Inside Facebook’s Battle To Control Your Brain
We share our innermost thoughts on our blogs, our most personal of rants on Twitter, our most private of thoughts to a friend we’ve never met half way across the world. We are totally connected and yet completely disconnected. The person’s desk across from you – we may not even know their full name or where they stay but we know about celebrities across the world, people who we’ve never met and people we may never meet. The world has grown so much smaller but people have grown so much further apart.
Today, I was busy in conversation with a friend who confessed that in the midst of her very busy schedule and her husband’s equally stressful week – she barely got an hour with him, if that at all, every day! Sometimes their schedules were so tough, that they didn’t meet for days on end. She worried that when they eventually retired and she brought him a cup of coffee, he’d tell her he’d quit coffee 20 years ago and she wouldn’t have even realised! We laughed about how that would make a hilarious play (I have a show this weekend so everything translates into a script for me!) but it suddenly occurred to me that this is indeed a possibility! In our eagerness to share our opinions and thoughts with the world at large; maybe sometimes we forget our own, very small, personal world of a few select people who actually care. Sure some of our Facebook friends might mean well ad some of our twitter pals might even offer great advice and we should take all of it but not forget that there are people who live with you, who work across you, who meet you every day who care about you and can listen, help and make a connection.It appears that Khairy Jamaluddin had lied about the UMNO Youth Facebook page. Khairy had even lodged a police report, claiming that the person who put up the poster with the controversial remarks was “unauthorised” to do so and that the page was not the youth wing’s official Facebook page.
The administrator of the page had posted an apology on the page. But irreparable damage had been inflicted and UMNO/BN are set to lose more middle ground votes that they could ever imagine.
“Kami minta maaf secara terbuka kepada semua rakyat atas kesilapan mengeluarkan gambar yang tidak patut pada 17/18 Aug 2012. Admin itu sudah dikeluarkan dari fanpage,” the page’s administrators wrote in a posting late last night, just hours after Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin told the media that he was closing in on the culprit behind the poster.
The police is quick to say that the newly enforced Section 114A of the Evidence Act will not be used against UMNO Youth in this case.
If nothing is being done to haul up the culprit, the federal government is going to face more credibility issue. It is clear cut that BN/UMNO is immune to prosecution. No wonder unscrupulous UMNO linked bloggers are even used in advertisements promoting the party.
It is not enough for the administrator of UMNO Youth Facebook page to apologize alone. Khairy Jamaluddin must tender his sincere apology for trying to dupe us that UMNO Youth was not at fault in this senseless propaganda which screams religious bigotry!
This is another reason why a major overhaul is needed in Malaysian politics
I support UK newspaper Guardian’s decision to “force out”Joshua Trevino’s over his alleged role and participation in FBC Media. The company, Trevino included, is seen as the media consultant for Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s administration’s PR manager.
Trevino, in particular, is a prominent pro-Zionist operative. It is therefore strange that the present government would hire this consultant but at the same time tries to accuse me of being a “pro-Israeli” politician.
It should have long ago openly denounced him.
Najib needs to explain to the people
Trevino’s removal comes now but FBC Media has already been heavily criticised previously for its less than objective coverage of the Najib administration. BBC and CNBC have already disassociated themselves from FBC Media.
The situation requires the prime minister to explain his government’s relationship with FBC Media and Trevino. If he believes they are wrongly demonised then he should explain to the Malaysian people.
The rakyat have the right to know why its government works with a firm and its consultants who have been pilloried universally by international media.
Technology has made human interaction so much easier in so many ways but lets not forget what it was there for- to HELP humans interact not replace the human by your side.
The day will come, very soon, when your phone will hear the sound of a crying baby and an ad for diapers will appear. Or it picks up on an argument you’ve had with your spouse and delivers ads for divorce lawyers, along with a dating site or two.
Sound far-fetched? Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s former director of engineering, told Technology Review that the company was exploring ways to personalize ads based on audio recognized by a smartphone’s sensors, as well as location information. If Facebook “recognized music playing or even a person humming a tune, for example, it could suggest relevant online content or media purchases,” wrote the Technology Review, paraphrasing Bosworth.
