Is Marketing a Threat to Social Networks?

Social Media Marketing and Networking

Will marketing destroy social networking sites? (Photo courtesy of JSCreationz)

It’s a fact – most people don’t care much for ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. But some people go so far as to say that using these sites for marketing purposes is destroying their original intent, which is connecting individual users on a personal level.

Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take It Back, is one of those people. In a post on, Rushkoff makes the argument that social networks have been “hijacked by business, robbed of [their] power, and then replaced by mechanisms that connect us to things, rather than people.”

According to Rushkoff, social networking sites have the opportunity to “restore a P2P [person-to-person] society in which people create and exchange value directly with one another. Instead of depending on corporations for jobs, goods, and even investment, we can work for and with one another”. The incorporation of marketing and advertising into these networks, Rushkoff claims, encourages people to “exploit the bonds” they have made with their friends and “sell our friends to the highest bidder”.

Rushkoff even goes so far as to compare social media marketing to medieval European feudalism, during which “people had to become ‘employees’ of one of the king’s officially sanctioned monopolies – what we would today consider ‘corporations.’”

This is all pretty strong stuff. What do you think? Will social media marketing be the end of the Internet as we know it?? Or is it simply a natural evolution of a technology created in a capitalistic society?


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