In the ReTweets and conversation that ensued, Chris Rinaldi asked: “If we’re not paying for Facebook, can’t they do whatever they want?”
My friend Lisa Hoffmann had this to say:
I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve realized we’re not Facebook’s customers: We’re its product.
Even if we took to the streets with pitchforks and torches, Facebook has no obligation to us. We’re not the customers; the advertisers are. We are the product the advertisers buy.
Our eyeballs. Our interactions. Our attention. Our data. That’s what Facebook is selling.
And we agreed to it.
If Facebook’s policy changes cause a walkout (they won’t), it doesn’t mean Facebook has lost customers. It means the product has changed. The user population may grow or shrink, the demographics may shift this way or that, and the behavioral patterns may evolve. And Facebook knows this. In fact, they’re counting on it. Every change the company makes is a calculated maneuver to create a product that’s more palatable (and pliable) to advertisers.
We are a dynamic product. Unlike a sprocket or a widget, our shape is amorphous. We can complain all we want, but unless we fundamentally and dramatically change our shape — to the dissatisfaction of Facebook’s TRUE customer — Facebook will continue to re-write the rules of playing its game.
And I’m just not convinced we’re angry enough to make that dramatic change.