Snippet: Social Quitting ☇

Shared on January 9, 2023

Corey Doctorow (via Matt Hauger):

So the first stage of the platform lifecycle is luring in users by allocating lots of surplus to them – making the service fun and great and satisfying to use. Few or no ads, little or no overt data-collection, feeds that emphasize the people you want to hear from, not the people willing to pay to reach you.

This continues until the service attains a critical mass: once it becomes impossible to, say, enroll your kid in a little-league baseball team without having a Facebook account, then Facebook can start shifting its surpluses to advertisers and other business-users of the platform, who will pay Facebook to interpose themselves in your use of the platform. You’ll hate it, but you won’t leave. Junior loves little-league.

I’ve seen the effect of this way too often—so many businesses have jumped on to Facebook as their “web presence” instead of setting up a basic (sometimes even free or inexpensive with no coding) web page. The downside of this is that a lot of people who have quit (or never had) Facebook are now greeted with a sign in page, rather than information about the business. It’s stupid, but Facebook made it incredibly easy for businesses to create a profile and call it good. I wonder if any have gone back and checked how it looks to a non-user—or if they care?

Similarly, Instagram and Twitter have also slowly shifted to requiring logins, although their content is less static (more updates from the business, rather than things like hours or a menu). I’ve managed to avoid it thus far, but I dread the day I’ll need to make a new Facebook account for that one thing that requires it.

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