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Facebook- “Don’t be Evil”? [Media Monday]

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The growth of Facebook has taken whole of the world by storm- Any Doubt?

To me it seems like a giant growing fast, feeding on what people give him as he promises to entertain them, but may eventually turn out a real giant who will feed on these people! I say so because the hunger of Facebook is increasing by the day (or feature-by-feature you can say). Being a private company, they grew from $700 Mn revenues (2009) to $2 Bn in just one year (ridiculous isn’t?).

I’m also worried about the monopoly thing now, the much talked about Google Me’s launch is getting delayed and I wonder whether they will launch it at the first place or not (fear of failing)!

So many things are being said against Facebook that we have a full wiki page for same (LOL isn’t?).

evil

Enough said, let me confess- “I’m a big FAN of Facebook :)!”

Facebook was actually able to pull the effect of social media by enabling brands/people to advertise and engage users by launching the amazing concept- “Page” and also by opening up API’s so that millions of people can waste their time building “villes” and buying fake currencies in exchange of real one’s.
Before this everyone was plainly talking about monetizing social media but no one got even sightliest closer to what Facebook has been able to do!

But still, I would love to see Facebook not getting Evil…

My concerns are because of some recent developments, I have analyzed personally-

Very recently, Facebook said they will share user’s personal data with App Developers just to give them better reasons to use Facebook API. This would mean sharing your contact details, i.e. mobile number and address with every developer whose App you are using.

This news created a backlash (obviously) and Facebook first said there is no need to fear as developers could only access information when users explicitly give them permission, but later on suspended this activity temporarily.

Facebook has this notorious habit of enabling things first and then backing out seeing the backlash.

The other thing which I realized lately, analysing our own page on Facebook is that it’s going to create a web-link for every status in world which is worth selling.

Here is why- when we put a status message on a page there are various actions which can be taken viz. like, comment, share and PROMOTE. I have analyzed that depending on whether the status update is supported by a link / image / video or not Facebook populates either “Share” or “Promote”.

I didn’t realize it until I tried to figure out why my plain status messages (without any links/images) were getting less impressions than those with links/images.
What I understood was that for any status message without links/images there is no option to “share” but only to “promote”.

When I clicked on “promote” it opened the “Create an Ad” page, which simply created my page’s ad with my status message as the content. This should be an early indicator of what they have in mind- To sell every darn status possible!

In other news Facebook said they are going to launch new ad-platform “sponsored stories using users’ data”. It said “The social networking site is debuting Sponsored Stories, a new advertising format that will use your friends’ actions and turn them into advertised material.” Can u deduce anything by this. Well it took me 2-3 reads and then a status update from a friend to actually connect what they are trying to do.

Here is an excerpt of same –

FB has partnered with companies like Bing, Trip Advisor, Levi’s, Coke etc and they are doing “Instant personalization” for them. What this means is that yours and your friends’ data is by default shared with these companies so that they can make their advertisements more effective ‘automatically’. This may not affect any personal data directly, but in an indirect and confusing way.

Tip: If you don’t want this you will need to manually “disable” it by going to Accounts-> Privacy Settings-> Edit settings for Apps and Website (bottom of the page)-> Edit Settings for Instant Personalization-> Uncheck the check box.. [woof… you’d ram your head hundred times before finding this]

Crux of the matter- “Facebook is making privacy settings and personalization so complex that it will go beyond the understanding of normal human beings like me and you”. Or, possibly there will be a course in B-Schools to just understand what FB Privacy settings are?

In the end (read future), normal 60 odd million users will just perform “Accept, Accept and Accept” and leave critics to simply “cry, cry and cry”!

What’s your thoughts on this?

  1. Viral says

    Rabi,

    Excellent Article! No more thoughts on this :)

    1. rabi gupta says

      Thanks Viral :)

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