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COMMENTARY | Facebook is a technological giant that makes money by promoting friendship. I admire those guys who created such a warm and fuzzy business from their college dorm? That warm fuzziness has translated into high finance. Their initial public stock offering will infuse the social giant with 5 billion dollars in investment capital. A Wired Magazine article reviewing the IPO called Facebook "The Next Google? Or The Next Groupon?" Facebook has taken nothing and turned it into a great big something. They deserve some cash for that?
What's wrong with making money by making "friends"
Facebook didn't invent social networking, but they took it out of those anonymous, seedy chatrooms and added color and multimedia. They brought friends and families together, then made communication fun. Facebook's SEC registration explains it: "Our mission is to make the world more open and connected." Their progress:
- 845 million users
- 2.7 billion likes and comments per day
- 250 million photos uploaded per day
- 100 billion friendships.
The Facebook business makes money by generating advertising revenue just like magazines or newspapers, but with a high tech personal edge. They monitor your profile to see what you "like," then market to your preferences. They encourage "friends" to "like" and "share" an advertisers' "Page" or websites. They rotate an ad on your "Wall" until you visit the "Page, "like" it or ask them to remove it.
Of course Facebook will change
Facebook changes all the time. They've modified privacy guidelines and "Page" interactions from "join" to a less committal "like." They switched profiles to a reveal-everything-I-ever-said "Timeline." They squeezed ads in closer so they could add a stream of friend's "likes" over and over again. (Yes, I know Sunnie likes Blah, blah Yogurt).
I don't mind Facebook making money. Isn't that the American way? Besides, I get a few things in return. I can share my writing and keep in touch with my jewelry students. I maintain contact with my family, even my brother in Texas. I've reunited with elementary school buddies from decades ago and friends across the country. I play games with people all over the world. For all these services Facebook promises never to charge me a penny, so I can put up with knowing they're making a mint and I'm just having fun.