How You’re Really Paying For Facebook

How You’re Really Paying For Facebook


Paying Attention

It’s become an autonomic reflex – the propensity to pick up our phones and just have a quick flick through our feeds when we’re bored, waiting for something or simply avoiding dinner table conversation.

That’s because your brain has been hijacked. Re-wired by the dopamine hit we receive from displays of external validation and the endless supply of entertainment our feed’s new algorithms update us with. It’s no accident that HQ have designed such applications to be addictive, using extensive research into human behavioural psychology and neuroscience. Why? Because our eyeballs and attention means money. Advertising pays for your access, so that you don’t have to. You pay with your time and privacy.

Reeling back on the stereotypical media hyperbole, social media is not entirely demonic. It’s evolution sprung from the shift away from mainstream media production, to user generated content. We started creating things to share with each other for free, instead of buying it from an independent body. As my father likes to chant, ‘nothing in life is free’ – paying with your data has its pros and cons, much like anything else.

Most of us know this and yet we still happily sign away our data by ticking ‘accept all terms and conditions’, not participating hasn’t become a viable alternative. However when even the top dogs come out of their wood work kennels and hold their hands up, admitting they had not quite appreciated just how influential their technology would become, it’s time to take note.

In recent times, we’ve started to define progress in terms of technological advancement. But just how much are these new technologies really benefitting us? According to the studies, technology is lowering our IQs, shortening our attention spans and provoking a mental health epidemic. On top of this it is politically polarising us, as we expose ourselves to ironically, increasingly limited world views via our social feeds.


Steeming Ahead

Handing over too much power to a singular central body has never really proven itself to be a good thing. Cue the development of web 3.0 and Decentralised media, fast gaining traction.

As Ian Khan, a TEDX speaker, puts it:


“No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.”


Steemit is currently one of the most well known examples. Built upon its own blockchain and housing its own cryptocurrency, it focuses on freedom of speech, elimination of advertising and rewarding high quality, user-generated content. Synereo has also produced a creative system called WildSpark, which hands payment back to the creator, rather than all the financial gain being absorbed by the content middle man – the social media outlet.

It’s still early days. MySpace is long gone and everyone is asking what the new Facebook or Instagram may be. Such platforms have strategically become so intertwined with our daily lives, that one of the major obstacles to newcomers is promoting user adoption. I think this will happen organically as more and more people educate themselves about the benefits of such blockchain-based outlets and user interface becomes increasingly easy to use and understand. Not to mention the financial reward that active participants may claim. The future is bright. The future is decentralised.


cover artwork by @dailyart