Most of us use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other services. They’re important ways for us to communicate and connect with each other.
But Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed a scary amount of power. This power has allowed Facebook to acquire a monopoly status; making it almost impossible for musicians to reach our fans online without using their services.
That makes Facebook very rich; they sell ads to our fans — totaling $40 billion in revenue last year. 63% of music fans follow an artist on Facebook– and are targets of Facebook ads.
In return, musicians get very little: we don’t own the data about our fans, it’s not portable to other platforms or our email lists, and in many cases, we have to pay Facebook to use data about our fans to reach them. We are stuck in Facebook’s “walled garden,” unable to reach our fans without it and forced to pay Facebook to reach our fans through their platform.
If Facebook was truly interested in being a partner to artists, it would exempt artists and arts organizations from having to pay to reach their followers, particularly up and coming artists with smaller followings.
Adding insult to injury, Facebook is free to place whatever ads it wants on our profile pages: opioid mills, fake news, and other objectionable content. Artists have a moral right to control how their work is used. Facebook’s complete control over use of our work violates this right.
And, currently, there are reports that Facebook is considering expanding its stranglehold over musicians by launching its own streaming or catalog product: “Facebook could match the size of Apple Music if only one percent of its users signed up for a streaming service.”
As artists who want to create a better world, we have a number of other concerns about the company. Facebook unilaterally decides the news that billions of people around the world see every day.
It buys up or bankrupts potential competitors to protect its monopoly, killing innovation and choice.
It tracks us almost everywhere on the web and, through our smartphones, even where we go in the real world.
It uses this hoard of intimate data to figure out how to get us and our children addicted to its services.
And then Facebook serves up everything about us to its true customers — virtually anyone willing to pay for the ability to convince us to buy, do, or believe something.
And it is spending millions on corporate lobbyists, academics, and think tanks, to ensure that no one gets in their way.
We’ve joined a new coalition to fight back, to demand that the Federal Trade Commission take the necessary action to give us our freedom from Facebook.
The five members of the FTC can make Facebook work for musicians, not make musicians work for Facebook.
The FTC can make Facebook work better for artists by making it less powerful, breaking up the company by spinning off WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger into competing networks, requiring interoperability, so we have the freedom to communicate across networks, and imposing strong privacy rules.