Fuch’s deconstruction of Facebook’s business model through the lens of Marxism provides parallels with WordPress, and its parent organization, Automattic. Particularly striking was how Automattic’s business model essentially sends Facebook’s reliance on (or perhaps what Fuch’s would call ‘exploitation of’) content generated by its “prosumers,” or individuals who both produce and consume content, into overdrive. On Automattic’s “Work With Us” page (which in-and-of itself provides a telling preposition), it is illustrates that within the US alone, Facebook enjoys 141M unique monthly hits with 3,539 employees. Conversely, WordPress experiences 121M unique monthly hits with only 124 employees. Every month WordPress generates roughly 25 times more unique traffic per-employee than does Facebook.
This illustrates the significantly better return-on-investment organizations can enjoy through an increased reliance on “prosumers” and decreased reliance on traditional employees. And if you’re wondering if this model is successful, just look at CNN, where scores of traditional journalists were fired when the company launched its “iReport” system. Marx could’ve rested his case on such a callous use of one division of the proletariat to exploit another.
Truthfully, though, I found it difficult to sympathize with Fuch’s claim that the system is exploitative. Do users think that content is magically free? Although the system is ethically dubious, isn’t it the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves about the systems in which they participate? Do we even care enough to do so?