Tribute to Facebook

Sometimes, Facebook is called a low quality website, because the content their is compared to Wikipedia and Google Scholar not written by experts. The strength of Facebook is something different, it has democratized the creation of knowledge. The well known Wikipedia for example is written worldwide by not more then 10000 people, and the papers in Google Scholar were created by around 10 million researchers. Compared to the world population this is less then 0.2%. Even weblogs are written by a minority. In contrast, Facebook is written by everybody. Huge amount of people have made their first step in the Internet with Facebook, and they have posted for the first time in their life a comment in a public readable form. After submitting a message it can be seen by 7 billion people worldwide, it is online.

I’m not sure what the future of Facebook will be, but it was revolution in the past. Facebook has made the internet to a mainstream medium. In contrast to Wikipedia, or Blogs, Facebook is not only read by the people but they are creating content actively. Sometimes, Facebook is criticized because the old generation of people over 60 years become a user too. But that is an advantage. No other internet website before was able to motivate grandma for posting content. Not reading a comment but writing a text is the normal interaction with Facebook. It is an active medium, especially for people who are beginners.

The reason why the quality in Facebook is so low, has to do with the authors in Facebook. They are not an elite of technology experts but they are normal people. Most of them have never published a text before and Facebook is the first time in their biography they are writing something which can be read by the world. Personally, I’m not using Facebook very much. I’m preferring blogs, Wikipedia and Academia.edu for dropping content. But I see the point, why the people are using Facebook. It is the easiest form in making the first steps into the direction of becoming an author.

From the media perspective, Facebook can be called a microblogging service for a beginner authorship. If somebody did not understand how to post a comment in Facebook, he will probably never post a comment in the internet at all. It is a shared learning experience to become familiar with the internet and user generated content. Facebook makes it very easy to upload textual and visual information. It was designed from the beginning for a non-expert audience. This results on the first hand in low quality content but has an advantage that the number of people who are familiar with it is very high. If somebody is already an Facebook expert, he will learn in the next step how to use a blogging software or how to program in Python. Facebook is some kind of backchannel which motivates the people to use a computer actively.

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Facebook is working great

A week ago, I logged again into my Facebook account and I must say, that the website works great. After pressing the login button, all the information was simply available, for example the timeline with the advertaisment, and all the funny images too. So i browsed to my group which is called “Artificial Intelligence” and checked out what they have done in the last month or so. And there was a huge traffic, the other members are posting lots of URLs to websites, and asking for comments for example about deeplearning. I gave on of the postings a plus 1 because it was really helpful and then i can log out. No friend requests, no spam, everything is fine. Overall I must say, that Facebook is the greatest invention ever. If we are comparing the website with other online-communities like Wikipedia or Stackoverflow, there is a battleground lots of unresolved problems and commercial advertisement, but Facebook is the heaven. +1 for Mark Zuckerberg.

P.S. The url is https://www.facebook.com/

Did Facebook spy on their users?

Naturally not, because the amount of data which the users has uploaded to the website is very small. It is interesting that especially users who have created an empty profile on Facebook and perhaps have 3 times pressed the like button are in fear, that Facebook knows everything about them. The story, that Facebook can spy his users is mostly told by media companies who are interested in making Facebook to a success because they have invested in lot of advertisement there. Let us examine in contrast some websites which are really spying their users: Stackoverflow, Academia.edu, Youtube, WordPress

All these website can be called an information collector, because they know in detail what my hobbies are and what I’m doing online. Connecting the information there to a personal profile would give a detail look about a person. The similarity is, that Facebook is not involved into the above website. A social network is something else.

But why is Facebook known as a intrusive spying website while other websites like WordPress, Youtube, Stackoverflow and so on not? That is indeed a bit funny. I believe what the users really want is to upload as much information they can. For example, the Stackoverflow community was created with the idea in mind, that traffic and a high posting frequency is desired. From a self-description, WordPress, Stackoverflow and all the other are not known as a social network which is creating a user profile. So we get the weird fact that Facebook is technically not spying his users, because they are not uploading content there, while non-Facebook website are creating an in-depth profile, but are not perceived as intrusive.

How a website is described, depends heavily on the story told by mainstream media. Facebook is known as intrusive, because the number of money which is directed to Facebook is high, while in contrast the other projects on the list are from the amount of money very little companies. For example, the Automatic company which is the driving force behind WordPress is not listed on the Nasdaq stockexchange. Instead it is listed in the Unicorn list which has promising startups in there, https://www.cbinsights.com/research-unicorn-companies Automatic has according to the list a value of 1 billion US$ which is on the same level like:

“Duo Security”

“LifeMiles”

“BrewDog”

Researchgate and Academia.edu are not in the list because they value is much smaller. But the number of information which can be extracted from a science paper is higher than a Facebook post of a person. At the end we can say, that the myth “Facebook is spying his users” is told by mainstream media and reflects the stockmarket price.

The main problem with Facebook is not that it spies to much but to little. Posting a video there is not interesting, posting blog-content there makes no sense and uploading a answer to a C++ question makes no sense, because Stackoverflow is the better website. If Facebook is able to aggregate all the information which are stored outside of Facebook into a user profil, then it would make sense. Because the personalized profil would give detailed information about what a person is doing online all the time. But that is not the case. Facebook is not connected with Youtube or Stackoverflow.

