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08/12/2007

Facebook's dripping point: when will it begin to haemorrhage?

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Facebook's taking a pummelling from all quarters recently. Oh, well that's just because it's a big target, I hear some say.

Well, yes, it's a big target. But it's reminding me of a certain accident prone British Prime Minister at the moment in its ordure-magnetism. In the eyes of some, it seems to be able to do no right.

For a steady stream of analysis of what makes Facebook's future far from certain, take a look at Umair Haque's commentary on Bubblegeneration over the past months. For him, it seems to boil down to Facebook's inability to follow Google's principle of being "not evil".

That is to say, flush with its own success it is tripping up over things like Beacon because its own interests rather than the interests of the community and the individuals therein are being prioritised.

In a great article for Information Week (called "How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook") Cory Doctorow sums this point of view up nicely:

Facebook is no paragon of virtue. It bears the hallmarks of the kind of pump-and-dump service that sees us as sticky, monetizable eyeballs in need of pimping.

And furthermore:

Emails from Facebook aren't helpful messages, they're eyeball bait, intended to send you off to the Facebook site, only to discover that Fred wrote "Hi again!" on your "wall."

In the meantime the trends are all up still for Facebook. It still has potentially a long way to go in terms of mainstream adoption - but is the steady drip-drip of criticism and cynicism among early adopters the first portents of doom for the service.

I think a lot could depend on its ability to learn from the shambolic Beacon affair and whether it can bring itself to open up even further and welcome OpenSocial as a standard.

: : Extra! Extra!: Check out the story about Facebook users rebelling and posting their own ads on their profiles... could be interesting.

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Comments

stay tuned...as the Facebook turns?!

It’s true that Facebook’s various apps send email to the user by default. I only recently discovered this and spent a while unchecking the boxes. And Mr Zuckerberg could have come forth a lot earlier regarding Beacon.

However, I would argue that Google is far from squeaky-clean, introducing features tracking users (viz. the search history) which, in my opinion, should have been opt-in. Imagine my surprise when I had to go into my set-up to turn it, and other services I never recalled saying OK to, off.

Fair point, Jack. I somehow feel that I trust Google more - but I know that's not how everyone feels.

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