Facebook Users Union
"Facebook aims to have 1 billion users and is somewhere near 500 million right now. Thats alot of people effectively working for free, creating wealth for the shareholders of facebook.
User solidarity is a powerful tool which can be used to protect our interests now and in the future as we continue to enjoy the benefits of social networking. As more and more social networks are acquired by larger conglomerates their ability to leverage their size increases.
"Online tools really aren't free. We pay for them with micropayments of personal information"
Social networks are unique in that the user is both the product and the service. By this I mean that you are accessible as a service and working to create a product. This means that by using the facebook we give it life. We are the social network and if we choose to stop using it then it ceases to exist. Ask yourself how much are you worth to facebook? How much do you generate in revenue? In profit? a couple of dollars, 10 dollars, 20......
Imagine what could happen if Facebook donated 10% of your annual value to a good cause every year? It may be a small amount but it adds up when scaled into the half billion. Thus we, the users, should have a say in how the profit gets distributed. We should be able to donate some the annual value WE GENERATE to good causes right. I mean we created it didn't we?" (http://facebookusersunion.ning.com/)
"With just 19 members, the Facebook Users' Union is definitely more a concept than a campaign force. "It's a statement that would love to develop into a movement," the creator of the page told me. Richard Buchanan, a freelance ad creative, says that people are effectively working for free to create wealth for Facebook's shareholders.
Buchanan wants someone – the Guardian, perhaps – to calculate the value of each Facebook user, based on how much money Facebook (or Google, or MySpace) makes from advertising next to their information.
"It may be a small amount but it adds up when scaled into the half billion. Thus I feel we, the users, should have a say in how the profit gets distributed. We should be able to donate some of our annual value to good causes."
Buchanan said he's been preoccupied with the idea of 'digital sharecropping' since last year. "Facebook, Wikimedia and the rest are making millions from the value create by users, acting like a cooperative but paying itself like a private company.
"It feels like a great opportunity to begin to redefine the current relationship between consumer value and company profit."
Our sense of what is private and what can public is shifting fast, fuelled by social media. Buchanan says this "lack of social instrumentation" is suffocating but that people are becoming more aware of the implications of over-sharing – like the daily ritual of de-tagging Facebook photos. He's betting on the Diaspora model for the future, but how about thinking of Facebook directly paying us for our data, or making a donation to charity?
"It would be a great day if Facebook purchased users' content. The union is kind of demanding that but the money would go to a good cause instead of to the user. It's kind of a benevolent form of profit-sharing. We make our play pay." (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/pda/2010/aug/04/facebook-union)