Category Archives: Facebook ~ Toby Sherwood

Wrong self presentation – What is Facebook doing to you.

Facebook prides itself on its ‘growth over money’ strategy, revolving around the principles that people want to share and stay connected.[1] One idea explains that a more connected and integrated society will be a better one, but that is not really within the realms of a Facebook blog. Facebook argues that if people are in control of what they share and can do it with ease the integrated community can come into affect. Facebook has a large effect on our society and how we interact, from, social comparison to regretting our Internet footprint social media has become the ground in which socializing occurs. An online presence or persona is becoming much more of a requirement for integration into our communities and this edition of the blog aims to explore how and why Facebook has taken control.


One of the few positive notes on Facebook’s effect on society is that some say that the transparency of our social lives is beginning to force us to behave like better people. The concept is that more visibility on what we do means that we are becoming more aware of the consequences of actions and thus behaving accordingly. Some arguments point to young people cheating less due to the high likelihood that other members of the social group, particularly the girlfriend/boyfriend will see. Another view could be that society is getting more tolerant on mistakes and embarrassing events, since the evidence of the these events are now permanent people are beginning to accept they do happen and that they should be forgotten.


On a lower note, research suggests that Facebook is making us sadder and lonelier. With social comparisons between our friends and us make users “feel their life may not be as full or rich as others around them”. Researchers send texts to a select group of participants at random times during the day, they reveled feeling more glum and down after using Facebook, although it was not reported whether Facebook was used as a crutch for previous sadness, or the motivator for the alteration in mood. Remarkably the survey reported the effect was more pronounced on users who interacted more face-to-face. Supposedly the more real contact a person receives the more affected they are by the comparisons on Facebook becoming more sensitized about you’re their own lives.  This interesting concept is sure to be examined in years to come, with the whole nature of communication changing, experts will soon look at how this change affects our mood and wellbeing.[2]


Another point that needs raising is the constantly evolving dating circle[3] that thanks to social media in general and in this instance Facebook, has become much more reliant on online dating and in most cases online interactions. A dominating feature in online ‘dating’ is the casualness flirtations can be, this leads in part to the idea that there is much less fear of rejection online, and the internet adds a protective layer when dating. These are massive features for our dating community to have, in essence they add a level of confidence that face to face is hard to achieve. However, the flipside is a reported increase in the ambiguity of relationships, as neither party knows what is happening. In physical relationships these markers for how a relationship is going are well known. In online dating however, they are much less easier to spot and daters find themselves lost as to how to proceed, physical in terms of face-to-face contact, or online. An interesting point can also be raised about the forgetfulness of the Internet in terms of relationships, it doesn’t. Many user on Facebook are constantly reminded of previous relationships though the newsfeed. Even ‘unfriended’ and removed visions of a previous partner are evident all over a users newsfeed through friends, photos and events. This creates an even stranger dating world, where in previous years a break up meant just that, Facebook allows meaningless interactions to continue to exist, in most cases to the annoyance of both parties.


A final topic I would like to discuss is the integrated social circles Facebook controls, when a user logs into Facebook they can interact with all social groups they are involved in, co-workers, friends, family, students. This adds a complication to how people behave on Facebook, with different social circles expected to see different things. Not may people wish to show the same side to multiple social groups and it is for this reason Facebook regret is creeping in. Users underestimate the impact of their posts or interactions and who might see them, as well as many mistakes coming through wrong self-presentation as coined by Beth Novey[4]. However this is more likely to be in older generations who are less able to use Facebook, or who have more widely separated social groups.


Finally it is necessary to address how have the people responded to the Facebook effect, with social custom rapidly changing, has social life kept up to date with the internet. Many argue that we have, on the basis that in 2004 when Facebook started many people were afraid to have an online presence, now that is not the case and millions are on the site everyday. It is important to note however that given the negative effects of Facebook highlighted previously its overall benefit on society can be questioned. The main idea taken from this blog should be if we could crate an ideal online communications website, what would it be? How would it control our data and our interaction with it? Would it have the same features as Facebook?

Would it be Facebook?





