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Shares of Facebook FB are up about 15% since Wednesday’s close after the company released another fantastic earnings report. Fourth quarter adjusted earnings of 59 cents were well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 50 cents.
After the recent pop, Facebook’s market cap now sits at about $266.6 billion. That’s right. $266.6 billion. 666. Existence of the Illuminati, confirmed.
All jokes aside, it wouldn’t surprise me if “Take over the world” was at the top of Zuckerberg’s to-do list. Facebook has grown to about 1.5 billion monthly active users, which means that more than 1 in 7 people on the planet has a Facebook account.
Over the years, it’s become more and more clear that the executives over at Facebook are not satisfied with just being a social media site. Heck, with its current strategy, Facebook is really just a huge advertising platform. One of the world’s biggest advertising platforms, that is.
On top of that, Facebook has its hands in way more than just the website these days. This got me thinking: how does Facebook plan to take over the world, and what would our planet look like under the control of our Facebook overlords?
Facebook Knows Everything About You
Facebook’s advertising strategy has been incredibly successful. 2015 saw a 29% increase in a impressions, and the average price per ad increased by 21%. Reportedly, average revenue per users increased to $3.73 in the quarter.
The thing that makes Facebook’s ads so great is how well the company targets its users. Facebook shows you content that it knows you’ll be interested in. People buy ads from Facebook knowing that it will go to their exact target audience.
This is all fine and dandy with how we use Facebook now, but it could be even more prevalent, and possibly creepy, in the future. That is, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Facebook will eventually become much, much bigger than just the social media site. We’ve already seen the company scoop up the WhatsApp communication application, virtual reality technology, and a variety of other ventures outside of the social media sector.
One good example of this is Facebook’s recent push to increase video sharing and video advertising. Makes sense right? More and more people are “cutting the cord” and leaving traditional cable packages. Sites like Google’s GOOGL YouTube, or streaming services like Netflix NFLX, Hulu, and Amazon’s AMZN Prime Instant Video have become increasingly popular.
Now, imagine Facebook’s ad targeting in the hands of a video streaming service like that. It’d be crazy right? Of course, no one is saying that Facebook is trying to enter the streaming game anytime soon, but it could, and it has started pushing videos lately.
Thus far, Facebook has had a uncanny knack for making big moves at the right time. With the tools that it has at its disposal, expect the company’s targeting to keep expanding.
Free Basics and the Future of the Internet
By now you may have heard of Free Basics and Internet.org. Internet.org is a partnership between Facebook and six communications companies that hopes to bring affordable internet access to less developed countries where data services are more expensive. Free Basics is the app that delivers these services, allowing users free access to participating websites through their SIM cards.
While this sounds great on paper, the initiative has been the subject of much controversy. So far, Free Basics users only have access to a few websites, which Facebook selects, and net neutrality activists have accused the company of using the service as a proxy to force underprivileged users onto Facebook. In fact, Free Basics has been banned in India, the second largest market for Facebook.
It’s clear that Facebook needs to take strides to correct these issues. Free Basics is a great idea on paper, and a country like India is the exact market it needs to be in. It’s important that Free Basics promotes accessibility and affordability for everyone, without maliciously favoring one site over the other.
Assuming that Free Basics can do this, Facebook has the potential to be one of the driving forces in the next big human rights campaign. That’s correct, access to affordable internet has become a basic human right, and Facebook is on the ground floor here.
This is really big picture, world-changing type of stuff. I joke about a Facebook-run world, but delivering internet to underprivileged communities could unlock the potential of billions of people around the world.
There must be something in the water over there in Palo Alto. Zuckerberg and his team are on the cutting edge of nearly everything right now. From an investor’s perspective, Facebook has been great in delivering profits. From any human’s perspective, Facebook has, and will continue to be, a world-changing force.
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