Facebook’s Recent Challenges
We are all aware that Facebook is under scrutiny for use of data about Facebook users.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, in a post on March 21, 2018, explained what happened and outlined steps taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The issues revolve around use of user data shared on Facebook.
At Families Connect we are not anti-Facebook. In fact, I think all of us closely involved with Families Connect are Facebook users. Also, Families Connect has advertised on Facebook–Facebook can be an effective advertising medium.
Why Families Connect Is Different From Facebook
And that is the key to understanding why and how Families Connect is different. A reason Facebook is such an effective advertising vehicle is because Facebook enables advertisers to carefully and effectively target a defined audience. Facebook can do that because Facebook knows a lot about its users.
Families Connect is different. Beyond what is necessary to conduct our business, we don’t collect data about our users, and don’t market ourselves as a vehicle for advertisers to target a market. (We do allow advertisements generated by Google to appear on our website, which appear based upon what Google knows about user behavior.)
A Subscription Model for Facebook?
Here’s an excerpt from an interview of Mr. Zuckerberg by business reporters Sheera Frenkel and Kevin Roose published in The New York Times:
Roose: Is the basic economic model of Facebook, in which users provide data that Facebook uses to help advertisers and developers to better target potential customers and users — do you feel like that works, given what we now know about the risks?
Zuckerberg: Yeah, so this is a really important question. The thing about the ad model that is really important that aligns with our mission is that — our mission is to build a community for everyone in the world and to bring the world closer together. And a really important part of that is making a service that people can afford. A lot of the people, once you get past the first billion people, can’t afford to pay a lot. Therefore, having it be free and have a business model that is ad-supported ends up being really important and aligned.
Now, over time, might there be ways for people who can afford it to pay a different way? That’s certainly something we’ve thought about over time. But I don’t think the ad model is going to go away, because I think fundamentally, it’s important to have a service like this that everyone in the world can use, and the only way to do that is to have it be very cheap or free.
Families Connect has a more modest ambition. We are not aiming to serve more than 1 billion people; we would be quite content with many fewer than a billion subscribers.
And we believe our subscription service is “very cheap,” to use Mr. Zuckerberg’s words, priced at $5/month.
The Path We Took
Families Connect doesn’t want to be in the business of selling advertisements, and doesn’t want to be in the business of collecting data for advertisers about our users.
That is why we recently launched an advertising-free, subscription version of our application. We would like to make money to sustain our operations through a very modest monthly fee, rather than by selling advertising.
This, we think, should be appealing to our users, as they control what they see on their Families Connect pages (free of advertising), and don’t have to worry that personal information is being used by Families Connect to serve advertisers.
We are an Alternative
Facebook is an inspiring American entrepreneurial success story, and is a terrific product.
Families Connect is doing something different, around a different economic model. We have a different product for users with different priorities.
We want to provide an advertising-free environment for sharing content (photos, videos, stories and recipes) with those that matter most in a user-defined network.
Please give us a try.
Rick Bryant is the founder of Families Connect, LLC. He is also a husband, father of three adult children, and a grandfather to two. Before Families Connect, Rick founded and built an investment advisory business, co-founded and served as a partner in a private equity investment business, worked in investment banking, and practiced securities and corporate law.