Facebook’s Split Personality – The Case For (And Against?) Fake Profiles

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Would you like to have more than one profile page for yourself on Facebook?

This is done (often) on Instagram… and they’re known as “Finstagrams” (or… Fake Instagrams).
Well Facebook users can now create multiple profiles within a single account (see: The Verge: Facebook officially embraces fake profiles).
Is this a good or bad thing… for the platform… and for the users?

The good?

  • The ability for a user to to maintain multiple profiles may let people manage their connections more efficiently. This aligns well with the “networked self” theory – the concept that online identity is a complex interplay of multiple selves tailored to different audiences (think about your personal and professional life).
  • By allowing multiple profiles, Meta enables users to customize their content landscapes, effectively turning Facebook into a multi-layered information environment. This could serve as a catalyst for higher engagement rates and time spent on the platform, metrics that are vital for Facebook’s sustainability.
  • This feature gives users a level of agency and freedom in deciding how they wish to engage with different audiences. In doing so, Meta recognizes that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to social networking is outdated and seeks to adapt to modern user behavior and expectations.
  • Multiple profiles will allow users to engage more deeply with niche communities without the noise from other parts of their life. This can lead to stronger bonds within those communities and a more robust exchange of ideas (my bass playing audience is not the same as my ThinkersOne audience).
  • From a behavioral standpoint, having multiple profiles could encourage users to invest more in the platform, following the “endowment effect,” where people value something more if they have a sense of ownership or investment in it.
  • While the feature does come with certain limitations (such as the inability to use Messenger, Dating, Marketplace, etc., from extra profiles), these limitations also serve as safeguards against potential misuse. This addresses some ethical concerns regarding identity misrepresentation and malicious behavior (which continues to be an issue for Facebook).

The questionable?

  • With more profiles generating more data, Meta gains further granular insight into individual lives. This furthers the surveillance capitalism model, where user data becomes an increasingly valuable asset, raising ethical concerns about privacy and exploitation.
  • Multiple profiles may deepen existing filter bubbles by allowing users to silo themselves into even more specific niches. This could result in less exposure to diverse perspectives.
  • This sounds like a content moderation nightmare at scale. Multiple profiles for each user could make content moderation exponentially harder (and it’s already hard to get right).
  • More profiles could mean more avenues for targeted ads, potentially worsening the commercial exploitation of users (if that’s a concern of yours).

Do you want Facebook accounts to be able to create multiple profiles?

This is what Elias Makos and I discussed on CJAD 800 AM. Listen in right here.

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