Mark Zuckerberg, worth $71 billion at just 33, has done rather well by Facebook’s centrally managed system.
Over the past decade and a half, the social media behemoth’s closed-source algorithm has quietly manipulated its millions of users’ news feeds to capture maximum ad dollars and steer them all to Zuck and his shareholders.
So, why is he exploring a more decentralized model? And what role might crypto technology play in that?
In a New Year’s post to the platform, the Facebook CEO noted (with zero irony, it seems) that
“With the rise of a small number of big tech companies … many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”
And he vowed, on that basis, “to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects” of decentralizing, people-empowering technologies such as cryptocurrencies and encryption.
It was followed by another post telling users that upcoming changes to their news feeds meant they “can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups” and “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
It remains to be seen whether this bet in favor of “meaningful social interactions” over higher traffic content is, as Zuckerberg said, “good for our community and our business over the long term.” The immediate reaction on Wall Street was harsh: Facebook’s shares fell 4.5 percent last Friday following the second post.
It was a predictable response: if Facebook will no longer curate new feeds to emphasize strong, ad-attracting content, then revenues, and returns to shareholders, will decline.