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Facebook: It’s About the Money

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MEYS Ludivine Anne J                                                   Thursday 25th October 2018


Facebook: It’s about the Money

Retrieved from the thirteenth edition of Management Information Systems – Managing the Digital Firm, page 188.

First of all, I chose this case study because the title directly appealed to me. Facebook has become the basis of our relationships for my generation and younger generations for some years now. We live with this tool on a daily basis and despite the fact that we are aware that there are dangers and many defects in its use, we continue to be more than present. The subject of private data, Facebook advertising and the impact this site has on our lives really interests me. I feel very concerned to keep a minimum of my privacy hidden from all social media. I would have liked to have been born at the time of my parents’ generation who do not care about appearance on social media, to show what they have…they have less need to display themselves and are therefore more protected in some way. However, just by taking my case here from an exchange student on the other side of the world, Facebook is a necessary and almost indispensable tool to stay connected with my entourage. Even if I am aware that Facebook knows my projects, my future holidays, with whom I talk the most, I will continue to use it. Why do most people and I behave in such a way? Maybe because has really come up to the standards of our society and we hope and believe that our privacy will never be released to the public! Until the day when…

In this first paragraph of my study analysis, I will give a brief explanation of the case and the problems related to it. Firstly Facebook is a social network that has become a real advertising company in just a few years. Facebook collects every bit of information that can be attributed to you. Every publication, every message, every purchase, every interaction with a third-party application based on Facebook services. Everything that can also be synchronized from your smartphone to your account. This website advocates the fact that it is totally free for users but it is like most other large websites, they are viable thanks to all the advertising you can see on them. Facebook do not sell products or services, they sell the personal information of hundreds of million Facebook accounts. Advertisers know very well that Facebook ads are directly targeted and really increase their profits compared to traditional ads. Indeed, they can choose their detailed targeting criteria and do not loose too much money. The advertising revenue of Facebook constitued 85 percent of its total revenue. The rest is from the sale of virtual goods and services. Secondly, Facebook is in some way good for their users, it helps to connect job seekers and employers, helps families to find lost pets, allows separated families to stay in touch. In addition to that Facebook gives a chance to smaller companies to make themselves known. However, the goal of Facebook is to make their users share as much data as possible. The more they know about us, the more they will have revenue from companies which invest in advertising on the website. What is most worrying is that a lot of people present on this site are willingly sharing information that could be used against them and lots of users have never changed the privacy controls. Furthermore 93% of people polled claim that Internet companies should ask the permission of their users before using our personal information. In Europe we can request Facebook to give us a report of all the information they have about us but unfortunately, Facebook don’t stop on the data we let on their website. They keep track of activities on other sites that have Like buttons or recommendations. Thirdly, with lots of pressure and mini scandals Facebook faced, they have to change few things about the personal data of users. Facebook now makes available more categories of information that request copies of their personal data. In Europe, Facebook has to respond to the users who request their data within 40 days. Finally Facebook wants to become more an online marketplace and hopes to challenge Amazon and eBay. They know that users will maybe not trust them so much longer and they prefer to focus their business model on making less advertising thanks to the personal data of users. Only time will tell if this will be the case and if it will work…

        In this part of the case study analysis, I will discuss about the fact that Facebook need to be more aware that they have the responsibility for the personal data of hundreds of million of people. If they want to regain user trust, they need to find solutions. One of them may be to change the privacy settings in a way that makes users feel even more protected. They also have to be less opaque about the use of personal data.  We have to know what they can use or not. The person's feeling about these parameters can very quickly change his point of view on the site. For example, in my entourage, many people think that What's app is less dangerous than Messenger just because What's app has I think is a better way to set the parameters of a users’ profiles. We tell ourselves that we don't have so much to hide when it's the same thing on both applications. They need to focus more on communicating with users and making them understand that they can be more protected if they want. I suggest also Facebook really invest more in security so that scandals like Cambridge Analytica do not happen again. What about stopping taking personal data? Advertising is the mainly revenue of Facebook so Facebook will no be able to have a successful business model without invading privacy. But as I wrote before, Facebook wants to become a marketplace. If this virtual marketplace starts to grow and generate lot of revenue, maybe in the future they will be able to make a living from it and then no longer have to sell users’ personal data. The problem is that advertisers always ask for more and offer a lot of money so Facebook will have to choose between money or user trust, which may be a difficult ethical choice.



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