Facebook is a bank

Early on I was uncomfortable with Facebook and silicon valleys transition from hard technology creation to club building. In the era of personal computers we created tools that could make individuals more powerful. Since Facebook’s founding many new companies aimed to turn individuals into products sold to advertisers and influencers.

The fallout from this can be seen as Facebook testifies before the senate.

Companies like facebook have the same challenges that banks do. They hold customers valuables and make money with these holdings. The valuables that they hold can be stolen or used in ways that citizens would not approve of. They have incentives to inflate their stashes of these data holdings too. A banks behavior can easily ruin an individual, institution or society.

Some of these challenges caused banks to be highly regulated, monitored and insured. If people keep trusting companies with their personal information and communications these companies will increasingly have incentives that are at odds with a stable productive society.

I think we will be better off if people own and control their own data using blockchains and distributed technology. The vast majority of Facebook’s work isn’t the messaging client, wall, ‘like’ or photo storage. The most impressive part is their massive advertising backend that targets users of these basic features.

The costs to run the consumer friendly and helpful features is quite small on a per user basis. Internet storage costs about 4 cents per gigabyte a month, call it 10 cents with transmission. Most Facebook users do not use this much.

In many ways I think the internet today is the result of the reluctance for consumers to pay for services. Paying directly for the utilities you use would be cheap and result in ad free/manipulation free consumer serving technology. For pennies we could use tools rather then the other way around. It just needs to be simple and automatic… like turning on a light.