It doesn't get clearer than this (my emphasis and reparagraphing):
On Valentine’s Day, Nick Bergus came across a link to an odd product on Amazon.com: a 55-gallon barrel of ... personal lubricant. He found it irresistibly funny and, as one does in this age of instant sharing, he posted the link on Facebook, adding a comment: “For Valentine’s Day. And every day. For the rest of your life.”"Facebook parlance" indeed. Note how the euphemism "sponsored story" preserves the ego-stroke aspect of repurposing a writer's work (see? your name in lights!) while collecting back-door cash off of it.
Within days, friends of Mr. Bergus started seeing his post among the ads on Facebook pages, with his name and smiling mug shot. Facebook — or rather, one of its algorithms — had seen his post as an endorsement and transformed it into an advertisement, paid for by Amazon.
In Facebook parlance, it was a sponsored story, a potentially lucrative tool that turns a Facebook user’s affinity for something into an ad delivered to his friends.
There's a real benefit to people who use Facebook — spread-wide families keep in touch with each other, East Coast nieces are finally in contact with long-forgotten West Coast cousins, and school chums reconnect.
That fratboy college gang you "hung" with before your wage-slave days can recreate their fratboy camaraderie in virtual space, while sitting in boxes (cubicles) and working off the massive college loans that made their lovable hijinx possible. (See? Just like the old days, minus the upchuck and personal freedom.)
But the overriding benefit of Facebook is to its billionaires. Like the executive class of all corporations, they feed on the profits of their company. The Facebook difference? While they pay for manufacturing (those algorithms), the raw material (your postings, messages, likes and leavings) is free, as is the cost of shipping. The product comes to them to be sold and it pays its own freight.
On the plus side, I think people are figuring all this out. That's why (a) Facebook ap usage appears to be down, not growing; (b) Facebook is marketing itself more and more aggressively through "Like us on Facebook" shared-marketing deals; and (c) that IPO benefited only the corrupt insiders, with not much spillover into the actual market non-cognoscenti. (See here on post-IPO pressures to increase Facebook profits.)
Me, I'm concerned about what this article calls Facebook's ability to "amass more information about more people than anyone else in history."
What happens when all that data ends up in the giant NSA "security" depository we wrote about so many news cycles ago? Guess we'll find out, won't we?
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