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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Opinion

Facebook continues to encroach on our social lives with increasing commercialization


Facebook was founded almost 10 years ago. It’s no surprise that the social platform has undergone many changes since it has been around. Although it looks different now, the key idea is the same: connecting with friends. Now, add businesses into the mix.

Rather than seeing every single post from every single friend, Facebook filters your news feed based on your recent interactions with its latest algorithm. For only $6.99, you can pay Facebook to promote your personal posts.

A post to your personal page initially goes out to a small fraction of your friends. If they like the post and interact with it, more friends will see it. Over time, friends and pages you no longer interact with disappear from your news feed. For those with more than 1,000 friends, there would have to be some sort of filtering, otherwise it would be too overwhelming.

“Facebook fades friends out the same way we do,” said public relations senior Jeanette Rivera. “Eventually, if we see them in person, that’s when those personal interactions come into place. You become interested in seeing that person’s profile and they come back into your news feed.”

It’s not that no one cares about the posts you share. It’s probably just that no one has seen it or interacted with your post. The most popular types of posts seem to be photos, funny articles and memes.

“I use Facebook for student organizations to advertise our meetings, to read and share articles and to connect with my friends,” Rivera said.

Advertising has always been prevalent on Facebook. What started as a social network has now moved towards a profitable business model.

“I started noticing the change in the past two years when Facebook started becoming a more strategic marketing outlet instead of a social outlet,” said Rivera. “I feel that Twitter and Instagram fill that void now.”

When it comes to posts about her personal social life, Rivera said she would not pay to promote them.

I asked a few students if they thought Facebook would still be relevant in five years. The answers were mixed.

Some reactions were a definite ‘no’ and going as far as to hail Facebook as “the next Myspace.”

“Nope. Not with all these new social media sites popping up so quickly,” replied finance junior Angel Nguyenly.

Others, however, seem to still have faith in Facebook. As social media continues to change and adapt to people’s needs, Facebook could still be a contender in the ring.

“It will remain relevant as long as they continue to buy out their competitors,” said communication media production senior Raven Hurst.

“For people in college, yeah,” said psychology freshman Rence Troiano.

Facebook has been around for a decade, but could it last another?

“There will probably be a better social network like it,” Troiano said.

By controlling the content that Facebook users can see, Facebook can potentially force users’ hands to pay for a greater organic reach. The lines between content creator and advertiser are blurred, and everyone becomes an ‘advertisement’ commercializing their social life.

Rivera explained that she did not initially “like” Buzzfeed on Facebook. After many of her friends shared content from Buzzfeed, it eventually became a suggestion in her timeline, urging her to like the page.

No one clicks on the ads in the sidebar, but now that advertising has immersed itself into our timelines, Facebook found a way to commercialize our content. Who would pay to promote a photo of the croissant they had for breakfast this morning? I probably wouldn’t pay to promote any of my content. I believe if my content is good in quality and people enjoy it, it pays for itself. It really depends on what you utilize Facebook for.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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