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Move a little closer to your screen. So much. I want to give you a secret: Facebook is the best money machine on the internet and is not a close call. *
Facebook It could be an untenable company that normalizes people’s invasive pursuit for dollars. A place where extremists have shaken worldwide hatred. It may be melting our brains. And he’s being sued or nudged by so many governments that I forgot the count. You can hate it. Can i hate But I almost can’t believe that most of us trust Facebook and how stupidly successful it is.
The company said on Wednesday that its sales, almost all from ads it sells on Facebook, Instagram, and other apps, reached nearly $ 86 billion in 2020 and is growing rapidly with my colleague Mike Isaac. detailed here. 2.6 billion people use at least one of Facebook’s apps every day, and the number of users is still growing.
This is a company that gets involved in a different scandal each week and people say they don’t like it, but their products are used by billions of people and businesses spend madly on advertising during an epidemic to reach them.
And the really crazy thing is that Facebook products cost almost nothing to the company. Your Instagram selfie you were vaccinated with, a fundraising post from your Mom, and your Facebook parenting group – these are the company’s products and most of us do them for free. It means Facebook is very profitable.
I’ve been writing about corporate finance for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this combination of popularity, fast-growing sales, high earnings, and complete disgust. “The gap between Facebook’s public reputation and financial success has never been greater,” said Bloomberg’s Kurt Wagner. Wrote this week.
Historians tell me if there was a comparable company that was so insulted but still so widely used and successful. (If you say Gilded Age trusts it like Standard Oil, I would argue they gave meaning to Facebook critics who wanted Facebook to break down like the trusts a century ago.)
Near the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, my colleagues, powerful companies like America’s tech superpowers are the most probably getting stronger in this crisis. But as companies’ financial returns for 2020 approach, it’s clear that we take for granted how rich the rich will get.
I don’t know how to feel about this. Yes, I am grateful that companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others help us work, go to school, shop and enjoy and stay connected at such a time. However, it is also hard to ignore the disconnect between the mountainous money mountains and the shaky state of most major economies in 2020 and the devastated finances of many families.
This is not a new reflection of the gap between owners and non-owners in this pandemic. I’m still unsure how to answer an important question: Is good for Big Technology good for all of us?
* (Okay, okay. Google search is perhaps the internet’s best money machine. Feel free to argue with me!)
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Being informed (-ish) is not good enough
Thursday Data Privacy Day. (Tick the balloons!) This fake holiday, Facebook to remind people to review their privacy settings. It is also an opportunity for me to remind you that this is a game.
Alongside these impulses from Facebook, Apple data privacy labels by my colleague Brian X.Chen Had written about this week and a California privacy law I recently wrote about all of this reveals a fundamental flaw in how our data is processed in the United States.
The mission is to let us know what data companies collect from us and give us (part of) a selection measure. But I don’t want to be informed as the ultimate goal.
The focus on making data collection transparent (-ish) is why we have lengthy privacy policies. a choice between accepting anything a company wants to do and not using the service.
Why tech executives scream our ability to erase sound recordings from inside our homes – but do not stop collecting data in the first place. The application Brian uses to open and close the garage door therefore collects information to target him with internet ads. (YES REALLY.)
Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler, written We need to reframe data privacy around a simple question: Why is most of our information collected in the first place?
answer, because companies. With every company from Facebook to garage door openers vying to collect as much data as possible, we can’t really give up unless you want to tear yourself away from 21st century life.
So if Facebook reminds you to check 40,000 privacy settings, go for it. But I suggest you also remember Geoff’s question: Why is so much information collected?
Before you go …
Holding on to this