Anthony Hilton: Facebook and China - old before they’re rich

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The Independent Online

Someone said that the challenge for China is that it will grow old before it grows rich. The long-term consequence of the one-child policy is that the proportion of young people in the economy will soon shrink significantly, meaning the country has a far bigger problem supporting its soon-to-be-retired than we do.

A row erupted this week over the use by advertisers of personal photographs uploaded to social media, where the company proposed to take a fee from the advertiser but give nothing to the person whose picture it was. This is just the latest twist in a souring relationship between Facebook and its millions of users, almost all driven by the company's search to find ways to make money. One can see why it wants too, but too many of its initiatives seem to leave its users thinking what they now have is not what they signed up to.

Part of me suspects Facebook will be like China: It will grow old before it gets rich. It may never generate anything like the revenues its stock-market valuation implies, and at some point it will be replaced in the public affections by whatever is the next big idea.