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Payoffs of Frequent Facebook Changes

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/22/opinion/rushkoff-facebook-changes/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

This article discusses the motivations that Facebook has for making dramatic changes frequently disliked by its users. While concentration on the most recent change has garnered a lot of attention, there have also been plenty of other times when Facebook has dramatically changed their layout, much to the dismay of the typical user. Since Facebook has complete access to the personal networks and communications of millions of individuals, it utilizes this information to gain profit. Anything that helps the company to analyze user data more efficiently is very useful for it.

In order for Facebook to profit, they must thoroughly analyze and involve themselves with an individual’s social graph, ie their network ties, which can be conveyed through graph theory. They in turn sell such data to advertisers, companies who can pay to know a person’s habits and in turn display relevant ads when they visit Facebook. If Facebook knows an individual is interested in certain things, network theory can easily lead advertisers to conclude other related things that this individual may be interested in.

The motivation for Facebook changes, from a purely monetary standpoint, is to facilitate this acquisition of information of users. The ‘news feeds’ become streamlined so Facebook can more easily find out information of users, which in turn can be sold to these companies. As a result, this gives a relatively simple set of payoffs for Facebook if we assume that their payoffs are only monetary: their payoff is much more if they find a way to more easily acquire user data and present it to willing companies, compared to leaving Facebook unchanged and making no ‘improvements’. Therefore, Facebook’s priorities from such payoff options are to appeases the paying companies, not the users.

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