Kunkel’s Five Point Plan
Detail of L’Oiseau bleu, Jean Metzinger, 1912-1913
Social media can either be profitable or it can be social. In the end, it can’t be both.
The IPOs of Facebook and Twitter should therefore be reversed, through the socialization of both companies and other social-media services that attain a similar scale. The time has come, in other words, to socialize social media. Keynes long ago called for “a somewhat comprehensive socialization of investment” in modern economies, while leaving room for the skill and inventiveness of entrepreneurs “(who are certainly so fond of their craft that their labor could be obtained much cheaper than at present), to be harnessed to the service of the community on reasonable terms of reward.” The broader question can await another day. But large social media companies particularly invite socialization—that is, going public in the sense of public ownership—for the reasons that follow.
1. Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies.
2. Social media should be socialized because attaining profitability (through ads or fees) is impossible without degrading the service.
3. Social media should be socialized because the fraternization of people is a democratic good, which for-profit operation impairs.
4. Social media should be socialized not in spite of, but in service of, entrepreneurialism and innovation.
5. Social media should be socialized because its content is produced by society at large, and society is distinct from the economy.