On "Evil Companies"

I keep seeing a theme circling tech circles, and that is a hint (or more) that making a profit is bad, and companies who make money from you are evil.

Stop it.

If you paid money for a product or service, and are happy with it, then be happy. If not, review their customer service / returns policy, complain and attempt to initiate a return, and move on with life. If that company doesn't change how they do things and/or your needs do not change to match what they provide, don't be a patron.

Apple makes money hand-over-fist by providing products and services that many people enjoy. If you're not one of them, don't give them money.

Last week I was at a tech conference, and one of the keynote speakers was a VP of Facebook. Facebook is enjoyed by most of it's active users. They voluntarily share info with Facebook, and in return they get easy access to their network of friends, and (depending on whether or not you choose to get value from it) receive or put-up-with advertisements. That's their business model. They provide a service for free (in terms of cash), and provide their customers with a framework for communication and interaction, and thus entertainment. During the keynote, the VP played a video about a woman who'd been hit by the recent hurricanes. When the dust settled, at first glance her neighborhood was riddled with debris. When more closely examined, she noticed that they were pictures of other peoples' families, childrens' toys, heirlooms, letters, etc. She thought that, like her with all of the things that she was missing, those people would want their tangible memories returned to them in order to help restore a sense of normalcy. So she started a Facebook group. Individuals took photos of items, added them to the group, and people could claim or identify individual items from anything posted.

Without Facebook (or something similar with those capabilities), this would have been largely unsuccessful, if not impossible.

But somebody at that conference posted (verbatim): "How much money did @Facebook make on traffic "helping" connect people in the wake of the Alabama tornados shown in ad @ #velocityconf?"

My response was "I don't see that that matters..." http://twitter.com/gwaldo/status/81404040486985728

First, Facebook didn't cause the disaster. They also didn't charge for their service or this feature. Nothing about their operation or billing changed in response to the disaster except to ensure that the site kept running. Business as usual. If the objection was that they made an advertisement, it was pretty tasteful, and displayed an example of how their site had been used by real people for something important to them.

If they should have stopped receiving payments for that natural occurrence (a series of tornadoes), I ask what natural occurrences they should stop receiving payments for. Earthquakes? Tsunamis? Volcanic eruptions? Solar Flares? Supernovae? Hail, snow, and rain? Tides?

At what point does your argument become ridiculous? To me, it's the beginning.


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