The Rise of Facebook and How It Monetized You
The Rise of Facebook
Have you ever wondered what your personal data is worth to Facebook? All the posts you like, groups you join, and the news feed you spend hours browsing. Does that stuff generate revenue for Facebook somehow? Of course, it does. Over 700 points of data are collected on you and used to build a comprehensive psychological profile. Facebook knows your political alignment, your religious stance, even your likelihood of committing a crime. This knowledge goes so far beyond your individual posts. But it gets even stranger than that. Government programs have invested in this data harvesting initiative to target potential terrorists before they coordinate any crimes. If you would like to learn more, join me as I go over the early days of Facebook, their involvement with government investors, and what your data is actually worth.
Soon after TheFacebook was created, Mark Zuckerburg was in court!
If you think that the creation of Facebook was smooth sailing, then let me fill you in. Only six days into launching Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg was subpoenaed by the Winklevoss brother! Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. But the deed was done, and Mark Zuckerburg was sued by 3 of his Harvard colleagues who accused him of stealing their ideas! Cameron Winklevoss, his brother Tyler Winklevoss and another student named Divya Narendra, took Mark Zuckerburg to court, the fight in court took four long years, but the battle ended once Mark paid the trio $65 million to settle and sign an NDA! Not only that, but Mark Zuckerburg also granted them an undisclosed number of Facebook shares.
In the Beginning…There were Five
Mark Zuckerburg may be the founder of Facebook, but there were four other students behind him, Eduard Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chis Hughes. Due to Facebook’s fast-growing popularity, all of them had to roll up their sleeves and dig in to keep TheFacebook online; Eduard Saverin helped with the business part and early fiancing, Andrew McCollum was a graphic designer, Dustin Moskovitz was the programmer, and Chis Hughes was the spokesperson. By 2005 Over 21 Universities around the world were using Facebook. In 2006 Facebook introduced the News Feed, which didn’t really start well, as privacy concerns were raised by many users. Apparently, back then, when you posted something on your profile, it would automatically appear on the newsfeed without you having a say on who was and wasn’t allowed to see it. Due to the many complaints that Facebook received from its users, they finally got their act together and added some features that could control who would see your posts, now we call it privacy controls. Even though some privacy issues were raised, Facebook didn’t stop growing, and by 2007 Facebook already had in its platform 100,000 business pages!
When a website gets this kind of attention, investors usually have an eye on it, and it’s no surprise that Facebook was in the eye of a lot of investors as well as buyers over the years. Facebook was originally founded in 2004 and was formed as a Florida LLC by Mark Zuckerburg and Eduardo Saverin, who initially took equity stakes in the company, but it wasn’t long before some big dogs would show interest. In the Summer of that same year, the very first Facebook venture capitalist came onboard. So in the Summer of 2004, Peter Thiel makes an extraordinary $500,000 investment, giving him access to 10.2% of Facebook shares with an unbelievable $5,000,000 valuation. All in less than a year of its dorm-room launch.
Only two years after its launch, Facebook had reached the unicorn status of a billion-dollar startup, and in September of 2006, the now all but dead Yahoo! was in discussions with Facebook to buy the company. But their offer did not impress some of the board members. When Yahoo! offered $1 billion for Facebook, Peter Thiels was quick to point out that Facebook’s internal validation was way higher than that by a few billion in fact. So needless to say, this potential deal was quickly put to bed. Constant rumors of Facebook being sold were so loud that Mark Zuckerburg had to issue a statement in July of 2007 explaining that Facebook wasn’t for sale. He ensured that he wanted Facebook to remain independent.
Not surprisingly, after this announcement, Microsoft wanted a piece of the pie, so in October of 2007, Microsoft proposed an investment. In exchange for their $300 to $500 million, Microsoft wanted 5% of the company stake. The deal was eventually agreed on when Microsoft announced in October of 2007 that they had a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. The agreement might have been less than first thought, but thanks to this handshake, Facebook was then valued at around $15 billion! The deal that Microsoft made was a little different from the other investors, though because Microsoft bought preferred stock, which basically makes you kind of a VIP shareholder. Meaning that if Facebook ever gets sold, Microsoft will be the first in line to get compensated before any of the other investors. Not only that, but Microsft also gained access to run international ads on the Facebook platform.
