How Facebook Will Leverage Users to Create a More Sustainable Society

Facebook's new manager of energy efficiency and sustainability wants to develop apps that allow users to share and compare their energy use with friends, leveraging the power of friendship.

What's the Latest Development?

Facebook's new manager of energy efficiency and sustainability wants to leverage the power of social media, i.e. Facebook's 900 million monthly active users, to create a more sustainable society. Bill Weihl, once Google's Green Energy Czar, is now working with third-party application developers to drive Facebook's message of sustainability. "The first of these types of third party partnerships is a deal announced late last year with energy software company Opower. Opower created a Facebook application that enables users to check out their energy usage compared to friends and national averages, get energy efficiency tips and, down the road, play games that make energy savings competitive."

What's the Big Idea?

There is no shortage of devices and software applications that help people measure their energy consumption, but because Facebook will allow users to share and compare their rates of energy consumption with friends, the influence of social pressure can be brought to bear in favor of the environment. Weihl believes most people's behavior is determined by a combination of saving money, competing with peers and doing good. If that's true, "the open social graph could be a fundamental key to cracking the code for behavior change—everything from turning off lights, to lowering air conditioning to buying LEDs, to participating in utilities’ energy efficiency programs."

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