Inside Facebook

I just caught the last half of a documentary about Facebook, which was fairly decent despite being on the BBC. This link should show you when it’s repeated:

Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook TV Schedule

Decent in that I learned something about the various business models that I didn’t know. And the journalist talked about technical details of a subject I understand without being wrong, which is rare. And it wasn’t a hatchet job about the dangers and risks and general awfulness of Facebook and business in general.

In fact the criticism of Facebook was pretty weak. If I “like” a company on Facebook, it can pay to display adverts to my friends that say, “Rob Fisher likes [company]“. This could be construed as using me in an advert without my consent. Or maybe not. The documentary did not seem to have a strong opinion.

And there were academics interviewed who made arguments such as: by keeping in touch with more people, we are having fewer close friendships. Well, anyone can tell for themselves whether that is true, and whether it is a problem.

But the best bits were the bits explaining how Facebook makes money. This included a demonstration of the information available to someone creating an advert. The example was a product for brides, and showed how various filters could be applied (“female”, “engaged”, “interested in beauty”) to see how many people would see the advert. This looked powerful. But not as powerful as the use of Facebook to talk to customers. This segment concentrated on companies’ attempts to get people to leave comments on their pages so that the comments get shown to friends, thereby generating a kind of word-of-mouth advert.

It strikes me that the best way for a company to use Facebook is to let your employees have real conversations, like real people. The documentary didn’t really go there, unfortunately.