Unnamed American Intelligence Agencies and Your Information
Were you aware that in October of 2010, Two American Intelligence Agencies joined forces to help to turn Facebook into some type of surveillance tool? Not only that, but a company that was founded by the government was also included in this psyops! In-Q-Tel was founded by the government, and it’s believed that it has been part of at least 167 investments. In-Q-Tel doesn’t disclose what these investments were about; the few that are known are directly connected with data acquisition. But let’s go a little further and talk about some of the investments in the company. Because some of the investors of In-Q-Tel are coincidently or not some of Facebook’s first investors, we are talking about Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, and even GreylookPartners. And they are not the only ones, because apparently a lot of organizations within the U.S made a partnership with In-Q-Tel at some point in order to have access to people’s personal details, their life’s patterns, and media uploads.
Have you heard about DARPA? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Defense held accountable for the development of emerging technologies. But Darpa became famous worldwide when they unleashed the Information Awareness Office (also known as IOA). IOA basically tracks and monitors acts such as terrorists and other asymmetric threats to U.S. national security. IOA uncovered a scandal that was helping deep state government parties gain access to people’s browsing history, credit card purchases, tax returns, car rentals, airline tickets purchases as well as other personal information. Every piece of data was connected and tangled into a giant spiderweb of digital information.
Mark Zuckerburg has been implicated in a lot of rumors along the years as Facebook’s CEO but in the early months of 2018. Mark Zuckerburg was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Cambridge Analytica was taking data from Facebook’s users without their consent or Facebook’s knowledge. The data served for political advertising! Apparently, an app was created by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, who happens to be a Cambridge academic. The app that Dr. Kogan developed created a psychological profile for every user; the app would take personal data as well as their Facebook friends. The aim of this app was basically to harvest the data from American voters, and why? To sell all of this information to political campaigns! Do you know which campaigns took advantage of this information? Well, in an effort to remain apolitical Ill leave that research to you. But the fact remain Facebook was used to manipulate vulnerable people all around the world, and to assume that is no longer the case makes you double susceptible to further agendas.
How was the data used in the campaigns exactly?
Both gentlemen took different approaches when it came to using the data. While one dumped $5.8 million into a sophisticated ad campaign, a campaign that tailored advertisements to people that meet the criteria. This psyop compelled these easily influenced users based on their data profile to vote in a certain way. The other guy used his campaign to build psychological profiles and select users with certain personality traits based on their Facebook activity. Then his team would personalize messages to display on several digital platforms outside of Facebook, like Google, Instagram, and Twitter.
Then came Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower!
It was in 2018 that Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, revealed to the public what was happening behind campaign doors. Christopher Wylie even gave interviews to The Guardian and The New York Times about it. And let’s not forget about Facebook, who came forward and apologized for the role that they played on the leaked data of their users. Mark Zuckerburg even took a little trip to Congress.
Now, does Facebook collect your personal information?
I’m sure you know by now, right? Yes, Facebook takes all of your information, every last bit of it, and uses it to influence you and your friends? It’s called programmed advertising. You see, a lot of things outside of Facebook are connected to the app itself through advertising; for example, Facebook has access to information on everyone who visits their platform, although registered users are a little more valuable. When you are a registered user, Facebook will throw ads based on your likes, browsing history, and the list goes on, but when you are not a registered user, then things are not as simple, but don’t assume you are free to peruse the network, because you are still a target! Facebook will have access to your IP Address and compel you to join through personalized post-delivery.
Facebook only needs to have access to your number or email, and then it will look for two people that happen to have your contact saved; by knowing those people, they will assume that you are all buddies. Facebook uses security protocols to collects your browsing history, such as which websites you have visited. That way, by collecting your IP Address, they know where your location is. Although Facebook says this is a method to spot bots, we all know the truth. There have even been some speculations that Facebook uses this info to create shadow profiles, which basically means that if you are not on Facebook, they perhaps could be creating your own clone in the platform. Facebook has denied any of the accusations, of course.
What’s the conclusion?
Its no surprise now that Facebook has exploded on the scene, no matter what accusations the platform is involved in, it as a worldwide phenomenon that offers many unparalleled benefits to its members. Facebook is huge. In fact, the last 2019 annual report shows that Facebook currently has around two and a half billion users, growing at the astronomical rate of 10% per year. According to the International Telecommunication Union, the global number of people online is 4.75 billion in 2020, so around half of the online population is currently registered on Facebook. Have you wondered how much Facebook makes off you, the users? Well, target advertising is one of their ways, and you might be surprised to know that every three months, a registered user from the U.S or Canada is worth about $14 to Facebook, while someone in Europe would be worth $4.50, and Asia-pacific users around $1.59. As for the rest of the world, it’s about $1.22 every three months.
So after hearing this, will you stay on Facebook, and if so, will you think twice next time before giving that hate-filled political post a thumbs up and risk being a target of the next clandestine psyops program?
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