I took a very good shot. My friends are going to like it! Hold on, it is really good! Here, let me apply some filter to make it even better. Let’s share it to public so others can see it too! But what about all that alcohol, junk food, bad tech, overpriced items, and Russian ads all these people will see?
There is something fundamentally wrong with this social contract.
It strike me today. I have been complaining about ads and social platform for a while. I thought it is enough if I use ad-blocker and will not see them. I also can limit time spent and how I use them. But it is not just me. Whenever I post something I lead others to these platforms too, and there is a good chance that cherished story from my life becomes an intro to a dose of brainwashing sponsored by Heineken or CocaCola.
Yet, passively consuming content on platform is not enough either. I regularly check on my friends’ photos, stories, and they can see that. In no time they develop natural expectation that once they post it I will come to check on it. By merely being there I effectively incentivize them to be part of the platform too. Now, even value of such feeble activity compound to activity of your friends. It is easy to miss this externality while discussing ads and individual’s agency, but it is a core of the whole business model.
To be fair, twitter and snapchat are doing the same. Instagram, however, has pushed it to the extreme. I only wish to see more companies were brave enough to adopt business model of postheaven (creator pays for the service) or medium (premium users cover costs for everybody) or even traditional subscription.