The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

The DeBord Report Show: Facebook and free labor

As regular readers of the DeBord Report know, perhaps all too well, I think that Facebook has achieved its astonishing valuation and prospects for a $100-billion-plus IPO tomorrow on the backs of the free labor of nearly a billion users. 

You post updates. You post links. You post pictures and videos. You do this in the teeming millions. Other people react to and share your activities. Facebook transforms all of this into about $3 billion per quarter in advertising revenue. 

And that's just on the website. We haven't even gotten into the mobile bonanza that awaits for Zuck & Co. 

Tomorrow, they stage an IPO that will instantly mint many, many Facebook millionaires, eventually chop a decent chunk off California's approximately $16 billion budget deficit and make Zuck one of the richest men in all the land.

But, but, but... How long will it be before Facebook's legions of loyal users collectively realize that while the sharing might be exhilarating, it also means that everyone is acting outside of their economic self-interest. Facebook is paying its users exactly nothing for the privilege of being sold to advertisers.

True, you will soon be able to buy into the company. But it will cost you something like $40 a share. And don't expect to be getting dividends any time soon.

Quite a few people don't agree with me on this analysis. With the assistance of KPCC's crack video team (Mae Ryan and Grant Slater and their army of interns), I sat down with our social media maven, Kim Bui, and one of our excellent reporters, Hayley Fox, to discuss why I'm just so totally wrong. Both Kim and Hayley make superb points: Kim about the value of social media to assess things that were formerly impossible to assess, such as reputation; and Hayley about why her generation expects to work for free.

We also talk about cute puppies, boyfriends and magic money. 

The first episode of the the DeBord Report Show (working title) is embedded above. We're planning to do more of these in the future, so please tell me what you think in the comments and suggest future topics.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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