Facebook, for example, could pay the people who create content on the site. The company could then make money by matching the content with advertising, as it does now. As an alternative for more private individuals, people could pay to use Facebook if it promised not to sift through their personal information. This way, everyone wins.
via Disruptions: Facebook Users Ask, ‘Where’s Our Cut?’ – NYTimes.com
Lots of people have said, “Hey I want a piece of Facebook because without me and 700 million other people, it would be nothing.” I reject this argument because we derive a tremendous amount of value from the site. It’s not a one-sided deal.
This article’s argument seems predicated on cash-envy. It takes the Facebook-is-nothing-without-me argument as a foundation and says, “Hey the fat cat investors in Facebook are making billions and I’m getting nothing. That’s bullshit. I should get something.”
When people say they should get a piece of Facebook somehow because Facebook would be nothing without them, it’s kind of like saying airlines and airports should pay passengers a $50 fee for being a part of their air travel network because without passengers, airports and airlines would be nothing.
The reality is that Facebook delivers a substantial amount of value to its users. It gives people a powerful environment to interact, contribute, learn, decide and act in ways that would be difficult, if not impossible, without Facebook.
I have what I consider to be a vast network of friends on Facebook. Not because I have a thousand friends (I have as my goal to keep around 250 active friends) but because my friends have such vast interests. Yet I also have a lot in common with my friends: common history, beliefs, former companies, prior churches, activities, geographies, etc. I learn far more from my friends on Facebook than I ever would in real life.
This is for one simple reason:
Facebook concentrates all of the experiences of my friends into a single place that I can consume as I have time. I would never be able to meet with all of them in real time and get the same kinds of information from them and they from me. The convenience of Facebook (and my new favorite network, Pinterest) comes from its suspension of time so that we can all interact at times that are convenient.
Is it better than real life? In some ways yes, but it will never replace my preference to get together with them in what Neal Stephenson calls “meat space.” Cyber space has its benefits but so does meat space.
So, let’s put away the whiny complaints that Facebook is making billions off the backs of its users. Each user can choose to not participate in Facebook and every Facebook user reveals through their activity that they receive value from their participation in the social network.
One last thing: I would totally pay $50/year to exempt myself from sharing my info with Facebook and ads.