Facebook, because it is used by over 500 million people or approximately 7% of the global population, is a platform for large-scale modification of human behavior, whether we like it or not. While we may think the layout of Facebook is the logical conclusion of stream-lining and optimal programming, it is entirely possible the layout was developed as such because of limitations of Apache, Linux, PHP, MySQL, HTML, or even laziness. Oftentimes, the ideal solution to a problem is unideal because of the great difficulty required to implement it. Knowing the difference is the difference between having a successful social network or a ghost town.
Therefore, it may be advantageous to manipulate view counts, statistics, and even to run robots and automatons on a new social network, but only as long as 1.) no one finds out, or 2.) the people who find out choose by free will to not reveal the truth, either for a higher power or because they think deception is “cool,” i.e. Jack Bauer in the TV show Twenty-Four.
Taking this to its logical conclusion, a new social network’s main feature could be robots, and people would sign up in droves if they believed the robots would be more interesting to talk to than real friends. The truth of this thought will determine the future of social networking, i.e. will it continue to grow in power but plateau in numbers or will it grow in numbers while no one takes it seriously or is willing to commit secrets to it?