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Who owns Social Media?

Recently, Digg hired Allen & Co. to “explore its options” which is how Investment Bankers say “for sale”.

For a site like Digg it is natural that the managers and investors would be looking for an out. What is unusual is that its users feel they have a right to tell Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose how to run their business.

In sites like Digg where users create almost all of the value of the site, do they have a say in the future of the site?

Companies love the idea of social media because their users do the work. They create the content, they create the network effects, they create the page views. But they also gain a sense of entitlement. They feel like they created the site.

Compare this to other current mergers. In the Microsoft Yahoo merger, most users don’t really care (except Flickr users who protested). I bet no one other than Wall Street really cares about Delta’s proposed merger with Northwest.

This is the dilemma of social media. What obligations do sites have to their users when it comes to business decisions that impact the user experience?

Jon Lax More posts by Jon Lax