Facebook’s decision to file for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the Securities and Exchange Commission has made headlines and will likely be the most notable tech IPO since Google went public in 2004. Not everyone is rushing to “like” Facebook’s decision to make an IPO, however. The New York Times published an op-ed entitled “Facebook is Using You”, which criticized Facebook’s business plan and argued that the implications of an individual’s online activity extend far beyond the potential for embarrassing photos to surface. In sociological terms, there seems to be an argument surfacing that Facebook is exploiting the labor power of its users. If this is indeed so, Facebook may represent a new frontier for work and labor where even leisure activity can be exploited for the generation of profit.
ZD Net’s Emril Protalinski, who blogs about Facebook for the twenty year old tech site, responded to the Time’s piece and decried the position that Facebook somehow owed its users. Protalinski’s argument rests on the idea that becoming a Facebook member is a voluntary act. Users who enter into this relationship with Facebook receive a service that is free because Facebook can cover its operating costs through advertising revenue.