A manifesto was released last week, outlining our future and the role of dominant social inside it. Mark Zuckerberg thinks we’re going to move to a better form of network.
As he puts it, Facebook has been trying to be the digital equivalent of the town square and now he wants it to be the living room. The tools that bring together feeds of stuff, carefully curated (:smirk:) from friends and family have been public(-ish) and we’re starting to want them to go private.
Framing the technology this way is clever. It turns the narrative from “we built a tool to network your private relationships and used it to bleed them into the public realm” into “it was always meant to be public or semi-public all along” — which even if it was accurate wouldn’t be how Facebook users may feel now that their shared love of a favourite movie is being used to manipulate them into voting Tory (or Democrat). But it is interesting as the hook for a manifesto.
Facebook is seeing its WhatsApp product, in India, leverage embedded encryption and ease-of-use to create unprecedented virality - virality that maybe it wished it saw in one-to-many posts. It says that shifting to becoming a privacy-focused network is its future, perhaps in part because of its seeing that success? But it has explained little of where it will serve adds or earn revenue in that new world.
There is of course still a little cynical left in me, which says that of course the head of the world’s largest social network believes the future of the world is social networks (instead of please god literally anything else). I’m not the only one to have posited such. But Mark Zuckerberg did lead us into this flaming hellscape. I suppose the least we could do is to give him a change to fish us out again.
Yours in HAT,