offer Condoleezza Rice a seat on its board of directors table! It is their choice to get ahead with the regulations and solve business problems. It is up to you to continue using the service or not, knowing that she is part of the company.

Don’t blame the news platforms for using your content to make money! Blame them for not asking you! Or if they did, ask something in return – a proper attribution with a link to your website, a lump sum of gazillion Vietnamese dongs, or a meatball on a stick! If they have shameless stole your content, ask them why to sue them or even cry a little! But don’t tell me “Eh, there is nothing I can do…”, because tomorrow you’ll be sorry. Everyone will be.

So don’t get mad, get even!

You are the product. Use that! Demand a better explanation of why things are changed! Demand a better package! Insist on handling with the utmost care, so you can continue contributing with content! Decrease your presence or stop using the platform! Find or create yourself another one. Ask your friends to join you. Explain to them why you moved.  You need to signal that something is wrong and you do not feel comfortable with it. So it happened with Facebook’s Privacy terms at the end of 2012 or Google Wave four years ago.  The former postponed and introduced changes to its proposed new privacy terms and the latter ceased existing because it was too cluttered for users to work with it. There is always a way out, you know? You Basta and you are done. Deactivate, delete or remove yourself from the service! No more content from you means no more content the platform can use. Nothing scares a shopkeeper more than the deserted streets around his shop during work hours.

It is your choice and yours only.

Thanks to @VSchwarz for picking up on the other side.

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More reading on this topic: “Facebook’s News Feed: What Changed and Why” by

Copyright © 2014 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.