I've been wondering about the future of Social Networking and came across this article by Dalton Calwell. I feel like he really deals well with the issues at stake today. This quote(s) address the problem, or rather the reason that the user experience isn't likely to get better without something changing.
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.” - Jeff Hammerbacher, fmr. Manager of Facebook Data Team, founder of Cloudera
As consumers, we are currently given the choice between Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Oh, and there are also some startups with hand-wavy future advertising business models. All of these services are essentially in the same business: vying for the opportunity to sell you/your clickstream to advertisers.
Why isn’t there an opportunity to pay money to get an ad-free feed from a company where the product is something you pay for, not, well, you. To be clear: I’m glad there are ad-supported options, but why does that seem like the only option? For example, I have the option of buying a Mac if I don’t want to buy a crapware-infested PC, right? I have no interest in completely opting-out of the social web. But please, I want a real alternative to advertising hell… I would gladly pay for a service that treats me better.
I'd encourage you to read the whole article entitled An Audacious Proposal. What if users were the customers? If the goal was really to impress and earn the trust of users, my guess is that social networks would treat them much better and would be more trustworthy.