‘However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time’ (Facebook terms and conditions)

In this edition of the blog 5 issues will be addressed with ethical and moral ideas as the focal point. Ethically Facebook is a minefield, as is so much of online communities in this century, determining what is right and wrong with respect to big data, internet footprints and rights to data is always going to be difficult. The main ethical issue is that the users don’t often own the content they upload; or they did, they don’t anymore, when a user uploads a video or posts to Facebook, Facebook then ‘owns’ that snippet of information. In an industry where the users are the product being exploited, it is tricky to navigate what rights the users have however, there are also much more subtle ethical questions involving how online communications affect us.[1]

One of these less discussed points is the supposed egalitarianism that Facebook brings to the lives of its users. Egalitarianism is the idea that all humans’ poses equal worth and social status[2] on Facebook this could be true. When you interact with a person on Facebook it could be argued that you know nothing about them except what they tell you. This removes any bias or prejudice you could have for them. However, the opposite could also occur, the expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is swiftly dismissed as users scroll over another users timeline judging them on their photos, how many friends they have, what events they recently attended and a variety of other available information. The user can be completely bias, and view a ‘summary sheet’ of the user of interest. If Facebook is used this way, it is completely un-egalitarian.

A second smaller point is the virtue of human interaction that could be lost in Facebook’s takeover of communication. When humans interact at a personally level honesty, openness and patience are often exhibited, in Facebook interactions the most open a user can be is with an emoji.  Many fear that the ability to communicate face to face is being lost by younger generations as they learn to communicate via instant messaging such as on Facebook. [3]

Finally I would like to examine the ideas behind the right to data, and who owns what any user publishes online. The general consensus is that you do own what you post on the Internet, but so does Facebook, since you posted on their servers they, as in the terms and conditions below, can use your data. What is more shocking is that if you delete your account, and all your ‘IP content’ they can still use it if it is found on a backup server, which given the clause in the conditions is more than likely to exist.

Sharing Your Content and Information

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

  1. 2.              When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).[4]

It is becoming increasingly clear that the cost of Facebook might not be free as advertised, but may cost your ‘soul’, with any information you put up being saved and stored for the reasons in the terms and conditions. The question arises if we own the data before we input into Facebook, can we not request they do not use it as well, or that we dictate the terms of the use. One would assume that where we are the producers of a good (information about our lives) we should dictate how it is used. Many fear that Facebook is drawing us into a work for free scheme where we provide a resource that is useless to us personally without the help of Facebook which in turn exploits us.[5]

I would also like to highlight the internet footprint left behind as users browse the internet, It is bad enough that whatever sites we visit are monitored via cookies that although remain on our hard drives can be accessed and analyzed. Slightly more frightening is the idea that Facebook could also keep all your information and may sell or reveal it for a financial gain. The idea that employers use Facebook for research is very much true and despite privacy setting by users on who can see their content, we can never know what will happen if the right bid comes along. Technically all that we have put onto Facebook belongs to Facebook, how can we stop them using it. [6]

Using an analogy to describe this concept, we could imagine that each time you wanted to talk to someone, you wrote a message or drew a picture on paper, you then scanned the document and sent it into the Facebook office.  Now both you and the office have a copy that you respectively own, you agreed to that when you sent it in, who are you to stop them selling it, once they have successfully sent it to all the people you requested. The fact that data can be copied and reproduced to allow for multiple copies easily, makes the ownership of online content very hard to control.

In this era the severs own the information you feed in, it can only be the dream that one day the users will own, control and dictate how the servers use it.

Users are exposed to 1500 posts every day, Who decides what we see?

The progress of Facebook stems down to how much is Facebook actually worth? This is in fact a number that is very hard to quantify, thanks to the relative age of Facebook and the evolution of its product, what its worth today may be vastly different from tomorrow. 2 years ago in 2012 Facebook made no revenue from mobile advertising, yet in 2013 mobile advertising was launched and Facebook now accounts for 18.4% of global mobile advert spending.[1] Facebook’s revenue from ads reportedly went up an unprecedented 76% from previous years, accounting for a large part of the reported $523 million profits[2]. The question now is why is this happening, and will it be a problem for the user?

