Facebook is behaving as though it owned not only its proprietary technology platform but the friendship networks created on it. It doesn’t. Millennials believe that ownership of their networks of friends belongs to them, not Facebook, and resist their commercialization.
Ownership in the social media world of networks is different from selling products and services in the traditional marketplace. Understanding the underlying cultural context of “free,” “gift,” and “creation” is important to businesses, including and perhaps especially high tech companies. It is not impossible to monetize that which is free. Apple did that with 99 cent songs on iTunes. But it is difficult.
Giving economic value to social networks is the new holy grail in advertising and the media. An army of economists and mathematicians are at work on this task. To date, most of the work has focused on metrics — how many friends, how many linkages, how much influence. Facebook’s problems with privacy highlight the need to understand culture as well.
A great analysis of the current failure of Facebook in terms of data privacy and ownership of data in the networked world.