Facebook’s quarterly earnings, released last month, have surpassed most market expectations, sending its stock price to an all-time high. They have also confirmed the company’s Teflon credentials: no public criticism ever seems to stick.Wall Street has already forgiven Facebook’s experiment on its users, in which some had more negative posts removed from their feeds while another group had more positive ones removed. This revealed that those exposed to positive posts feel happier and write more positive posts as a result. This, in turn, results in more clicks, which result in more advertising revenue.
Troubling ethics notwithstanding, the experiment has revealed a deeper shift in Facebook’s business model: the company can make money even when it deigns to allow its users a modicum of privacy. It no longer needs to celebrate ubiquitous sharing – only ubiquitous clicking.
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