Business

Swimming With the Sharks in Facebook’s World

swimming-with-the-sharks-in-facebooks-world

But I came up with an almost foolproof plan. In venture capital language, it’s a small but potentially scalable one-to-one monetization system for entertainment.

More simply, I’ll try to get people to pay me to amuse them. As they say in Hollywood, “Funny is money.”

Perhaps we could combine the laughter reward with the phenomenon of cyber currency: Twitcoin? Gigglebucks? I mean, so much of the craze for online currency is ridiculous, especially when it comes to people who may lose millions of dollars because they lost the passwords to their digital wallets.

I tried this gem of an idea with Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor at the University of Virginia and an expert on social media and Facebook in particular, which he wrote about in his book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Divides Us And Undermines Democracy. But he said comparatively few people on social media make real money or even enough money to pay the rent.

The result, he said, was a “race to the bottom,” which he asserted was not a reference to those suddenly ubiquitous hatchback pajama ads showing a flash of the model’s derriere.

Even so, I decided to try out my one-on-one humor model over the phone with him.

I mentioned that Facebook, with its tremendous power and resources, “really knows how to lean,” a reference to the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote a bestseller about leaning.

Professor Vaidhyanathan is a kind man and he laughed.

“You giggled!” I said and put my plan into action. “Would you be willing to pay me for it? I mean, you could give it to me Venmo – “

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