The core data model, as in all big internet platforms is the User and all the data associated to him. This is more true for Facebook than any other platform.
Friends – such concept exist in many other platforms, but they are called differently – contact, connection, user, profile, follower, etc – a little bit more foreign – psychologically to the human individual than “the friend”. There are few variations of a friends that Zuckerberg has placed inside his platforms – accepted, blocked, requested, close friends, family,user defined list. These are many to many – User to User relations. The platform puts some priority and additional logic according to which list a user belongs in the others feed. And this is the trick of making it so successful – by making it “social”, dynamic, focusing on the user to user interaction – which is keeping all inside the box.
The “wall” and the news feed expanded beyond just the personal content. It adapted and changed the user behavior – making them subconsciously put all kinds of comments, opinions and content – not just the personal stuff. And this brought the engagement to whole another level – by including political, professional, funny jokes, memes, games and the content from all kinds of sites verified and not – around the Internet.
Visibility – one of the things very missing to most of the other platforms is the possibility to fine tune to what other users – any individual post will be visible. You could select public, only me, or some user defined group of friends with include and exclude input fields.
Simple Posts – currently Facebook recognizes several sizes of text content:
- Very small – to the shortest comments Facebook offers additional color and background styling.
- Medium size – they are not visible in their whole, but, after clicking on them, you remain in the feed.
- Long posts – when the Post gets big, the social network opens it in a new page/screen so you could read it fully.
Articles (Notes) – this is data model identical to an article/blog post from standard CMSes. It highlights itself with a header image and is styled differently so it gets some emphases.
Image/ Images – A picture says 1000 words. They are important to make users feel important – by rising their self-image and also because with visual content – it is faster and easier to attract attention. That’s one of the “Why’s” Instagram became popular – colored, self-recognizing expression.
Video – Facebook copied the option to create video posts like YouTube. YouTube became popular and Zuck copied the functionality. It has the same concepts – title, content, image (thumbnail) and a video to play. And by starting it directly the users are kept inside Facebook. YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, all video sites have the option to embed playing their content onto other sites. At the beginning, before FB introduced video it was playable in here. It’s all a tricky competition game, not a technical issue.
External Links – By posting something into the network – Facebook parses and visits the external sites and increases the content it gathers from the Internet. It increases the meta information about users. As in the other types – it also brings the same data model fields – title, description, image, and, here – an external URL.
Hash tags – these are the same flat / one level way – with just the label after the # – of associating content as in all other places – Twitter, YouTube, content management systems and so on.
Groups – the last several years Zuck increased the importance of groups – yet another type of association of users into interests. Groups have – name, description, logo, visibility and several other fields. As the news feed became too flooded, groups was the masking Facebook did to trick people that is is more “private”. But in practice – it increases the notifications the users receive – and thus – tries to suck more of the attention of the users.
Comments are another essential part of rising up the engagement of the users to each other. They are attached to every type of post or item in the network. They are of such high importance to the algorithm of reach of the posts that the marketers try to trick people into commenting – even with meaningless comments. They could contain not only text – very much like the things you could post on the top level of the news feed. Their structure is tree, but, they have association to a post /image/ whatever and are to up to two levels deep. This is very common approach – to not have too deep comments. The social network that have implemented endless levels of comments is Twitter.
In the end any social networks are just another websites that doesn’t have any legal consequence – very much like any other type of media, and are used to steal away the attention. There are ways to integrate these sites to the sites of the governments, to the municipalities, to the banks, so the online activity to – DO have – true legal basis, but this is not done, because the owners of the sites don’t want to and because government and institutions don’t want to either.
Social networks are a way to release the pressure, to increase the Ego, to fill emotional gaps, to masturbate mentally, emotionally and less often to achieve something meaningful, altruistic, idealistic. The platform does not offer solutions - it promotes laughter - evading the problems and packages them into fun memes. Only, if the users go and migrate their energy and momentum outside – in the real world or onto the sites of the legal entities, it could have some real world result. Everyone that has power realizes what has legal consequence and what does not and uses the non-essential places for – getting attention to them, by using the tricks of human psychology embedded into the platform algorithms and also for – evading real change by creating stupid bullshit to which people to attach themselves and also oppose and divide.