The like button was released recently to great fanfare. Some loathed it and busily updated their privacy settings. Some welcomed it with a warm embrace. I did not realize its full impact until today, after some distillation of thoughts.
What if these likes are all but a way for us to rank the web pages for Facebook? Whereas Google uses Pagerank to do it by thousands of rack-mounted PC, Facebook just used us. We are like the people wired up to machine in the Matrix, while the candy are spoon-fed to us in the form of friend, sharing, photo posting & so on, the machine quietly aggregates our likes into the biggest human ranking machine ever built.
It is even scarier when people log in and search using this Facebook data backed search engine (let’s called it FaceIt). Imagine yourself being a geologist, your friend circle may also be in the same field and their likes will be similar to yours and therefore act as a very strong ranking mechanism for you. A search with Google may obtain popular articles, but with this FaceIt search, it will be showing results relevant to geologist such as scholarly articles.
I have been thinking about this problem for some time and thought about ways to get to it, but I have to admit that solving it by human filter is a clever way.
The Matrix is here, Neo. Good job, Mark. Sergey may not sleep well now…