When we all first joined Facebook, we saw it as an add-on to our social lives: the whipped cream on our lattes. But as experience has taught all coffee drinkers, the whipped cream never stays as its own separate layer. In the same way, Facebook hasn’t remained a separate layer on top of our social lives. It has seeped in. And the latte is no longer just a latte. Is it diluted? Yes. Is it sweeter? Maybe.
For Facebook to make such social advertising possible, they’ve got to track the interactions between users—the people we call “friends.” The better they capture this data, the better they’ll be able to sell that power to advertisers. Facebook is already looking for patterns in the data (link). It’s to their benefit to do so.
In the process, the coffee might be a lot sweeter, but you may eventually be getting less coffee. Facebook doesn’t simply want to be a topping; it wants to be the substance.
Making Facebook profitable necessitates this move: less coffee, more cream. It’s the users who need to decide for themselves, one by one, how much cream they actually want.