#joinfacebook

Facebook is great. The Wikipedia page counts around 36000 visits per day, https://tools.wmflabs.org/pageviews/?project=en.wikipedia.org&platform=all-access&agent=user&range=latest-20&pages=Facebook While Google has only 26000. On Facebook you can write blogs, connect with friends and chat. It is great way for communicating with people, and get the latest iinformation from around the world. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, which has an estimated net worth of US $72.5 billion, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Zuckerberg

Facebook is overrated, Automatic not

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In the public reception, Facebook is omnipresent. The reason why has http://avc.com/2008/04/the-difference/ explained a while ago. The number of venture capital which was directed to Facebook was high, while the competitor Automatic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automattic gets only less financial support. But from a technical point of view, Automatic is more valuable than Facebook. At first, the content quality in the so called blogosphere, which is dominated by Facebook is higher. That means, the ordinary WordPress post can be classified as real content, while the ordinary Facebook is a one sentence with marketing weblinks. The second aspect is, that Automatic not only hosts wordpress.com but also developed the PHP wordpress software itself. That means, external companies can use the tool to build their own webspace apart from the wordpress.com community. Facebook has in contrast no own software to offer, which allows external companies to build such an infrastructure. And last but not least, is WordPress part of the normal internet, which means, that the website are searchable with Google, while Facebook is a separate Internet like the Microsoft Network.

The Automatic company is not very present in media coverage. They have only 673 employees and their income is low. But, according to the last survey around 30% of the internet is driven by WordPress and apart from the core product, they also have the Akismet spamfilter and the Gravatar service under their control. The result is, that Facebook only controls Facebook, while Automatic is controlling the whole internet. The only thing in which Automatic is inferior is “Image upload”. Here are Facebook and Google Photo very strong. WordPress is usually not used as a cloud storage for private images.

WordPress is the better Facebook

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Recently, I discovered in WordPress a feature, which is not very often explained: WordPress Reader. If i understand the GUI interface right, than it is comparable to a social network. It is comparable to a search engine, but has additional like, comment and follow buttons. That means, even a blog has no dedicated comment section it is possible to comment from inside the WordPress reader? What the user get is at least a social network around blog posts, that means apart from posting articles which are visible in the internet, it is possible to explore the WordPress community. That means, postings written by other for upvoting them.

How exactly this feature works is a bit unclear, because usually the term social network is occupied by Facebook and Google Plus. Is perhaps WordPress a good “in-between-solution”? On the one hand the content there is very serious. It is comparable to Google Plus. On the other hand, the number of daily uploaded postings a higher, that is comparable to Facebook. In theory, it is possible to use WordPress as a Google Plus replacement.

Let us investigate the search bar in the WordPress reader in detail. In contrast to a google search, the result list is ordered chronologically. That means, the newsest postings are on top, perhaps with the intention to comment on them. Another difference to Google is, that only WordPress postings are given back, perhaps with the idea to build a community. The most interesting feature is perhaps, that the content of a blog is shown inside the wordpress reader. That means, it is independent from the layout the blog has.

According to the numbers, https://wordpress.com/activity/posting/ every month 80 million blogposts are created newly. The number has increased over the last years. Per day, the number is around 2.6M The number of comments is around 1.3M per day.

In comparison, Facebook counts the comments, https://blog.microfocus.com/how-much-data-is-created-on-the-internet-each-day/ and around 0.5M comments are uploaded every minute (720 million per day).

The similarity between WordPress and Google Plus is, that both social networks are visiable in the normal internet and searchable with Google, while Facebook is a closed network with unique content.

Facebook is working great

Sometimes the mainstream media are describing problems in the Facebook network for example about data-privacy, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/12/facebook-personal-data-privacy-settings-ruled-illegal-german-court Another sources are reporting that too much older people are on Facebook, while the younger generation is leaving it. This is not the reality, Facebook has no problems at all, the users are happy and the Zuckerberg’ company is working well. But let us investigate the so called data-privacy problems in detail. What does Facebook know about me? Answer: nothing. Apart from 5 URLs to external websites, Facebook has no information about me. And the posted links are not secret but can be found with any searchengine worldwide. In contrast, other social networks like Academia.edu knows much more about me, because there I’ve posted more than only 5 urls but complete fulltext pdf documents with current research from robotics.

The other problem (average age of the users) is also no problem. Instead, Facebook is very attractive to the younger generation. It has some unique features for example the instant-chat, discussion groups and videochat which no other network today has. The younger generation is entering Facebook right now, and leaves former social networks like Google Plus, ICQ and myspace, because Facebook integrates all the information they need. If we are looking on discussion groups which are created for younger users for example about fashion and music, the amount of traffic there is high and will be increasing in future.

Today, Facebook has no real problem. Every media organisation and every user worldwide which is connected to the Internet is using the website, and if not, he plans to do so in future. Today Facebook has 2 billion users worldwide, and the trend is positive. That means in one year the number has doubled, and the value will be higher.

Instead alternatives to Facebook like Wikipedia see a declining in interest. That means, the users are frustrated by Wikipedia and do not like it anymore. The outlook for Academia.edu, Wikipedia, Google Plus and Google Scholar is negative.