Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s make sure he receives it.
This personalization of Facebook is confirmed when one click’s on the “About” tab at the bottom of the page which hyperlinks to Facebook’s own page. In a case of confusingly self-referential overlap, Facebook has its own page on Facebook. On the Wall of this page – like any diligent celebrity or corporation – Facebook posts (favorable) stories about itself that have been recently published. In the “Info” section, Facebook provides its mission statement and some brief information about the page and its purpose. There are also photos of Facebook employees and corporate art work, and a section that allows users to share their “Facebook stories” about how the site has changed users’ lives. Facebook’s Facebook page is not very different from those of other companies on the social networking giant. Nonetheless, when combined with the site’s many direct communications with users and its ability to foster socialization more efficiently than any “real-world” entity, it effectively positions Facebook as a user’s close friend. Facebook then uses this familiarity with its users to enhance the effectiveness of its targeted advertisements. By exploiting the intense personal connection it often fosters with its users, Facebook effectively imbeds the Spectacle into socialization. Most websites have advertisements in annoying and inconvenient places. Ads blink along the top of the screen and shout at readers from the margins of whatever they might be viewing. Some ads interrupt the user’s ability to navigate the page with large, animated videos and tiny, hidden “close” options. Not Facebook. Facebook advertisements are not intrusive or annoying. The more information Facebook can gather about a user, the more tailored the ads will be to a user’s personal preferences. Facebook’s ads are more like friendly suggestions from someone who knows you than the depersonalized, often anger-inducing ads on other websites. Facebook’s ability to create direct emotional ties to its users give the site – and advertisers that use its targeted marketing feature – subtle power and unprecedented access to consumers’ lives.
The swiftness with which market capitalism has invaded Facebook should not be surprising given the power of the Spectacle to instantly commodify culture and cultural spaces. However capitalism has not only found a way to access demographic information via Facebook but has also interwoven itself into the social networking fabric. On Facebook, one’s News Feed is not only populated by the comments of friends and acquaintances, but also of any celebrities, news organizations, shoe companies, and fast food chains that the user has “Liked.” Thus, the consumer becomes a mechanism of advertising by affiliating themselves with specific products and corporations – quite literally infusing advertising and socialization. The user/consumer becomes tied to the product in a new virtual way and is encouraged to see themselves as in conversation with (or part of a conversation with) the corporate entities they “Like.”
Resisting Commodification (with Friends!): Facebook and the Spectacle of Capitalism