The sociology of Facebook

There’s been a complaint lately in my household.  Facebook has gone ahead with yet another ‘improvement’.   It is now “simplified” which seems to be an acknowledgement that the last “improvement” was not such a great improvement.  At the same time, it is just as rigid and impossible to individualize as the previous versions.

There is an interesting article about Facebook in the current issue of the NYRB.  You can link to it here.  The writer, Charles Johnson, discusses many aspects of Facebook and its success — including the elitist beginnings at Harvard that still give the site a certain cache.

In Facebook he sees a company that can begin to take on Google in the online advertising world, assuming that the Facebook Connect feature is widely adopted.

Facebook Connect, if it becomes widely used across the Internet, would enable Facebook to sell ads not just on its own pages but elsewhere as well. Google makes its largest profits through “search advertising,” where a query for “insurance” will result in ads for companies such as Geico or Allstate. But Google has never been as successful at “display advertising,” the name for the ads that show up beside everything online—from party photos to news stories—where it’s not clear what, if anything, users want to buy. Facebook, with much more precise information about its members, will likely be able to sell far more effective display advertising than Google. Whether members will be disturbed by this expansion of targeted ads—a person who lists her religion as “Jewish” may see Jewish-themed advertising not just in Commentary magazine but on every Web site she visits—and whether ever more targeted advertising will turn members off the site—does listing a love for the Marquis de Sade mean you want ads for leather?—remains to be seen.

Is this the advertisers dream, the civil libertarian’s nightmare or both — or neither?  The more fundamental question is what happens when the economics fail?  Facebook is marginally profitable.  Twitter is not profitable at all.

In the World of Facebook – The New York Review of Books

0 Responses to “The sociology of Facebook”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 27 other followers