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Social networks let the rich buy influence

Mike Elgan | Jan. 16, 2017
New monetization schemes on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook let sites profit from inequality

The tech site The Information charges a subscription fee to read. But I think that's fair, too, because it's just a product with a price -- readers don't gain an advantage in terms of influence.

I'm really interested in Medium's new direction. The long-form social blogging platform recently laid off staff and announced that its monetization model isn't working. Instead, the company intends to implement a new system where writers are rewarded "based on the value they’re creating for people." I don't know what that will mean in practice, but in theory it's the opposite of paying for influence. Medium participants instead should get paid for being influential.

There are many ways to monetize social sites. But I'm disturbed by the trend of selling influence and inequality as part of the business model.

Social networks used to provide a level playing field for admission and influence based on merit. And that's the way it should be.

Let's support the social networks that provide a level playing field for all voices -- not the ones that profit from inequality.


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