The problem with social networks

Facebook 2018

I spent the all day and night reading about Facebook 2018, unable to place thoughts coherently. I had a writer block.

In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg decided to (1) learn Mandarin,  (2) to visit all the states in US. (3) to read at least a book a month and  (4)decide how to fix best the company he founded.

What kind of fixing? This Mark does not say. In my interpretation is he wanted to police his own company to perfection.

George Soros, at Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum

George Soros aged 88, remarried at the age of 83 for the third time,. His 3rd wife is from California. There is a 40 years age difference. Mr Soros said in an one-hour speech in February 2018
 “Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” said the Hungarian-American businessman, according to a transcript of his speech.
“This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”
In addition to skewing democracy, social media companies “deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes” and “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide”. The latter, he said, “can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents”.
Further we read
The business model of social media companies is based on advertising. Their true customers are the advertisers. But gradually a new business model is emerging, based not only on advertising but on selling products and services directly to users. They exploit the data they control, bundle the services they offer and use discriminatory pricing to keep for themselves more of the benefits that otherwise they would have to share with consumers. This enhances their profitability even further – but the bundling of services and discriminatory pricing undermine the efficiency of the market economy.
This means Mr.. Zuckerberg effort is futile. Fixing Facebook (or Google ) is impossible. There is a systemic"badness" in their mere existence
Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all internet advertising revenue. To maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and increase their share of users’ attention. Currently they do this by providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies.
Content providers also contribute to the profitability of social media companies because they cannot avoid using the platforms and they have to accept whatever terms they are offered.
Social Networks will disappear, concludes Mr Soros

Personality Marketing 

Communicators and marketers can now adopt a personalized approach to their work, ideally one based on behavioral science. But the execution lags behind the science while the claims of some marketers as to what personality marketing can do far exceed it. Moreover, public controversies like the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story threaten personality marketing’s potential before it has really matured.
Marketing to someone you know, or you feel you know, makes sense. Marketing to a morph mass of people does not make sense
Until very recently, the assessment of psychological traits (also known as psychometrics) was almost inseparably tied to questionnaires. Ranging from just 10 to more than 300 questions, these questionnaires ask respondents about the extent to which they agree to statements such as “I am the life of a party” (Extroversion) or “I get chores done right away” (Conscientiousness). 
 So what they do now?
Only about five years ago, the newly established field of computational social science provided an answer: digital psychometrics. Instead of relying only on people’s responses to self-reported questionnaires, scientists started using people’s digital footprints—their Facebook Likes, Tweets, browsing histories, and more—to make inferences about their personality (with their consent). Studies compared large groups of individuals’ traditional personality questionnaire responses with those same people’s social media behavior to see if their personalities could be accurately inferred merely by decoding their digital footprints. Based on large datasets containing both people’s responses to traditional psychometric questionnaires and the information captured on their Facebook profiles researchers were able to identify empirical relationships between specific digital footprints and specific psychological traits.
Now it is not clear to me what Cambridge Analytica did that it was forced to close down. Even more puzzling to me is what Facebook did wrong and how it could have prevented Cambridge A to sin.

I assume if digital psychometrics are adopted it is impossible to ask every person on Facebook to agree to use their  Likes

September 25, 2018


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