Liana Giorgi

Facebook’s recent initial public offering of stock and the subsequent dramatic loss of the value of its shares (from an initial $38 in May to just over $21 in early August) has re-energized the discussion about the prospects of making money out of the compilation and processing of vast amounts of personal data.

A good overview of what is at stake is available in the July/August edition of Technology Review; see especially the feature article by Tom Simonite and the review article by Michael Wolff.

Facebook like Google relies on advertising for revenue but it lacks Google’s control of “the space where a buyer searches for a thing and where a seller hawks that thing” (Wolff, p.71). Besides, the growing reliance on mobile devices for using Facebook has further decreased its added value as an advertising platform.

What Facebook hopes—and along with it those who have bought its…

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