Facebook’s Pivot might actually be good for the Internet

Facebook’s Pivot might actually be good for the Internet

Look, I get it. It’s fun to make fun of Facebook’s business practices and data-sharing tendencies. However Facebook’s stock is up, the market reality is saying Facebook’s pivot to Messaging, privacy and user control could actually be good for the internet.

Kara Swisher keeps beating the same drum, that Facebook has plagiarized Snapchat’s own ideas on the future. But the future isn’t just about vision, it’s about execution, about consolidation and user-retention. Facebook’s future has always been about eyeballs and advertising convenience for brands. Imagine the users of WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram DM in one channel with Ads? That would be incredible value to brands with stories.

Silicon Valley eats itself, but realistically Facebook can never be WeChat. China is a different beast altogether — even ByteDance is now light-years ahead of Facebook in innovation and apps. Facebook is like a first-mover that has incredible products it now needs to monetize better with things like blockchain, dating and new kinds of user experiences like building more tools for social good. A Patreon solution for creators is such an example of that. Peer-to-peer donations is also pretty hot in 2019 on Facebook.

We have become universally critical of Facebook, to the point that Medium curators don’t even care about those articles I write. Whether Facebook steals, or if Mark’s privacy manifesto is a PR stunt, Facebook knows how to play the system. Facebook as a leader in digital advertising has massive untapped potential for social good. Facebook is a behemoth for how influencer marketing and trust online occurs in the future in places like Instagram and how Messaging continues to evolve on apps like WhatsApp.

All the negative press has really impacted Facebook’s stock value in a significant way, if anything it’s been good publicity for Facebook as a Titan of Tech that can endure anything. It doesn’t matter what names you call Facebook or that Mark Zuckerberg has a draconian hold on the company, all that matters in capitalism is how Facebook performs on the Street. Here we can see the entire tech news media cycle is in fact an echo bubble. If it doesn’t correlate to financial reality, it’s really gaming our attention in a deceptive way.

Facebook has over 2 Billion monthly users. You don’t need to be an analyst to realize the impact a Mark Zuckerberg, or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos is having on the future of humanity. The decisions they make can impact the future of the internet, society and capitalism itself. While that’s dangerous, it’s also an incredible opportunity if they can get things right over the long-term. They are instruments of history and for all Facebook has done wrong, Facebook can still do so much right.

Facebook could not only be good for blockchain adoption and cryptoeconomic innovation but for all of its historical promises of actually connecting us better.

With Facebook’s pivot to privacy and messaging, it needs to become more than just a digital advertising behemoth. It needs to re-evaluate its value to its users to retain them over the long-term. It needs to understand deeply what Instagram can become and how to scale its value to enterprise such as Workplace by Facebook. This service now has 2 million paying customers and helps SMBs.

Just as companies like Microsoft, Tencent, Alibaba and Google are scaling to enterprise customers, Facebook needs to do the same to fully leverage its future resilience. This is because Facebook is being out-maneuvered in app innovation by China (ByteDance for example), and will lose marketshare to Amazon in advertising, while completely irrelevant in the smart speaker segment of consumer-AI that is going to be so impactful.

Facebook doesn’t need to pivot to privacy or messaging, so much as enterprise solutions and using its AI and predictive analytics to give businesses and people more utility, value and convenience.

The entire key to Mark Zuckerberg’s recent manifesto about Private Messaging is the following:

Facebook needs to leverage its ecosystem to be like Google, an interoperable utility of AI. That utility needs to put people first, and not just advertising revenue. That’s an incredible opportunity if Facebook is serious about pivoting from its legacy status as a data exploiter and a somewhat deceptive brand to a platform of AI empowerment.

Facebook’s potential for social good in 2019 is still incredible. Maybe we should be embracing Mark Zuckerberg rather than vilifying him. Because like Jeff Bezos, the Chinese Government, Huawei or Elon Musk, we are sort of stuck with them. They are simply mirrors of us. We need to dream about how AI can make the internet a better place and not only celebrate negativity, but the potential of these companies to scale and innovate products that are always optimizing to become more benevolent.

Facebook’s Pivot might actually be good for the Internet

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