Why Social Media are Like Slavery and SMO Equals Abolitionism

Most people apparently think social media services based on User Generated Content (UGC) like YouTube, Blogger, Facebook or Pinterest are outright idealistic endeavours built for the benefit of humanity and not Social Media Optimization. Yet they are not. They are about business and making money.

The question is just who makes the money and who does not.

It’s about exploitation or worse slavery.

Over at our group blog Collective Thoughts Marty of aimClear has written an intriguing article about the notion that you are not allowed to perform certain practices on social media unless you are a well respected power user who spent numerous hours in selflessly filling such a site with content and interaction.

The consensus seems to be that the entrepreneurs or companies behind social media services are allowed to earn billions while the users have to add strictly not-for-profit content out of love for mankind. As you already may sense it, there’s an inherent flaw in this dogma.

  • Who would agree to work for free in real life?
  • Who would create wealth for profit oriented companies without getting paid?
  • Who would attack anybody demanding being paid for all the work?


The Wikipedia definition of slave says among other things

Slaves are held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase, or birth, and are deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation in return for their labour.

(my emphasis).

So basically although we are not forced to work and we can stop anytime, at least we are not compensated just like slaves. Popular Web 2.0 companies are basically saying

Hey we give you all the tools, machines and a seat in our factory, you can socialize with your coworkers, what else do you want? Money? Are you joking?

Not all slaves fought slavery in the USA along with the abolitionist movement. Malcolm X used the term “house nigger” for all those slaves who supported slavery out of selfish motives. The term stems from the time of slavery itself, it describes those slaves who had some privileges like sleeping in the masters house or indeed working there instead of the plantation.

Most of the social media users are the plain slaves working at the plantation while the power users are house niggers who have some personal gain out of the being a slave. Of course the money goes into the pockets of the plantation and slave owners.

  • How much time do you spend on Web 2.0 and social media? How much time do you spend daily while on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest?
  • How much do you earn for this work?

It’s not work you might argue, it’s fun. But you sit at the computer in front of the screen.

  • Does it feel like spending time with your family,
  • going for a walk
  • or playing basketball with your friends?

Moreover: It’s so called social capital. The relationships you build are social capital. Your social capital but predominantly the social capital of the plantation owner, Google, Yahoo, eBay.

It gets more ridiculous:

Once you give up your relations for free to a company they sell them back to you.

It’s like paying for the tools to work without compensation. XING, a LinkedIn competitor just announced a sharp rise in profits. What do they earn their money with? By selling full accounts where you can send messages to your friends online. So in fact they let you pay for contacting your friends or business partners!

SEO 2.0 and thus also Social Media Optimization (SMO) and even Marketing (SMM) is about using social media for your own ends, whatever they might be.

So SEO 2.0 has a really subversive role in the social media environment. It empowers you to get compensated for all the toil you do not get compensated for. Of course some social media users turn slave drivers and they will offend you for doing that as they want to “protect” the sanctity of the service which is based on exploitation.

Be subversive, work for yourself not for corporations who do not pay you, practice SEO 2.0.

Use social media inasmuch as they use you. Strike back. SEO 2.0 is the abolitionism of the 21st century. We even go a step further freeing you of the chains of wage slavery.