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    Categories: NewsOpinionTech/InternetWeekly Columns

Facebook: The Social Media Bubble 2.0.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) We become intimate with people we barely know.  We rekindle old flames behind the backs of our primary spouses/partners. In this cyber fantasy utopia in which many of us participate–where every stranger or acquaintance is our friend and/or potential lover, who would never do us wrong–some of us flaunt our bodies, wealth, and hidden assets, as well as share personal data without a second thought as to adverse consequences. Facebook has become our own personalized and highly stylized reality show, where we are the stars taking social media center stage.
 
So what is the true value of Facebook–where so many couples cheat that the site has come to rival Ashley Madison as “the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters.”  Social media as a whole may be being valuated as a commodity through the lens of Facebook’s initial public offering.  The ultimate question about social media 2.0 is how the parasitic relationship between the social media host platform and its content providing users can ultimately be valuated?  Is such a relationship capable of being commoditized?     
 
The Bonfire of the Vanities of cyber narcissists, megalomaniacs, scofflaws, and attention whores that facebook may have become, is probably neither the legacy nor the IPO portended by its young founder, wonder boy Mark Zuckerberg, 28.  In the short term, Zuckerberg and his colleagues raised $16bn, according to the BBC New Technology. However in the long  term, Zuckerberg and his over-valuated Facebook may come to symbolize the pop of the social media bubble, equivalent to the dot com crash of the early 2000s.
 
With the stock’s $38-per-share IPO price faltering, there’s now two congressional probes into whether investors were misled as to Facebook’s real value, along with a barrage of investor lawsuits targeting Facebook in the wake of its skittish public offering.  Big advertisers like General Motors Co. pulled out due to the lack of advertising revenue from the site.  Likewise, the IPO got off to a rocky start with a half-hour delay of the stock’s launch due to Nasdaq Stock Market glitches.  

Web and mobile based social media technologies conversion of communication into interactive dialogue and exchanges between people, organizations, and communities is highly innovative and transformative.  However, whether the vast networks and interwoven relationships that represents social media can be efficiently monetized or even should be, is a dilemma with infinite possibilities. 
 
Who should really own a social media innovation like Youtube, Facebook or twitter, the host, the platform, or user?  Which party is truly worthy of profit?  And what attracts revenue and advertising dollars to social media’s ubiquitously accessible, scalable communication?  Social media innovators do not employ large numbers; they do not produce or manufacture real goods; and they’re not consumer-based in that users don’t flock to twitter or Facebook primarily to shop.  They go to dialogue, information share, and interact with friends and persons completely outside of the realm of big, established advertisers like GM. 
 
While perhaps sharing too much of ourselves on the net may have it draw backs, there are some pluses, as we are after all social animals.  There is an inherent value to being able to have seamless, immediate, low-cost information exchanges with people and organizations around the globe.  Through social media’s weblogs, social blogs, and microblogging, we are able to share news and updates in real time.  Ergo the rise of the citizen journalist!  For example, the Arab Spring and Occupy movements relied heavily upon social media to disseminate news and information.  Likewise, the issue of marriage equality is fiercely debated through social media platforms. 
 
So apparently social media is about more than random hook ups, the occasional act of fraud, and diarrhea of the key stroke.  The information sharing through its platforms can also be about history in the making with real people contributing to social change and shaping news and events from a pedestrian, lay perspective.  This largely means its users are searching for something other than the institutional experts and big commercial advertisers that would be found through traditional forums.  Social media’s marquee is its fresh, undiscovered voices, which might impede immediate monetization of its platforms given that advertisers want instant revenue.
 
Rushing towards the commoditification of the freedom that should be social media and the Net, ultimately devalues the novelty and impact of the voices and interactions that attract users by the millions.  When it’s all said and done, Facebook may or may not hold its value; however, the value of Internet freedom, and social media information sharing, is priceless. 

Staff Writer; Joy Freeman-Coulbary

Feel free to connect with this lawyer via Twitter; enjoyJFC.

 


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