VAUGHN DAVIS: 2 billion Facebookers… but what does it all mean?

Sunday Social 03/07/2017

TLDL 3 July 2017

2 billion Facebookers… but what does it all mean?

If Facebook were a religion, it would be the second largest the world had ever seen. If Facebook were a country, It would have half a billion more citizens than China

Those are some pretty impressive numbers for a network that started out as a “hot or not” website for Harvard undergraduates to rate their classmates

You might have noticed cutesy videos popping up on Facebook last week celebrating its hitting the 2 billion monthly users mark. Behind the cartoons, though, Facebook’s dominance means more than just easy access to cat videos and pictures of your ex.

It’s good news for advertisers, at least. If there’s one thing Facebook is good at, it’s slicing and dicing those 2 billion users into very accurately targeted audiences. For you, that means seeing ads for engagement rings before you’ve even popped the question. For Facebook, that translates into $27 billion in annual revenue

The news isn’t so flash for news organisations. As Facebook dominates the time we spend online (and in fact consuming any media), its news feed algorithm becomes incredibly powerful when it comes to deciding what news we see online and what we don’t. Looked at positively, that could mean we see stories that relate to what we’re interested in, or that matter to our friends and communities. The flipside, though, is that our entire world view could be shaped by a secret formula we have no visibility of, and no assurance of impartiality. (Of course, you could argue that impartial and media are not two words that ever really belong together, but that’s another discussion…)

Parking apps could mean curtains for meters

AT Park is a recently launched app from Auckland Transport that lets you use your phone instead of a pay and display machine to pay for your parking (Wellington has something similar – let me know if your town does too).

We’ve discussed it on the show before, but it’s not until you use something in anger that you really appreciate its worth. I had a chance to the other night when all the machines in an Auckland Council carpark had failed. The helpful helpline guy said he’d send someone out within an hour… but that didn’t mean much to the bunch of us trying to pay for parking before the theatre kicked off in 15 minutes.

Parking app to the rescue! Now I’d recommend you download and configure it (you need to add your personal details and credit card) before you need it, but even so, three minutes later I had the app on my phone, had paid for my parking and was inside having a pre-show wine.

The other big upside of the app, for me, is that you only pay for what you use. So instead of guessing you’ll be there an hour, paying for that, then wishing you hadn’t when your meeting finishes after 15 minutes, with AT Park you just hit “stop” when you leave – so if you only use 58 cents worth of parking then that’s all you’ll pay for. Nice one!

Vaughn Davis hosts Sunday Social on RadioLIVE Sundays at 7pm