Monday, May 14, 2012

The Facebook Era

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of the mother ship of social networking sites, Facebook has done more than just created a website, he has created an era. Zuckerberg may have created the Facebook era, but we, as Facebook users define it. Together as individuals we are constantly defining and re-defining Facebook, establishing and maintaining the relationship between creator and product; on a world-wide scale and at an extremely fast pace; this, according to Huffington Post writer Jose Antonio Vargas is crucial in understanding Facebook's worth.

In Vargas' article "Our Facebook: Led by Mark Zuckerberg, We Define an Era" he asks us some important questions to consider while the news of Facebook becoming public rapidly increases. Vargas asks " What value do we place on privacy and our identity? Is there a price tag for our connections and our relationships?" (Vargas) The news of Facebook going public does not only create a financial statement but a worldwide statement. Through Facebook, social media has matured and what makes Facebook so unique is that unlike Google and Apple, Facebook is personal. As Vargas points out "You go to Google to, say search for a doctor; you go to Facebook to interact with a friend."(Vargas) What also makes Facebook unique is that ordinary people from all parts of the world have invested our life in Facebook which makes the social networking site not only Zuckerberg's but ours as well. "Facebook is, at heart, what you make of it. The site is only as serious or as trivial as the people who populate it. For many it's nothing more than an addictive and irresistible distraction. For others, however, it's downright revolutionary and liberating."(Vargas) Take the young Egyptians for example, who used Facebook as a tool to help overthrow a dictator.

Facebook users are concerned about their privacy on the site because through those settings they have control over how they choose to define themselves. Facebook has become more than just a social networking site but a part of our lives and daily routine, we check our Facebook several times a day, on our phones we're notified of comments and the like, we add "friends" after we meet them, post photos of our lives, etc. All these personal investments we have made have now created a multi-billion dollar business and this is due to our involvement.

Zuckerberg explains that "Facebook was not originally created to be a company"(Vargas) but was originally created with a "social mission -- to make the world more open and connected."(Vargas) I think it is safe to say Zuckerberg was successful in his "social mission" but if it we not for us participating Facebook would not be what it is today. Zuckerberg has been compared to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and both, Zuckerberg admits were mentors to him. However, Zuckerberg may prove to be even more influential in our lives because unlike Gates and Jobs who deal with computer software, Zuckerberg is "dealing with people and our evolution from being privet citizens to having public identities."(Vargas)

The investments made by users of Facebook to the site has created the Facebook we know and use today. Facebook will continue to grow and change, but its worth inevitably depends on the trade between Zuckerberg and the users following and leading one another, because unlike other companies that only answer to highs and lows of the stock market, Zuckerberg also has us to answer to us especially in regards to our identity and privacy.

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1 comment:

  1. I think you rightly point to some conflicts between Facebook's corporate status, its desire to enact a social mission, and its wish to reshape history. Certainly privacy and changing social conceptions of it shape discussions about Facebook as well. Can you say more about how you see these issues informing digital journalism? What does this mean for how we create and consume the news?