Today it is hardly possible to find a person in the streets of developed and developing countries who doesn’t know about Facebook. It united millions of people together and turned from a simple place for communication into a powerful network with lots of possibilities. Today people can not only make friends in the network, find networks, renew some lost relationships, but also make money and attract clients to their business. Such usage of the network changed its sense to a major extent, to my mind, which is why it is reasonable to analyze what people are for Facebook today – just product or customers. For me this question is essential, because it defines the attitude of the company’s management to people and the way the company can develop in future. In case of such a powerful company this attitude influences life of many people, which is why should be studied with care and proper attention.
Douglas Rushkoff in his speech at the inaugural Hello Etsy conference in Berlin said that people today are products of Facebook (Solon, 2011). He backed up his claim with the facts that Facebook functions today for money it gets from ads, and advertisers are first of all attracted by the possibility to choose their target audience with high level of precision. As a result, their advertisements are shown to those people who can be really interested in the proposed product. Such kind of advertising is the most valuable for marketing specialists, and as Facebook is perfectly aware of it, they always show what they take money for. From this standpoint, people registered at Facebook are really products, because their personal information is in fact sold to the advertisers – not directly, of course, but for the purpose of making money.
Let us consider the definition of product to understand better whether Facebook users can be called a product. According to the Business dictionary, in marketing product is a service or good that meets the requirements of a particular segment or market most closely and yield enough profit to justify its continued existence (Business Dictionary, n.d.). People in the social network really bring profit to the company’s management. It is also true that the profit is enough to justify its existence – people form the network and without them the company cannot exist. In this case, we can argue that Facebook is selling people to the advertisers. Everything they do to attract more people and keep them in the network is made to make more money, which means that the interests of the people are not as interesting for the company as it often claims. Such logical consequences can result in the statement that Facebook fools people to make money on them. But is it really true? What if we look at the situation from another viewpoint?
At first, Facebook was founded for people. It served for their interests, took care of them, helped them to make friends, keep in touch with those people who are dear to them, but live far away (Sengupta, 2012). All these purposes are in fact great, kind and nice and do not look like any kind of fooling. Due to the fact that such kind of network was new and interesting, it developed very quickly and attracted more and more people, it is only natural that the company turned into a real giant and changed in many relations. The start of the company was great, especially the values that formed its core. The way it functions today can be viewed as a natural continuation stage of the initial company. It is absolutely clear that such a big company with a huge scope should make money to keep working, and earning it with the help of advertising is the simplest and most logical way of doing it. Although today the company is extremely big and unites millions of people, it still performs the initial functions it was founded to perform (Form 8-K, 2012). And I think that it is great that the company, although growing to such a large scope, doesn’t fail to follow its initial values and principles.
Business Dictionary, n.d. Product. [online] Available at:
Facebook, Inc., 2012. Facebook Current Report, Form 8-K, Filing Date July 26, 2012. [online] Available at:
Sengupta, S., 2012. Facebook’s Prospects May Rest on Trove of Data. [online] Available at:
Solon, O., 2011. You are Facebook's product, not customer. [online] Available at: