Social media is it worth the money?
We’re about to find out.
The New York Times reported that according to a recent report, the company might move over to a subscribing model in Europe so as to avoid EU-wide entanglements regarding advertising and privacy. The Verge reported that it’s about how Meta transfers your data to the U.S., where they are based, then distributes that data to advertisers.
We all know what it is. It’s not magic and no one is listening to your conversations through a webcam. It’s much more basic than that. Meta records your interaction with a sponsored Facebook ad in an instant and sends you similar ads. It’s a bit crazy how immediate and efficient that is. I’ve noticed how merely clicking on one sponsored post about disc golf led to a barrage of disc golf ads within the next few minutes.
This is a good idea. The discs I already own seem to find their way into the forest near my home.
This is the question that EU regulators ask over and over: Is this kind of tracking legit? And, more importantly, does it violate GDPR?
Privacy is everywhere. We tend to think that privacy only pertains to information like our name, phone number, and credit card details. I’ve often wondered if a small disc golf company like Innova knowing my shopping habits qualifies as a privacy invasion. Most users, however, find these customized ads to be intrusive, even though they tolerate them.
For Meta, it doesn’t really matter how they define privacy in light of this advertising model. There are laws. Meta was fined before by the EU over data privacy violations.
The solution is a bit disappointing, as it reveals much about social media.
For starters, I’ve often wondered if there is enough value in social media to warrant paying for the privilege. The social media app in Europe isn’t as well-known as it is elsewhere. One example — I’ve been to Europe several times, and very few people bother to sell their stuff on Facebook Marketplace (since they still use Craigslist). It’s just not as common to post baby pictures and what you had for supper in that region of the world.
This could be the first real litmus test of social media’s business value. If Meta does move to a subscription model it would be the first time we will find out if people are willing to keep using Meta’s apps if they have to pay for them.
Here’s my prediction on that: I don’t think they’ll pay the subscription fees. I think a subscription-based model implies that you must pay. Consider a number of different ways to think about. Consider whether an item is valuable enough. It is important to weigh your options. Maybe there’s another app like LinkedIn that helps you accomplish the same goals. Maybe Craigslist isn’t so bad after all (they still don’t show you ads after so many years).
I’ll be curious to see if Meta does start charging European users to use the service, and then watching closely to see if the active user numbers drop off a cliff.
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