Facebook is on the defensive. In a recent blog post entitled “Hard Questions: What Information Do Facebook Advertisers Know About Me?”, the Vice President of Ads, Rob Goldman addresses the question “if I’m not paying for Facebook, am I the product?”. According to Rob:
No. Our product is social media – the ability to connect with the people that matter to you, wherever they are in the world. It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper. The core product is reading the news or finding information – and the ads exist to fund that experience.
This all sounds great on paper (or in a blog), but in reality is rather hollow. The fact is, Facebook sell access to users to advertisers. It’s the access to you that is the product, which really does mean that YOU are the product.
I think I would be much more comfortable if Facebook came out with the truth and said:
“Yes, you are the product, that’s how we make money and how we can keep the platform love without charging for it. Oh, and by the way, we sometimes get both careless and greedy because, like you, we quite like lots of money. In those moments we make errors of judgement….sorry”
That’s the apology I want to see.