When it arrived in 2005, Facebook was a near instant hit. I heard of it through word of mouth and, because everyone else was using it – I signed up. Previous to that I had signed up to Myspace and previous to that the graveyard that is Friends Reunited. Since Facebook launched I also use Twitter, Friendfeed (now owned by Facebook), Last.fm, Foursquare, Chatroulette (purely for research mind)… and i’ll probably join a fair few others in the coming months and years.
Now this is a somewhat bipolar post. I don’t believe Facebook is a force for evil, but I am uncertain about one huge organisation owning hundreds of millions of peoples data. Consider it more of an exploration than a citation.
So why did I join Facebook? Well initially, like I have said, because everyone else was signing up and we all want to be included don’t we? Since then Facebook as a platform has evolved significantly. Not autonomously though. It has been hugely affected by the rise of Twitter and has attempted to keep up through matched functionality. But it seems to have lost it’s way. In trying to be like everything else it has lost it’s sense of brand identity.
What is Facebook now? What is its USP over say, Twitter?
Basically, a lot more people use it. I always use my wife as a benchmark to a products commercial or mainstream success. She doesn’t use Twitter but uses Facebook every day. A LOT! Because all of her friends do. The thing is 99% of Facebook users *probably* don’t give two hoots about all of the recent privacy issues. They log on to Facebook they have a nose at what other people are doing through reading statuses and looking at photos. They post their own statuses / photos and then log out. Then log in again to check responses. Then log out. Then login in again etc etc ad infinitum.
I work in the digital industry and so I of course take an interest in Facebook’s data issues along with all other news and trends. The winds of change seem to be turning against Facebook mainly due to these privacy issues. People are starting to (quite rightly) question where their data is going and how it is being stored. Who has access to this data and how is it being used?
“Even after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users.”
“Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested”
So deleting your Facebook account may well be a proud gesture but they still have your data. Wouldn’t you rather remain a member of Facebook to receive their updates. You know the saying, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
I don’t really agree with the current Facebook bashing that seems to be en vogue. I find it useful and use it daily, as do every single one of my friends. I use it in a completely different way to Twitter (work based), Foursquare (location based), Myspace (music based). I have friends in diferent areas of the country, Italy, America, Australia and can contact them with relative ease on Facebook. If I want something more then yes, i’ll probably arrange a Skype call or its equivalent.
“If the ownership of all or substantially all of our business changes, we may transfer your information to the new owner so that the service can continue to operate.”
Thanks to Kristian Carter for inspiring this blog post.