Facebook isn’t just trying to make the world a “more open and connected place,” in the words of its founder, but is pushing to make our wallets more open and connected. It is racing against countless companies trying to wield the web, as well as the information we consciously and unconsciously share with it, to do the same.
From photo-sharing apps and gaming systems to hardware makers and location-based social networks, tech firms increasingly seem to have one thing on their mind: controlling the “buy” centers in our brains.
The websites and gadgets we use have become sophisticated drivers of desire, enabling brands to hit us with a powerful double whammy: We can be pitched constantly — and in deeply personal ways — and we can shop constantly. The iPod put a thousand songs in your pocket, but the iPhone has thrown in the entire mall.
In 1899, sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to describe splurging in order to show off. A century later, technology has introduced new forces that are reshaping the sphere of consumption. We’ve entered what I call the age of “continuous consumption”: spending because we can — and are encouraged to — any time, any place.
So what happens to our inclinations if advertisers have sophisticated ways both to suggest what we’re missing and to provide an immediate way to fill that lack? Whose interests will innovation serve, ours or the advertisers’?
The shift to an ‘always being pitched, always purchasing’ online existence is particularly glaring in the case of social outlets. The original model for social media was one in which innovation followed connection, but social media 2.0 is embracing a new model in which innovation follows consumption. “How do we more effectively connect people with each other?” has become, “How do we innovate to more effectively connect peoples’ cash with companies?”
Foursquare recently announced that its restaurant recommendations will include “Promoted Updates,” also known as ads, with dining suggestions from the company’s sponsors. Facebook, which pitches us on Pepsi and Visa through the smiling faces of our friends, is adding more ads to the site and building a payment platform to “simplify the purchase experience,” that is, to help you shop more on the site. Services such as Fancyand Svpply eliminate the life updates to focus purely on consumer fantasies: Users don’t share engagement news or baby photos, just the products they’d like to buy.
Not only is advertising more intimate — mediated by our friends, shaped by our clicks and, via phones, omnipresent — but shopping has never been more streamlined. We can splurge without a second thought — buy shoes from your smartphone the second you spot them on the street — and shopping online has been sanitized of all references to real money. Downloading a free app from Apple’s App Store requires the same steps as purchasing a paid one. The only way to know what I spend on iTunes is to scour my credit card bill at the end of the month. And research suggests the less contact we have with cash, the more we spend.
People aren’t just opting for small ticket items when buying on-the-go: On One King’s Lane, a home furnishings site, the average value of orders placed on iPhones is actually higher than those placed through its desktop site. One customer bought an $18,000 item from a smartphone.
Linking brands to the desire nerve-center of our brains and putting a mall in our hands at all times is creating unprecedented market efficiencies, which more quickly move our money into companies’ coffers and feed Silicon Valley’s data-industrial complex.
We’ve created the “perfect market,” said Rashi Glazer, co-director of the Center for Marketing and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’re seeing the fulfillment of the idea of frictionless transactions, where markets are totally fluid and efficient.”
But what about the people on the receiving end of the pitches that get thumbs twitching toward the “buy” button? The technological progress that from one perspective looks like an important economic stimulus could, from another, inflate a consumer spending bubble built on lack of willpower and vulnerability to persuasive personal pitches. Companies promise our data will help them “reward” us for good behavior. But the behavior for which a company like Coca-Cola or Denny’s wants to “reward” me may be not match my own idea of what’s “good” for me. Will the incentive to save up beat whatever incentive Barney’s gives me to splurge?
“We’ll end up in a situation where we live paycheck to paycheck,” predicted Martin Lindstrom, a brand consultant and author of “Brandwashed.” “We’ve become kind of like gamblers, where we get hooked on the moment, which could end up in situation where we’re in debt.”
While the world frets over the Internet-enabled information overload it confronts, little attention has been paid to the psychological and behavioral consequences of being transformed into continuous consumers.