The Friday Four #9

It’s that time again! Have you got a Friday feeling? I always told myself that being a freelancer would mean I was flexible and wouldn’t be a slave to the Monday – Friday grind. In the end, it seems that I not only am (usually), but it’s probably a good thing. Routine is good. In the future, I really want to only do a 4 day week, but that’s not the case currently. So, hey, TFI Friday!

Right, I’ve got a twin theme this week. Freelancing and social media. I’m always looking out for good advice from other freelancers and passing it on. And I’m concerned about the way social-media affect us as individuals and as a global society; specifically, Facebook as I (and many others, it seems) have developed a fairly strong dislike of the platform, the business and its unethical attitude to data collection.

I’ll start with the freelancing.

ONE

10 lessons from 10 years of freelancing

I’m on the weekly newsletter list for the Freelancer’s Union which is a US-based organisation and isn’t always relevant to me. However, often there are general articles with some great advice and information. This is a great article, with various pieces of wisdom.

One tip is to try not compare yourself to others which I totally agree with. This is especially true online where people are trying to ‘look their best’ and a lot of their content is geared towards personal branding; things are not always as they seem. I love this quote:

“Comparing yourself to others makes you either small or smug, and neither of those are good.”


TWO

Can co-working with virtual strangers enhance your freelancing business?

This is another one from the Freelancer’s Union and there are some good tips and opinions. As I work mostly as a project manager I’m lucky that I get to have regular communication with a variety of people, whether other freelancers or in-house staff. Something that has often occurred to me is the idea that instead of acting as a node in a network and merely being a conduit for the information and work that flows in and out, I could work on developing more of a team environment for the freelancers so we all have contact with each other.

This support and communication could be beneficial in terms of the specific work, our type of work in general, and some social interaction, not to mention networking. I’m playing with some ideas and I’m not sure how things could develop. It depends on the type of project and the requirements and desires of the publisher I’m working for, but it’s something that I’m thinking about.

OK, if you ain’t interested in Facebook, turn away now!


THREE

Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world?

My answer would be ‘no’. How about you? This article discusses recent activity by Mr Zuckerberg which has led some to believe he might run for president. Would he be worse than Trump? Probably not. The writer concludes that there would be no reason for him to run for office because he has too much power already.

Increasingly, Facebook has become a place where people spend much of their online time. Do we really want one site, which is essentially a ‘walled-garden’ as you have to have an account to enter, to become a one-stop, catch-all, do anything space? Get your (fake) news, keep in touch, carry out business networking, use a chat app, share photos and videos and connect to Instagram – these things all take place now.

What if it there was also a Facebook app store, allowing you to download and install apps, as you can from Google Play or Apple, to use as long as you were connected to Facebook? What about Facebook wallet for payments? What if your data was used to rate your behaviour, to decide if you were ‘worthy’ of having access to things in the wider world?

Last week, Tencent –  an enormous Chinese social-media company – stepped ahead of Facebook as one of the five most valuable companies in the world. They don’t make as much money from data and advertising as Facebook, but they make MASSIVE money from apps, media and gaming. I’d say Zuckerberg might have his eye on some of those potential revenue streams. Facebook for pay-per-view TV, gaming, apps and shopping, helped by preferential treatment from internet providers in the US once net neutrality laws change, basically becomes the ‘the internet’ for many people? Don’t bet against it.

“Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything.”

Columbia Journalism Review, Facebook is eating the world, MARCH 7, 2016


FOUR

We Can’t Trust Facebook to Regulate Itself

But will anyone else actually regulate Facebook? Who’s going to do that – the US government?!

In this article, a former Facebook employee states that Facebook is a company which “prioritized data collection from its users over protecting them from abuse“. In his experience, the company can’t be trusted to treat its users with care. I don’t really know who he is, so of course, he might have an axe to grind – ex-employees often do. But the points he makes tally with things I’ve read and listened to elsewhere.

Linking this to the article above: how powerful are we all prepared to let Facebook become? Writing stuff like this can sound a bit like mad conspiracy theory stuff, but seriously, the evidence is overwhelming that Facebook’s data collection is deeply unethical, at best. Use of the platform is enabling the manipulation of millions of people in various countries. Is that OK?

As much as anything else, I will always return to the point that not being on Facebook can mean that I am not truly connected to a variety of professional groups in my industry, because they all rely on their pages and groups on Facebook. And that pisses me off.

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