Facebook Isn’t a Monopoly, but Something Must Still be Done
The issue of calling Facebook a monopoly, and how we could move beyond the corrupt social network.
Is Facebook a monopoly? Does it need to be regulated? What alternatives to Facebook could we create? The following is an article explaining the nature of Facebook, its consumers, and an idea for a new social networking platform.
Who are Facebook’s Consumers?
Facebook has engaged in some really horrible business practices, and there’s no excuse for that. But there’s something that really does frustrate me when it comes to discussions about FB. Their product is advertising.
I’m one of their consumers. I pay for ads, to attract people to my FB pages, my blogs, and even to articles I’m writing here. But more and more Facebook is being scrutinized and threatened with regulations that are making the company make it more and more difficult for people who advertise through them to actually run a successful campaign. In other words, the consumer is being screwed over.
Is Facebook a Monopoly?
Mark Stair’s view of Facebook as a monopoly isn’t quite right. It’s true that they’re the largest social network, by far, and that’s a major issue. In fact, I wrote about the damage that it’s done in other areas of society.
But while I agree with Stair’s criticism of Facebook, I cannot agree with his argument that it is a monopoly. That’s because a monopoly is an entity with a stranglehold over its customers. As I said, Facebook’s costumers aren’t its users. It’s the advertisers, and Facebook is far from being the largest advertiser in the world.
I also don’t think regulation is the answer, but that should be obvious to anyone who knows that I’m an anarchist. So what is the solution? Let’s take Facebook down with an alternative that makes the user the consumer.
An idea for a new social networking platform.
So, I do have an associates in computer science, but I’m not really a software engineer. I write a program when I need to do an analysis of some data, or when it allows me to repeat a task that I’m too lazy to do over and over again. I simply don’t have the attention span to write a massive application, not to mention that building a social networking platform isn’t something that most people could do alone anyway.
So far, I’ve yet to find someone willing to work with me on this project, and as much as I’d love to create it myself and perhaps make some cash off of it, I really just want the project to happen, so this article is going to cover as much of my idea as possible. And honestly, if it really works out as planned, I would be able to benefit from it, and profit from it, even without being the actual founder.
What really makes Topix unique, as far as I’m aware, is the idea of it being a many-in-one platform, where the core system acts more as a framework for multiple social networking platforms, all geared towards specific topics, hence the name.
Probably the closest social networking platform that exists right now is reddit. In many ways, each subreddit is a separate social network for a given topic, with reddit itself acting as the framework for each. However, it’s still not enough. Different topics require different features. Consider the following niche social networks.
- kitsu.io — a network for fans of anime and manga
- Seeking Alpha — a network for investment ideas
- LinkedIn — a network for professional profiles, job hunting, and so on
- ResearchGate — a network for scientists and other researchers to share their research ideas and communicate with one another
Could simply having subreddits really handle all the tasks of each? I don’t think so. Each of these three social networks requires having features that are specific to the topic. Kitsu requires a database for anime and manga, where people can review and track content. Seeking Alpha requires having a blog platform, as well as tagging and tracking of various financial data. LinkedIn requires a way for job seekers to search for jobs, and for people to post them. ResearchGate requires the ability to store and display PDFs and other research, as well as track changes, DOIs, comments, integrate the publications with projects, and so on.
A text based platform like reddit just doesn’t cut it. But what if instead, the framework allowed a creator of a new topic to really create new widgets that integrated with the Topix ecosystem, and which allowed the individual Topik to act as a nearly autonomous social network which fit the needs of its users?
That’s the goal of Topix.
Crypto & Blockchain
I would love for Topix to be built on top of some blockchain, whether an existing one, such as Ethereum, or a new one (I have another idea for that, but one thing at a time). I admit that the specifics would need to be worked out, but I do agree with many that Web 3.0 will be built on a blockchain infrastructure.
Include; Don’t Replace
So am I suggesting that people help build Topix and overthrow a lot of the niche platforms that I mentioned? Should Medium be replaced with a journalism Topik? Honestly, that’s not the hope. My real hope is that through the generation of capital through the production of the Topix cryptoasset, we could incentivize a lot of existing platforms, especially the niche ones, to integrate with Topix.
Users as Consumers
So here’s perhaps the biggest issue, if the goal is to totally flip the tables on how Facebook does business. If the user wants the kind of care and protections that should be provided to a consumer, they need to be the consumer. A business, both ethically and legally, has to put the consumer first. And since Facebook’s business model is that of an advertiser, it must put the needs of the advertiser first.
That means that users of social media will have to start paying, somehow or another. In many ways, that’s par for the course when it comes to DAPPs. We have to pay to interact with the DAPP. But we live in a world where everyone expects things on the internet to be free, or at least have a “free with ads” version.