Facebook has gone mobile with Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerburg reporting a total of 757million users, ¾ of which access Facebook though a mobile device[3], thus changing the dynamic of Facebook and how the users are interacting. It is this change that is allowing Facebook to increase profits and exploit the user, though I belief the increased use of the news feed. The news feed shows a constant stream of statuses, posts, pictures and videos from friends and family (our ‘friends’). However, sponsored links and paid ads now slip into this feed seamlessly, integrating themselves with our interests meaning that the news feed no longer contains only posts from people I naturally will interact with. This however, is not the problem with Facebook, as annoying as these ads are, they do not vastly change the experience and often go unnoticed by any users; the problem with Facebook I feel is the nature by which these posts are sorted and the method through which Facebook is now sculpting our news feeds to maximize profits.

The problem with Facebook is in essence it is keeping things from you, i.e. we don’t see most of what our friends post or the pages we follow. When I post, it will only be seen by a small number of people, if they actively engage with it, like or comment, it will be spread to more of my friends. This means the news feed will slowly progress to only being full of things I like, or agree with.  A report by Veratisum shows that the most likely things to fill a newsfeed are weddings and babies, posts that people feel obliged to like or comment. Now it is not the fact there is a filtering process that is the problem, on average there are around 4,750,000,000 posts shared on Facebook everyday, and if you were to log in once per day, you could be exposed to around 1500 posts. The problem is Facebook is using the filtering to make money.[4]

In a recent 3 page document to marketers Facebook has taken a much more blunt stance on paying for reach, announcing that ‘We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site’. Organic reach is said to be declining due to the vast increases in the amount of content shared by users, and marketers are being told to pay, in order to ‘maximize delivery of their [your] message’.  Now I don’t want to sound naturally bias against Facebook and I must also explain that it appears Facebook is trying to be fair, as it wants to value markets and users equally, meaning that marketers don’t get priority in a given news feed, if they don’t deserve to be there. Facebooks current solution is to make marketers more social viable,  In the document marketers were told to re-think the purpose of their fan bases, where in previous years a large fan bases was a great way to distribute free content. Now a fan base is seen as a tool to increase effectiveness through ads with social content, a large fan bases in 2014 will make it cheaper to advertise your content, due to it having ‘social context’. Facebook is trying to keep the news feed user based.[5]

The meaning of the word poke has never been defined:

Facebook is an online social network service[1] connecting Internet users from the age of 13 and above. Facebook users can send messages, pictures and videos to ‘friends’ and can participate in groups, allowing social circles to interact in a much easier way online. Facebook in my mind is both the most useful tool on the Internet and the largest waste of time.


Mark Zuckerburg and his college roommates at Harvard launched ‘The Facebook’ in February 2004. Although  Controversy surrounded the initial opening as shown in the movie ‘The social Network’ where the ideas for Facebook were apparently stolen form Harvard Seniors, who were under the impression Zuckerburg was making ‘The Harvard Connection’ website for them, instead eventually accusing him of using their ideas to create a competing product.


In 2013 57% of all Americans and 73% of those aged 12 to 17 used Facebook; these numbers are only increasing, with 64% of people visiting Facebook on a daily basis, up from 51% from 2010[2]. Facebook’s popularity is only rising and more users are signing up from all over the world everyday. A clear indicator of Facebook’s size is that in accounts for 1 in every 11 visits to the Internet and 1 in 5 page views, a staggering amount only beaten by the search engine Google. [3]


Facebook is changing rapidly to accommodate the vast numbers, and in the past few years the alterations to the initial home screen and the way the users interact has left Facebook looking vastly different from its first conception and most noticeably since the ‘timeline’ was introduced in 2011. However, not all the changes  Facebook has gone through are seen as beneficial for the user, with ‘sponsored links’ now appearing on every page on the site. Targeting advertising is ideal for business’ to find specific markets for their adverts and it is this unique quality that has seen Facebook’s worth and funding skyrocket. Facebook has uncovered a method of observing users activity and interests, which is then sold as a service for companies who want an effective marketing campaign, with only interested groups of people seeing the adverts. This is just one example of how Facebook is becoming a truly successful information system distributing a product that no one else can produce, but where many are willing to buy and sell.[4]