Sigh, the incoherent arguments by Mark Zuckerberg and his opposition to a paid for option rears its head in the comment section of technology websites where people fail to read – they skim the article, jumping around trying to pick out key pieces of information and then surprised that they get it completely wrong. The latest part of this drama is the proposal by Twitter to offer a ‘pro’ or ‘premium’ version of Twitter for more features and no ads (link). I always find it funny when I see people on one hand complain about their ‘privacy being invaded’ and yet on the other hand they some how expect websites to sustain themselves off the back of unicorn farts and rainbows.
The reason why personal data is mined is because it is that data that allows them to command a higher price when selling ad space – businesses are more likely to spend money on ads where they have a lot more control over who they can target because time and money isn’t wasted on a scatter gun approach where people who have no interest in said product end up getting the ad. Your person data which powers the advertisement platform are a way of paying for the services provided when you as a consumer aren’t paying anything for it – if you’re not paying for the product then you are the product. Then why introduce a paid for option? for the same reason why software companies have moved from perpetual licences to subscription, why music has moved from the sale of music that one can use indefinitely to one of subscription – because it provides a consistent stream of revenue with the icing on the cake being that it doesn’t include the privacy headaches associated with data mining and targeting ads.
I think Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey can see a regulations coming down the pipe – one way to avoid a potential disaster is to wean itself away from a reliance on advertising revenue in favour of subscription services. Mark Zuckerberg on the other hand is playing this BS game of trying to claim that he is doing something noble aka ‘I’m trying to connect humanity’ then the moment you ask him “will you offer a paid for version that is ad free and privacy respecting” his response is to ramble on about ‘poor people not able to afford a paid for version” even though no one was proposing getting rid of the free tier version. If Mark was really interested in the survival of his platform he would not only offer a premium tier, he would be looking at expanding services – offer a marketplace platform to complete with Amazon where Facebook can position itself as the ‘neutral platform’ since Facebook isn’t actively competing against vendors who are using the platform to sell products. Then there is Facebook gaming which will fit in the niche to compete against Twitch – offer a Patreon like service, buy out one of the merchandise making companies and provide the ability to sell said products through the that platform. It won’t happen over night but Facebook has the ability, if they want, to move away from a dependence on advertising which will help deal with the concerns that regulators and politicians have raise by both the EU and the United States.