Facebook 101 for Small Businesses*

There are over 80M small business pages on Facebook, and the company’s data protection official has practically just threatened those that power businesses in the EU could go away tomorrow.

In the event that [Facebook] were subject to a complete suspension of the transfer of users’ data to the US, […] it is not clear […] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU.

Facebook data protection official

Was this why we begged our clients “Don’t rely on Facebook for your business, have your own website”?

And our clients replied “But all of my customers are on Facebook”?

And then we didn’t shrug and made Facebook pages for them?

And we didn’t leave it to Google to roll up our sleeves and try make the open web a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone, in every region – even those with low connectivity, limited bandwidth, and low-end devices?

Was this also why the open web isn’t even competition to Facebook, but rather a sales funnel?

Because in low-infrastructure regions, mobile network carriers have a greater incentive to offer bundled access to a walled garden than to let customers burn precious data on a widely unpredictable open web that still is built on a 2MB-per-page privilege, and every obese DIY website, whipped up by any one person whose profession isn’t building usable websites, drives multitudes of others to Facebook and Instagram, because the experience is so much more addictive – pardon me – rewarding?

Today, the leadership of a corporation who used every known and unknown dirty trick in the playbook to get millions of people to depend on their platform is holding the livelihoods of those very people hostage and threatening to take them away.

Because apparently, they don’t know what else to do.

Because respecting the human right to privacy isn’t a matter of legal compliance to Facebook – it is at odds with their core business model: surveillance capitalism.

Not only is it “not clear” how Facebook could continue providing their services in the EU, i.e. comply with European privacy standards – it is impossible because it would mean they would have to shift their business model away from surveillance-based advertising. But being able to reach customers through granularly segmented advertising is exactly what makes the platform so valuable for millions of small businesses.

It looks like we’re at stage three of the famously misattributed phrase:

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.

Not Ghandi

And what is really not clear to me is: what would winning even look like, and to whom?

Colophon: * Satire is a way of criticising people or ideas in a humorous way, especially in order to make a political point. Header image by Patrick Perkins.

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