Facebook Sells Me Out

It’s tough for me to feel sympathy for the Winklevoss Twins, but with talk this week of Facebook going public with a $100 billion valuation, it only makes me feel once more that I’ve been had, on the internet – a pawn in somebody’s get rich quick scheme.

The last time I felt this way was when Arianna Huffington sold her Huffington Post for $315 million to AOL. By tht time, I had written about nine pieces for them as one of their bloggers. I wrote a mini bio of myself and sent a photo I had taken of myself at the optometrist of glasses I was considering buying. Suddenly I was a Huffington Post blogger.

This impressed friends and I rose in stature somehow. I was writing for something they had heard of nationally and not a regional newspaper being quickly driven into the ground by bankrupt robber barons.

Little did they know I was not being paid a penny for those blogs. Nobody does (as far as I know). They think that providing people a platform for their writing is pay enough. We can plug our book(s) at the end if we want. And look: People do keep blogging.

When I first started writing online for my bankrupt newspaper, it was more or less a third fulltime job there, and it had similar compensation: Nothing extra. Once, the guy coordinating the online stuff made sure I got a hat. But that was it.

I never even got a hat at the Huffington Post.

When it sold for hundreds of millions, I stopped sending blogs. It was clear someone was getting superrich from the sweat of many unpaid peons such as myself and it was time to extract myself from it (I have submitted a couple of things since, but only because I thought they deserved a bigger audience than they may have had here on my blog). But mostly that’s it.

Now Facebook is not all that different. We write for it, uncompensated. Our friends see it. But more than that, we’re advertising fodder for Mark Zuckerberg and all of his friends he treated so badly in “The Social Network.”

They know our likes and dislikes, whether we need a new washing machine and the details of our relationships. They can sell all this info to advertisers so they can further exploit us.

So forgive me if I haven’t been on Facebook much lately either.

I enjoyed it for a while, believe me, reconnecting with people from every stage of my life, some of whom come together to comment on something, though they have never met. But most of the friends my age increasingly are lurkers or have given up Facebook long ago (or have unceremoniously defriended me). I never hear from them.

I do hear from a few dozen people who post constantly. For a while they all posted about whatever move they made in games like Farmville and other endeavors about which I cared not a whit. Now they’re all copying posters from some centralized location that all have some thought they think is clever. To me they all look like those kitty “Hang in there baby” posters. I can scroll through them pretty easily.

There are some other uses for Facebook. Many people posts articles of import, creating a people’s wire service and occasionally whipping up the kind of activism to set Susan Komen’s head (and policy) spinning.

I’m actually on Twitter more than Facebook, because I like the 140 character limitations – and no room for Hang in There baby posters. (though they’re probably combing my entries for ad info as well).

Maybe when Twitter cashes in, I’ll sulk and withdraw from them for a while as well.

For now it will be Facebook that will have to be shunned.

As for the Winklevoss Twins, reports claim that the two who settled with Zuckerberg long ago in part with stock, will make $300 million on the Facebook IPO. (Hey, maybe they can buy the Huffington Post with it).

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