Should I be on Facebook?

“They go out and find the morons for me.”

Last year Zeke Faux went to a conference in Berlin to report on internet scammers for Bloomberg News.

Here is a link to the story: How Facebook Helps Shady Advertisers Pollute the Internet

The conference was sponsored by an internet forum called Stack That Money. But Facebook employees introduced the speakers and facilitated the forums. And the FB sales crew were ever-present to sign up new customers.

Mr. Faux found a man named Robert Gryn who got rich selling on Facebook. Mr. Gryn explained the system to Mr. Faux.

Here is a summary of the process provided by BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK:
1. A merchant wants to sell something.
2. An “affiliate network” connects the merchant affiliates.
3. The Affiliates makes ads – often deceptive ones – and pays Facebook to display them.
4. Facebook users engage with the ads.
5. When an engagement leads to a purchase, the merchant, network, and affiliate get paid.

There was a time when scammers had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to find marks for their confidence games. Today, Facebook finds gullible people for them. One affiliate who sells overpriced skin creams said to Mr. Faux, referring to Facebook, that “they go out and find the morons for me.”

Facebook monitors purchases, and then uses an algorithm to find other prospects to show the ads. The system actually can lose money for the affiliates as Facebook tries to find out who the best prospects are. But over a period of days many affiliates begin to see their sales rebound and grow at a rapid pace.

Every time someone invents a new communication tool it brings unscrupulous people eager to take advantage of the open market. It happened with newspapers, radio, and TV. The question always becomes, will the owners self-regulate? Or will the government need to intervene?

Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to account for the problems on Facebook. How he responds will determine whether Facebook will end up a community service or a menace. At the moment I’m not sure whether I should stay on Facebook. I’m thinking it over.


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